Wow I can’t believe it’s already nearing the end of May! It seems like just the other day I was planning my trip, scouring the Internet for tips and ideas for my semester at KNU. This post will be a semi-informational guide for students planning on coming to KNU and if anybody actually reads this and has questions, please feel free to comment below and I’d love to help answer your Qs.
Ok so following my typical approach; let’s start with…
It ain’t cheap. I’d definitely save up a good amount of cash if you want to eat decently (aka not rice everyday). Like most University of Oklahoma exchange students at KNU, I received the housing and food scholarship from the university. Unfortunately, the food at the new dorm (there is a difference between the food at the old dorms and new dorms, I’ll explain in another post) is quite frankly, Absolutely terrible. If you can eat spicy foods, it won’t be as bad but the quality of food is just rough.
Now that said, one can eat pretty cheaply and in large quantities for nearly 5000₩ and there are some fruits you can find at a market near the old dorms. But I just want it to be known that most international students (including myself) underestimated the amount of money they would spend on food, because they expected the cafeteria food to be eatable. If you are not receiving the food scholarship, DO NOT BUY THE MEAL PLAN. I know many of my European friends did this and essentially wasted hundreds of euros on food they couldn’t physically stomach. Additionally, the food at supermarkets is more expensive than the market foods and you can’t buy any food to prepare because neither of the dorms have kitchens. So when you’re preparing a budget, know that food will take up most of your budget. In the next post I’ll write about some of the best/cheapest places to eat near campus and Downtown.
In South Korea
So leaving Daegu can be pretty cheap or pretty expensive. It all depends on where you go but going to Seoul can range from 17000₩ to 47000₩, one-way. The price to Seoul varies depending on how early you buy the ticket and whether you take the long train (3.5-4 hours), the fast KTX (1.5 hours), or the bus (3 hours). The bus is usually the cheapest and the ride isn’t uncomfortable at all (they even stop midway for 15 minutes so you can go to the bathroom and whatnot).
Going to Busan (from what I’ve heard) is very cheap and only an hour or so, around 7000₩ one-way, and other to other cities is pretty cheap. I really love going to Seoul but always have limited time to travel due to work on Friday so I spend a buttload of money on the KTX ticket ;/ You can buy train tickets online here:
Leaving South Korea
Leaving the country can be a bit costly, depending on where you go and how far ahead you plan. Going to Japan will be around $140 round trip from Busan/Daegu– again the price depending on how early you plan your trip. Don’t try and buy your ticket for May 5th (if you’re there in the spring) because everybody and their mother will be going there!!!!
Going to Vietnam and Thailand is also quite cheap, but check the season (monsoon/high or low travel season) and remember that for Vietnam most people need visas (super easy to do online, will write about it another post). Going to Jeju (still in Korea) can actually be quite cheap and flights should be booked through http://www.jejuair.net. Google Flights is my favourite site to find the cheapest tickets from Korea.
Traveling within Daegu can mostly be done be bus, subway, or taxi. Taxis are SO cheap here (in comparison to the US) and a taxi from the campus to downtown will cost around 5500₩ and they take cards. All the taxi drivers only speak Korean though so download Google Translator or a map of where you want to go before you get in. If you’re going out to party (not that I ever did that), just keep this in mind because the bus stops running around 12. The bus is pretty easy to figure out but can be confusing at first because not everything is entirely translated into English like in Seoul. Take the 410 or the 706 to go downtown from North Gate (it’s around 7 stops).
You don’t have to but it’s easiest to buy a T-money travel card for the buses, which can also be used in the subways in Daegu and Seoul. It’s annoying to whip out the 1400₩ for each bus ride when you’re in a crowded bus with the typical crazy Korean bus driver. You can buy these cards at a 711 or CU at North Gate. When it comes to the subway in Daegu, because there is no stop near the uni I rarely ever used it. It’s good to get around to different parts of the city if you just want to explore or go see the other universities in the area (Yeongnam).
