Preparation for my semester abroad

Packing up my stuff

When you prepare to leave, everything is quite done but you forgot about the Visa..
Ones who lived abroad for a while know, that there is a lot of preparation needed before you actually can leave. It depends if you go for work or study. In this post I will talk about my personal preparation, difficulties and things I would do differently on another time.

The right amount of clothes

If you study and you have the possibility to do a semester abroad, I would highly recommend you to take all your courage and go for the experience.

Short list about my to does:

  • In the beginning of the studies, every student was able to participate in an online session, where HWZ informed about studying abroad. Students exchanged their experiences
  • Decide that you would like to go for an exchange semester
  • Inform your university about your desire to study abroad
  • Decide where you would like to go
  • with our program director we had a meeting about the possibilities of studying in Asia – as I was planning to go to China
  • due to covid19 it was not yet recommended to study in China, so I choose a different country
  • I handed in a list to the person in charge for exchange semesters
  • The university accepted my choice (which obviously was Korea) and handed me out some documents I had to fill out
  • I applied via AsiaExchange and had to hand in some other documents (I will write another story about this)
  • wait for AsiaExchange to confirm your application
  • inform your employer about your plans and find a good solution
  • Book a flight
  • apply for Visa (for Korea I had to arrange an appointment in the embassy – be sure to set the date early enough)
  • find an accomodation in Seoul – more insights here
  • organize administrative and insurances (health insurance, non-occupational accident insurance, homeowner’s insurance)
  • prepare your course list
  • register for courses when it is the time to
  • pack your stuff
  • make sure you have minimum two different credit cards
  • say goodbye to family and friends
Preparation vid

For me, since I choose to leave and until I actually left, the time passed by so fast. At the end I felt a little bit like I had not enough time. But when you have to catch the flight, there is no other option than go. Still, I felt like I started to prepare myself to late. I could have done different things a lot earlier, like setting an appointment at the embassy in Bern, or the packing – the packing I did the evening before with my best friend – without her, it would have taken me years, I’m sure.
In May I got the definitive confirmation, that I am able to study in Seoul, at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, shortly after, I booked a one way flight to Seoul which was not too expensive (around CHF 700.-).
Thankfully the company Coople (Schweiz) AG, I work for, supported me with my decision and I was able to take a sabbatical of 6 months. I appreciate this possibility so much. I have a lot of security, don’t have to look for a new job, and I just didn’t wanted to leave such a good employer. So I had to prepare everything for my leaving also in the company, which was a little bit stressful, but also I learnd a lot. Also, I quite the flat I lived in for a long time, some stuff could be sold, all the other things are now at my parents home, waiting for me to move into a new home when back. With the insurences I was quite lucky and it was also easy. As I moved out of my home, my homeowner’s insurance consultant contacted me and asked me if I need a new one, and he actually prepared everything for me, so that I have an insurance while travelling. Also at the company, they gave me all the information for the non-occupational accident one, which I could fill out online. The health insurance I actually just left it the way it was as I am so well covered all over the world (that’s probably why it makes it so expensive ;)). I’m glad I didn’t have to worry about this too much.

the goodbye party at streetparade

What I could have done better was the way I got my Visa. As it is written in the embassy, that you should ask for Visa shortly before you leave, because it takes them excactly 10 working days to prepare it – and it also counts from that day, even if you leave directly or a month later. So I thought, that I do not need to stress about this too early, which I liked. But suddenly out of nothing, I had this thought in my brain, that I should probably still settle an appointment. Of course I was too late and all the dates were already fully booked. I had a shock and was close to overreact, but the Korean embassy is totally friendly. They asked me to hand in the confirmation of my flight and the one of my university and they will check if there is a possibility for me. So shortly after I handed in the documents, they provided me an extra day, which is not supposed to be a day for the visas, on the 5th of August in Bern. I got my Visa on the 19th of August and my flight was on the 20th. Again I’m so lucky. And of course the embassy is just so nice. The Visa I could just download and that’s it.
Back in August, It was still the time when we needed to have a negative Covid test to enter Korea – and believe me, after Streetparade, you cannot be sure. So, I was shacking again and hoping for the negative result – I was again lucky :).
Now, there is nothing which can hold me back from leaving. Everything is packed and I said goodbye to all my family and friends.
Waving hands!

Visa application

Have you been on an exchange semester or did you leave the country for a long time? Tell me about your experiences ⬇️

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