The Woes of Packing

Need I say more? I’m pretty sure the title is self explanatory. Packing is always such a chore. Everyone gets all excited about leaving and all the stuff that you are going to do and buy and experience, and so packing is never on the forefront. But we have to do it. Maybe I’m just a little too meticulous when I pack, or maybe it’s how I’m indecisive, but I always put off packing until the very end.

The way I pack:

1. Look at the recommended list.
~~ 2 weeks later ~~
2. Look at my closet.
3. Pull out my suitcases.
~~ 4 days later ~~
4. Generate my own packing list.
5. Make it specific.
6. Dump clothes into the suitcases.
7. Decide it’s too messy so take everything out and fold it but leave it on the floor.
8. Crosscheck clothes on the floor with my new packing list.
9. Put clothes in suitcase.
10. Add and remove clothes.
~~ 2 days before I leave ~~
11. Last minute shopping!
12. Place bags in suitcase but don’t pack properly.
~~ 1 day before I leave ~~
13. Pack things more nicely,find missing items, but leave things out and about.
~~ Day that I leave. ~~
14. Get all the gifts and such for friends and people in korea.
15. Finish packing but don’t weight it.
~~ 2 hours before I leave ~~
16. Maybe we should weigh the pags to make sure they aren’t overweight.
17. As you walk out the door, run through the list in your head and grab last minute items and stuff them in the little pockets and empty corners.
18. Get everything into the car and off we go. 😀

My dad is under the firm belief that it took me a full month to pack…  I’ll just say I’d been talking about packing for about a month….


Class Selection and Registration

Class selection is something that I had to do as part of the original application process but it was definitely a little harder  since I couldn’t see what classes would be offered for this coming semester. It was still pretty straightforward though and the portal at Yonsei has the ability to filter by english taught courses and by college/major.

Cool fun fact: Spring semester in Korea is considered the first semester of the school year.

As an engineering major I had to pick classes that could count for credit and would help with fulfilling major requirements. Something that was super awesome: finding an E102 elective was actually fairly simple. I had to talk to my professor and ask him what would count for an alternative. The answer: most engineering courses that contain the word “control” in the title. So all I did was search for control and find classes in the engineering department. After gathering a list of classes and their syllabi I had to request a petition through the engineering department to get them approved so that if I were to take those classes, I know that they would count for credit (this process was also part of the Mudd Application Process).

In terms of non STEMS classes, I thought about what I was interested in, then went through to see if it was taught within the last year. If it hadn’t I crossed it off my list, if it did, I kept it on to see if it would be approved by my HSA advisor. CIEE also offered a course called Intercultural Communication and Leadership course that uses discussions and cultural engagement activities to promote personal leadership, cultural self-awareness and such. It actually sounded pretty interesting and I decided that if I could fit it in my schedule, I’d go for it.  In the end, a lot of the final decisions boiled down to what I was required to take and what I could fit around that.

My final schedule turned into Korean Language everyday for 2 hours in the evening, the E102 alternative (Mechanical System Control) twice a week, an engineering tech elective (Antenna Engineering) twice a week and Korean Philosophy once a week, kind of like a super hum. Total credits: 15, and it corresponds roughly with the Mudd system which is nice. The program only allows us to take 15-18 credits. Unforetunately (or maybe foretunately) for me, I couldn’t get another 3 credit class to fit within my schedule.

Something that I need to remember… in order for them to count as credit back at Mudd. I need: a B or higher in the two tech courses, and a C or higher in the two hum courses.

Next Steps

After hearing back from both Mudd and CIEE there is definitely so much more to do.

One of the first things for me was getting my passport renewed since it must be valid for the entire stay and also I think for a month afterwards. That took a little while and I had to notify both Mudd and CIEE that some of the information I was submitting was going to be wrong since I was using my old passport information. It wasn’t too bad though.

On the Mudd side, you have to turn in the program acceptance letter, the intent form and all the insurance, emergency card, all the other forms and checklists. Some of these were extremely annoying and involved calls home to get updated information, or requesting physicals. Some of them required traversing campus to find offices in order to get signatures. Then there was pre-departure orientations, both as meetings, and online workshops. Then you had to email Student Accounts to let them know the days that you will be abroad so that they can give you a quote for the plane tickets and whatever money may be needed if there is no meal plan at your abroad school.

Once you bought your plane tickets, you had to turn in your itinerary to both the Office of Study Abroad and the Office of Student Accounts so that the first knows when and where you’re going to be when you’re abroad, and the second can give you the flight reimbursement so long as it was within the quote, or they would give you how much they stated in the quote if you went over.

On the CIEE side, there was a big long list of things to do on the CIEE accounts page. These included medical reports, housing surveys, and alien registration information. There was also 12 documents to read, which talked about phones, internet, arrival to Korea, online orientation, etc. Most of it was pretty straightforward and relatively easy but it’s all stuff that needs to get done.

Also, at some point I received an email about iNext which is an insurance policy that CIEE provides and so I also had to fill out that information for the complimentary (can I even call it that) insurance.

