Surprise! I now live and work in South Korea and have been for about a month now. And you know what? It’s honestly been an amazing ride thus far.
Here’s a bit of the background story:
Matt and I made the decision to come here to teach rather quickly and at an inconvenient time. We had just moved to San Jose, California in July to start a low-paying, high-demanding, and uninteresting after school job. While subletting there for only six days, we dropped hundreds of dollars on just living and surviving there and realized we’d need to spend a lot more in the near future on things such as a car, car insurance, an apartment (deposit and rent), and so on. We immediately realized what a ridiculous and poorly thought out decision we had made. It wasn’t so ridiculous just because of the job, the low pay, or the expensive lifestyle of San Jose, but it was mainly because we both desperately wanted to teach abroad again– and knew that before even moving to California.
Pretty stupid, right? Yeah, we thought so, too, but, I have to be honest: I had felt so relieved once we made the decision to look for teaching jobs in Korea and again when we landed the job we have currently. Fortunately, not much time had passed between the two, either! So, while we were subletting in a house in San Jose, we were getting our documents together for Korea, taking cabs here and there and back again. It was exhausting, but immensely exciting!
After our month-long sublet was over, we returned home to New York to see family and friends for a month. Then, we made our trek across the globe to South Korea!
Anyway, we’ve been in Sejong City, Korea for a month and it’s been wonderful. I’m still overwhelmingly relieved and glad we made the ultimate decision to come here and teach for a year. Just to sum up four weeks of Korea, here’s a list of stuff after we arrived:
- We landed at Incheon Airport in Seoul.
- We stayed at a random hotel in a pretty deserted part of Seoul Province (Seoul is significantly larger and more wide-spread than you would have imagined, since there’s a Seoul province and a Seoul city).
- Ate some food where we first experienced Korean food and their amazing plethora of side dishes
- Knocked out from exhaustion
- Got a ride from the hotel owner back to the airport, then got a bus from the airport at to Sejong City
- When we arrived in Sejong, we were picked up by a worker from our hogwon (private school) and driven to our hogwon immediately, even though all we wanted to do was relax and take a shower!
- We had to stay with the people who we were replacing for about a week until they moved out (inconvenient, yes, but not bad because they were really nice and helpful). But, after that week, we got to have a three-bedroom, two-bathroom, clean, rent-free apartment to ourselves! (I’ll make a separate post about that in a little bit!)
- Our job had us watch the other teachers teach the day after we arrived, even with our jetlag. Apparently, this is common in Korea.
- We started teaching a few days afterward and it’s way better than teaching in Thailand. The kids care (generally) and so does the administration, which is so important. However, breaks are extremely rare during the work day. But, I honestly don’t see that as much of a negative because the day flies. Oh, and our day starts at 1:00 pm, or 2:00 pm, depending on the day of the week. So awesome.
- We explored Sejong and discovered that it’s beautiful, both naturally and industrially.
These are everywhere here and they’re terrifiying, but thankfully not poisonous!
A pizza chain’s slogan on one of their plates: “Love for Women”
I’d really love to know what this sign says…
- We worked for the entire month, having a great time doing so. The people we work with are helpful and sweet, the kids are good and the classes are small, so they’re easier to handle, and the material is easy and fun to teach.
- We went out for drinks in Sejong with a few fellow teachers one weekend and it was a great time! Except for the vomit. Korea works hard and plays hard. And so, they vomit. A lot.
- Matt and I realized that we weren’t really fans of Korean food. I mean, there’s a lot of spam in a lot of food items. Not a fan of spam. Upsetting, but we’re still trying to learn to like the food! We still have eleven months to go, after all. Here’s some food we ate so far:
Some food we cooked in front of ourselves…
Not sure of the name or what was in it!
An extremely expensive meal (about $43), but it was comprised of lots of pork, which you placed in lettuce leaves, and ate with sauce and side dishes (kimchi is on the far right on bottom). Also, beer and soju!
And soju (“red” flavored), which tastes wonderful.
Soju is served with most dinners and drank in shots
- Oh, and for the Korean Thanksgiving, Chuseok, our job gave us four bottles (two each) of French wine! That’s definitely worth mentioning!
Basically, Korea is amazing and totally different from Thailand in so many ways. But, we are loving it and are extremely excited for the rest of our year here! Stay tuned. 🙂