The Things I Forgot to Bring to South Korea

There are plenty of forums on the Internet discussing the things one must bring to Korea as an expat. Surprisingly most people never seem to mention the following to others: a passport, an open mind, and a Korean phrasebook.

Instead, they usually mention things like peanut butter or spices or shoes, especially if you have a big feet. I initially scoffed at these people. You’re in a new country! Why not experience the products, food, and other (possibly weird) customs the country has to offer?

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One Year in a Hagwon: Hagwon Events and Field Trips

kids drinking tea in hanbok
Hagwons are an absurd beast, but that’s strangely part of the amusement for foreign teachers.

To think that you’re caught in the middle of a nasty machine and are completely powerless to do anything. To go home at night and wonder why you were so stressed about getting a 6 year old to write the alphabet. It’s enough to drive you mad.

Never was this absurdity greater than during our school’s many events. Our school always had an event on the go, whether it was a field trip or a party. The events weren’t a way to engage our students in the English language, but instead facades used to keep up appearances with the parents.

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One Year in a Hagwon: The Student From Hell

cute korean kinder hagwon student

To understand the problems of a hagwon, you must first understand the impossibility of teaching in one.

In a hagwon, the teachers wield less power than the children. When an especially bad child comes along they can make your life unbearable. These are more than just children, they’re the babies of Satan. The worst I ever taught was a girl named Serah.

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One Year in a Hagwon: The Tug of War


No matter how much you learn about kids, it means nothing until you work with them.

To work with children you need a lot of patience and that’s something I’m completely lacking. If a child is annoying me, I find it hard to ignore, my anger is unleashed, and I become a petty arsehole. [Read more…]

The things I missed (and didn’t) about America while in Korea


Gyeongbok Palace in Seoul, South Korea.

It seems like just yesterday I was counting down the days until we could leave South Korea. (Surprisingly it has already been nine months!) With the controlling head teacher, the disruptive kindergarten kids, and the very few breaks we had away from those aforementioned kids, I couldn’t wait to leave. I don’t know how I did it, but I somehow survived a year in the Land of the Morning Calm. Of course it wasn’t all that bad. In fact, there are things I have started to miss about my time in Korea.

And some, well, that are long forgotten about.

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Missing the Comfort of a Home

No matter where I travel, I can never replicate that same feeling of warmth I got in the house where I grew up. The equilibrium I felt upon waking up every morning is gone. After living in the same house for all of your life, you’ve managed to create your perfect home.

The duvet is just the right thickness. Your bookcase is there with all of the books you’ve read. The heating is always at the right setting. Not too hot, not too cold. Everything is as it should be.

cat sleeping in duvet

True comfort.

Only now do I realise how much I took my home for granted. Only through the lack of a home can you truly appreciate what you had.

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An Asia Must Do: Visit a Cat Cafe

Inside a cat cafe in Daegu, South Korea.Most people are excited to visit Asia to enjoy the beaches, eat insanely cheap and delicious food, or to try and “find themselves.” Me? I couldn’t wait to go to Asia so I could finally go to a cat cafe.

Anyone who knows me or follows me on social media knows that I absolutely adore cats. Before I left the States to go to South Korea for a year, I knew that my cats were the two things I would likely miss most. (Junior Mints, flavored coffee creamer, and my mom were right behind.)

Two cats cuddling.

I didn’t know how I, a cat lady, was going to survive my time away from them. I did manage to find a few ways, which you can read more . However, one of the best ways that helped me get through my cat withdrawals while living in Asia was visiting a cat cafe.

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The Things I did in Korea that I’d Never do in the States.

South Korea Skyline: Old meets modern.

I wanted to live in a foreign country for a few reasons. Firstly, to get out of the US for a bit. Secondly, to add some stamps and visas to my passport. Lastly, to experience something new. Something so entirely different than to what I was used to back home.

Korea was a perfect place for doing exactly that. After being in a different place for so long, you begin to grow accustom to their cultural habits–and may even copy them yourself. In fact, I found myself doing things in Korea that I would probably never do back home in the States. [Read more…]

The Ugly Side to Traveling

At the top of Apsan Mountain in Daegu, Korea.

I woke up one morning and looked like I was 14 years old again. I was breaking out all over my face. Was I having an allergic reaction? Oh, please let this just be bug bites. This couldn’t be happening again to me…at 25.

I was unfortunately cursed with the bad-skin-gene growing up, which may have contributed to my shyness and insecurity. But as I grew out of my teens, it improved drastically and acne was hardly a concern anymore. I was becoming more confident and comfortable with myself.

But then I arrived in Korea and the country decided to wreak havoc on my skin.

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My Quest for Junior Mints While Abroad

7-11 Slurpee.

As I found myself spending more time away from the States, I started craving certain things from back home in America. It’s true what they say: you want what you can’t have.

For instance, there are 7-11s on every corner in South Korea. But the one thing that makes 7-11 so special is missing. There aren’t any Slurpees in the Korean 7-11s. I don’t even know how it is possible to have 7-11s without Slurpees. That’s, like, part of their branding.

I hadn’t had a Slurpee in ages. In fact, it wasn’t ever something I frequently had back home in the States, and it hardly ever crossed my mind then. It’s just ice and artificial flavoring anyway, but something started to happen. Knowing that I couldn’t have it in Korea, I started craving it.

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