02Apr

Coming Full Circle: My Journey Back to Teaching English in Korea

This article is part of a series. To see the other articles in this series, click the links below:

Facing the Decision: Saying Goodbye to Korea

When the end of my second year was approaching and the hagwon I was working at asked me if I would be staying for a third year, I had to take some time to think about it. I loved Daegu, I loved my coworkers, and I had had a couple of years with great students. However, I hadn’t seen my family in three years (we lived in different provinces and couldn’t visit each other during the Covid-19 pandemic), and most of the close friends I’d made were leaving Korea that same year, too. Going home just seemed to make sense as the next step for me, so I booked my plane ticket and left at the end of my second year.

friends wearing facemasks at some korean festival

(Leaving my friends was one of the hardest parts…)

Navigating Reverse Culture Shock

I find that no one really discusses the intense reverse culture shock that can come with moving home after living abroad. I’ve lived in multiple places in Europe before, but never felt as out of place when coming home as I did when I returned from Korea. Though I had missed Canadian comfort food, the snow and the ease of my native language while I was away, I felt strangely out of place. I missed the friends that I had met (who became some of my closest friends for life), I missed my students, I missed my apartment. I missed the food, the Dancheong-colored traditional buildings, the hustle and bustle. I missed Korea.

two friends looking over cherry blossom trees

(Cherry Blossom Season – aka the best season)

Missing Korea: The Place That Had Started to Feel Like Home

While living in Korea, I progressed quite well in learning the language. I began by self-teaching, but in my second year, I started to take one-on-one lessons. By the end of my second year, I was able to hold longer conversations, read signs and know where to go without asking, and even joke around with the ajummas at the grocery store. When I returned back to Canada, I continued my lessons, and found that I really missed hearing the beautiful Korean language around me all the time. I missed the traditional Korean roofs or “giwa” that could be found on both modern and older buildings, the green spaces that were spread throughout the city, the ease of calling a taxi or renting a Kakao bike.

(Traditional Korean giwa roofs)

Charting a Course: Exploring Career Options

I struggled for the first half of the year, telling myself that it was natural to miss the place I’d spent the last two years in. I pushed through it, trying to figure out a plan for the next few years in Canada. I looked into everything: getting my Early Childhood Education degree, going back to school and getting a Masters in Education, and some other options completely unrelated to teaching. For about six months, I worked at a seasonal cafe that opens for tourists in the summertime as a way to make some money. I didn’t mind being a barista there; my coworkers were great and the job wasn’t hard. My favourite part about it all, though, was meeting people who were visiting from all across the world. 

 

Through these interactions and practicing my French language skills (since French is abundant in Canada, I studied it in school and love to speak it), I came to realize that what I love the most, what makes me the happiest, is being able to understand other people and cultures through language. And I love that through teaching English as a Second Language (ESL), I can help students grow their abilities to thrive in what’s swiftly becoming a multilingual world. Being able to communicate opens so many windows of possibility, and I love being able to teach that to young, curious minds. With this new revelation, I began to look at other countries I could possibly teach in across both Asia and Europe, but none of them seemed as appealing as Korea.

Embracing Change: Making the Bold Decision to Return

After my birthday in August, I knew I had decided where I wanted to be. I knew what job I enjoyed, and I knew that, simply, I missed being in Korea. Why did it have to be any more complicated than that? My whole life, I had always been told that I should be settled down by 30, but I never understood that mindset. There’s so much world out there, so why not go where you want to go and do what you want to do, regardless of age? It’s just a number! 

In light of this revelation, I booked a couple of interviews, found a school that works for me, and signed a contract – all within a matter of weeks. Off I go! I’m so excited for this next chapter, and can’t wait to meet my new students, make new friends… and eat Korean BBQ straight from the source.

20Mar

How to survive your first month as an English teacher in South Korea

korean city

The first month of living in another country is the strangest combination of wonder, confusion, excitement, frustration, discovery, and learning experiences. You’re living in a whole new freaking country!!! Life is crazy!!! My first month was equal parts good and bad, but I feel like it was because no one really told me what to expect in my first month living in South Korea, especially during a global panini. So, I’m here to be your fairy godmother and tell you exactly what you need to do, no matter how trivial it may be. Buckle up, get out a notepad, and don’t freak out. It’s a lot, but YOUR capabilities are so much more. Take a deep breath, you can do this. 

So without further ado, here’s the ultimate guide for surviving your first month as an English teacher in South Korea

Schedule your appointment at the immigration office for your ARC

FIRST THINGS FIRST. The most important thing you need to do in your first month as an English teacher in South Korea – even before you arrive into the country -is to schedule your appointment at your local immigration office so that you can get your Alien Registration card immediately. THIS is the website you can use. I waited to schedule mine until I was here and in quarantine, and I’m not 100% positive if it was because of COVID or if it’s always like this, but they were, to my absolute and utter chagrin, booked out for two months. This is definitely less than ideal, as you need your alien registration number for just about everything: ordering groceries, getting a phone plan, opening a bank account, food delivery apps, the WORKS. I was over here struggling for quite a while, and this all could have been avoided my simply scheduling my appointment farther in advance. The manager of your school will get you all set up with all the documents you need to make the appointment run as smoothly as possible. Mine cost 34,000 won, which is about 30 USD. Make sure you don’t schedule it for the week you arrive, however, as you need to go to a local hospital for a health check.

