4 month pre-departure feels

It’s already October, and exchange is in March. It might still be 4 months away, but it’s really starting to hit me that I’m actually going to Korea for four months. So surreal, right?

Today was the GoGlobal Pre-Departure Conference that was held so that the students going on exchange in term 2 or split-year can start preparing themselves for exchange. The workshops I didn’t think did very much for my preparations (although they did offer some helpful information in the beginning, like considering student loans and bursaries, safety issues, a few logistical things like that), since I expected it to really offer more concrete information like where to get housing, or how to apply for a visa. Instead, it really focused on mental health and wellness, converting the experiences you will learn during your exchange program into skills that you can use in you future career, and considerations about culture.

I also found it super strange how they organized it – they put us into ‘cohort groups’ which were supposed to be filled with people going to the same ‘region’ as you (I guess they generalized it so broadly that Asia was just a region…) but there was only one other girl in my group who was going to Korea, and she wasn’t even going to my school! I thought it would have been better if we had been placed with people who were actually going to at least the same country as me, or maybe 2 countries in one group, instead of having 5 or 6 countries in one cohort. There were people in my group going to Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Turkey, Istanbul, and Korea!

I really initially didn’t think much of the conference, but now that it’s over (the conference went from 10am to 3pm) I realized I do have a lot to think about. Going to the 3 workshops scheduled throughout the day really opened my eyes and gave me a lot to think about, and listening to the experiences of those who had already gone on exchange was also really helpful (even though all the student leaders that I had leading my workshops went to England for exchange… and my cohort was full of people going to the Middle East and Asia for exchange).

Hearing about mental health and how to maintain it during your exchange (I think it’s harder than it sounds!) also got me thinking about homesickness and leaving all my friends and family behind… I miss them already, and exchange hasn’t even started yet! How am I going to be able to cope when I actually leave for Korea?

I think the best thing that I got out of this conference today was during the Country Mingler and Lunch which was at the end of the conference. They put up pieces of paper with countries on them, and people going to the respective countries congregated around that paper and I got to meet some other people going to Yonsei as well. Turns out there are only 5 of us going to Yonsei! Or maybe there are more who just decided not to come to the conference. But either way, I really thought that there would be many more people going to Korea.

I’m really glad to have met some new friends who I can spend time with in Korea, even though we might not be going to the same school. It reassures me to know that there are people who are going to be in the same boat and same area as I am, and that I’ll have people to rely on and ask questions, while learning to be independent at the same time. The GoGlobal Pre-Departure Conference was more useful than I expected it to be, in the most unexpected way.

And to end this (long) post off, here is a list of things that I need to do:

  • look at student loans and bursaries
  • confirm third-party authorization
  • Safety Abroad Registry
  • medical insurance
  • passport photo
  • start looking at courses

And this afternoon was topped off with some ice cream from 720 Sweets & Etc. – I went with Stefanie and Vivian, who will also be going to Yonsei with me!

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