Should I consider moving to South Korea?

35 tips for the perfect year abroad in South Korea

A year abroad in South Korea is the perfect opportunity to get to know a new culture and to gain unique experiences after school or university. We have put together 35 tips that will help you to get used to South Korea faster and easier. The tips are also helpful for you if you are going on a school exchange or a semester abroad in South Korea. Even if you want to move the center of your life completely to Korea and want to emigrate to South Korea, the following tips will help you. Good preparation before the year abroad will save you a lot of headaches.

Accommodation in South Korea

1. You should organize your accommodation in South Korea before you start your year abroad. Of course, you can also look for your accommodation on site, but who knows what difficulties you will get into and how much the language barrier will thwart your plans. If you come to South Korea as an exchange student, you will not have any problems with it, because you will be accommodated in a student residence and the process is relatively easy and stress-free. If you get the opportunity to work as a teacher in South Korea, your employer will provide you with an apartment. In this case, too, you don't have to worry too much. This also applies to most of the German companies that send you to Korea.

However, if you want to go to South Korea on your own and don't have an employer to take care of your accommodation, then the process of finding accommodation is not an easy task. In addition, the deposit for an apartment in South Korea can be very high. In most cases the deposit is at least 5000 euros and can be significantly higher depending on the apartment. In this case, you need good financial resources. Alternatively, you can of course also live in hostels or use AirBNB to secure your accommodation. However, in the long run this is a financial burden that makes little sense. But at least temporarily you can secure your accommodation in South Korea this way.

2. When you get your accommodation from your employer, university or school, you should prepare all the necessary documents in good time. A health certificate, for example, is standard and should be tackled by you in good time.

3. When choosing your own accommodation, you should consider the various options that are available to you. The most popular options are apartments (lots of space, new and expensive), Officetel (smaller and cheaper than apartments), villas (lots of space and mostly located in residential areas) and Goshiwon (tiny room, mostly occupied by students).

Learn Korean

Before you start a year abroad in South Korea, you should definitely learn Korean. You can certainly make ends meet with English, especially in Seoul, but you will also quickly notice that you will reach your limits. So it is worthwhile if you invest some time in learning the Korean language.

4. Learn Hangul: The Korean alphabet is super easy to learn and will help you use transportation and order your food. Learn Hangul within an hour with our free PDF.

5. If you have the opportunity, you should attend a community college course or a course at your university before you start your South Korea year abroad.

6. If you do not have this option, then you should buy a textbook and study as much as you can on your own.

7. Start our free Korean course and learn the basics of the Korean language on your computer or smartphone.

8. Listen to Kpop and watch Korean dramas to improve your Korean and learn words that are great for everyday use.

Passport, Visa and Travel Insurance South Korea

9. Make sure that your passport is valid until at least your return. If you don't have a passport, get it early to avoid problems.

10. Make photocopies of your passport before you leave for South Korea, as you will need them for various offices and if you lose your passport, it is always good to have at least one copy with you.

11. If you go to South Korea as an exchange student, you don't have to worry about your visa. However, if you are going to go on your own, then you should know that a visa is limited to 90 days. So if you want to stay in South Korea for more than three months, you should know what options there are. A work visa and a marriage visa naturally give you the opportunity to stay in Korea much longer. However, if you do not have this and still want to stay in South Korea for more than 90 days, you can do the following: Take the plane to Japan before your visa expires and when you come back, you will be issued a new visa for 90 more days in South Korea . You can repeat this as often as you like. This way you can stay in South Korea longer. If you want to know what you can do in South Korea, then you should take a look at our South Korea tour page.

12. Make copies of all important documents you need during your South Korea year abroad, because you may not find a copy shop as easily as you might think.

13. In addition to your health insurance in Germany, you should get travel insurance for your year abroad in South Korea. You shouldn't take any risks here, otherwise the costs can explode quickly. Talk to your health insurance company about it and look at the best alternatives online, because in most cases the offer from your insurer is not the best and cheapest.

Health and vaccinations

14. Make sure you have all the vaccinations you need and have your GP print out a list of all your vaccinations.

15. You may be required to have certain vaccinations before you can travel to South Korea. Especially if you spend a lot of time in rural areas of the country and plan to hike a lot. You should also consider that you may travel to Japan (or other countries in Asia) and certain vaccinations may be required.

16. Get a health check-up from your GP before you leave, as there is nothing worse than waking up with an illness during your year abroad in South Korea. Better safe than sorry.

17. If you are taking certain medications, you should have a good supply with you, as you may have difficulty getting them quickly and easily in South Korea.

18. Visit your dentist if you are going to Korea for a year or more, because dental hygiene should not be neglected either. There are enough dentists in South Korea and they are cheaper than in Germany, but if you don't speak the Korean language well enough, you will run into difficulties.

19. Find out where the nearest hospital is near where you live in Korea in order to be prepared in the event of an emergency.

Finances

20. A year abroad in South Korea can be expensive, so it makes sense that you set a budget on your own. Think about how much you are spending each week and make sure you have enough money to spend. If you start a semester abroad in South Korea as a student, you will in most cases receive financial help from your university or the DAAD. But even then you should think about how much you can spend per month.

21. Decide how you want to pay in Korea. Do you want to pay in cash or is a debit card worthwhile for you? At the beginning you will certainly need a little cash, but it can also be worthwhile if you open an account with one of the big banks (Shinhan, KB, Hana) in South Korea.

22. It can take a while before your bank account can be used. This is why you should make sure that you have enough cash with you to get through the first few weeks.

23. Take some time to understand the Korean currency and the conversion rate. In this way you will quickly find out what is comparatively cheap and what is more expensive.

Packing list for South Korea year abroad

24. Think carefully about what clothes you need and what seasons you will have in Korea. If you are in Korea for a full year or more, you should of course pack accordingly. You can of course buy loads of clothing in South Korea, but this will affect your budget.

25. Inquire about what you cannot buy in South Korea or what is significantly more expensive in Korea than in Germany and pack enough of it.

26. Make sure you don't pack anything in your suitcase that is not allowed for import into Korea. You can find a list and further information on the website of the Federal Foreign Office.

27. Don't pack too much. You will buy tons of things during your year abroad in Korea and will therefore need space in your suitcase. Packing wisely and with foresight is therefore extremely important.

Flight to South Korea

Flights to South Korea can be very expensive. The following tips will help you keep costs down.

28. Book your flight in good time and not just before the start of your journey.

29. An open jaw flight with one or even two changes can greatly reduce costs.

30. Use websites like Skyscanner or Kayak to find the best flight deals.

departure

31. Decide how you want to use your mobile phone in Korea. A SIM card without a contract is an option, but a contract also makes sense if you are staying in Korea for a longer period of time.

32. Download KakaoTalk, a metro app and Naver dictionary to your mobile phone to get around the first hurdles in Korea.

33. Say goodbye to friends and family properly, because when you live on the other side of the world, regular communication becomes a little more difficult.

34. Plan the route from the airport to your accommodation in advance. When you arrive in South Korea, everything should be as easy and stress-free as possible. Find out which bus or metro to take and be prepared for anything.

35. Keep a diary or document your year abroad in South Korea on a travel blog or on Instagram. That way, your friends and family can have all of your adventures and you can capture your experiences.

We hope that our tips will help you during your year abroad in South Korea. If you have any questions on the topic, we will try to answer them in the comments as soon as possible.

Gap year South Korea