Health check

Speaking of, the next thing you need to have on your radar is the health check for the Alien Registration Card. You’ll go to a local hospital (ask the director of your school which one is best! The one closest to me charged 160,000 won, while the one a little farther away was 80,000 won (67 dollars instead of like 130). They’ll check your eyesight, hearing, take a chest x-ray (wear a sports bra, otherwise you’ll have to change – also they made my friend take her nipple piercings out just so you know what to expect), have you pee in a cup, and take a blood sample. This has to be done at least 8 days before your appointment at the immigration office, so plan accordingly! They are also very particular about health check results that are a few weeks old, so try to schedule them as close together as you can without cutting it too close with receiving your results.  I just walked in to the hospital, and it took about an hour. You’ll have to bring 3 passport pictures as well as some sort of I.D. (I brought my passport), and you’ll have to go back on the specified day to pick up your results! Bring these results to your appointment at the immigration office.

korean bbq
korean temple grounds

Go to a GS 25, CU, or 7/11 with cash to get a metro card

Public transportation in Korea is really just the greatest. Busses, taxis, metros, you name it – South Korea has it. You can get a public transport card at any convenience store, and you can refill it at any time. One thing to note, however, is that you can only load it up with cash, which is a little bit inconvenient, but it is what it is! You can use this card on the metro as well as the bus system. To navigate, I recommend the Kakao Metro app, Kakao Maps, Naver Maps, and Google Maps. If I can’t find an address on the Korean apps, I head over to google maps, get an idea of where it’s located, and then simply drop a pin on Kakao Maps. Google maps doesn’t have public transportation info and sometimes it’s really hard to find things with the Korean apps, so I always use a combo no matter where I’m going. It’s a hassle, but you’ll get used to it.

Acclimate to your teaching schedule

Getting adjusted to your new schedule as an English teacher can be really tricky! I was given a physical schedule, but it was really confusing and the labels didn’t tell me anything about my schedule. I ended up completely making my own throughout the course of the next few weeks, and now I know exactly where I’m supposed to be and when. It’s a learning curve, and thats okay! You’ll get it in time. Lots of people say that they don’t even like their job until after month 3 – so if you don’t know how you’re going to survive being an English teacher in South Korea – just keep pushing through.

Go to Daiso first, and then Homeplus or Emart

As far as your apartment goes, I made the mistake of starting off by going to Emart. I didn’t have a whole lot of furniture, and was given nothing from the teacher who came before me, so I was starting completely from scratch. I had to buy dishes, pots and pans, bedding, decorations, EVERYTHING besides a bed and a small table, so I thought Emart was the way to go. Turns out, it’s way more expensive than somewhere like Daiso. Daiso is like the dollar store of South Korea, but way better. Whenever I go to Daiso, I’m just like a kid in a candy store. It has everything you could possibly need, including the cutest decor, better quality dish-ware, and practical things like laundry baskets – just way cuter. 

As far as online ordering, you can’t get a Coupang account (which is like the Amazon of Korea) until you get your ARC. Until then, you can order off of G-market. Korean addresses are a little tricky, so it took us a few tries to figure out. Just keep at it! One thing that you’ll probably want to order if you’re starting from scratch is a mattress topper. Something about Asian mattresses is just so wrong. They’re always hard as a rock and super low to the ground, so a mattress topper will ensure you get a good nights rest after those long days of dealing with crazy kids. 

I bought a coffee pot and a tea kettle off of G-market as well that I use every day, and made a trip to the local IKEA for some curtains, bedding, and decorations.

korean islands
korean temple roof

Buy a prepaid sim card to tide you over

So obviously you can’t get a permanent phone plan without your ARC, but you CAN get a prepaid sim card! I made the mistake of trying to use a 7 day E-sim card, where the company would send me a QR code for 7 days of data, but honestly it was SUCH a hassle and 100% not worth it. I also bought a sim card from a convenience store, but it ended up asking me for my foreign registration regardless. I was at my wit’s end, but then I ended up ordering THIS sim card that has 30 days of data on it, and it was a physical sim card that got mailed and delivered right to my apartment door. It was only 25 ish dollars and has been the greatest find of my entire life here tbh. Phone plans really are a hard time until you get your ARC, but save yourself the hassle and just get one of these right off the bat – or even better, buy a SIM card and have it shipped to your house before you even leave!

Bumble Bff, Facebook groups, everything you need to know about making friends

I was so paranoid about not being able to make friends when I got here. Honestly, the location of where I live is pretty disconnected from the rest of Busan, which I was initially really bummed about. Before I left the United States, I joined a few facebook groups and tried to introduce myself in them in an attempt to find like-minded, similarly-aged people that I could meet up with. I even messaged a few youtubers I knew who lived in the city and asked to hang out with them — they even said yes! 

As far as facebook groups go, I joined Every Expat in Korea, Women in Busan, Girls Gone International Busan, and Hiking in Korea. I’ve been able to meet up with a few people through those groups, as well as find the answer to just about any question I had, no matter how random it seemed. Some of the groups even held events pre-covid that helped expats meet other people who speak their languages and share their interests. 

Surprisingly, however, the biggest saving grace for me since coming to South Korea has been Bumble BFF. I know right?? Who woulda thought? not me, that’s for sure. I initially downloaded it with very low expectations, but it’s honestly let me meet my best friend here, and in turn meet all the rest of our friends, as we had much more confidence to go out and make new friends and experience new things together. Don’t knock it til you try it! My male co-worker gave the boys version a go and we are sorry to report that the mens Bumble BFF scene in Busan is not poppin’, but feel free to give it a go regardless! 

Don’t worry about making friends:)  They will come! It takes a little while, but they will come. Give it time! Foreigners are coming in and out of Korea perpetually, so maybe your new best friend just hasn’t made it in yet. Keep the faith!

friends hiking in korea wearing facemasks

Once you get your ARC

Once you get your ARC, there are so many things that you can now do. for example: Get a permanent Korean phone number, finally open a bank account, buy from Coupang, Etc.

Buy an actual phone plan

One of the main reasons you need to rush to get your ARC is because it’s actually really difficult to get a phone plan in Korea with a contract that’s less than two years, although you ~can~ find plans for 1 year. I got my bank account two months into being here, and I can’t find a monthly plan, but I also don’t want to pay for 12 months when I’ll only be for 10 more? It’s a dilemma I’m currently in, and will continue to update this section as I find information! 

