To prepare for the trip to South Korea, I had to go through a bit of research. The first part was figuring out the timezone – the official timezone is GMT/UTC +9. I’ve worked out an algorithm to help me quickly figure out the time in Toronto and vice-versa: If it’s 8:00 AM, add an hour and change the AM to PM. Therefore, 8:00 AM Toronto time is equal to 9:00 PM Korean time – simple enough. Likewise, if it’s 6:00 PM in South Korea, substract an hour and change the PM to AM – 5:00 AM. This algorithm won’t work all the time because South Korea has not adopted Daylight Savings Time (but for the the purposes of the trip, it will work for myself and the Canadian students).
The second important consideration is power – South Korea uses European style power, two circular metal pins running at 220V 60Hz. Since I’ll be using my laptop extensively in the country (and a video camera, podcasting unit and so forth), I’ll need to purchase a power converter to a familliar plug with two parallel flat blades above a circular grounding pin running at 110-120V 60Hz.
The major spoken language in South Korea is Korean. I’ve picked up a Korean-English translation guide (although I suspect I won’t be using it that much). I also checked my favorite currency converter website (XE which has served me very well on trips in the past). One Canadian dollar is currently worth 864.77 South Korea Won. You’ll never know when you’ll be needing a bottle of water and so forth – I’ve found this really helpful guide on Lonely Planet to work out the equivalencies.
Next stop was Live.ca to figure out the weather in Seoul. I typed in the keywords “weather seoul” and got the following result:
When I clicked on the link – I got a 10 day forecast. It’s going to rain (a lot!) and it’s going to be quite warm. I’m going to definitely have to bring my umbrella and rain jacket! Canadians don’t need a special visa to enter the country as a tourist (as long as the visit is less than 180 days). I made note of the Canadian embassy address and contact information in Seoul – I’ll likely never need the information, but it doesn’t hurt to have it written down!