My good friend Brian over at http://thebrianhealy.wordpress.com/ and his girlfriend, Edel, are coming to Korea! Horray! Over a conversation on whether Pepsi Max was available here or not, Brian gently slipped it in that perhaps I could do a “what NOT to bring” blog. So here it is.
There are just too many times that I see people who have just arrived with a years supply of things that we have in abundance here. Three years ago though, I was one of them and if truth be told, my suitcases were a mess when I arrived. If you’re coming from Ireland, you probably get one large suitcase so think carefully about what to bring. While you’re doing that here’s a list of things you definitely shouldn’t;
1. A year’s supply of anything. I arrived in Paju with a years supply of toothpaste, deodorant and contact lenses. What a waste, especially the contact lenses. You can get everything here. Whatever you hear of items not being available in South Korea is utter rubbish. Don’t bring a years supply of anything because you can find it here anyway.
2. For the girls; Don’t bring a million “going out” clothes, shoes or dress shirts that don’t button up to the neck. Going out here is not the same as going out in Ireland or anywhere else. In summer, I go out in flip-flops, shorts and a t-shirt and in winter I go out only when I’m forced! Seriously, don’t waste the space, bring a maximum of 2 dress, 1 of which you can use for the big events at school. Same with shoes. If you are European size 40-41 bring a few pairs. Otherwise, only bring the absolute essentials as you can buy shoes cheaply here. Showing cleavage here is a no-no. Don’t bring any shirts that don’t button up or tank tops. On this issue, remember that we take our shoes off every time we go inside, so there is no point bringing knee-length lace up boots or shoes that need instructions.
3. Pets. Don’t even consider bringing your pet unless you can’t possibly live without it. If you’re over for a year of travelling then a pet will just add stress of who’s going to take care of it while your gone etc……
4. Lotions and potions; We have every lotion and potion and about a trillion more available here. Don’t waste space by bringing loads. It’s the same with shampoo and conditioner, all available at the local Emart or Home Plus.
5. A mobile phone, cds , dvds, books; Korea is the country of smart phones, get one when you arrive. Why would you bring cds or dvds when you can buy it all on the internet? P.s. The internet in Korea is the 2nd fastest in the world so don’t bring a preconceived notion that we don’t have internet here. I love the feel of a good book but don’t bring them to Korea. If you’re a serious book reader then buy and stock your Kindle. If you don’t have one/ have no interest in buying one remember that you can buy all English books from What the Nook and other English book stores in Seoul.
6. Duvets, sheets, pillowcases; I know someone who brings her own sheets everywhere. That’s fair enough but there’s no need to bring your own sheets to Korea. Believe it or not, Korea has a million stores that sell everything essential for beds.
7. Too much medicine; Korea does medicine like no other country. If you go to the doctor, you’ll walk back out with about 6 different, unknown drugs to make you better. We also have Tylenol and other familiar medicines here so there’s no need to panic.
8. Mosquito Nets; Samuel Cowan asked me to mention this one especially. Don’t bring a mosquito net with you, there’s simply no need. Yes, we do have mosquitos. No they don’t carry diseases in the cities. If you really want, you can buy them here.
Huge thanks to Trevor Van Dyke, Erin Ruth Bush, Asrune Whitney Reed, Siobhan Stewart, Katie Doherty and Conor O Reilly (http://ifihadaminutetospare.wordpress.com/) and of course Samuel Cowan for contributing to this blog!