GKS application process part 3: Actually getting to korea

Since you’ve been reading my Korea blogs for a few months now you can probably tell I got through to the final round. When I read the announcement I still couldn’t believe that I had actually got the scholarship and that I was going to be spending the next 5 years in Korea studying the Korean Language and business administration. The final announcement confirmed which university I would be attending- Yonsei, since that was the one I chose- but more importantly which university and which city I would be doing my one-year language course. According to the announcement I was enrolled and expected to do my Korean language course at Dongseo University in Busan. I was really happy about this as most of the Koreans I had met in Fiji were from Busan. Busan is one of the southernmost cities in Korea which means we are closer to the ocean. Knowing this somehow made me feel a bit better coming from a Pacific island where there is an ocean view or sea breeze close by.

Once I had gotten over the excitement of getting through the final round, I had to start working on the paperwork. As soon as I got all the necessary information such as acceptance letters and invitation letters from my language university, I submitted all my documents to the Korean embassy so that they could start processing my visa. Ideally, this should be done at least a month before departing for Korea but it should generally take about 1-2 weeks. I was also put in contact with the teachers at my university as they were the ones purchasing our flight tickets. Since there are no longer any direct flights from Fiji to Korea I had to transit through New Zealand. I have a feeling flying through Hong Kong would’ve been easier but because of COVID-19, I was glad that my teacher had decided I fly through New Zealand. However, this meant that as a Fijian citizen I had to apply for a New Zealand transit Visa. This was much more stressful than I thought because there are so many people in Fiji applying for a New Zealand visas all the time so there is always a long waiting list and the general waiting time is about 30 working days. By this time I was travelling to Korea in a week. Two days before my flight to Korea I still hadn’t received the visa and this was starting to stress me out a lot. I eventually emailed the Korean embassy wondering if there was anything they could do to let the NZ embassy know that I needed the visa urgently. I was very lucky because the Korean embassy intervened and managed to get my visa processed faster. Friday afternoon before leaving for Nadi I managed to get my New Zealand visa and was able to fly out on Sunday morning to New Zealand. You can read my 22 hours in New Zealand blog to see what I got up to whilst in New Zealand (22 hours in New Zealand/ Vlog: 22-Hours in New Zealand)

I arrived at Incheon airport on Monday the 24th of February and had to run across the airport to catch my domestic flight to Busan. Arriving at Incheon it was extremely crucial that I wore the mask as Korea was experiencing the peak of COVID-19. Before Korea, I had never worn a surgical mask before so this was new for me and it was horrible. I still despise wearing it but I’m getting used to it and finding ways to breathe better. I felt quite sick when I arrived in Korea I was scared it was corona but it was most likely a lack of oxygen and anxiety of travelling alone. Later, I was certain it wasn’t corona because arriving in Korea my temperature was checked constantly. The flight from Incheon to Busan was about an hour and I slept the whole time. Arriving in Busan was slightly underwhelming as I was exhausted and I just wanted to sleep. Walking out of the airport one of the teachers from our university was waiting for us. I had to wait for another domestic flight to land which had a few other GKS students. Once they had gotten through security we got on a bus to our dorms. At the dorms, some of the GKS graduate students welcomed us gave us some snacks and showed us to the rooms and that was my very first night in Korea. I had arrived at my dorm which I would be spending the next 12 months during my intensive Korea Language course.

I hope this three-part series about my GKS application process was informative. Feel free to ask any questions in the comment section below. Stay tuned as I write more about my Korean language uni and the daily life here at Dongseo University

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