Flying Internationally? Pack These Things
Everyday I spend in Seoul, South Korea I have a few things I am grateful that I brought from America. As someone who has never traveled internationally, it's quite a humbling experience to try to figure out what to pack. So I wanted to make a brief guide on what to pack and not pack for those who are first-time international travelers or just a little anxious to travel using my first international experience of packing to study abroad in Seoul, South Korea.
Starting off with what you should definitely pack, I would highly recommend bringing your favorite form-fitting clothes and basic pants alongside critical items like well-fitting bras. Finding pants and bras that fit properly can be really difficult for foreigners because some places in Korea don’t have fitting rooms. It is also common for shops to only carry free size, or one size fits all, clothing. The reason I don’t think you need to panic to bring other items like a coat or tops is because it is so easy to find really affordable and exceptionally fashionable pieces of clothing, especially in a baggy style. My favorite places for buying affordable cute clothes include MPlayground in Hongdae and the Ewha shopping area personally.
Other items I would recommend packing include things that you would need to purchase online. Because you can’t use Coupang, or Korea’s Amazon, until you get your ARC, that means you can’t really purchase anything online until November. Now you can still use Amazon but it takes around two weeks for items to arrive so be sure to buy your online desires and needs, like plug adapters, before you come. I also recommend packing at least one full body towel because they are a pain to find in Korea in my experience. Lastly, bringing some of the basic medicines you are used to taking is a huge help. While the Korean medical system is remarkable and affordable, it is comforting to have medicine you are familiar with taking. Personally, I am allergic to Tylenol so when I go to a pharmacy in Korea, tell them my issue, and then receive an unfamiliar medicine it can be stressful. Luckily, the Seoul-CIEE staff will come to your rescue for things like needing to translate in the medical space in times of need, which meant a lot to me when I got bronchitis. So in summary, I specifically recommend packing a familiar decongestant and cough medicine.
Now for the things you don’t have to pack from my experience of living in Seoul. When traveling internationally the limits on cosmetics you can bring can be a pain if you are a material girl like myself. So I am here to assure you that there is no need to bring any skincare or makeup products if they don’t fit in your suitcase. Of course you should bring your absolute favorite products, but I guarantee you that Olive Young has everything you need for a better price than your home country. Olive Young is my favorite beauty product store and sells skincare, makeup, haircare, body care, etc. However, if you have curly hair make sure to pack curly hair products. And if you plan to wear fake nails in Korea, don’t forget to pack your nail glue because it is impossible to find. As for perfume, which can be a pain to take through TSA, I highly recommend making your own at a perfume cafe in Korea instead of buying one at Olive Young. My final note on shopping at Olive Young is to bring your passport when you buy your first big haul of products. This is so Olive Young can give you Korea’s tax refund immediately, which can help you save significant money.
Daiso. I’m sure you have heard of it, but if you haven’t it's East Asia’s famous dollar store. The fact that America doesn’t have Daiso blows my mind because it is seriously that good. For every basic item you need, you can buy it at Daiso for cheaper. They have toothpaste, house slippers, contact lens solution, notebooks, bags, pajamas, skincare, haircare, fake nails, band-aids, pads, mugs, storage solutions, toilet plungers, shower filters, home cleaning items, laundry detergent, hangers, snacks, and disposable razors to list the most notable things. So as a tip, I would recommend going to Daiso and buying all your essentials first before going to Olive Young to save even more money. For example, I recommend buying a Vaseline, body wash, body lotion, hand lotion, razors, brushes, and rollers at Daiso instead of Olive Young. Then go to Olive Young, and use KakaoTaxi afterwards to return to your dormitory with your comically large duffle bags of merchandise.
I’ll quickly include a first-timer's guide to Daiso and what essentials you should buy when living in Korea. First, be sure to purchase a shower filter, which I have added to the carousel of photos on this post for reference. These filters will save your hair because Seoul’s water is particularly harsh and can even cause people to lose hair. Next make sure to buy a pair of house slippers and a pair of shower slippers. This is because in Korea, you should take off your shoes when you enter the home culturally, so as a result people wear house and shower slippers. Additionally, buy a box of disposable masks to be in tandem with the culture. On the public transportation systems because it is so crowded, it can be helpful to wear a mask to avoid getting sick. But commonly people in Korea wear a mask if they are sick in an effort to be courteous to others.
Lastly, other places you can go to buy necessities if you run out of room to pack include ABCMart for your shoe needs. ABCMart is great for getting deals on famous brands like Fila, Puma, etc. However, I don’t believe they carry a US size 9 or above so if you wear a bigger shoe size definitely consider packing a few shoes as well as any shoe inserts you might need for walking in a big city. For cheaper electronic options I recommend heading to Artbox which has affordable headphones, chargers, mouses, styluses, and notebooks. For cheap accessories like rings, earrings, etc. I recommend going to Myeongdong and Hongdae and you’ll find stores everywhere.
I hope that this brief overview of my recommendations on how to pack when traveling internationally is useful. I wanted to write this post because I actually wish I bought less basic needs when I packed. This is because I later realized I could buy them all at places like Daiso and Olive Young for less money, sometimes more quality, and save necessary packing room. So happy packing and safe travels to wherever you may go!
Today I want to speak on the Topik Test--(the only official) Korean language proficiency exam administered by the Korean government. Taking the Topik exam is a great way to gain a formal gauge of one’s Korean language abilities since it is standardized, although the score is only valid for two years after taking the exam.
Today I will be recounting a little trip to Damyang Bamboo Forest in South Korea! For one weekend in early December, a couple friends and I took a short trip to Gwangju City--leaving Seoul for the last time before the weather got too cold!