Moving to a new country can be both exciting and overwhelming, especially when it comes to setting up your new home. After living in South Korea for two years, I’ve learned firsthand the importance of certain essentials to make your transition smoother. Here are the first things you should consider purchasing upon arrival:

  1. Quality Mattress: One of the first things you’ll notice upon moving into your apartment is the empty space waiting to be filled. Investing in a good mattress is crucial for your well-being, as quality sleep is invaluable. I recommend browsing Gmarket for a comfortable mattress that suits your preferences. If budget constraints are a concern, start with a bed mat temporarily and upgrade once you receive your first paycheck. Trust me, a good night’s sleep is worth it.I recommend ordering this as soon as you receive your address. 
  2. T-money Card: Upon landing in Korea, one of the first tasks on your list should be acquiring a T-money card. Available at convenience stores or vending machines at subway stations, this card is essential for navigating public transportation seamlessly. It’s a convenient way to pay for buses, subways, taxis, and even some convenience store purchases.
  3. Shower Filter: Hard water is a common issue in Korea, which can lead to hair fall out and skin irritation. Save yourself the hassle by purchasing a shower filter from Daiso or a local store. For a super low cost of around 5,000 won, you’ll protect your hair and skin from the harsh effects of hard water.
  4. Trash Bags and Recycling Bin: Korea has a strict recycling system, and proper disposal of waste is essential. Head to the convenience store to purchase specific bags for disposing of non-recyclable items. These bags are necessary for using communal trash bins, and you’ll need to ensure you have the correct type for your city. Additionally, consider investing in a small bin for carrying recyclables to make the process more manageable.
  5. Drying Rack: Korean apartments typically don’t come equipped with dryers, so a drying rack is a must-have item. You’ll be hanging your laundry to dry, so pick up a drying rack from Daiso to make this task more efficient. It’s a small investment that will save you time and energy in the long run.

By prioritizing these essential items, you’ll be better prepared to settle into your new life in South Korea comfortably. From ensuring a good night’s sleep to navigating the intricacies of the local trash system, these purchases will streamline your transition and help you feel at home in your new environment.

Learning Hangul:

Hangul, the Korean alphabet, was a game-changer for me. I took the time to learn it before moving, and am I glad I did. Being able to read things like subway stations and signs when I arrived made life so much easier. I even found that sometimes English words were spelled out in Hangul, so knowing how to read really came in handy.

I learned Hangul by watching a YouTube video that broke down the characters and their sounds. It’s been years since I watched it, but the lessons are still burned into my brain. If you have the time, I highly recommend giving it a go. Here the video Learn Hangul 한글 (Korean Alphabet) in 30 minutes – YouTube

Moving Beyond Hangul:

Once I got the hang of Hangul, I started using apps like Duolingo to expand my Korean skills. But until you’ve mastered the basics of Hangul, I wouldn’t recommend diving into language apps just yet.

Language Exchange:

One of the best decisions I made was jumping into a language exchange program once I arrived in Korea. Not only did I get a tutor to help me improve my Korean, but I also made some incredible connections. Making Korean friends can be tough if they’re not your coworkers, but language exchange opened up a whole new world for me.

Survival Phrases:

To help you get started on your Korean journey, here are some survival phrases to get you through those first few weeks:

  • Hello: 안녕하세요 (annyeonghaseyo)
  • Thank you: 감사합니다 (gamsahamnida)
  • I’m sorry: 미안합니다 (mianhamnida)
  • Yes: 네 (ne)
  • No: 아니요 (aniyo)
  • Where is the bathroom?: 화장실이 어디에 있어요? (hwajangsil-i eodie isseoyo?)
  • Do you speak English?: 영어 할 줄 아세요? (yeongeo hal jul aseyo?)
  • Help: 도와주세요 (dowajuseyo)
  • I’m okay: 괜찮아요 (gwaenchanayo)

Remember, learning a new language takes time and patience. Don’t be too hard on yourself, and enjoy the journey!