Happy Turkey Day! Korea-style.

Talking with my mouthful. Stephen eating his first Thanksgiving feast.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! We celebrated it early here in Korea! We are very lucky to have a Costco in Daegu (not very common in Korea) and so we have access to many homestyle foodstuffs that we are used to back home for Thanksgiving. They also provided a service to foreigners where we could buy/order turkeys that came with gravy and stuffing. Since none of us have ovens, this was a total Thanksgiving miracle! Yay Costco!

We managed to rustle up some pumpkin pies and an apple pie. We cooked up mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, and stuffing (that our folks sent us from home). Cranberry sauce is also VERY hard to come by so someone’s family sent them that as well.

Mom sent me some ingredients for green bean casserole! Which, was a hit amongst the other foreigners that were unfamiliar with that dish.

Some holiday must-haves Mamma sent me!

Overall, it was a total success and so fun to cook with too many friends in a tiny apartment with too much wine and WAY too much pie.

I’m missing my family so much as these holidays approach but it helps to have a lot of friends who make my heart feel warm. Happiest holidays to all of you, near or far from your homes!

The all too familiar Thanksgiving food coma.

Credit to Maren Williams for the photos. I perpetually leave my camera(s) at home.



Finally. The moment you’ve all been waiting for.

Okay, okay I know I haven’t updated my blog in a million years. In my defense, I haven’t had consistent internet since being in Korea. Which means that when I want to blog at night, at home, when I have some free time I can’t because I have no internet even if I did have some access throughout the day. Now, I honestly could have updated recently but you get so far behind that you’re then daunted by the sheer amount of stuff that has happened. So you’ll have to bear with me while I fast forward¬† a bit.

EPIK Orientation – Busan, South Korea

Orientation was extremely busy and mostly helpful. Basically my days in Busan from Day 1 to Day 9 consisted of waking up every morning at 8 AM, attending hour and half long lectures until 1 PM, lunch, lectures until 6 PM, dinner, then free time (usually). For free time we timidly explored the city around the University we were staying at. We didn’t get to stay out very late because we had a curfew at 12 AM… I know, right? And as I’ve now learned most Koreans roll out for the night life at around 10:30 and don’t stop until 3 AM… probably longer on the weekends. So as you can imagine our nights in Busan were pretty quiet for the most part.

Living in Korea – Moving to Daegu, South Korea

Bright, early and more than slightly hung over on Friday morning we were split up on to different buses and driven three hours with no bathroom break to meet our co-teachers in Daegu. The first day in Daegu was pretty hilarious. I was exhausted, my co-teachers wanted to take us to lunch, go shopping for home goods, meet our Principal and Vice Principal all in the same day. To say the least, it was long and overwhelming. I made it through though – largely thanks to my co-teacher Lynn (In-hee) who is A-mazing and also my lovely fellow NET (Native English Teacher) Susan from South Africa I would not have made it.

But yeah, fast forward and things are moving along really nicely. My apartment is pretty much what I expected if not a little older than desirable. There are really tall 30-story towers that Koreans call apartments that are more desirable to live in but most of us EPIK teachers are living in what are called “pillas” (that is probably a terrible romanization of the word) the Korean word for 3 or 4 story buildings that have “one-rooms”. So according to my co-teachers it is not an apartment – it is one room. That’s pretty descriptive, I think. The area I live in is called Dalseo and our part of town is fairly hoppin’. Plenty of restaurants and bars, a fairly large market and a TON of schools! We are kind of close to a subway stop (which I am already a master of) and about 6 stops from Downtown Daegu! Don’t worry I will post a video and some pictures. In fact, I’ll just do that now. Without further ado, here is my apartment:

P.S. Kayla, I’m sorry for my sharp S’s.

So yeah… there’s my apartment. That was me on Day 1 of Daegu looking exhausted. Anyway, this blog is getting fairly long so I’ll try to do more consistent updates that each involve a little bit of back-tracking to get everyone reading up to speed. Also, I will definitely do a blog dedicated to Korean cuisine and adorable things soon.

On the off chance that anyone is reading this blog¬† and is thinking about moving to Korea to be an English teacher please send me an e-mail to ask specific questions. If I don’t already know the answer, I am very lucky to have really supportive co-teachers who can help me answer it for you!

Korea so far:

Pros: cute/adorable things everywhere, cute/adorable children everywhere, noraebangs (Korean karaoke), seafood, bibimbap, cell-phone backgrounds, coffees and lattes (so good… I don’t know what’s different but it’s working), heated floors, automatic and keyless doors.

Cons: smoking in bars and PCbangs, PCbangs, horrible smelling sewage systems on the streets, neon overload, freezing cold buildings and bathrooms, no toilet paper ever… ever…ever ugh!

That’s all for now – I’ll have a long, detailed post soon!

My “Korean Secret”

Hard to believe that I put in my two weeks notice today at work [not the adorable Hugh Grant/Sandra Bullock kind].

It’s official, there are only two weeks until I get on a plane to San Francisco, effectively saying goodbye to home even though I won’t leave for Korea until the 16th. Even though I have been whining about giving my notice for two months because I felt guilty about taking a job when I knew I could probably only work there for a month and half, it was a relief to give it. It was nice to finally get my “Korean Secret” out in the open with my manager and my co-workers.

