Written By Fatima Ahmad
I would first like to congratulate you on your acceptance to Ewha Womans University GSIS program. If you are abroad you probably are wondering what the quarantine experience is like and the necessary steps you have to take in order to complete it. I also was in the same boat when I was planning my arrival to South Korea.
First, you must take a Covid test and have a negative result within 72 hours before your departure. Second, you must decide how you will complete the mandatory 14-day quarantine. There are different kinds of ways people have quarantined. The first is the government facility option which is a hotel stay for two weeks that covers the hotel and meal costs for that duration of time. The second option is to quarantine at your own residence, which is what I did.
When I first landed in Korea, after going through the quarantining process something that I’m very thankful that I did was get a Korean sim card. Having been here before I know that having a Korean number makes life much easier. This allowed me to do a lot more things such as order things for my house and take calls from delivery people.
How to Find Housing
I was lucky to have already secured an apartment in Korea and have friends who could help me out and here is how I did that. First, you must find a house. If you speak Korean well enough to communicate with real estate agents you can use websites like Zigbang that have a wide range of apartment listings along with the agents you should contact. Another way to find housing is through a real estate agent. The way I did it was finding housing through Facebook groups (Housing in Seoul is one example). Keep in mind that if you are looking to quarantine in your own residence you must be living alone and not in a shared apartment with others who are not quarantining. If you choose to find housing that is shared then they will make you do the government stay and you can go to your house once you are finished with the quarantine.
I was lucky enough to have someone who could communicate with my landlady and organize my stay before I got to Seoul. When I landed I was taken in a taxi to the house and got settled in. Later that day I walked to the district office to get my COVID test. My friends had stocked my fridge and got me essential items for the house before I arrived. Although this is not a luxury everyone has so instead I recommend using a bilingual service such as Wonderful who helped me when I needed to order furniture and groceries as well as speaking to delivery people for me. You can also order essential things for your house and life on websites like GMarket which doesn’t require you to have a Korean number associated with your Alien Registration Card.
When it came to food I often used food and grocery delivery services. The easiest app for me to use was Shuttle which has both English and Korean-speaking delivery people. Although Shuttle worked best for me due to the neighborhood I live in (Yongsan-Gu has the most restaurants available), another great option is Coupang Eats which has an English app. Coupang has more restaurants and is oftentimes faster than Shuttle. If you are more comfortable with Korean another option is also Yogiyo. For groceries, I used Wonderful (here is a helpful blog post about how to order and names of popular items) to place my orders with sites like Coupang Fresh, Emart or Market Kurly.
I started my quarantine only a few days before classes so most of my time was getting settled into school and classes as well as a lot of Netflix (Korea’s selection is better than the United States so I was really happy.) It was nice to unwind after the stress of moving your entire life to a new country.
Here is a summary of my tips:
- The easiest way to get through the quarantine process here in Korea is to have all your documents ready (printed out) and organized.
- Get a Korean sim card and number
- If you have a friend who lives in Korean, speaks Korean, and is willing to help you can use a real estate agent or a website
- If you have none of the above you can use an English-speaking real estate agent or Facebook groups.
- When ordering food you can use a full-service English app such as Shuttle or Coupang Eats for an English interface
- If you need groceries or household items there are websites you can order from without assistance such as GMarket or you can use a service like Wonderful and just send them links from websites you want to order from
- Lastly, I hope you enjoy your two weeks and take time to care for yourself and your mind. The upcoming semester will be busy but filled with fun new experiences.