Then there was buying plane tickets, figuring out how I was getting money and packing. For buying plane tickets, I had to send an email to student accounts at Mudd and tell them the day that I was leaving and the day that I was coming back, then they gave a quote for airfare and my family helped me buy the tickets. Then we sent the itinerary with the reciept to student accounts to be reimbursed (either with the full amount, or the quote amount). With the plane ticket, CIEE said that if we showed up at the airport between certain hours on February 23, they would have someone come pick us up so on that end things worked out nicely.

Money. For food and such, my school provided me with a stipend and so that was awesome. I called my bank and told them that I would be abroad for Feb – June and so they made it so if I used my card, it wouldn’t freeze. However, my card has a transaction fee if I use it abroad so my dad and I tried to find cards that would have no transaction fee and/or see if I could get traveler’s checks. Now I have a credit card that works abroad and no transaction fees. Yay!

Packing… let’s leave that to a different day…

Once I got my new passport, I also had to get my visa. CIEE sent out a document that walked us through that process. They also sent us important documents that would allow us to get a studnet visa, including a certificate of admission and letters from both Yonsei University and CIEE. CIEE paid for the student visa so that was pretty awesome too. Through Travisa, we sent in our passport and the requirement information and application to the required office (the office you sent your documents too was determined was based on where you lived). CIEE paid for a single entry visa but when I asked around some of the other participants ended up receiving a year-long multiple entry visa. I wasn’t so lucky. I received a 4 month, single entry visa so I currently need to leave the minute I finish my studies. I might try to get that changed though so that I can stay longer and see Korea more.

Hearing Back From Everyone

I think my reaction to being accepted into my desired program was my most excited reaction towards any news (even over being accepted at Mudd… sorry!). I had received a call from the CIEE office in Maine 1-2 days after I turned in my application. In the beginning, when I saw that the caller was from Maine, I was like, oh boy, I must have forgotten something on the application and they are calling me to tell me to turn it in. I did not expect them to have such a fast turn around for their applications.

Either way, I was so happy that week because I heard back from both CIEE and Mudd and got the ok for both within 2 days of each other.

11:37 am. Oct 2. Such a fast turn around. Officially accepted into CIEE Spring 2015 Seoul Arts and Sciences Program!

9:36 am. Oct 3. Also a fast turn around. Approved by Harvey Mudd College to go abroad!

Guess who’s going to South Korea 😀

Even though I had heard back from both, there was still a part of me that couldn’t believe it. I called Dad and said out loud “way to burst my bubble” when he didn’t pick up the phone (I had forgotten that he was in Korea for a business trip at the time). Ran into Rhonda’s office and was bouncing off the walls (she said “I knew you would”). It was interesting because everyone believed that I would get in, but hearing it from friends and hearing it from them give such a different feeling (no offense guys!).

CIEE Application Process

This post is coming after the Mudd post even though I finished the application before the Mudd one. All you have to do is go onto the CIEE page and create an account. Then you add an application and it walks you step by step.

On their website, you have to submit general information, upload a photo ID and passport information, a personal statement, academic information and such. Then Rhonda helped with the home school nominationand any advisor task. You also have to send through snail mail your official transcript. Pay the $30 fee and then wait for a response.

Oh! I lmost forgot. CIEE also requires a faculty recommendation. They say you can either have the professor submit a letter or they have a little form the professor can fill out.

On their site, CIEE helps you with filling out the Yonsei Online application as well since you have to enroll in the school itself too so that walk through was pretty nice.

I’m really not sure what else to add. The application was pretty straightforward….

Mudd Application Process

The Mudd application process is actualy pretty straight forward. The form has 7 parts and most are pretty straightfoward or even just checking in boxes. Starting with personal data, you ten check off which classes you’ve taken that are a part of core, and which classes you’re currently taking. Then you find the classes you want to take and this is by far, the most time consiming part. After that comes foreign language experience if you’re doing language intensive, and then your personal statement. Some signatures and a couple faculty recommendations and boom. Application’s done.

By far the most frustrating part was getting the courses approved and making sure that any classes that could count towards graduation requirements or major requirements would actually transfer correctly. As an engineering major I definitely had to take more time on the course selection since there is a petition process. Since you get ABET accredidation when you graduate, the courses that you want/need to take abroad needs to be approved. Studying abroad as a second semester junior meant that I needed to find an E102 elective. When I asked my advisor, he said to just look for any engineering course that had the word ‘control’ and send him the syllabus as most of those usually counted. Always remember to have one or two backups just in case to. Then you fill out the student petition, wait to hear back and that part is done and you can then get the signatures required from your advisor. The HSA section is way more straightforward since you just need to go to your HSA advisor and get them to check off, let them know the classes you plan on taking and how that is going to work out with your concentration, then they sign off and you’re done.

Warning: Make sure you get the credits correct!

Personal statementwise… I found this extremely easy. I was super passionate about where I wanted to go and I knew why I wanted to go there. Writing it made me feel extremely repetitive though since I feel like I’ve shared it so much already but it was nice to have the thoughts written down instead of just spoken.

After you get all the signatures, faculty recommendations and everything else you need, just turn it into the Office of Study Abroad (OSA) and they’ll send you an email when the SA board approves your application. Mine took about a couple of days since they only review on certain days when they have meetings. Once you get the ok, you can then start the application process for your study abroad program. Or if your program deadline is around or before the Mudd application deadline, you do have the ok to start the process even if you haven’t heard back from Mudd.