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South Korea

What’s Passed is the Past

The training week for Company X was nerve wracking at best and nightmarish at worst.  The point of training week was to get us as prepared as possible for our first day teaching. You can either pass or fail training week, and if you fail you are sent home.

X’s training week layout makes sense for the company: They’re bringing in international teachers with only one year contract, so they need to train them as fast as possible and as cheaply as possible in order to make the most amount of profit.  They gave us nice shiny Samsung tablets and set us up for free in a nifty hotel. And the office building that training was conducted in was clean and comfortable.  And I think I made a friend or two. But the positives end there.


Training Day 1: A Terrible Afternoon at the Medical Center

I know I said I wasn’t going to post this week because I’d be too busy, but my first day of orientation was a special form of hell that definitely merits a ventpost.

Part of training with my company (that shall remain unnamed) includes, on the very first day of orientation, a medical exam. I never expected that a job position as an English teacher would demand such a humiliating, physically draining medical exam.

For one thing, we were told to fast before the medical exam, so during the morning training session I wracked with hunger. That’s why it was physically draining. It’s no big deal for me to skip breakfast and be a little hungry, but something about the jetlag and the act of being in a completely foreign environment made me SOOOO motherfucking HUNGRYYYYYYYYYYYYYY! I could hardly pay attention to the material we were covering!


Bukansan National Park: Finding Serenity in Seoul

Bukansan holds a Guinness World Record for the most visited national park in the world, with five million visitors a year. Today, I decided to be one of them and I’m glad I did.

You get to Bukansan by taking Line 4 to Gireum Station, then getting on some random bus (I can’t remember which one; I just followed someone who was going to the same place.) The closer and closer you get to Bukansan, the more the city changes from sleek and Westernized to traditional and calm. Surrounding the national park are high tech hiking clothes outlets, like Black Yak and North Face. It’s interesting to me that practically no Koreans would even consider hiking without their matchy-matchy pants and long sleeve shirts. How do they not pass out from heat exhaustion?!?!!!!  To them, I must’ve looked pretty crazy hiking alone in vans and casual street clothes. Oops.

Oh, and entry to the park is free!!! You just pick a route and go for it! Woo-hoo!


My first 24 hours in South Korea

Can I tell you something? I don’t actually like airplanes. Twenty-six hours total in flight. Nightmares, people. NIGHTMARES.

Things got better after the flights (there were three). Since I’ve already been to Seoul, I felt a sense of familiarity at Incheon International Airport, and on the subways.  It was weird after all those hours traveling to feel such a strong sense of returning.

I chose to stay at Dustin Guesthouse, a place I visited during my first trip to Korea. The first people I met were some Southern army boys boasting loudly about their affection for guns. Weird to travel halfway around the world to hear that conversation.


How to meet people in Korea (or at least Busan!)


You're going to have to kiss a lot of frogs before finding your Prince (or Princess!).  Thankfully there is a mixed bag of great people in Korea.  Photo by Joel Gale Photography

Moving to Korea? 12 tidbits to consider...


This Week Out There – Expat Spared, Taste of Home, & Repatriating

A selection of this week’s expat-related stories


Whatever gets you through the night…


The Best Place for Cherry Blossoms in Korea

Cherry blossom viewing is a big deal every year in Korea. Rightfully so, considering the country is full of cherry blossom lined streets, and they are all amazingly beautiful. Every year droves of people visit famous places like Yeouido in Seoul, Jinhae, and Gyeongju to catch a glimpse at just the right time. People battle crowds, inclement weather, and time at the cherry blossom festivals. While it can still be a great time, they haven’t been my favorite Spring experiences.


La Bella Citta Busan

5 To Do’s When Waiting To Move Abroad

Moving abroad soon, are you? Just finished up college? Grad school? Or just quit your day job? And now you’ve got some time to spare before the big trip?

You’re lucky, they say.  You’ve got time to relax, they say…

Perhaps you’re one of those people that relishes long stretches of free time. Good for you!  That’s fantas! But, if you’re anything like me free time is your nemesis. When I have nothing to do, my mind implodes and I start questioning everything in my life.

 

…EXPECTATION

beetle

 

 

…REALITY!


Dexcited (depressedexcited) to move to South Korea

I’ve been planning my move to South Korea for over a year (thanks to one of my close friends making the move look so appealing! :) ), and now I have only twenty days to departure time.

Historically, I’ve enjoyed uprooting my life. My taxes for 2014 are proof of that.

I came back to North Carolina with the intention of only staying for four short months.

But then, when I was working as a barista at the local French bakery, I met an incredible guy and deferred my trip till May so I could continue to explore this new human creature, as opposed to exploring new continents.

