Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Arrived in Korea + short video

I have arrived in the country of fashionable people that push others just to get from point A to point B. Welcome to Seoul, Korea! =D

After some meetings with friends beforehand I left to Dusseldorf International Airport. It took about 2,5 hours to get there and from there on I flew to Dubai. The flight duration was 6 hours. I stayed in Dubai for about 17 hours. It was very hot and it's the holy month of Ramadan so I couldn't really enjoy anything in Dubai. But I got to meet my uncle and other relatives.

I have decided I will never go to Dubai or any of the Arab Emirates again ( well only on my way back). First of all it's smoking hot. And secondly, the people that aren't native Emirati are treated like crap. Except for tourists. Life for most immigrant workers is hell. And I could just see they weren't happy with that. It won't surprise me if there was a revolution over there one of these days. I could never spend a holiday over here. It's a fairy tale with a heavy price.

At the airport in Dubai they mostly have very young people working. Playing with their Blackberry's and talking about non-work related issues. Even at places where the security is supposed to do their job carefully.

I hate to say this, but I think I was a victim of some sort of racism. Even after I went through three other checking points. Let me explain. When I went to the security check up just before boarding this man asked me a lot of questions. There where a lot of Koreans and Western white people. He barely looked at their passports, photos or boarding passes. Of all the people standing in the row he only stopped the black/brownish people. After I showed him my boarding card, passport, my visa, my acceptance letter from Yonsei University and even my diploma, the b*sterd asked for my e-ticket. I explained to him I didn't need an e-ticket because I check in online and they only needed my passport. I said I didn't have an e-ticket. I actually did have one, but I couldn't remember where I put it exactly. He asked me my name, age etc. He looked at my passport for about 5 minutes and comparing my photo with me. I even have old classmates from pre-school telling me I still look the same! Well, I didn't get upset in his presence, because I knew what was at stake. He kept on saying he was only doing his job. Eventually he let me on the plane and wished me a good time in Korea.

I flew with Emirates airline from Dusseldorf to Dubai and I flew with Korean Air from Dubai to Seoul. The flight duration from Dubai to Seoul was 8 hours. Korean Air is the best airline I have ever flown with. When I flew with Emirates Airlines I could almost never find a stewardess . They were constantly helping the people in the First or Business class. And my seat wasn't that spacious and my tv didn't work. Luckily I had my laptop with me. But flying with Korean Air was amazing. First of all there weren't a lot of people in the plane so I could choose where to sit ( as long as it was in the Economy class). I'm a tall guy and I had enough space for my long legs. Even sitting behind someone else. Eventually I sat somewhere in the front just because I could. The tv screen in front of me, that actually worked, was twice as big as the one on the Emirates airplane. There was also a lot of choice of movies and tv shows. Even movies that are still in the cinema in the Netherlands. I watched the Joneses and an episode of Two and a Half Men. But the best aspect has to be the stewardesses . Beautiful Korean women constantly coming over and asking me if I needed anything. They even came with red and white wine. I thought only First and Business class people where offered that kind of drinks? I declined of course.

Alhamdulilah I arrived safely at Incheon International Airport. I must say this airport has to be the nicest looking aiport I have ever seen. According to CNN this aiport has been voted as the best airport in the world in 2009.


I have never easily found anything I wanted at an aiport but it was as if the place knew exactly what I wanted and where I needed it to be. I had to wait for Thijs, a student from my school who is also attending Yonsei University. He arrived at around 15:00hrs and I was there at 12:30hrs. I went to the Internet Lounge where I drank some nice Nescafe Mocca Coffee. The coffee costed about 5000 KRW . This is about 3,31 euro which is expensive in Korea but to be fair it was at an airport. I just sat there with my Macbook Pro working on my compilation video. You can see that video at the bottom of this blog.

We went to the university with bus number 6011 at gate number 5B. The busses are just in front of you when you leave the gate for the arrivals. Very handy indeed. The busride takes about 50 minutes and costs 10,000 KRW which is about 6,6 euro. Stay away from taxi drivers at the airport! They will rip you off saying it's cheaper by taxi and you end up paying 6 times or more than the busride. Taxi's in Seoul are cheap but Yonsei University just isn't that close. The bus is very comfortable and the drivers are very helpful and friendly. People mostly go out at busstop Yonsei University, but you should not do this. The campus is huge and very steep. You should get out at Ehwa Womens University. If you get off the busstop just cross the street, go to the left for about 4 meters I guess and then straight to the right. Walk up the hill. It's better to ask anyone over there where to go next. I assure you, it's only 5-10 minutes walking. Be prepared for the steepness when you're carrying your luggage.

You can change you're money at an exchange bank and hire a mobile phone. But to be honest I wouldn't recommend you that. I did just that with only 45 euros to get through the first days. The exchange rates at the airport are very very bad. I'm going to use my bank card and take enough money for a couple of weeks at a time. I'm going to a Korean bank tomorrow to find information if it's cheaper to have a Korean bank or not. Because then I can send my money to that account per month. At the orientation a representative of LG had an exclusive offer for exchange students. Exchange students that come for only 4 months or as long as a year can sign up for a contract. With this contract you can text as much as you want inside Korea and talk for 20 hours a month. The pricetag for this is only 15,500 KRW (10,26 euro). I'm probably not taking this subscription, because a friend of my lend me her Korean mobile phone. I just have to put credit on it every month and I'm sure I won't be talking for 20 hours.

Today we had a long orientation day. We learned a lot about the school which is boring for you to read about. Maybe you can check out their website some time:


We saw a traditional Korean dance which was quite interesting to look at. Also a taekwando team performing their tricks. And we learned how to dance at Akaraka. This is a sports competition with our rivals Korea University. The two top universities in all of Korea. It was very funny to dance like that, but it made everyone feel more at home. And of course more people got to know each other. This year we have a record breaking amount of international students. There are 512 international students from all over the world. Korea is really becoming a popular destination for education. I've met people from Australia, the USA, Canada, Indonesia, Thailand, China, Germany etc. And my roommate is from Denmark. And I have met 5 other Dutch people at the university.

First impressions? Beautiful girls, 24 hours shops, couples everywhere, wide roads, very helpful, friendly people and they are very proud to be Korean. I have never ever met a Dutch person saying that. So this is something new for me.

You can watch a compilation video I made in case I get home sick. And you can see the pictures on my Facebook account. More videos will follow, insha'allah.

Link video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpICIPtAHgM