Life as an Expat

10 EPIK Haikus

As my year with EPIK comes to a close, I find myself thinking a lot about the experience. Below are 10 haikus that reflect what I’ve learned while living, teaching and traveling in South Korea (though really they’re applicable to anyone teaching or living abroad anywhere!).

 


Too Short for Korea




Too ShortAs a 6’2″ waygook, I have never experienced the problem implied by the title of this post. In fact, it’s usually the exact opposite for me. Every day I exit buses with extra care and walk under umbrellas at local markets like Quasimodo. Koreans, young and old, marvel unabashedly at my towering presence.

Yet somehow, despite a constant self-awareness of my height, these days I’m feeling a bit…short. You see, in the military, to be or feel “short” actually has nothing to do with how tall a person is. Instead, it means that one’s contract or tour of duty is coming to an end; and that’s precisely where I’m at with my EPIK journey.


Naver Get Lost Again: A Guide to Bike Paths and Bike Travel in Korea

Naver is to Korea what Google is to America. It’s the go-to search engine and directions provider. And as far as mapped-out bike paths are concerned, Naver and Korea are both way ahead of the game. While it can be intimidating to stare at a screen filled with Korean words (there is no English setting, sorry), it’s actually still very possible to navigate. Here’s how:

To find a bicycle path near you:

1. Go to Naver Maps and zoom in on your desired location. Move about the map by clicking, holding and dragging. To zoom in and out, use the + / – feature placed vertically on the righthand side of the screen.


A Take on EPIK Intakes: When to start?

Native teachers enter the EPIK program via one of four different intakes: Winter, Late Winter, Fall, and Late Fall. Regardless of when they start, all teachers receive the same pay and benefits; and no intake is reserved for hiring more or less experienced teachers.  So when it comes to beginning your year in Korea, objectively speaking, no time of the year is better than another; and one could argue it really doesn’t matter. But after giving it some thought, I’ve realized there actually are pros and cons to arriving with each intake; which really means (if you have the luxury and freedom to choose) it is important to consider when you’d like to embark on this adventure. To make the comparison easier, let’s generalize the intakes into two groups: Winter and Fall.


Jeju Trip and My First Visitor!

Whether you’re living abroad or just far away from home, nothing beats seeing a familiar face. Not only is it fun to play tour guide and show off a bit of your newly-acquired cultural knowledge. It’s also wonderful to feel like you’re a little closer to home, if only for awhile.

Two weeks ago I was able visit my best friend’s dad on Jeju Island while he was traveling for business in South Korea! It was fun to get away for the weekend, and even more fun to see him! Though our time together was short, we made the most of it by sampling the native foods of the island (black pig pork), hiking one of Jeju’s many volcanic craters, and soaking up the seaside views.


My Renewal Decision and 4 Life Lessons That Helped Me Make It

After thinking heavily about whether or not to renew my contract with EPIK, I’ve decided to return home in August. Signing on for a second year would offer me several enticing financial benefits and mouthwatering travel opportunities. And I’ve had a positive experience at my school, where I would continue to work if I were to renew. But during my time in Korea, I’ve learned or re-learned four life lessons, and made some new discoveries about myself, that have persuaded me to wrap things up at the one-year mark.


Trial and Hair-er – Getting A Haircut In Korea

Getting a haircut is usually a rather mundane part of everyday life. But when you’re an expat living in another country and you don’t speak the local language, it suddenly becomes a much more exciting and emotional experience. Every snip of the scissors and buzz of the clippers sends a rush of trepidation down your spine; because beyond uttering a few broken words of Konglish and showing the barber a picture of your desired style, there’s really not much you can do but sit back and watch in a state of helpless paralysis as he begins to sculpt your scalp. We all like to think “it’s only hair, it will grow back if I don’t like it,” but when we’re suddenly faced with having to practice what we preach and live with the consequences, our thinking drastically changes.


It Takes A Village

Starting last week my school moved to its new, permanent location about 20 minutes outside the city. The campus is absolutely huge and beautifully tucked into the valley of some small mountains with a distant view of the ocean (pictures to come later)! However, it makes for a bit of a longer commute and especially for me, since I don’t have a car, a slightly more complicated journey to and from school.


The Beauty In the Ugly

Gajisan - Yeongnam AlpsWoody Allen is quoted saying, “Eighty percent of life is just showing up.” But after coming to teach English and live in South Korea, I’ve come to believe it’s about much more than that. One-hundred percent of life is about showing up with the best version of yourself.


The Sounds of the Jimjilbang

I recently mustered up enough courage for my first trip to a Korean spa, locally known as a jimjilbang. Lots of public nakedness was had by all, and I left feeling relaxed and squeaky clean. While parts of it might be a tad exaggerated for comedic purposes, this song I made pretty well captures the experience, which was great but also slightly scarring. Apologies in advance for my mediocre singing voice, ‘guess I need to hit the norebang more often. Enjoy!

The Sounds of the Jimjilbang

 


Syndicate content
 

Koreabridge - RSS Feeds 
Features @koreabridge     Blogs  @koreablogs
Jobs @koreabridgejobs  Classifieds @kb_classifieds

Koreabridge - Facebook Group