My last month in South Korea went by quick with finals and planning for my last days after finals are over. Final exams was more difficult than midterms, if you take Korean language classes. Midterms was more about the Korean alphabet and vocabulary whereas finals was about sentences, writing, and grammar. Looking back on the classes I took, I learned a lot and really want to keep up with learning Korean so that when I visit Korea again I’ll be able to communicate with the locals better. The instructors were really fun and were always willing to help students understand and answer their questions about why certain language rules are the way they are.
Since finals was the second week of December, I pretty much stayed near campus for those two weeks and kept myself busy with studying and finding out my plans for after exams, since we do also have to find our own transportation from campus to the airport. The weekend right after exams ended a small group of friends and I went to Lotte World and Lotte Tower in Seoul. Lotte World is an indoor amusement park and has an outdoor part too which is a decent size. I’d recommend to come visit Lotte World at least once if you’re ever in Korea. The only issue we had is that since it was beginning December, the weather was cold. So, when we were exploring the outside part and in line to wait for rides, we were freezing. We stood in line for almost two hours for our first ride outside and I’d say it was worth it. What surprised me was how many of the locals were wearing skirts and no coats. Lotte World has a popular thing where you can go rent a high school uniform and wear it for the day while you’re having fun. So many people were wearing uniforms, but I guess it makes the experience a bit more fun. After spending most of the day at Lotte World, around 6PM we walked over to Lotte Tower, which has 123 floors and at the top of the tower you can see so much of Seoul. We even saw Lotte World from the sky view, which I will include a photo of. Although it was at night, we could still see so much and see the city lights. It was very beautiful. The four of us stayed in an airbnb not too far away and we also went back to Myeongdong to do some shopping. When I got back to my dorm, my roommate had already packed all her things and left and I was sad we didn’t get to say goodbye.
After the weekend ended it was makeup week. Makeup week is a week where instructors could add an extra day or two of classes if they needed to in case the class was behind or they had to cancel a class some time throughout the semester. We were told when the semester started to not buy a plane ticket back home during makeup week because we don’t know if our instructors will be having a makeup class. I was taking a Korean Writing class on Thursdays, but one thing about this class for this semester is that Chuseok Holiday and National Foundation Day (major Korean holidays) landed on Thursday, so we had two less class sessions and the instructor decided to have them during makeup week on Tuesday and Thursday, even though we took the final exam the week prior.
Before final exams even began, I knew I had to book an airbnb or hotel for my last few days in Korea since I would be busy during finals week and have no time to look. I wanted to do more things in Seoul that I didn’t get to do yet and also go back to COEX since I didn’t get the full experience last time because it’s so huge. I planned where I wanted to do most of my things, which ended up being in Gangnam. I knew I would also have to find a way from Seoul to the airport with all my luggage, so I kept it in mind when looking for places. I found it very convenient to stay at an airbnb right next to COEX because what’s right next to it is the City Airport Terminal (CALT). CALT is an airport transportation service. You can also check in there with your airline and bags. Depending on which airline you are using, they may or may not have the option for you to check in there, so it’s best to check their website and make sure your airline is available at CALT. I’d highly recommend using this to get to the airport if you want to stay in Seoul but also have a lot of luggage you don’t want to drag around with you. You basically check in your bags, go through immigration, and if you’re ready to leave to the airport just buy a limousine bus ticket at the machine and board the bus when it’s time. Keep in mind you won’t see your suitcases again until you land at your destination, therefore, you will not be able to see it at Incheon airport. I found this really helpful because I had two heavy suitcases and a carry on. After checking in my bags, I went through immigration, got my bus ticket, boarded, and left Seoul to Incheon. Since I completed most of the airport process at CALT, I didn’t have to do anything but go through security at Incheon airport then head to my gate. Overall the process was very quick. When I went to CALT, there was no line for baggage check and it was mostly empty. Thankfully they had my airline so I was really set on my plans for the remainder of my time in Korea. Hotels were a bit pricey for the area too and I was going to be staying for three days and two nights in Gangnam. Everything worked out though.
For my last three days in Korea I left campus early Thursday morning with a friend to Seoul. I packed all my belongings and cleaned my room at least two days before leaving. We took the KTX train so we could get to Seoul quicker. The KTX train does have a luggage storage area for suitcases and larger bags. We were trying to go to House of BTS early so we wouldn’t have to wait long in a line later. She helped me carry my other suitcase all the way to my airbnb which I’m very thankful for and treated her to a late lunch later. After dropping off my bags at my airbnb, we went straight to House of BTS. It was my second time there, but her first. Since I wanted to go back and get new merchandise they released, I invited her to join me since she didn’t get a chance to go. We ended up having to wait two hours since it took a while for us to get to Gangnam anyways. We decided to eat curry for a late lunch and walk around the area to shop. We spent most of our time in Artbox getting last minute souvenirs for family before heading back to our lineup queue time. Once we entered the House of BTS, we got what we wanted and proceeded to the photo zones. This time I got to go to the top floor since last time it was raining and I think they closed off the part of it that was outside. After we got out, it was dark, but Seoul is known for its nightlife in some areas so we didn’t stop there. We went to Apgujeong Rodeo, which is still part of Gangnam and a place I really wanted to see. This area is known for their street fashion, K-Star Road, and shops. We happened to come across NANA’s piercing, which is a piercing shop many Korean idols come to and get their ears pierced, such as GOT7, Seventeen, Girl’s Generation, Monsta X, etc. Their walls are covered in autographs and short messages to NANA. I got my ear pierced here because I know I wanted a third piercing in Korea because it’s cheaper here. Surprisingly, it cost me roughly $15 USD for the piercing and jewelry. I think in America getting your ears pierced by a needle and not a piercing gun would cost a lot more. It didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would, considering my fear of needles, and it also went by super quick. My friend watched the whole thing and told me she jumped a bit when they did it. We walked around the area a bit more but because it was getting late not many things were open anymore. From there we got on the subway and split up. She went to her airbnb and I went to mine. The next day I had a hair appointment in the morning that I scheduled online. They spoke English and had great reviews so I chose to go there to get my haircut. They washed my hair and it was the first time I had two people drying my hair at the same time. The one washing my hair asked if I like BTS and I said yes. We talked about our favorite members and going to their concerts. When I got back to Samseong station, which is the subway station I exit to my airbnb and COEX, I went to SMTOWN first. I think they were doing an event because I saw the hand prints of all the SM artists outside. The rest of my day was just shopping and walking around. Saturday was my last day in Korea. I was sad to leave but excited to go home. I definitely want to go back to Korea in the near future and meet up with the Korean friends I made. Some things I didn’t do because I wanted to experience it with family. Korea is a place I’d live in too if I get the chance. It’s an amazing country and I didn’t want to leave. I wish I could’ve stayed longer.
Last modified: January 8, 2020