Your job doesn’t define you

When I was younger, the last thing I ever wanted to be was a teacher. Although my mother was a teacher. I somehow thought that being a teacher meant that you are unsuccessful.

I have done many types of work during the years. At first I was a florist and I thought that’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I wanted to own my own little shop. I thought I was a creative person, although my mother reassured me that I was only about 30% creative, she was right by the way.268

Then things changed and I went back to school to get my bachelors degree, I developed a profound love for psychology but went to work for a Law firm. I liked wearing business suits because I looked and felt successful even though I only earned $800 a month. Our plan was to immigrate to Australia, but we had to be on their skills list, so I studied a post graduate certificate in Education. To my dismay, the skills lists changed and they no longer needed middle school teachers in Australia. We needed to leave South Africa because the crime and public protest has become too violent and too frequent. I had sleepless nights because I feared that someone would come into our home and kill us, which is what was happening all over the country.100_3832 - Copy (1)

We then came to Korea, where most foreigners work as either ESL teachers or Engineers. I’m obviously no engineer so teaching it is then. In my time here I have come to the conclusion that although your career sets the tone for your behaviour, example no nudie pics on the internet, you don’t have to label yourself as a specific type of person. You are who you are inside. Your life is what you make it. Just because you have a desk job where you sit in a cubicle all day, it doesn’t have to define you as boring or typical. You can run your own “fight club” during the weekend for all we know. Be true to yourself, read and study things that interest you. Build your knowledge with your interests. The only way a person can be happy is if they accept responsibility for their mistakes and realise that no one is to blame. Its in the past. Get over it and focus on what’s in your life now. No one knows what the future will bring. We certainly didn’t expect our lives to turn out the way it has.

What to expect when coming to Korea

Money Matters

You have signed your contract, the school sent you your plane ticket and your about ready to go, but wait a minute, do you need to bring any money with you. Of course you do. There are many hidden costs the first few months that nobody tells you about. The first costs my husband and I encountered was paying for our own bus ticket from Incheon International Airport to Seosan. It amounted to about $20 each. This was after we were told that airport pick-up has been arranged. We still had to buy our own tickets.

Then when you arrive at your destination you have to buy food to hold you over until you get settled.

When will you get your first pay check?

Then the next thing you have to consider is that some schools only pay on the 10th or 15th of every month, therefore it you start working on the 1st of January for example you will only get your first pay check on the 15th of February. This means you have to have enough money to keep you alive for 6 weeks. I made the mistake of only bringing $800 for me and my husband when in actual fact we needed around $1500-$2000. I think if you don’t go out too much during the first few weeks and take some of your school lunches as leftovers for breakfast the next day you might not need that much money. But that might be pushing it…

In addition, most hagwons will charge you an “insurance fee”(in case you do a midnight run after they have paid for your plane tickets) of around $300 a month for around 3 months. Although this will differ depending on your contract.7-24_won_dollar


The first time you buy groceries might be a bit overwhelming because you don’t know what food is supposed to cost. You will try and convert your money to won and it will take you a while to know what a good deal looks like. 

When we first arrived here our boss took us to do groceries, we were so overwhelmed that we only bought some Kimchi (we didn’t eve know what it was) bonemeal soup, toilet paper and rice. I din’t even buy coffee…

Currently we spend $300 a month on groceries. This does not include luxury food items like smoked ribs or toast bread that we buy every now and again.

Medical expenses.

As soon as you arrive your boss will ask you to go for a medical check-up. Depending on your area this will cost you around $80 per person.

Korean ID costs

Visa costs amount to around $60 each. And if you forgot to bring extra Passport photos you have to pay to have them taken for around $20 each.

If you have any further questions drop me a line in the comment section below.