I wish I felt a little bit more relief about the trip in general. Things are still feeling very up-in-the-air and not finalized. I submitted my paperwork for my E-2 Visa on Monday and I am anxiously awaiting the safe return of my passport. Maren and I found out the hard way that the Korean Consulate, that Google says is in Denver, is actually not in Denver and if we wanted to take our paperwork and passports in person to the consulate we would have had to have flown to Chicago. So now I’m still waiting on a document that makes or breaks the trip. But there is no going back now. Plane ticket purchased. Two weeks notice submitted.

I’m also feeling EXTREMELY stressed about financial issues. I know I need to go over there with money in the bank but it is just not happening. It’s really upsetting. At my current employer I’m making the minimum to pay my two bills, gas, and whatever food I buy. Not to mention, there have been rather small things here and there that I’ve been buying for the trip and I’m just not making enough to SAVE any. Ask me where my savings went this summer, or from Christmas for that matter, and I’ll start crying. I’m not sure why I’m having such a hard time living within my means right now. I’m very lucky to have a father who is helping me take this trip. Without him I could simply not have funded it and I’m not sure if going would be an option. If you read this Dad, thank you for all of your past and future help. The entry allowance EPIK provides us teachers cannot come soon enough. [P.S. for people reading this blog wondering more about EPIK, the entry allowance is approx. 1.3 million Won… I roughly calculate that at about 1,400 USD. Not bad but we shouldn’t expect to see it until the end of the month of March I hear. It’s meant to help cover the cost of our plane ticket, primarily.]

Because finances have been weighing on me so heavily, I have been freaking out about banking in Korea. How do I transfer money? Do I get a bank in Korea? How do I pay my bills at home linked to my American account? The Korean blog world does NOT seem to be discussing this. Do they have no bills they’re leaving behind?

In other news: Brian got me an absolutely lovely gift. A sort of bittersweet anniversary gift I suppose. But I’m very thankful. It’s a new HD webcam so that I can Skype more clearly with him and everyone back home and record HD videos (or VLOGS). Thank you Brian! I love it!

So, expect a vlog perhaps on packing in the near future! For now, I’ve created a preliminary packing list compiled from MANY “What to Bring to Korea” blogs and websites. Look forward to that excitement in my next blog!

Pilot Post. Watch out “Foreigner in Korea” blogroll.

Hello world (friends and family)! Welcome to my pilot post!

I’m excited to start my blog about moving to and living in Daegu, South Korea. To get things started I’m going to talk about embarking on a crazy adventure for two reasons: 1) it seems like moving to Korea to teach English is wildly popular but everyone seems to get to this point in unique ways so I want to add my story to the numerous blogs out there, 2) should any poor soul happen across this blog looking for advice about getting the ESL in Korea process started I hope they find this information helpful.

So this is basically what happened [I’ll try to keep it concise but as any of my professors know… this is a challenge]: I graduated from a four-year university with a degree in English. That pretty much got the ball rolling. After fruitless attempts to break into the publishing community, I got a job through my neighbor at a medical services company scanning documents. Thrilling. One fine day, out of the blue, I texted my friend Maren who, somewhere in Boulder, CO, was also in a cubicle and wrote, “want to teach English abroad?” to which she replied, “yes!” or something to the effect. And honestly, that was it. We were both really unhappy with our post-graduate prospects and we had honestly tried to get the career of our dreams right out of the gate. I know this line is becoming a broken record, but the economy was really bad when we graduated… it still is. That is partly what this blog is about. Would I have traveled to a foreign country in the next year had the economy been better? Would I have chosen to actively become an expatriate if the promises my university made me had come to fruition? Would I be leaving for Korea in 3 weeks? I don’t know. I love traveling and was recently abroad. So yeah, I would probably be making another journey even if I did get my dream job. I love teaching and I love connecting with people so teaching abroad was certainly not out of the question. However, I do believe that, in part, I made this decision because I, like many others, was frustrated with what my country could currently offer me and my freshly minted degree and Korea can offer me more.

From a simple and slightly facetious text, Maren and I found ourselves trying to make a decision between Japan and Korea [my Uncle and his wife taught for a year in both countries and inspired me to look at these countries mainly] and after weighing the pros and cons of each we decided on Korea. The benefits were better, the demand seemed higher and therefore the position more valuable and the intrigue of living in a country that I knew nothing about is what helped us to decide on Korea.

After hours of research [especially on Maren’s part!] we decided to go through a recruiting company to get to EPIK. At first, we didn’t know we were getting to EPIK and we had to decide between private or public. I’ve now learned, this is a notorious question among NETs in and we decided the benefits of public [and the security of public] out-weighed the benefits of a Hogwan (Private School). I hesitate to talk too much about our experience with EPIK, our recruiting company, or public schools since I am still in the very beginning stages of experiencing all of these decisions. What a I will say is that so far I am satisfied with our experience with our recruiting company and I have been reassured that our decision to go with EPIK and public is a good one with many positive experiences to back that up. I’m excited to embark!

Whenever I tell someone I am leaving in less than a month to teach ESL in Korea they always ask the same thing: do you speak Korean? Why Korea? Do you know anything about Korea? Well, no… because it sounds fascinating… I’m learning. And I’ve learned a lot so far! I think I can say, with decent pronunciation, ‘hello,’ ‘thank you,’ and can answer the phone. Not a bad start. I really have to figure how to ask where the toilets are.

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