The countdown begins – two months from today.
My flight departs from the Halifax Stanfield International Airport at 10:40 pm on August 20th,
and arrives at Incheon International Airport at 4:00am on August 22nd.
Halifax, I will miss you. I really will.
The big-city feel, fused with the comfort and hospitality one would associate with a small town. Mind you, I’m only going for a year, but it’s the longest I will have ever been away from home.
But, as Halifax will be missed, I bet Seoul is going to be a breathtakingly beautiful place to explore and discover. The photos of the city can only say so much – I’m sure I will better understand and appreicate it’s complexity and charm when I have the chance to see it with my own two eyes.
Now, onto the real point of this post – travelling may lead to unforgettable experiences, but if you’re thinking about participating in a student exchange, these are a few of the costs you should take into consideration.
Flight: One-way ($1000 – $1300 CAN) Round Trip ($1600-$2400 CAN) My suggestion? Go for the round trip. You can’t book your return flight a year in advance, but you can book it for 6 months from your departure date, and just call in and change it once you know your exact date of return. This change will only cost you $200.00 CAN – far cheaper than paying full price for two one-way tickets.
Health Insurance: $1.45 CAN/day ($530.00 CAN/yr)
Passport: $87.00 CAN
Visa: Single Entry ($55.00 CAN) or Multiple Entry ($88.00 CAN). Since you’re already travelling, it’s smart to get a multiple entry visa, as it’s cheaper, and on your breaks from classes, you will be tempted to check out the neighbouring countries – especially considering how cheap it is to fly in between Asian countries! Visit Japan or Thailand on your spring vacation, why not?!
Webcam and Microphone (Skype): Skype, the most amazing invention ever to grace our planet, allows you engage in online phone/video calls with people from all around the world, free of charge. With cheap webcams starting at about $24.00 CAN, you can communicate with potential families, roommates, landlords and friends, so that you can be sure you’ll have a roof over your head upon arrival.
Phrasebook/Travel Guide: Personally, I recommend the Lonely Planet phrasebooks/travel guides, as they are the most informative and are decently priced. Depending on the size, the book prices vary, but you’re looking at an average of $12.00-$14.00 CAN for the phrasebooks and between $25.00-$30.00 CAN for the travel guides.
Housing Costs: Rent in Seoul, for example, can start at about $250.00 CAN per month and continues to go up depending on your location. Most of the cheaper places are student housing units, that while afforable, probably aren’t as comfortable, or as spacious as some of the living quarters we might be used to in Canada. So far, it seems that most homestay families seem to be charging between $350.00-$500.00 CAN, but once again, that all depends on the family.
Residence: If you decide to live in residence, you will first need to pay the $215.00 CAN residence deposit, and you will likely be looking at around $250.00 – $500.00 CAN a month, depending on how many roommates you want, and how much privacy you’re hoping to get.
Proof of Self-Support during visit: Minimum $10,000 CAN showing in your bank account or line of credit. This may not be possible for all students, so it is common that parents will use their bank accounts to show the Consolate General of the Republic of Korea (for example), that you are able to support yourself in case of emergency.
So, that’s the somewhat “brief” runthrough of some of the costs that I have been faced with, and that you may come across should you decide to study abroad. It is an expensive process, but think about it this way – at least you’re putting your hard-earned money toward experiences and memories that will last a lifetime – instead of fancy materialistic things, that will eventually wear out!