Studying abroad in Korea: Packing like a pro

February 20, 2016

ISEP student Catherine J. is a part of ISEP Voices Spring 2016. She is a dance and costuming double major from University of Memphis, and is studying arts and Korean culture while abroad at Ewha Womans University in Korea.

As you’re getting ready to study abroad in Korea and thinking about what to pack, consider these insider tips that I’ve discovered since I arrived at Ewha Womans University. A lot of this depends on your tastes and needs. However, if you’re from the U.S., you definitely need to read this!

1. LOTS of Deodorant

This is something a lot of people don’t know. Korea has a very limited supply of deodorant, particularly stick deodorant. It’s hard to find, and really expensive. Deodorant that’s only half the size than average can cost over 9 dollars. Be prepared by bringing your own!

2. Adapter

Surprise! Korea has differently shaped outlets. Some recommend bringing an extension cord or power surge so you can plug in multiple devices without buying a lot of adapters. You can find cheaper adapters online, but buying one on site in Korea can cost around 7,000 won; roughly 7 dollars. Without some sort of extension cord, the price can really add up!

3. Clothes and Shoes and Bras

Now, this depends on your size. Average Korean clothes can go up to a U.S. size medium, but are generally around a size 2 and 4 for women. Shoes are no exception. You’ll have a lot of trouble finding shoes if you’re a U.S. size 8-10, especially if you’re looking for female shoes. An average American woman could probably find a nice fitting men’s shoe in Korea. Another tip for the ladies: if you’re over a B cup, you should probably stock up on lingerie before you leave.

4. Hair Dye and “Fancier” Shampoo

If you do not have Asian hair, stock up on hair dye and shampoo that fits your needs. What I mean by “fancier shampoo” is anything outside of a generic brand like Pantene or Head & Shoulders. You can actually find most generic brands in Korea.

5. Your Favorite Sauce

Yeah, sauce. This tip clearly isn’t for everyone, but if you have a particular sauce or condiment you like to use with a majority of what you eat, bring a big bottle of it! Chances are they won’t have it in Korea. This is also helpful if you find that you’re not as in to Korean food as you hoped you would be.


Here’s a couple of things you DON’T need!

1. Everyday Toiletries

As I mentioned before, you can find generic U.S. hair care brands in Korea. This stretches beyond hair care and covers generic brands for toiletries in general. Some include Loreal, Neutrogena, Johnson & Johnson, basically things you can find at Target. Even though these brands are imported, they’re still quite cheap. If these are your ideal products, you can just bring the minimum amount of toiletries.

2. Makeup and Skin Care

Korea is home to many unique and top-notch cosmetic brands. It’s actually one of the things the country is known for! As a Korean cosmetic enthusiast, I recommend taking this chance to try these products as much as possible. They can be very affordable and still reach the quality of some of the more expensive products in the West. Pack only what you need and explore the Korean cosmetic industry. You will find so many unique ingredients and concepts along the way, and feel good doing it!

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