8 Aug 2014

Studying Abroad 5: Posting Stuff Home (+ receiving mail!)

How to post parcels abroad in korea

For those who don't know, I am irrationally terrified of doing new things by myself. And by new things, I mean kind of important things, like going to the post office. It's irrational, I know, but I just flail about like an awkward thing and get really panicky that things won't work out well and the end result is psyching myself out of doing it.

Which is why I had days left in South Korea and still had three boxes of stuff that really needed to be posted. Just chillin' in my room. Awesome.

Thankfully, I put my big-girl shorts on and decided that enough was enough and that I really needed to post them home. And it turns out that Post Offices are not that scary in South Korea. Who knew.

Alternatively, this can be called 'That time when Fii lugged a 10.5 kilo box to the post office by herself'. Fun times? No, no it was not. No fun was had on that journey. But I was relieved that the heaviest box had vanished and since then I've learned a couple of things about packing and weight management and What Not To Do when carrying heavy things. Like: Don't.


So, you did what I did and realised that your shopping habits have landed you in a bit of a Sticky Predicament. Aka you have too much stuff to fit in your suitcase(s). Or you know, you just don't feel like your winter coats taking up half your packing space by sheer bulk, maybe you've got something that doesn't actually fit in your case. This means you can either throw the excess away, or ship it to your next destination.

To ship stuff, you need to know a couple of things. Like where is your nearest post office - for me that's the one at Yonsei. Although with all the construction going on right now, what would usually be a 10 minute walk takes me around 20 minutes through the maze that is the campus/hospital. Not fair. It's also handy to know the opening and closing times.

Once you've done all that, you need to actually pack your stuff into the boxes. Korea offers a number of sizes, five (5) being the largest, one (1) being the smallest. The cost of shipping your packages does not depend on size, it depends on the weight of the boxes and the country you're shipping to, so it might not be more bank-account friendly to ship one or two super heavy size 5 boxes than a few more size 3 or 4 of lesser weight. Unfortunately, I can't guarantee which will be cheaper, so sorry about that! Also, keep in mind that you can bring things to the post office and pack your boxes there, this saves having to do what I did and lug a really heavy box to your destination. It's seriously not fun, minus ten out of ten, would not recommend.

At the post office: you need to take a number. You may end up having to take more than one, but we'll get to that in a bit. Once your number is called, the clerk at the desk will ask how you want to ship your package. The most expensive, and also the fastest, is by EMS. Next up is by boat, cheaper but takes a while to get to where you're going. There is also international express mail, but I'm not entirely sure how that works as I only sent by ems... so... sorry again. > <

At the desk the clerk will also hand you an EMS form to fill in. Every time I went to the post office I was told to fill in the form a different way. The bulk of the form was the same, the address you're sending to, the address you're sending from, declaration of goods and things like that - though it wasn't always required that a Korean phone number be written on the form. On the last trip to the postal office it was apparently a requirement that a Korean phone number be written, so I had to borrow a friends - tad bit awkward there.

You can pay for shipping by either cash or card, and you'll be given a receipt that you'll want to hold on to just in case your package goes missing. You can also get your boxes insured and your postage tracked at this stage.  Once the clerk has given everything you need back to you, you can go! And your parcels will be sent.

A full list of rates of all the postage methods can be found here at the korea post website. It's in english, and quite easy to navigate.



RECEIVING MAIL.

This is actually really super easy. All you have to know is your building number, your postal code and what floor you live on. Oh and obviously the Road/rest of your address.  South Korea's entire address system was rejigged not too long ago, so they're still letting the old system run adjacent to the new system, which can cause quite a bit of confusion.

The address can be written in either english or korean, not too sure about other languages, but all my parcels that my mum sent got to me quite safely (and quickly) with the address written in english. She did print out the address in korean for one or two packages at the start too, just to be safe. Also be aware that there may be customs charges on the things you receive. These charges can be paid directly to the courier.

Also, if you're not in, you parcel may be left with a neighbour, or you may get a post-office slip that you need to take to the post office to pick up your parcel.

So yeah, don't stress, in my opinion it's far easier to receive parcels than send them, but that's only because carrying things isn't one of my favourite things to do.

I hope this helps all those wishing to post things home from South Korea ~~~



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2 comments

  1. Yup, I'm terrified to do new things by myself too.I've always need someone to encourage me to do something or I go for it out of nowhere, literally thinking the worst as I do so.But it turns out to be fine. :)

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    1. I think it's easiest to just go into the activity thinking 'well it's not going to go nearly as badly as I think it will'. Ahha. As I get older it's becoming less of an inhibiting thing, so that's good :D

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