Studying in Korea Visa

I got accepted for one academic year student exchange program in Far East University in Korea! It was a nerve wrecking wait but it was all worth it. I thought that it would be last part of waiting but boy, was I wrong??

Now that I got my acceptance letter I now have to apply for my Korea Visa! *whimpers in anxiety* I went back to my hometown (Zamboanga City, 1hr 45m flight from Manila) to get the necessary documents. Thank the heavens, I went home during the holidays, my mom was able to help me in acquiring my documents.

However, my requirements were slightly different from regular student visa applicantsAlso, I am writing this post because I thought future exchange students might have the same anxieties. 

I like that the Korean Embassy Website is up to date so I did not have to go to McKinley to check the requirements. But here is a list of the documents that I brought with me. All of which I got like around 3 weeks before my application.

Tip: The more recent the document, the better

1. Application Form (I downloaded this from the website and printed it on A4 paper)
2. Passport Original (should be valid for more than 6months)
3. 1 piece of Passport size colored picture (glue this on the designated box on the app form)
4. Photocopy of Passport Bio-Page
5. Philippines Last School Record Original (I brought my True Copy of Grades)
7.Copy of NSO Birth Certificate
8. Financial Supporting Document (the site says if you don’t have a scholarship you should provide on, however I had a scholarship but still brought these to strengthen my application)
– Original Employment Certificate of Parents (issued within 30 days)
– Original Bank Certificate of Parents/Applicant (issued within 30 days) I also had that 3               months average daily balance requested
– Photocopy of Parents’ ITR (Income Tax Return)
9. Original Admission Certificate from Korea
11. Memorandum of Understanding between FEU and UPLB
12. Recommendation issued by OIL UPLB

I haven’t been to any OECD countries so my application process would take 5 days and for those who have OECD countries’ visa then you only have to wait for 3 days. But ofcourse, the waiting is still contingent to the consul.

On top of all those documents, I had to undergo a medical test to prove that I don’t have TB. Knowing that 98% of Filipinos are exposed to TB, I understand that Korea had to be careful. However, do not fret. A medical exam is only needed if you have to stay for more than 90 days. Clearly, I had to get one since I plan to stay for more that 6 months.

The Korean Embassy only honors medical exams from their accredited hospitals. So, I went to Manila Doctors Hospital with my schoolmates. The medical exam plus TB test was pretty cheap, I thought I had to spend more than 1.5k but I only spent 600Php for the whole thing. Relatively cheaper to the other hospitals on the list. The whole medical exam only took us around 45m-1hr but we had to wait for the dentist for around 2-3hrs. Other than that it was a speedy process. I got my results after 3 days, thank God my results were negative.

Tip: Be early, MDH has priority numbering and y’know lines can get lengthy 

Now that I finished my medical and got my results, I was ready to go to McKinley to file my visa application Whew.

Being the south girl that I am, I had no freaking idea how to get to McKinley. So, my Kuya told me that from LRT Buendia, I just had to ride a cab. I’m not sure if my Kuya was kidding but I can’t do cabs. Cabs are really sscary. So, I got a grabcar instead and paid ~150Php from Taft to McKinley. So, there I was infront of the Embassy.

A queue was already forming when I arrived. Visa Filling is from 8:30-11am and I arrived around 7:40 and waited until the windows opened. First, you have to line up to get your priority number, here an officer will check your documents. Then wait for your number to be flashed. You have to be wary because they switch the numbers really fast like be at your window the moment your number is flashed. The consul switches the number in like 2 seconds so be fast.

When I got my number flashed, I just went to the window, gave my documents to the consul and she highlighted a few things on my acceptance letter and asked me to pay 2.7k for my D-2 visa. Then I just waited for 5 days to get my visa.

5 days after, another grabcar ride to McKinley, I arrived at the embassy at 12.50 since releasing is only from 1:30-4pm so I wrote my name on the list outside the embassy and waited for the guard to call my name. So I was in the Embassy at around 1pm, queued again for my number. Patiently, waited for number. At around 1:45 my passport was back on my hands, with a D-2 single entry visa valid for 1 year. That was then I felt like a huge thorn was plucked from my heart.

So now, I guess this is really see you soon Korea!

Major thanks to my parents for the full support, my orgmates for the comfort, my kuya and ate for the food, UPLB for the trust, and God for everything.

How It All Started

I actively scouted for Student Exchange programs since I joined an exchange students organization in UPLB. I have sent more that 10 applications to various summer schools, internships, and conferences before I decided to apply in the Office of International Linkages (OIL) of UPLB.

Our organization usually works with OIL, so when OIL posted a call for application for Far East University, I thought I should give it a try. I met tons of exchange students from FEU so why not.

It was quite a process. I had to get numerous documents from my College Secretary. I also had to ask a professor to write me a recommendation letter. I submitted my documents on the day of the deadline since I still had to wait for all the documents I needed.

Then the waiting game started. I knew that there were five other students who applied for the program, and I also knew that only three will be chosen. It was a contentious battle.

As a member of the exchange students organization, my orgmates told me about the selection process. It was (1) grades (2) essay (3) interview. It was a scary experience because on the first category I knew that I was not adequate enough only having a 2.5 grade weighted average, I was not strong enough. I had to depend on my essay. Since, they told me that the interview part only happens when you are able to pass the first two categories. So, I was really nervous.

Then, around two weeks after I got a message from OIL. I was called back for an interview! I was like holy shit is this real?? So, I messaged my ninang and asked for interview tips. I was very nervous about the interview. I mean I am very used to talking in front of a crowd but this was different.

Then the waiting started again, I waited for around 10 minutes outside the office for my interview. My ninang told me to wear something presentable, well for someone from UP who is very used to shirt, jeans, and a pair of sneaks I had to prepare. So, I ended wearing a stripped long sleeved chambray shirt, skinny jeans, and loafers. Ten minutes later, I was called in for the interview. Some of the titas in OIL knows me, since our organization worked with them in most events. So, I said hi and was asked to proceed to the meeting area.

It was nerve wrecking, as I sat across Prof. Collado. The interviewee before me had a lengthy interview, so I was really nervous. But she just remarked on me being able to speak five languages and said maybe that’s why I failed my math (lol). Then, asked me a few more questions on my financial capability, on which I answered that my parents will be supporting me. Then a few more questions on why I wanted to go to Korea. It was a short interview since she already knows me from my organization. Hooray for org connections!

A few weeks later, I received this email.

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So, I guess I’ll have to see you soon Korea!