The main phone carrier here it KT, and there are KT stores everywhere. Once again, if you go with your employer everything will go wayyyy smoother! It’s definitely an irrationally difficult thing to do, and I’m just considering sticking with my prepaid SIM card, even if it means I can’t register for any food delivery accounts or Coupang. I might just suck it up and save the money lmaoooo

Open a bank account

Even before you get a phone plan, you have to have a bank account to link your monthly payments to. Setting up a bank account in Korea is really tricky if you go by yourself, so make sure that your employer either goes with you or sends someone to help you. While there are some more foreigner-friendly banks, the in person branches typically don’t have many people who speak English. Make sure that while you are setting up your bank account, that you ask for internet banking to be an option for you; the only way you can get online banking is if you set it up along with the initial bank account set up. Additionally, make sure you clarify that you need to be able to send money home. If you don’t get a remittance account set up as soon as you set up your bank account, it becomes a little bit of a nightmare. 

I us KB, but I asked my employer for KEB – it definitely got lost in translation, they’re so similar! Oh well, so far it’s been okay. KEB is the typical foreigner bank because of the English hotline that they have, but sometimes you just need to take whatever your employer has so that they can easily get you your money.

Random useful tips to help you survive your first month teaching in South Korea

This isn’t anything revolutionary, but just a few tips that would’ve made me feel much more in the know than I was when I arrived! Maybe you already know this, maybe you’re clueless like me. Either way, heres 2 or 3 tips to help you out! 

If you can’t find any silverware or napkins at the table in your restaurant, make sure you look underneath the table for a drawer! A lot of restaurants keep everything in a small drawer attached to the underside of the table. 

Always give and receive with two hands! Especially when you’re buying something at a store and dealing with money, it’s a really culturally aware thing to do, and something that I thought wouldn’t be as big of a deal as it is. You don’t want to offend anyone! 

There are special seats in the subway reserved for the elderly, handicapped, and pregnant, and even if every other seat is filled and all of those are open, you DO NOT sit in them. You just don’t. You will get yelled at. Its typically a group of three at the front of the train car – it has a sign above it with pictures so just keep an eye out! 

Everything else is pretty similar to the west in terms of modern-ness, but although it is a very developed country with a huge emphasis on English in the school system, the language barrier is one of the most intense I’ve ever experienced, so get you a talk to me in Korean textbook and start learning some phrases! (bonus points because all my students absolutely LOVE me telling them what I learned in my Korean lesson that morning – they absolutely die over it).

I know it sounds like theres a thousand things to do to survive your first month as an English teacher in South Korea, but trust me: Once you get all the annoying adult-y things sorted out and all set up, it’s smooth sailing from there! Life in Korea is pretty tricky in the first few months, but please don’t get discouraged. 

Chances are you’re doing this straight out of college too, and even adulting in a familiar setting without a language barrier is hard! Give yourself grace to make mistakes, not figure everything out the first time, and to just adjust to this new chapter in your life! 

Think of all the funny stories that even the failures will give you to tell your kids

You’ve got this <3

14Mar

The Ultimate Korea Bucket List

No – this isn’t Rome, it’s one of Korea’s many cafes that seem to have been MADE for instagram – there are so many for you to add to your Ultimate Korea Bucket List!

If you know anything about me, it’s that I have the worst case of FOMO you’ve probably ever encountered. Because of this, whenever I go to a new destination, I obsessively plan everything out so that there’s no chance that I miss the opportunity to do something, especially if it’s seasonal. So when I moved to South Korea to teach English for a year, I went full type A and made a list of everything I needed to do in the calendar year, fittingly naming the note in my phone: The Ultimate Korea Bucket List.

Whether you’re living in Korea for a year to teach English, or simply trying to decide the best time of year to visit, I’ve decided to publish this Ultimate Korea Bucket List for your convenience. It isn’t a travel itinerary, and is definitely geared to people who are either studying or teaching here for a year! After all, wouldn’t it be a shame to live somewhere for a full year, and not take full advantage of it? For convenience’s sake, I’ve started with September, as that’s when most English teachers arrive to Korea, but feel free to skip to whatever month you’re arriving (or visiting!) in. Let’s dive right in.

The Ultimate Korea Bucket List:

Whether you’re living in Korea for a year to teach English, or simply trying to decide the best time of year to visit, I’ve decided to publish this Ultimate Korea Bucket List for your convenience. It isn’t a travel itinerary, and is definitely geared to people who are either studying or teaching here for a year! After all, wouldn’t it be a shame to live somewhere for a full year, and not take full advantage of it? For convenience’s sake, I’ve started with September, as that’s when most English teachers arrive to Korea, but feel free to skip to whatever month you’re arriving (or visiting!) in. Let’s dive right in.

The Ultimate Korea Bucket List:

September

Exploring your new home!

Because you’re probably just settling in as an English teacher or a student, chances are you won’t be super adventurous, as you’ll be so preoccupied with surviving your first month in Korea. In light of this, I just suggest doing some of the main tourist attractions in the city that you’re living in. This also helps you familiarize yourself with public transportation and build confidence in doing things alone. Whether it be Seoul, Busan, Daejeon, or a smaller city in Korea, there are lots of things to do no matter where you are.

Personally, I chose a job in Busan so that I could live in a city and be by the ocean, and I’ve not regretted my decision once! My first month, I Hiked the Igidae Coastal Trail, visited Gamcheon Culture Village and explored the famous temple by the sea, Haedong Yonggungsa. I hauled my tripod with me, as I hadn’t made friends yet, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me!

Chuseok Holiday

*** Also something to note is that the Korean Thanksgiving holiday (called Chuseok) happens in September, and I had a 5 day weekend! This would be my third longest break as an English teacher, and even though I didn’t have friends, I made the trek up to Seoul and explored on my own! I took advantage of this time to wear a Hanbok on a traditional Korean holiday – and wearing a Hanbok is, in and of itself, an item that should be on your Korea Bucket List! Traveling alone was very freeing, empowering, and a travel opportunity that shouldn’t be missed if you have holidays off at your job or school. If you’re based in Seoul, Consider coming to Busan, as the weather would still be warm enough to relax on the beach!

Another great location to spend Chuseok during September is Jeju, as the flights are cheap and the weather is still definitely warm enough to lounge on the beach and play in the crystal clear water.

 

October

Ulsanbawi hike – Seoraksan National Park

If you’re into hiking, October in Korea is a dream. if you’re not into hiking, it’s still a dream and you’re just going to have to give hiking another try! The main hike that I was dead set on doing was the Ulsanbawi hike in Seoraksan national park. It is a beast of a hike, and although not long, was straight up stairs the entire time. The view at the end, was one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen in Korea, and if you have the opportunity to take a weekend and spend in in Seoraksan National Park, it will be well worth your time.

Nami Island

Another thing I knocked out in the same weekend, was visiting Nami Island. Since, I’ve been two more times, and although I’m a bit “Nami’d” out, it is still a really special place to see, especially in the fall. The Ginko trees (all the little leaves that I have all over my blog are Ginko leaves!) turn Neon yellow, and although I went to early for the leaves to be covering the ground as well as the trees (timing is tricky!) it was still an incredible day trip.

I took a tour with the company Enjoy Korea (the best tour company in Korea ever), and we knocked out Nami and Ulsanbawi in the same weekend. They made it very accessible and they’re definitely something to check out if you want to take all these adventures but are intimidated by logistics.

Daedunsan Hike – Cloud Bridge

A hike that I was dying to do in October was Daedunsan Mountain. They have an incredible suspension ladder as well as a suspension bridge they’ve nicknamed “The cloud bridge”. The fall foliage that time of year is absolutely incredible, but by the time I had a free weekend to visit, the trees were already bare and It didn’t seem worth it. I’m still hoping to get this hike checked off the ultimate Korea Bucket list before I leave, but the weather is warming up and it’s not looking like it’s going to happen!

November

Naejangsan National Park

This is something that you’d want to accomplish either in October or early November, as the main draw for this is, once again, the fall foliage. Once again, figuring out the transport logistics would’ve been crazy, but I looked into it and there were tons of tours offering day trips from my city! Defnitely check out Viator for some affordable options if this is something you want to do. I didn’t end up making the trip, and I’m kicking myself for it, as I won’t be staying another year!

It’s definitely hard to fit in everything you want to do, and while I did my best there’s still boxes left unticked 🙁 Do a better job at planning than me!

Temple Stay 

Another perfect thing to do as the weather is cooling off but before it gets too freezing, is to attend a temple stay. Living with real Buddhist monks for 2 days and going through their daily routine is an incredible experience that you shouldn’t miss!

I have yet to do this, and summer is approaching, so I’m definitely going to be sweating profusely for my two days, as I’m not entirely certain of the state (or existence) of the air conditioning in Buddhist temples to be completely honest.

Still, it’s something I’m not willing to leave Korea without doing, so I will complete this tick this item off the Ultimate Korea Bucket List and report back shortly. Stay tuned.

December

Christmas Break

Chances are, you have at least a week off for your Christmas break. What you do with this is completely up to you! Because I was visiting while there was still a mandatory 14 day quarantine upon entry to Korea (meaning I couldn’t leave the country during my holidays:( , I didn’t venture too far! Again, I was based in Busan, and had only been to Seoul once, so I used this time to really explore Seoul deeper than I had been able to over Chuseok. Oh, and I had friends with me this time, which definitely made things better!

One thing that I didn’t get to do that you should NOT miss is to visit the DMZ! you can actually set foot inside North Korea, and I’ve heard great things about the tours – plus you get bragging rights LOL!

Use this time to either travel somewhere tropical, or if you want to stay in Korea, go somewhere new! There are plenty of cities left for you to explore, or even day trips to be taken from your home city. December is a choose your own adventure kinda month!

January and February

Lunar New Year

Obviously, South Korea has some pretty brutal winters. There’s not that much that you can comfortably do in January, besides trying out lots of new restaurants, going to all the aesthetic cafes that Korea has to offer, or going to different exhibits and galleries! There’s nothing pressing for you to do in January, to be quite honest, except towards the end! Typically, the Lunar New Year holiday falls towards the end of January or the beginning of February, and most schools give you a long, typically 4 day weekend. With this short little holiday theres a few things I suggest you doing:

Garden of the Morning Calm

This is probably the best place to see Christmas Lights in all of South Korea! The Garden of the Morning Calm is the biggest private Garden to put on a light show like this, and although the weather at night when the lights turn on is absolutely freezing, all you need to do is grab some spiked hot chocolate to keep you warm while you take in the beauty! It really feels like you’ve fallen into a magical fairy forest with all the lights everywhere. It’s something I’m really glad I didn’t miss!

Ski Resort

Korea is famous for being an extremely mountainous country, and between that and the brutal winters, it makes for some really excellent skiing and snowboarding! There are many to choose from, but I personally went to YongPyong Ski resort through a tour company, and it made getting there and renting gear super easy! I had never snowboarded before, but they gave me a small lesson and the bunny slopes made it really easy to learn!

YongPyong has a few olympic hills that you should definitely try out if you get the chance, and regardless of you’ve ever done anything like that before, I think it’s definitely worth a shot while you’re in the country.

