My Journey to Korea

Hi, my name is Najifa. I’m a Designing & Merchandise major and I’m going to South Korea, I will attending Seoul National University for my spring term of 2021. I am a sophomore this year. I am a Bangladeshi first-generation college student

The reason I chose to go to Korea is because I’m completely obsessed with their street fashion. I really appreciate how they have a very modest yet modern style and as a Muslim female it’s very hard to have modest and conservative fashion but also be modern and trendy. I’ve also been watching K-dramas since 2012 and have been a K-pop fan since 2013 so this is also an absolute dream come true. 

As a disclaimer, I am extremely clumsy and overly dramatic and sarcastic, which my writing shows. I like to refer to my life as “a series of mistakes”, and my life can always be summarized with the phrase: “In the end I’ll reach my goal but to get there I’ll have to go through more emotions that I knew existed.”

So, to start off my series of mistakes..

September 2020 I started my first ever job at Burlington and for the admission process, I needed to bring my passport. After, instead of giving the passport back to my dad I decided that I will keep it to myself because at that time I was applying to this program. And then on September 23th, I got my acceptance email from Drexel about Korea, and when I was about to fill in my passport information I realized that I could not find my passport. *wow shocking* 

After spending a whole week trying to find my password I realized that it was gone and after that, I  applied for a new passport that was supposed to come by December 7th, which gave me perfect amount of time to apply for my visa. And life hit me again, because my passport was supposed to come on December 7 but two weeks later my passport was nowhere to be seen. So after emailing USPS multiple times and being ignored, at 4 AM one night, I emailed USPS to reiterate how important it was to receive my passport on time which did the trick. They apologized and two days later I received my passport. 

(And if you’re curious we found my passport two days later inside my jewelry box..)

Because of COVID, students were required to arrive in Korea by February 13th to allow for 14 days of self-quarantine before the start of the semester on March 1. You have the option to book an Airbnb, stay with family or RoomKor, which SNU recommended. I chose RoomKor even though it was more expensive than Airbnb because it provides three meals a day, so I didn’t have to worry about logistics with food delivery. To me RoomKor also felt like much more safer option – they also have staff waiting for me at the airport to take me to where I was staying.

It is very important to follow RoomKor’s instructions. I was told to go to Terminal 2 but I somehow ended up in Terminal 1, and I had trouble communicating with the staff there that I was in the wrong place. So, I was taken to the taxi area. The problem was that I wasn’t riding with a RoomKor staff member. But I got really lucky because my taxi driver was very nice and accommodating. He gave me his hotspot so I could call my family and friends to let them know that I landed safely, and he spoke English very well which was extremely helpful for me.

When I got to my hotel, I ended up testing positive for Covid. I was taken to a government facility the next day, and while that experience was stressful, I have a few key takeaways to share:

  • It is important to stay calm and know that everything will be taken care of for you. My experience was really hard, and the center felt more like a hospital which caused more panic on my end.
  • Make sure that you have international insurance before going along, or else you will be given an expensive bill at the end of your stay.
  • To end on a positive note – one good thing that came out of my stay is my new obsession with bread that was served in the center, which was delicious!
I think Koreans really likes pickles and tomato cause I had pickles and tomatos in every meal.

A Message from the Office of Global Engagement:

The safety and security of Drexel students is a priority for the University. As part of the efforts to support Drexel students that are studying abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Global Engagement has conducted a rigorous review of programming and provided additional support to participating students with customized pre-departure orientations and regular check-ins during the required self-isolation period and the term.

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