It has been exactly 1 month since moving to Korea and our arrival in Busan on the 19th of February! We’re starting to get the hang of things and finding routines in our little town of Seongju. Probably the biggest thing since moving to South Korea has been getting an internet connection at home and local sim cards so that we can stay in touch with people!
After 1 month here I want to reflect on some of the great things we have experienced so far about living in Korea. Now it definitely is not all sunshine and roses (there will most likely be post about this) and this is from my personal experience but there are a lot of amazing things that we have experienced.
Moving to Korea, a first month reflection
First off the people we have interacted with are amazing. If someone is your friend they will go out of their way to help you in any way they can. Monique and I were struggling to get phone contracts sorted out, so Jeehee, one of our adult class members, took us to a friend of hers who runs a phone shop to sort something out. This was at 9pm. Not only did we leave with new contracts and phones but at a great deal too. Our co-teachers have gone through great pains to ensure that we have everything we need, often doing things outside of working hours to ensure we’re okay; Monique’s co-teacher went to buy us furniture on a Saturday. Moning, my Korean friend who gave me a lift of the blue last week. Another colleague has offered to fetch me every Wednesday, for what would otherwise be a 5km walk, and take me home after school.
Gift giving is something that is taken very seriously here and is quite common. We have not been doing much of the giving considering that we are mostly running on living costs but from pay day we will hopefully be able to do our share too. Often you’re given a little rice cake or sweets or coffee or even some bowls.
You are almost always greeted with a huge smile and everyone says goodbye when you leave. This may be a small town thing but it can really brighten your day.
Every school day we get to eat the most delicious Korean food for lunch and you eat in the communal cafeteria, so even if you don’t understand the language, at least you feel part of the group and usually coworkers will do their best to include you! The fruit is delicious, Seongju is well known for it’s melons called 참외 (Chamoe) and we keep getting these as gifts. The strawberries are also to die for (from Goryeong).
We have done very little with regard to sightseeing, but hopefully once we’ve got a little more disposable income and have the transport system down a little better we’ll get around some more to make some new great stories. As I’ve said before some things have been very hard but so far we love it here and can’t wait to see more of this great and beautiful country.
Looking back nearly 2 years later!
There is nothing quite like looking back over your old writing a year or so later. I can remember the enthusiasm I was feeling in that first month, the excitement of a new adventure was still huge while the difficulties we first experienced moving to Korea were finally easing off. That initial enthusiasm has long worn-off but I can say without any hesitation that moving to Korea was one of the best life choices we ever made!
On the topic of getting around, we have done so much travelling in the last year that I can’t believe it! While in Korea we’ve been to the usual places like Seoul and Jeju, we’ve been to theatre festivals in Busan and Daegu, and we’ve been to some more off the beaten track places like Goryeong, Muju and we are living on the tiny island of Ulleungdo!
After 2 years we still love Korean food, we have our favourite barbecue restaurants, our favourite bulgogi places and even our favourite Korean/Chinese restaurants. Certain flavours are starting to get a little repetitive, especially the sweet and lack of salt, but on the whole we don’t have any problems with the food.
Certain cultural things start to become irritating after a while though; like the openness with which Koreans will talk about your looks. It’s great when they are being complimentary but even the slightest skin blemish can become a whole talking point over lunch! Despite this, Koreans are still among the most friendly and honest people we have met. Even living on a tiny island where English can be scarce, we are usually welcomed and if there was some charging error at a store the owners will go to great pains to rectify it the next time we come past.
If you’re thinking about moving to Korea
This article was first written to be completely positive. If you are thinking about moving to Korea just keep in mind that it is difficult. There are lots of hurdles you need to get over and if you are not in a major city, finding English help can be really tough.
For a complete guide make sure to read about everything you need to know Teaching in Korea. Remember to keep an open mind and have a willingness to take have an adventure.
Happy travels and blue skies!