March

Weekend Trip

While the weather is still pretty cold in March, you’ll probably get a fake little spring where you get a really warm weekend! When I was here in March, we took advantage of that by going to Daegu for the first time, and it was awesome! It’s definitely important to get out of your comfort zone and go experience something a little different from the usual routine, so I say take as many weekend trips as you can while living in Korea! Whether you visit Pohang, Daejeon, Daegu, Busan, or even Seoul for a weekend, the odds of you coming back to Korea after your study abroad or your teaching contract are probably slim so it’s important that you don’t let opportunities like this slip by.

Jjimjilbang

Another thing that’s perfect for the tail end of winter is going to a Jjimjilbang. a Jjimjilbang is a traditional Korean bathhouse, where there are loads of different saunas, pools, hot tubs, and areas for you to relax. The real kicker of these bathhouses is that you generally have to strip naked for them! Although it sounds intimidating, it’s just the way things are done so no one really looks twice.

If you happen to be in or near Busan, there is a massive Jjimjilbang in Centum City called Spaland, where they have at least ten different sauna rooms made of different materials, ranging from mosaic tile to pink Himalayan salt blocks. They have cold plunge pools and hot tubs, and you can even pay a little extra to get scrubbed head to toe. This activity is perfect for winter, as it’s super relaxing, it warms you up, and it adds in a little self care during the months that are a little bit extra hard on all of us.

April

Jinhae cherry blossom festival

Without a doubt, the greatest thing to do in South Korea, and maybe top item on the Ultimate Korea Bucket List, is to see the cherry blossoms come to life. There are so many different places you can do this, and there are incredible places to view the cherry blossoms, especially in major cities like Seoul and Busan, but if you’re committed to the cause, the 100%, hands-down, best place to see these gorgeous flowers is by attending the famous Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival.

I’ve never quite seen something like that in my life, and while it was very crowded, everyone was very respectful of everyone else’s photos and experiences, and there were so many iconic places to capture views of the cherry blossoms. If you can make it happen, as it is fairly out of the way, definitely do so; you won’t regret it.

May

Biseulsan Azalea festival in Daegu

Although I missed my chance to visit this festival, I’ve heard incredible things about it! Flowers in South Korea are absolutely no joke, and during the springtime, it seems as if every two weeks another gorgeous flower seems to overwhelm the entire country, and in May, azaleas blanket not only the countryside but also the cities. There are a few mountains just outside of Daegu that are completely covered in azalea shrubs, and for two weeks in the beginning of may, it turns the mountains completely purple.

Still kicking myself for missing this one, but it is truly an incredible sight to see if you get the chance!

Buddha’s birthday

Another absolute TREAT that happens in South Korea during the month of May is Buddha’s birthday. It is a national holiday and a nearly month long celebration, where cities hang up lanterns along major roads and Buddhist temples absolutely COVER the grounds with scaffolding that makes it seem as though you’re walking through tunnels that are made completely of colorful lanterns. Wherever you are in Korea, be sure to visit your local Buddhist temple to partake in the festivities, but if you happen to be in Seoul or Busan this month, some of the best temples to see are Beomosa, Samgwangsa, and Jogyesa.

June

Beoseong green tea fields

One of the greatest things I go to see in Korea, and definitely something that you should add to your ultimate Korea Bucket List, regardless of how far away it may be from you, is to see the Green Tea Plantation in Boseong. You can see these mountains covered in lush green tea bushes between the months of late May to August, although I recommend going in the first few weeks of June before the intense heat that is so characteristic of Korean summers rolls in. All the different shades of green were just absolutely LUSH, and as my favorite color is green, I was living my very best life.

Obviously, be sure to try not only the green tea itself, but also the green tea ice cream, and whatever you do, ~DON’T~ skip out on the green tea churros.

Temple Stay

Another thing you should be sure to tick off your list before leaving Korea is participating in a temple stay. You can do this at most Buddhist temples for a fairly inexpensive price, and I’ve heard it’s some of people’s absolute favorite things to do while in the country. Apparently it’s a really eye opening experience: getting to participate in rituals and Tai Chi and having tea with Buddhist Monks sounds like an unforgettable experience, and while I haven’t been able to experience it just yet, I’m hoping to squeeze it into the three months that I have left in South Korea – and if I do I will be sure to update you!

July and August

Beaches and Boats

If you aren’t already familiar with the climate in South Korea, the summers are SWELTERING. The humidity is very high, and some parts of the country get unusually hot. It’s difficult to do a lot of things outside, unless you’re at a beach – so that is just what you should do during the summer. It definitely helps if you’re living somewhere that you have access to a beach, but if not, be sure to make the most of your weekends by traveling to places that do! Take surf lessons, go paddle boarding, or my personal favorite – charter a boat! As long as you have a big group, chartering boats in a place like Busan is very simple, and it’s a fun, inexpensive way to elevate your summer experience.

This is also another great time to visit Jeju island! Crystal blue water, waterfalls, more green tea fields, and pristine beaches can be found all over the island of Jeju, and if you’re not traveling internationally for your summer vacation from work or school, Jeju is the perfect place to unwind and relax.

That concludes the Ultimate Korea Bucket List!

Of course, there are endless things to do in South Korea – especially if you’re really into hiking! I don’t have a lot of hikes on this list, because although I am very into hiking, I know a lot of people aren’t! And I haven’t found many friends that also enjoy hiking so that’s definitely put a damper on my exploration of the mountains here. Additionally, there are so many more smaller cities that have so many hidden gems that are just waiting to be discovered.

Whether you’re trying to decide what month to visit South Korea, or trying to figure how to maximize your time as an English teacher or a student living here for a year, hopefully this comprehensive bucket list helps organize your schedule and gives you ideas for how to explore this lovely country.

12Mar

How To Make Friends As An Expatriate

Moving to a new country is a huge step to take – there are so many things that you have to do to set up your new life outside of your home country! From figuring out banking and phone plans, adapting your diet to the potentially more limited options at the grocery store, dealing with navigating a new public transportation or road system (maybe in an unknown language!), there’s a lot to think about. Although all of these things are important, the only thing that will truly make a new place feel like home is a sense of community. But how exactly do you go about finding friends as an expatriate? 