Here is a picture of the KNU taxi card you get in your welcome packet but I thought some students may want it before they come just in case:
Clothes here can range from very cheap to very expensive. Again, it’s all about what you’re looking for but if you’re not the typical Korean size (aka size Small, small arms, and slender) you may not have much luck. My French, Moroccan, and Polish friends found it very hard to find tops and jeans that fit but my Malaysian and Japanese friend did not find it that hard. For guys, I’m not sure how difficult it is to find stuff in “European” sizes but for all, just know there are UNIQLO and H&M in downtown if you really need to get some clothes. I’m 5’5” and an American small but my long arms and bum really restrict me from buying anything here. In Seoul, there is more variation but the range of sizes (or lack thereof) is still pretty restrictive. In Seoul, Hongdae and Myeongdong station are great places to buy clothes, accessories, and shoes.
Shoes here are dope. Obviously Nike and Reebok will be more expensive than they are in the States, but there are so many sales that this isn’t always true. Here in Daegu, the fashion is a little more on the conservative side but there are still plenty of options. I would recommend buying fall/winter boots at home though, because the booted heels here are not that comfortable and a little on the expensive side (take this with a grain of salt though because I was here in February-June aka probably not the best time to be looking for boots).
So, the dorms are what actually worried me the most before I came and I’d say with good reason. Firstly, the rules of the new dorm Chumsung-gwan were not told to me before I came:
- The dorm elevators are separated by gender.
- The dorm floors are separated by gender and boys can’t even go on girl’s floors.
- If you arrive after 1 am, you get “penalty points” so 2 points each time you use your card key between 1:00 am–4:59 am. Now, they don’t really count the exchange students’ points and I know that for a fact but the administration kind of scares you into coming before 1 am in the beginning.
***The old dorm buildings are separated by gender and I believe they may count the penalty points more***
Now the cost of the dorms wasn’t really a factor for me because I received the dorm scholarship, but I believe it’s not too expensive for a semester at such a good uni with pretty decent facilities. I believe it is around $1000 with the meal plan in the new dorms but I honestly am not entirely sure.
Things You’ll Need to Buy for Your Room:
Comforter: Prices can range from 30,000-70,000₩ and it depends where you buy it. My roommate bought hers from the Small Gate market but I got mine from Emart. Hers was more expensive and better quality, but for 4 months I would spend just the 30000₩.
Bottom Blanket Thingy: ok so here they don’t really use sheets so you won’t be able to really find them. What you will find is this kind of thick quilt-like thing that covers the mattress. I bought a mattress topper that had a cover on it and it was actually a lot better because the mattresses here are like rocks (it was 30,000₩ from Home Plus). If you really want sheets, you should bring a set of twin sheets.
Pillow(s): I bought a bigger pillow for 15000₩ and a small one for 10000₩ from Emart.
Light Blanket: I don’t know why I needed this but I just did. It cost around 10000₩ from Emart.
Trash Cans: You can actually find some leftover from the semester before but they’re usually disgusting. These cost 1000₩ from Daiso.
*~*~*~* QuiCK DAISO PlUg ~*~*~*~*
Ok so if you’re as broke as I am, you want to get everything as cheaply functional as possible, Daiso is the place to go. Daiso is like the hybrid between the Dollar Store and Target, and they have the coolest stuff and mostly everything is under 5000₩. I would recommend getting trashcans, hangers, umbrellas, water bottles, mirrors, hooks, nail polish remover, makeup remover wipes, snacks, mini rugs (if you have holes in your floor like I did), little souvenirs, mini Korean flags, desk organizing stuff, cleaning supplies, plates, utensils, school supplies, toilet paper, bathroom soap, shower curtain–
PRETTY MUCH ANYTHING YOU WANT CAN BE FOUND AT DAISO
*Other than clothes, bedding, electronics, and fresh food
So hit it up! There is a Daiso at Small Gate, North Gate, and Downtown. I’d recommend taking a big empty backpack to the one in Downtown because that Daiso is the biggest and you’ll most likely be taking the bus. I say this because the Small and North Gate Daisos will be ransacked the first few weeks lol.
I ended up spending around 300,000₩ total on my room, but you may spend less or more.