About Quarantining in South Korea

Ahhh, quarantine. I’m so glad it’s over and I’m so glad I’m writing this while out of quarantine because I feel as if I had so many stray thoughts during the 2-week period that my blog post would have been so convoluted with random happenings that were irrelevant to the MEAT of the experience…..anyways…

I want to preface this post about quarantining in Korea by saying that my fellow Drexel exchange students and I were only able to successfully leave on this trip because of the required 2-week quarantine period (and due to the efforts of the study abroad office and our advisor, Young-Min!). I am very grateful that the South Korean government is taking such measures for visitors and I think it’s definitely working in terms of helping contain the spread of Covid here and should be the model for other countries to take after.

Basically, the hostel room or goshiwon that I am staying in for the duration of this exchange program doubles as my quarantine room. For the first two weeks of my stay it was required of me to stay in the room and never leave except for when I needed to get tested for Covid-19, which happened once at the beginning and end of quarantine. I could only open my door to pick up the meals left for me three times a day, for packages that I ordered online, or to leave trash outside of my door. I think staying in this goshiwon was the right choice for me at the end of the day as I didn’t have to worry about moving from a quarantine hotel to my actual accommodation and could stay at this location the entire time.

I was glad that my room was pretty spacious compared to most other peoples’ rooms

When I arrived I was provided a prepaid sim card that I had ordered through my hostel as well as different colored trash bags for either food waste or regular waste. I had also bought sheets and a thermometer through them, as I had to take my temperature twice a day and record it in the quarantine app that was also tracking my location.

My first ever prepaid sim! it allows me to have a Korean phone number!

Coming from Philadelphia, a city with a trash collecting system that needs much improvement, I really appreciated how it was required to separate food waste from regular waste and it’s also required to separate recyclables by type! As someone who wants to go under the sustainability umbrella I was pleased by this and found it cool that Seoul also uses its food waste as compost and has increased the number of urban gardens in the past decade due to this system. Although, I could say that Korea’s plastic usage is even heavier than the usage I’ve seen in America, I think that they’re putting more efforts in to recycle more effectively than the average country which I appreciate! Every Tuesday and Friday I would leave my trash bags outside of my room door to be picked up. When I left quarantine, I had to start sorting my trash and recyclables by type myself.

the yellow bags were for food waste and the large blue bags were for all other regular waste while in quarantine

Twice during quarantine, I was picked up and escorted to take Covid tests. I didn’t have experience getting tested outside of Drexel’s Covid testing facility in America, but my experience here was very different from that! Both times I went to get tested there were many others waiting for tests as well. When I arrived I had to take a number and then waited to be called. I sat and filled out paperwork with personnel before being directed to this room where I would hand off my paperwork to medical personnel sitting behind a glass wall. I would then be directed to another room where I would sit in front of a completely transparent wall that only had 2 holes in it where large protective gloves were attached. Assistants would place their arms in these holes and into the gloves in order to shove a large swab up my nose and down my throat while having absolutely no contact with me as I was sitting on the opposite side of the wall. The test was rather painful, but I do not blame them for wanting to be thorough in their findings.

Waiting in line after finishing paper work to get tested!

I think the most significant aspect of my quarantine experience was what I was fed. All I have to really say is that I was definitely fed well for someone who was barely moving all day and I think the food was quite good! Although the menu was quite repetitive at times, I’ve heard of other study abroad students being in much worse situations so I was grateful! I mainly liked how I was fed Korean food most of the time as well! Because there’s not much else to say here’s a collage of some of the meals I enjoyed during the 2 week quarantine period.

Some of my meals during quarantine

Although time felt like it was barely moving during quarantine and I felt very out of it for most of the period, I think it’s good that I was able to experience it once in my life and also thought that it was a good period that one can use to get rid of jet lag. It was necessary to experience in order to keep the maintained degree of order in Korean society, which is the only reason why I could be here! For this, I am glad!

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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