Unfortunately, finding friends in a foreign country isn’t as easy as making friends at home is – especially if you don’t speak the language! At home, you had school, work, the gym, a random person that you can communicate with on the street (the language barrier really makes it difficult!). But in this new country, you never know if you’re gonna have co-workers who have similar interests or are even in a similar age bracket as you! Maybe you’re the only foreigner at your job. Maybe you don’t have a job! There are so many barriers that make finding friends as an expatriate seem discouraging – but never fear! I’m here to tell you the secrets to building a thriving community of friends during your years as an expat. 

How to make friends as an expatriate: 

Bumble BFF 

No this is not sponsored – but hey Bumble plz hit me up?? And I know it sounds a little bit silly, but if I’m being honest, the majority of my friend group is all thanks to this silly little app. For a little bit of background, I came to South Korea to teach English for a year, and I’m living in Busan. I hopped right on Bumble BFF the first week I was here, and I met up with a lot of girls who were in similar situations! Before I even met up with the girl who has become my best friend here, she was able to help me start my washing machine (it was all written in the Korean alphabet!) I don’t care how introverted you are, everyone needs a friend to help them when you have problems. It doesn’t hurt if they’ve been living in the country for longer than you and can show you the ropes! I have met up with lots of girls from Bumble BFF, and while not all of us have become forever friends, I definitely struck gold with the ones that have stuck. 

  1. Meet your friend’s friends!

This sounds like a given, but it’s something that should still be mentioned! Victoria, the girl I met on Bumble BFF, invited me to a bar, and her co-worker, another girl around our age, invited everyone that she knew. Her male co-worker even sent invites to a few girls that he knew, and we organized a blind girls get-together! The girls that her male-coworker invited have quickly completed our little group of 4, and we never would have met them if it wasn’t for a little bit of faith and initiative! Never be afraid to reach out to people you know ~of~ but don’t necessarily know; you never know when it can pay off in a big way. Never be afraid to politely invite yourself to something you know is going on, even if it is a little uncomfortable or nerve-wracking! Friends are so important, especially as an expatriate, and you have to step out of your comfort zone to find them. Rarely are they dropped into your lap! 

  1. Facebook Groups 

Before coming to Korea, I joined multiple facebook groups of all different types: foodie groups, an all-women’s group, a general group for my city, a hiking group, etc. There is literally a facebook group for every interest, and they frequently organize events and meet-ups. This hasn’t really happened for me as meetups don’t happen as frequently during pandemic times, and South Korea had a 6 person limit on gatherings for a while, but I’ve had success with the hiking group here! Hopefully everything begins to die down soon and these meetups start to happen more frequently again, because facebook groups are an awesome way to meet people. 

  1. Talk to People 

I know this sounds so obvious but sometimes it can be intimidating to put yourself out there! Although I love the Korean friends that I do have, there’s just something so comfortable about meeting people who share your first language as well as the new chapter of life you’re experiencing – so whenever I see a foreigner on the streets here my first reaction is always to strike up conversation! Maybe they’ve established a life here and have no interest in meeting new people, but maybe they’re in the same boat as you! I know that the two girls who approached me during my first week here to tell me that they liked my outfit made me literally so happy when they went out of their way to do that. We exchanged instagrams and they were able to give me so many recommendations of places to check out in the area. One weekend, I saw a group of foreigners in a

bar and decided to go up and join in! We all became fast friends and exchanged instagrams. Fast forward a month or two, and one of them asked if my school was hiring! Surprisingly, it was, and now we are co-workers and bffs. Talking to people will never steer you wrong. Whats the worst that could happen? 5. Fitness Classes 

Another way that I’ve managed to make friends here in Korea is by going to Yoga class every week! Another expatriate that I know is a yoga teacher in Busan, and she frequently hosts English classes and advertises them to other English speakers living in Korea. She hosts fundraisers as well as your typical weekly classes, but every week brings in a new crowd and I’m starting to realize how small the expat community really is in our particular city. We all hang out for a little bit after class, just talking about weekend plans and our weeks at work, and we’ve all even planned a trip for this Sunday to visit the cherry blossom festival up in Jinhae. Check in any facebook groups to find English speaking fitness classes and check some out! You literally never know where you’re going to find your new best friend. 

  1. Expat Bars 

Don’t get me wrong, I love going to the local spots as well, but it does kill the vibe when you or your friend tries to go up to someone to say hi and you end up having to bust out Papago or Google Translate to understand each other! Life abroad can get lonely, and a lot the regulars at expat bars end up becoming as close as family. Living abroad as an expatriate can be really lonely, especially around holidays, and lots of bars will provide Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner so that you don’t have to spend it alone. I’ve found a few here in Busan, and between Thursday night trivia, darts competitions wing Wednesdays, UFC on Saturday mornings, and holiday dinners, I’ve made lots of friends and always feel like I have a place to call home. If you find someplace you like, I guarantee they have a facebook page and you can be in in the loop and have lots of opportunities to make friends. 

  1. Go on dates 

This is general advice, as I have a lovely long distance boyfriend, but this has worked for my friends. Often times, one date is all it takes to realize that you’d be better off as friends anyways. Or, if it goes well, meet ~their~ friends, and maybe your people will be there. This isn’t my favorite point, as going on actual dates is

much more scary than Bumble bff dates, and people can be scary and weird sometimes, so be sure to use your discretion and always stay safe, but it is a very effective way to meet people and find friends! 

  1. Be Patient! 

You may meet lots of people, but true friends are hard to come by. If you’re lucky, you’ll find them first thing, like me. Sometimes, it takes a lot longer, and that’s okay! Please never let the lack of people around you deter you from going out and exploring by yourself, by planning trips for you and you alone, from setting up a freaking tripod to take a cute little picture of yourself. There is nothing wrong with learning to enjoy your own company while you actively look for your people who will make this new place feel like a home. 