I also spent my time going back to school at NC State for a couple grad courses in English. I’m actually sitting in the 9th floor of the library right now, procrastiposting.


Work Hard, Play Hard, Sleep Hard

As an American expat in Korea, some things, like eating piles of meat from a grill, are pretty easy to get used to. Other things, like sitting on the eatingonfloorfloor for the hour it takes to eat it, are quite a bit harder. My American education prepared me for a lot of things, but spending scads of time on the floor was not one of them.


The FBI customer support sucks!

Before applying to teach ESL in South Korea, whenever I thought of the FBI (which was not often) I would free associate it with things like American’s Most Wanted, bad-ass secret agents and secret agentesses, and possibly cocaine-sniffing German Sheps. As an American, I guess I felt a certain amount of confidence in our Federal Bureau of Investigation. I thought it was pretty powerful. And pretty cool.

BUT THEN EVERYTHING CHANGED…

fbi

 


A Defense of the Expat Bubble

 

 


10 Mysterious Google Image Results of “South Korea”

 

I’m going to South Korea in exactly a month! I can’t contain my excitement! South Korea’s been on my mind, so this morning, I did a little Google Image survey of the country using the search term “South Korea.”  The results were confusing, thought-provoking, and mysterious. Here are ten of the most mysterious image results of my search:

 

1) This pink woman proudly riding a faceless green whale…

whale

 

2)…and this melty red-white-and-blue acorn!


Gamcheon: Rain or Shine

How to cope with the stress of moving abroad

I bought my plane ticket and am leaving the country on May 12th. I’m having a hard time conceptualizing what my life will be like in a few short weeks. It’s stressing me out, to be honest. I’m also worried about graduate school applications, which I’ll be completing when I’m over there. Today, I toured Duke Law and was really impressed by what I saw. And stressed. LSATs…wut?

But instead of worrying about the unknown, I’ve decided to spend a couple hours this evening focusing on the present and reflecting on the past and all the wonderful things I have in my life. (THAT I WILL MISS SO DESPERATELY ONCE I LEAVE THE COUNTRY!!!) I found GIF-making to be a helpful way to cope with stress, and I hope you enjoy the finished product of my efforts, entitled THINGS I WILL MISS SO DESPERATELY ONCE I LEAVE THE COUNTRY. 

 


Saturday in Seomyeon


What it’s like to apply for a teaching job in South Korea

If you’re an English major and are anything like me, after graduating from college your resume probably says something along the lines of…

I eat crayons

My first two years out of school were an uphill battle of scrubbing dishes, bussing tables, and of course, being shamelessly sexually harassed by various shift supervisors. None of my employers took me or my education seriously. And I was broke all the time.


Call to Action: The Truth Must Not Sink With Sewol

3 Common Misconceptions About Teaching ESL in South Korea

In May, I’ll be returning to South Korea, this time not as a backpacker but as an English teacher! I’m excited and nervous for this new opportunity. It’s been interesting to hear how people react when I tell them my plans to teach in Cheonan, South Korea. I’ve found that people have a lot of misconceptions about my motivation to teach in Korea. If you’re currently teaching in South Korea or have taught in South Korea, perhaps you can identify with these three common viewpoints…


Haeundae Beach Holi Hai 2015

Taking Chances


Jindo Sea Parting Festival

Jindo Sea Parting FestivalOn March 21st, 2015, waygooks and Koreans


Nampo-dong and Jagalchi Market


Makgeolli, Monster Craft, and many good times!

Rebranding Freddie: From Korean Adoptee to Swedish Design Star

A casual glance at 32-year-old Swedish branding-design mastermind Fredrik (Freddie) ֖st and one would hardly label him a Swede. His smallish frame, long black hair, and Asian eyes place him from this part of the world.

Born somewhere in South Korea, sometime in July 1981 to unknown parents, his entrance into the world contrasts the style and flair of the man now. Not long after birth, he was found wrapped up and abandoned in a police station; a discarded infant, barely a few days full of breath. He was sent to an orphanage to await his fate as an international adoptee. A few months later, he was sent to Sweden, as two new parents awaited anxiously.


My SoKo digs!

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.


Playing with Fire – Korea’s Great Full Moon

The Great Full Moon Party (대보름날 Daeboreum Nal)

Not so long ago – before Korea was divided into commie and capitalist-puppet halves and before it was annexed into a fascist empire – Buddhism and the folk traditions of the peninsular reigned supreme. I have no idea what the folk religions were, but they have to be way more fun than worshipping a skinny jewish guy who was nailed to a cross and whose father cares way too much about where people stick their genitals. Of course there was Confucianism, which isn’t so much a religion as it is a set of strict societal rules.


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