Looking back

January 2015

On the 2nd of January 2015 we arrived in Korea. The weeks leading up to that was very stressful. We were coming to a country where we didn’t speak the language. We didn’t know what to expect. We didn’t know if the school would like us or whether they would send us back home. When we arrived someone from the agency was supposed to bring us to Seosan ( a little rural city in Korea) but instead he met us at the airport and threw us on a bus. The bus driver didn’t speak any English so we couldn’t even ask him where we were supposed to get off. Luckily he told us once we arrived in Seosan.

Then our director was supposed to pick us up from the bus terminal but no one was waiting for us. Our phone didn’t want to make any calls and we couldn’t find a pay phone either. After about an hour a young girl came to help us and phoned our director to come and get us.

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On the way to Korea

The first few months were quite terrible. It was cold. We couldn’t communicate. We got lost a LOT. And we missed home.

In addition during the first few months we got sick all the time. I had terrible breakouts on my skin and I was loosing hair. We were also living in a crappy apartment in the ‘red light district’ and people were screaming and shouting until 4 o’clock in the morning.

The first time we went to Seoul we had to research for days how to get around and where to go. We visited each area on a different visit so as to not confuse ourselves too much.

6 months later.

Six months later we have negotiated with our boss to move into a better area. My husband’s parents were coming to visit us soon and we have started collecting some things for our new home. We have also been visiting with my brother who is also living in Korea.

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Now

18 Months later I am glad to say that we are better able to navigate cities. We have even travelled to the other side of Korea with no help whatsoever. We are healthier and we can communicate with people even if we don’t speak Korean and they don’t speak English. We’ve been here for a little over  18 months and we’re planning to stay even longer. When we first left South Africa it was to create a better life for ourselves. The original plan didn’t work out as we hoped but we believe that we are here for a reason and that our path is already planned out for us.

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Workwear (Korea)

Korea is different from the western world, they have a different culture and ways of doing things. Although they also wear clothes that come from american and European companies there are still some taboos. For instance girls can wear extremely short miniskirts but it is totally inappropriate to show shoulders, collarbones or cleavage. The social laws seem to be relaxing nowadays but in some areas of the country it is still considered highly inappropriate. Therefore when coming to Korea try and keep it conservative as you will be working with these people’s children.

Summer Outfits

You should be able to get away with showing you shoulders as long as it’s not in a strappy top. In summer you can wear lovely floral dresses or skirts. Your shoes should be chosen according to your school. If you’re working at a private academy (hagwon) then go with flat shoes because you’ll be on your feet the whole day. In public schools however you’ll wear slippers inside the buildings so you could wear high heels to work if you choose.

It is always better to put your best foot forward in a new work environment. Your style can become more relaxed once you’ve settled and seen what the other people at your work wear. Generally though the Koreans are dressed to the nines. A lot of foreigners wear jeans to work here in Korea but they keep it formal rather than casual.

What not to wear to work!

Although this outfit is really cute it is not something you should wear to work. Uggs with jeans are OK in winter because it is freezing  but not with sweats and t-shirts. You are a professional, try and  act like it.

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Types of apartments in Korea

Being a first time Korean English teacher can be tough. When you first arrive here, you don’t understand the language and you are unable to help yourself, with anything… Mostly your Korean co-teachers will try and help you wherever they can, but because you don’t know the language you are unable to rent the type of apartment you want, especially being a newbie in a foreign country. Therefore you have to stay in the apartments assigned to you by the school. For most teachers you will either stay in an office-tel, one room or 1.5 room apartments. All of these are tiny but still liveable.

One room apartment.

The one room is the worst. Mostly it will be 1 room with the kitchen and bedroom all in one. Luckily you’ll have a separate bathroom.

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One and a half room

1.5 Room apartments are a little bigger. Here you will have a separate bathroom and bedroom. The kitchen and living room however is all situated in the same space.

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Office-tel.

Office-tel apartments that were previously used as offices but are now mostly rented out as housing. Most of them have a loft style apartment making them sort of bigger than the 2 options above. The kitchen and living room area will be in the same space but the bedroom area will be on top of the kitchen and bathroom area.

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Korean apartment tour by gumbalayablog

My family

Today I would like to share my family with you. I have chosen a picture from my wedding back in 2007. It is one of the last photo’s I have of my mother still alive and well, with  the rest of our nuclear family. It is also at that time that we added more family members to our little family.

The first picture is of my parents. The second is of my husbands’ parents and the last picture is of us and our brothers.

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My favourite YouTube guru’s

Although I do not spend too much time on YouTube, there are quite a few YouTubers I like to follow and subscribe to.

When it comes to beauty, hair and makeup I quite like Luxyhair and Leeannesays. Leeanne has a great personality and she is somewhat quirky, I really like watching her do her makeup and hair while luxyhair always has great hair styling ideas.

When we first decided to come to Korea we didn’t have a lot of information about Korea. Therefore we had to search for a lot of things on the internet. One of the things I came across was Simon and Martina’s Eat your Kimchi videos. It is funny and informative and gave us some ideas about what to expect and where to go in Korea

For fitness my go to girl is Zuske Light. She has these 12 – 15 minute workouts. They aren’t always easy but it is fast and gives you a cardio AND weighted workout blast. I also use her videos for some inspiration or if I want to try out some new moves. A while ago I did her arm balance challenge, it was a lot of fun and different from the usual kind of exercises.

Last but not least I like to watch college humour  if I’m in the mood for a laugh

There are many other channels I like to follow but these are the Top 5 ones for me!!!!