Written on 13 Jan 2021.
I landed in Seoul on January 2nd. The airport staff was very helpful and friendly. They helped me install the self-quarantine protection app and asked questions to make sure I did not have any symptoms. The app detects where your phone is located and if it used. You get notifications if the phone has not been moved for a while, saying ‘The cell phone has not been moved for too long and a message has been sent to the responsible officer’. In addition, it’s mandatory to check your temperature twice a day and confirm that you don’t show symptoms like coughing, sore throat or dyspnea. If you fail to do so before 10 am or after 8 pm you get a notification ‘You have not made self-diagnosis yet’.
After the app installation, the normal border control took over. The airport was ghostly empty. That was also the case in Frankfurt. The whole economy class on my plane was only filled with 15 people. A taxi took me first to a test center to get my PCR test and then to my quarantine place. I’m staying with RoomNKorea, a platform based on long-term stays now specialised for quarantine. The complete process from departure until arriving in my accommodation was super convenient and made the start in Korea seem welcoming despite the Covid-19 crisis.
I get food delivery every morning between 7 am and 9 am. I’m not very picky usually with food and eager to try new food. But getting sushi, French fries or a potato for breakfast, it’s pretty unusual to me! The good thing is that you know what it is! For lunch and dinner, I’m provided with a bento with Korean vegetables, meat, and fish, one bowl of rice, and one bowl of soup for lunch. I never really know if I should heat up my food or eat it cold! But you learn to deal with it and adapt. After all, it's only for a short while. Quarantine feels like I'm on a strict diet.
Before classes started on January 11th, I read a lot and watched series to keep me busy.
On January 8th, we attended an orientation session with Sungkyunkwan University (SSKU). Dean Eric Shih delivered a welcome address. Many questions were addressed: curriculum and policies, student life and IT services, library services, and living in Korea. The welcome session gave me a great overview of what to expect in the next 120 days (as Dean Shih counted). Covid-19 has of course an impact on the facility usage and university system. Classes take place in hybrid mode, students can either attend class on campus or online. Rules, such as having the camera on, are introduced to make the best out of this solution. Sport facilities and cafeteria are closed for now.
Classes started on January 11th, structuring and brightening my days. I will move out of quarantine on Saturday 16th which I look forward to.
I will move in with 11 of my peers to have a big flatshare in the district Myeongdong. I am very much looking forward to exploring the city of Seoul and Korea. I want to generate as many memories as possible, both on an academic basis and with my fellow students from Paris and the MBA students at SKKU GSB on a personal level.