Good luck! I know you can do it. Put yourself out there, meet your people, find your community, and thrive in your new life as an expatriate in an exciting, new country!

05Mar

Your First Day as an English Teacher in South Korea: What to Expect

Hey there, future English teachers gearing up for your big move to South Korea! So, you’ve landed the job, packed your bags, and now you’re ready to take on your first day in the classroom. But what exactly can you expect? Let me walk you through it.

  1. Preparing for Day One:

Before diving into your first day, you’ll likely already be in touch with an English teacher from your school. If not, I highly recommend reaching out and asking for some contact information. You might even be living in the same building, so why not suggest grabbing a coffee or walking to work together? It’s a great way to get some insider tips and tricks from someone who’s been there, done that.

  1. Getting Acclimated:

Once you arrive at your school, you’ll be introduced to the staff and shown to your classroom. Don’t be surprised if you spend the first few days shadowing another teacher and making trips out with the staff for administrative tasks. You’ll be setting up your life in Korea, from getting your ARC card at immigration to setting up a Korean phone plan and bank account.

  1. Ready, Set, Teach:

After all the admin and shadowing, you’ll finally be ready for your first day as a teacher. You’ll put all that training to use, but trust me, nothing beats the real thing. That’s why I recommend asking a coworker for a daily checklist of tasks to keep you on track. From taking attendance to grading assignments, having a routine will be a lifesaver.

  1. Classroom Management 101:

One key to a successful classroom is establishing clear rules and expectations from day one. Print out a set of rules and hang them on the wall for easy reference. Make it a habit to have students recite the rules daily before starting the lesson. This will help you maintain order and address any misbehaviour quickly and effectively.

  1. The Name Game:

On your first day, make sure to introduce yourself multiple times and ask your students for their English names (and make sure you’re saying them correctly!). Trust me, you don’t want to be like me and accidentally call a student “Hyena” for an entire term before realizing her name is actually “Hannah.” Lesson learned!

  1. Establishing Relationships:

Finally, don’t stress too much on the first day. Focus on building a good relationship with your Korean coworkers—they can be invaluable resources and mentors. I was lucky to have a coworker who understood the challenges of being new to a country and was always there to lend a hand.

So, there you have it—your guide to surviving your first day as an English teacher in South Korea. Remember to breathe, take it one step at a time, and most importantly, enjoy the adventure! Cheers to new beginnings and unforgettable experiences. You’ve got this!

“Don’t stress too much on the first day. Focus on building a good relationship with your Korean coworkers—they can be invaluable resources and mentors” Victoria White

18Feb

Essential Apps for Your Move to Korea

Are you gearing up for an adventure teaching English in South Korea? Moving to a new country can be exhilarating yet daunting, especially if it’s your first time. But fear not! With the right tools at your fingertips, navigating your new life abroad can be a breeze. Here’s a curated list of must-have apps to download before you hop on that plane:


Papago: Bid farewell to language barriers with this handy translating app. While Google Translate might be your go-to back home, Papago is your new best friend in Korea. Its accuracy will make communicating with locals a breeze.


KakaoTalk: Think of KakaoTalk as your lifeline to the Korean world. This texting and calling app is a staple in Korean communication culture. Get connected with colleagues, friends effortlessly.


Kakao Maps and Naver Maps: Say goodbye to Google Maps – in Korea, it’s all about Kakao and Naver Maps. Whether you’re exploring Seoul’s bustling streets or navigating the subway system, these mapping apps have got you covered with accurate, up-to-date information.


Kakao Taxi: Need a ride? Skip the hassle of hailing a cab and opt for Kakao Taxi, Korea’s equivalent of Uber or Lyft. With just a few taps on your phone, you can summon a ride to your doorstep and zip around the city with ease.


Kakao Metro: Navigating Seoul’s extensive subway network can be intimidating at first, but fear not – Kakao Metro is here to help. This user-friendly app provides detailed maps, real-time train schedules, and essential travel information to make your commute a breeze.


Coupang Eats: When hunger strikes, satisfy your cravings with Coupang Eats. With a plethora of food delivery options at your fingertips, you can indulge in delicious Korean cuisine without stepping foot outside your door. It’s a game-changer for busy days or lazy nights in.


BucaCheck: Avoid the dreaded “insufficient funds” scenario with BucaCheck. This handy app allows you to check the balance on your T-money card – essential for seamless travel on public transportation. Simply tap your card on your phone, and you’ll know exactly how much credit you have left.


With these essential apps in your arsenal, you’ll be well-equipped to navigate the ins and outs of life in South Korea. So go ahead, embrace the adventure, and get ready for an unforgettable experience teaching English abroad!

10Jan

What to Pack

Hey there, fellow adventurer! So, you’ve made the bold decision to pack up and jet off to South Korea for a year-long adventure. Before you start envisioning all the bibimbap and K-pop concerts awaiting you, let’s talk about the essentials you’ll need to bring along for the ride.

When I embarked on my own South Korean escapade, I thought I had it all figured out. Two checked bags, a carry-on bursting with vacuum-sealed clothes – I was ready to conquer Seoul with my entire wardrobe in tow. But little did I know, South Korea had a shopping scene that would make any fashionista weak at the knees.

