I cannot quite believe that today marks one month of living in South Korea! It has flown by, yet it seems like I have been here for a year already. In our beautiful apartments, in our beautiful garlic paradise, Oli and I really feel at home. Korea has enveloped us in it’s warm and spicy Kimchi hug and is not letting us go anytime soon. We are ecstatically happy to be exactly where we are right now.
But, I didn’t come here to gush about Korea’s wonderfulness, I came to gush about ours! Commences a list of all that Oli and I have accomplished in our short time in Korea- we are a little proud.
- Learnt to read Hangeul, the Korean alphabet- yes we can read Korean characters! This is a huge one for me as I have never been that good with languages, but I really, really want to make a huge effort to learn while we are here.
- Created our very own little family- the friends we have made here are all so special and it makes it so much easier being away from home, and our friends and family there, knowing that they are here with us.
- Taught 36 lessons- has it really been that many?! And this is with three days of cancellations… I have definitely had many ups and downs already, but I absolutely love it and look forward to work each and every day. That is something I have always hoped for.
- Watched countless K-POP videos on YouTube- oh K-POP. You better believe that Psy isn’t the only thing playing here in Korea, they are OBSSESSED with Korean pop stars here and there are hundreds of big names. And teaching 11 and 12 year old girls means I need to know my stuff! If you are interested, check out Crayon Pop (?!), Girl’s Generation and the insane G-Dragon, who may possibly be Nicki Minage’s Korean cousin.
- Officially became Aliens of Korea with our Alien Registration Cards, ID cards to you and I.
- Opened up bank accounts and got phone contracts- goodbye to backpacking, hello to the expat lifestyle!
- Got more than a little inebriated from cocktails in a bag- our go to bar in downtown Daegu is Gogo’s, a tiny bar where you order £3.50 cocktails from a little window in the wall and they are served in a bag. This is no ordinary bar either, the drinking spills out onto the street and you can always ask them to make your drink stronger for no extra cost- it can be lethal! Yes Grandparents, I am still partying, but here it is cultural!
- Sang Karaoke more in 30 days than I have in all my 22 years! What can I say? It is addictive and I am super excited to go with my co-teachers sometime soon! I hope they make me sing Korean songs I don’t understand.
- Learnt about Korean culture- the cultural day organised by EPIK introduced us to traditional Hanok architecture, music and crafts. The latter two we tried our own hand at, making sweet music and pencil cases! Korean history and culture is long and rich and I cannot wait to explore it more in the year to come.
- Finally tried Chrysanthemum tea- very popular in East Asia, this beautiful tea was served to me and my co-teacher in a traditional Hanok house, where she took me to sightsee rather than go back to school to desk-warm. She is brilliant. And so is the tea!
- Enjoyed squid for lunch at least once a week- a definite change from my usual lunchtime meals! Seafood is a big deal in Korea and we get a lot of squid based dishes in our nutritionally balanced school lunches- I am definitely getting my Omega-3 quota!
- Almost failed to go hiking. Oli and I were super excited about doing loads of hiking here in Korea. Knowing that 70% of the land here is mountainous, we thought we’d easily be doing it all the time. But between orientation, moving in, starting school, having a birthday and all the other craziness involved in settling into a new country, we have barely had time to get enough sleep, let alone go hiking! However, just this week we took a small hike up the mountain behind Oli’s house and watched a glorious pink sunset set through the forest. It sounds so soppy and corny but I almost shed a tear it was so pretty and I was so happy.
- Bought a guitar. This weekend Oli bought a guitar, which I’m sure for him makes him feel even more at home. For me, it is an excuse to blog and do my nails while he strums away! While gazing at him lovingly of course.
- Volunteered at the local orphanage. Now before you think we are saints, this was not our idea but something the girls already here from last term have been doing for 6 months- we just tagged along! I’m so glad we did and will definitely continue to do so. Basically for an hour every Thursday we hang with the kids, playing games and chatting, simple as that. They love it because we are fresh playmates and we love it because they are so damn cute! The orphanage is an amazing facility and they even offer us dinner each time- I feel proud to help out at such a great place.
- Danced on the DJ booth at Locas. Our introduction to Daegu’s crazy nightlife saw the whole Korean family dancing like mad atop the DJ booth and speakers in an underground club- we felt famous! The DJ even gave Oli a bottle of (probably fake) champagne to shower everyone with! And let me tell you, staying upright and dancing on a two-inch ledge is an intense calf workout.
- Made pancakes- I know I mentioned this on Sunday but it really did make us super happy to have a proper Saturday breakfast rather than our usual overpriced frosties.
- Stocked up our spice cupboard- yep, our spice cupboard is well and truly stocked for many future curries and stews. Birmingham lives on…
- Made our house a home with little plants!
- Last but certainly not least, we have fallen in love with Korea, it’s extraordinarily kind people, it’s wonderful way of life and it’s endless layered mountains.
Here’s to the next 11 months!
Now, we are off to Seoul for 5 days as it’s the National Holiday of Chuseok! Thank you, Korea!