So I thought it was time to practice what I preach. For the last 6 years I’ve worked for Edinburgh Global and during that time I’ve lost track of how many pre-departure sessions I have provided for students and staff members.
Now, en-route to my staff exchange in South Korea, I thought it might be interesting to blog about my experiences. Is the advice I’ve been giving as easy to follow as it is to keep? Is it even useful? I guess we’ll find out!
OK that may have been a little disingenuous; of course it’s easier to give advice rather than to follow it! Never-the-less, I did make sure I followed this fairly simply checklist before leaving:
- Notified my bank I’m going to be in South Korea
Okay, so maybe this isn’t quite as straight forward as I often make it sound, but the option is there in internet banking, it’s just not always in an obvious place. I recently moved banks and while it took me 5 minutes to work out how to do this, it was still pretty easy. Top tip – some banks need advance notice so try to allow 48 hours if you can.
- Checked required vaccinations etc
Do this well in advance. The NHS website Fit For Travel is great and will quickly let you know if there are mandatory vaccinations for your destination. Thankfully South Korea required nothing I didn’t already have.
- Left a full itinerary with my family
Plan for the unexpected. I don’t think my wife will need the details of my flights, schedule or hotels, but if she does I know now she has it.
- Ensured I have all required documentation with me.
Again South Korea is pretty easy, I don’t need a visa for entry for a period less than 90 days, I just need a passport valid or at least 6 months after the conclusion of my trip. How did I know this? Am I a trained visa expert? NO! Absolutely not, but a little time spent researching visa requirements for South Korea a few months ago gave me all the information I needed.
- Printed a cheat-sheet of my hotel addresses listed in both English and Korean
This really should have been called ‘completed my risk assessment’ but I wanted to highlight that risk assessments are not just about terrorists, health and crime. Mine made me aware that English is not commonly spoken in South Korea. Given their language also uses a completely different alphabet which I’m not familiar with, what do I do if I get lost? Carrying the addresses of my hotels written in Korean means that, worst case scenario and I’m hopelessly lost, I can hail a tax and point at the address I want to go to.
All in all though I did find the preparation useful, sure there are parts I don’t think I’ll need / hope I won’t need, but it is best to be prepared.
In any case you’ll be relieved to hear that my flight is now boarding. I’m mildly concerned about how I know this, it’s very kind of Google to send an alert straight to my phone, but I’m certain I didn’t log this information with them… Hmmm, perhaps I should have read that data protection notification they sent rather than just agreeing to it…