So, here’s the lowdown on what you really need to pack:

  1. Starter Outfits and Lounge Wear: Bring along a few outfits to kickstart your South Korean journey, especially if you’re headed straight to work. Don’t forget some comfy lounge clothes for those lazy weekends. But trust me, save your money for the shopping extravaganza awaiting you in your new city.
  2. Universal Converters: Your electronic devices and hair styling tools will need some love too. Pack more than one universal converter to keep your gadgets juiced up and ready to capture every moment of your adventure.
  3. Travel-sized Toiletries: Leave those bulky shampoo bottles behind. South Korea’s got you covered with an array of skincare and beauty products that’ll make your head spin. Embrace the local brands and indulge in some K-beauty magic.
  4. Face Makeup- I had no idea how limited the shade range would be in Korea. Every time I went to Olive Young, I came out looking a little bit like a mime:/ I found myself going into Chicor (western makeup store) way too often. I recommend bringing a few foundations in your shade from home! 
  5. Self Tan- If you are a self tan enthusiast, definitely bring a few bottles from home because you will not be able to find it in Korea.
  6. Heat Protectant- If you are someone who frequently uses heat styling on your hair, I would recommend bringing a couple bottles of heat protectant from home. I was not able to find any the entire time I lived in Korea. 
  7. Deodorant Stockpile: Now, here’s a pro tip – bring along a stash of your favorite deodorant. While Koreans seem to possess a magical anti-body odor gene, us mere mortals might need a little extra help staying fresh. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.
  8. Towels: Don’t underestimate the power of a good bath towel. In a land where bath towels resemble hand towels, having a couple of full-sized towels from home will feel like a luxurious embrace after a refreshing shower.
  9. Consider Your Size: If you’re taller than 5’9″ or larger than a medium US size, you might find it challenging to shop for clothes in South Korea. The “free size” trend, which typically fits S/M, dominates the fashion scene. Consider investing in vacuum seal packs from Amazon for your larger-sized clothing items to ensure you have options that fit comfortably. Also if you have a foot larger than a US womens 8 or US mens 9 you might want to bring a few extra shoes with you! Luckily, I decided to bring a carry-on roller full of my favorite shoes.

And here’s what you can leave behind:

  1. Tampons: Contrary to popular belief, South Korea does have tampons. I am not sure if this is a new development, but I never had an issue finding any.  Save yourself the suitcase space and rest assured that you’ll find all your feminine hygiene needs catered to.
  2. Tons of Cosmetics: When I went to Korea I brought a ton of eyeshadow, mascara and blush. I ended up throwing it all away and buying new products from Olive Young. The products are so cheap and of great quality in Korea. Save the space in your luggage. 
  3. Birth Control- Birth Control: If you’re on hormonal birth control, consider leaving your stockpile at home. Surprisingly, the contraceptive pill is available over the counter in South Korea, offering a convenient solution for those in need. You’ll find a variety of brands to choose from, and the best part? It’s often much cheaper than what you’d pay back home. Simply visit any pharmacy and ask the pharmacist for the contraceptive pill. Don’t worry if you’re nervous about the language barrier – a quick Google Images search for the product can help you communicate your needs effectively. So, save space in your luggage and rest assured knowing that reproductive health care is readily accessible during your South Korean adventure.

So, there you have it – the ultimate packing guide for your South Korean adventure. Embrace the unknown, dive headfirst into the vibrant culture, and get ready to make memories that’ll last a lifetime. Who knows, maybe you’ll return home with a whole new fashion sense and a suitcase filled with treasures from the streets of Seoul. Safe travels, fellow explorer!

03Jan

What I wish I knew Before Moving to Korea

So, you’re thinking about making the big move to South Korea, huh? Buckle up, because I’m about to spill the tea on all the things I wish I knew before jetting off to the Land of the Morning Calm. Trust me, hindsight is 20/20, and I’ve got some juicy insights to share with you.

  1. The Cost of the Process:

Alright, let’s talk money. While using a recruiter to smooth out the moving process won’t cost you a dime, there are other expenses to consider. You’ll need to cough up some cash for things like background checks, document apostilles, health waiver appointments, visa applications, and postage. The prices of these things vary based on what location you call home.  Oh, and don’t forget about covering your flight upfront (but hey, you’ll get reimbursed later).

  1. Say Bye-Bye to Your Old Style:

Listen up, fashionistas! Your wardrobe is about to undergo a serious glow-up. I wish someone had warned me about this before I stuffed my suitcase with clothes I never ended up wearing. Between all the walking and healthy eats, I shed pounds and my fashion sense did a complete 180. Pack light and get ready to embrace a whole new look.

  1. Welcome to Your Empty Apartment:

Picture this: you land in Korea, excited to start your new chapter, only to find yourself mattress-less on a Saturday night. Not cool, right? Don’t make the same mistake I did. Use websites like Gmarket to order essentials before you arrive. Pro tip: splurge on a comfy mattress—it’s worth every penny for those precious ZZZs.

  1. Navigating Daily Life:

Let me save you some major headaches. Ordering delivery food or online goodies without your ARC card number? Total nightmare and basically impossible. Get familiar with Gmarket because they will let you order things without an ARC number. Get ahead of the game and download essential apps like KakaoTalk, Papago and Naver Maps before you touch down. And don’t forget to snag a T-money card for hassle-free public transportation. You can buy a T-Money card at the subway station or in the nearest convenience store.

  1. Trash Talk:

Okay, so here’s the lowdown on trash etiquette in Korea. Familiarize yourself with the rules ASAP to avoid any drama. Trust me, getting fined for tossing recyclables in the wrong bin is not a vibe. Snap pics of those trash signs in your apartment complex and use translation apps like Papago to decode them. Oh, and keep those food scraps in the freezer to keep things from smelling. You can buy bags to throw out your trash at any mart or convenience store. You will have to ask the clerk for them (scary, I know) just use Papago if your not familiar with Korean just yet.

 

Alright there you have it—my ultimate guide to navigating life in South Korea. Moving abroad is an adventure packed with twists and turns, but armed with these insider tips, you’ll be ready to tackle anything that comes your way. So go ahead, seize the moment, and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime!

08Dec

Learning the Language

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!

12Nov

What You Should Buy ASAP for Life in Korea

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.