Myeong-dong Shopping

If you search Myeong-dong on the internet you will find hundreds of sites saying that Myeongdong is a shopping Mecca. It is of course, completely true. It is a great place for Expats to shop especially if you are taller than the average Korean. Myeong-dong consists of streets and streets of shopping. There is a variety of clothing shops including international brands like Guess, Calvin Klein, Forever 21 H&M and many more. The quality is good and the prices are affordable. If an item is in fashion you can shop around to find the best quality at the best price. If you feel like walking around without doing some shopping20160319_091637

there is a variety of coffee shops, restaurants, Hotels and street vendors. If you’re looking for luxury brands, like Chanel, you can visit Shinsegae or Hyundai department store in the same area.20160319_100400

How to get there

From Seosan you can take the Express bus to Gangnam Express Bus Terminal. Then take the subway, get on the orange line (line 3) get off at Chungmuro and change to the light blue line (line 4). Your next stop will be Myeong-dong, stop number 424. There is also a application called Seoul Subway that you can download on your phone to make navigating the subways much easier.

My Favorite clothing brands.20160319_091438

TEENIE WEENIE (Myeong-dong)

I have a few shops that I love to buy clothes from. First is Teenie Weenie. I absolutely love the colors and quality of the clothes. The shop has a very beautiful layout and they sell both men’s and women’s clothes. Their outfits are smart, casual and cute. They also have a beautiful range of bags that looks similar to MCM bags but at a tenth of the price.



I haven’t really bought much from this store but I love to look at their displays for outfit ideas. My husband has bought quite a lot of clothes from there and he is very happy with the quality plus they always have his size.

EGOIST (Shinsegae)

20160320_141459I absolutely love their outfits. They are a little pricey but if you save some money for a few months you can definitely buy an outfit cash.


Isaac Toast. The shop is always very busy and the food is incredible and affordable. By far the best breakfast meal in Myeong-dong.



Korean Karaoke (Noraebang)

Our first experience with Noraebang was when we just arrived here. It was our second day here and the English teachers from whom we were taking over invited us to meet the other foreigners in Seosan. We started out at a self bar. Self bars are bars where you take your own drinks out of the refrigerator and only pay once you’re ready to go. After that we went to another bar in the same street. Later we found out that the people called this street ‘Bar Street’ because of all the bars in the street. At this bar we could dedicate English songs and play darts. Here we could also drink cocktails and other strong beverages. About 2 hours later we all decide to go to a Noraebang. You know… when you’re drunk your up for anything, even karaoke.

When we walk in it is a medium sized room with cosy couch like seats in a U-shape in the room. There are 2 televisions and 2 microphones. There are even some tambourines if you feel like joining in if you’re not singing. The great thing is you don’t have to sing alone if you don’t want to.. People often join in if they know the song. Furthermore no one judges you. Everyone is there to have fun.

Noraebang has a variety of songs and they provide some snacks and you can buy beers from them.

By the time we walked out the sun was already out.

This kind of experience is not uncommon in Korea.

Arriving in Korea

Welcome to Seosan City in Chungcheongnam-do, Korea

It is not a very popular city for foreign visitors. In fact, lonely planet doesn’t even mention it.

My husband and I have been living here since the 1st of January 2015. We came here, like many other foreigners, to teach English. We left our home country on the 31st of December, spending our New Years in the air somewhere between Abu Dhabi and Korea. We left sunny South Africa, only to step onto the icy Korean soil.

Honestly we have never experienced this magnitude of “freeze”, ever…

Bearing in mind that we come from a warm country, where our winter temperatures are normally around 14 degrees and summer reaches 35+. After the initial freeze we got on a bus to Seosan-si. Our first experience with Korean buses was, something of a nightmare. In all fairness I have to say that not all the bus drivers are the same. We have had some really pleasant bus trips since then, but back to beginning. I remember thinking. Oh my word, we didn’t die on the flight over here but we are going to die on this bus. The reason being that the driver kept falling asleep behind the wheel. Swerving a little left, then a little right before waking himself with a jerk of the head. The second reason is that he drove through the tolls gates so fast that the speed limit indicators where shaking as we went past. This lasted for two and a half hours. Finally we made it to Seosan…alive. When we got to the bus terminal there where no one waiting for us. We’re in a foreign country where everyone speaks Korean and they do not understand English. Luckily a young girl offered to phone our new boss to pick us up from the terminal. And this is where our adventure began…