Kai Boi Boh

Kai Bai Boh

A series on life in Korea 

We have been in Korea for over three months now. Since we have been here there have been some weird, some interesting and some downright hilarious situations and realizations. I’m thinking about creating a kind of series on the blog documenting all of these as well as our funny moments with the kids. Here are 5 things in no particular order…

1) Now, I can’t speak for all of Asia (obviously), but I would like point out that the ‘Asian drivers’ stereotype is pretty accurate here in Korea. My goodness. They turn whenever they decide to, stop wherever they want to and park how ever they feel like parking. It’s just general chaos. Pedestrian crossings? Nah. Red robots? Optional. Kind of like this:

Nobody gets worked up about it. It’s just how it is.

2) It’s considered quite rude to smile at strangers here. That took some time to get used to! For me, it’s almost a reflex to smile at someone if I meet their eyes while walking past them. Not here though. One of the Korean teachers I work with explained that it’s kind of viewed that you smile at children, so by smiling at an adult you’re almost treating them like a child, or, that you are laughing at them. It makes sense, but takes ages to get used to. Far too many times I have started to smile at someone and then remembered halfway through and kind of turned it into an awkward grimace.

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3) We need to talk about Maroon 5. They are everywhere! I feel like no matter where I go in Asia, ‘Sugar’ or ‘Animals’ is blasting from the stores. When I ask the kids what English music they like, most of the time they only know Maroon 5. First it was funny, then it was annoying and now I don’t even hear it.

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4) On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I teach grade 3-6. One class in particular always makes me laugh. There are only 5 of them and they’re all crazy. Unfortunately for her, there is only 1 girl in the class. She sits in the corner by herself, doesn’t talk to them, and I swear she tries to set them on fire with her eyes. The boys irritate her constantly. Every time she lifts up her arms they make crazy underarm hair motions and pretend to die from the smell (typical 11 year old boys). They are always trying to ‘tell on’ each other to get the other one in trouble and it’s usually something silly or a joke.

The other day I had my back to them while I was writing on the board and they were all shouting something at once about what someone was doing. Assuming it was rubbish as usual I just ignored them. Eventually I turned around and caught it. This girl had drawn a zap sign on the back of her page and was holding it up every time one of the boys looked at her or spoke to her. Pretending I hadn’t seen it, I quickly turned around and started writing on the board again. She kind of had a point…

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5) Okay. This is probably one of the craziest things I have heard here: fan death. Basically, most Koreans believe that if you are alone (particularly sleeping) with an electric fan blowing on you in an unventilated room you will die. Literally, die

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They offer a few explanations for this, but the most common is that the fast moving air around your face makes inhalation difficult and will lead to suffocation. If I walk into a classroom which has a fan running inside of it and close the door behind me a teacher or kid will run over and open the door or a window just a little. A few Koreans know that it isn’t true but it’s so ingrained into their culture that most of them avoid doing it anyway. At first I tried to explain it, but now I just go with it…

A Glimpse of Yongwon

Busan, South Korea

I’m sorry it has been so quiet here this week! It took us a few days to settle in and organize our internet as well as unpack and figure out our way around. Basically it has been crazy, but the good kind of crazy. I thought I would take a little break from the Thailand posts so that you can see what we have been up to in Korea.

We arrived on Tuesday and as soon as we landed we had such a good feeling! We just felt content and peaceful. That sounds weird right? I can’t explain it. We were picked up by one of the staff and got drive straight to the school. We were super impressed. The school is beautiful and so modern. We had a few hours of training before being taken to our apartment which we immediately loved (post to follow soon, promise). The next few days were a blur of training, lesson plans, cold weather, bright city lights, coffee, shopping and sleep.

We had our first free day on Saturday and after doing a few errands in the morning we spent the afternoon relaxing before going out for dinner with the other foreign teachers. There are 3 other foreign teachers and they are so nice.

We live in a town called Yongwon (it’s west of Busan). It’s beautiful and although Koreans consider it to be quite rural or ‘out in the country’ we think its perfect.

We had decided to meet up outside our apartment and walked into the city center in search of a pizza place. We have had Korean food all week and just felt like something familiar.

It was about -6 and raining so we bundled up and set out.

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We ended up at this cute little restaurant:

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We ordered some food to share as well as a glass of water each

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The food was really good! But when our water arrived this is how it was served:

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One glass. three straws. to share. So funny!

We spent ages chatting about our home countries, Korea and all sorts of things before deciding it was time to brave the cold again.

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We popped in at our fellow teachers’ apartment block for drinks. I tried some rice wine but I didn’t enjoy it. The others seemed to like to so maybe its an acquired taste. Time flew by while we chatted and before long it was time to leave.

Peter has gotten the rugby to stream here and there was a game at midnight he wanted to catch. We stepped back out into the dark and walked the 200 meters to our apartment.

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So far we are really happy here. It is overwhelming at times, but I think that’s only normal. We start teaching tomorrow and can’t wait to meet our kids. Everyone has been very welcoming and looked after us so well. This was just a tiny glimpse into a night here and I promise to update everyone soon.

A quick update

Everyday life, Life as we know it

Sorry it’s been a bit quiet here this week…things have been a little crazy as we are running around trying to get all that last minute stuff done before we leave.

This week has been pretty successful:

  • We have finally (with a lot of help and list making) packed our suitcases and carry-on luggage.
  • We have bought everything we should need in Korea. Except for plug adapters, we can’t seem to find those anywhere.
  • We have packed and moved all our stuff into storage.
  • We received our work visas for Korea
  • Peter sold his car.
  • We have sorted out our finances and exchanged our money.
  • and, most importantly, WE BOOKED OUR HOLIDAY IN THAILAND!

We are beyond excited for Thailand. We are leaving on Friday the 13th (I know I know) at 10.20pm. We are flying on Emirates to Dubai, we land at 8.45am have a 4 and a half hour layover. We then fly from Dubai to Phuket where we land at 9.55pm. Blake is leaving for Germany just before us on the 13th so we will spend some time together with the family at the airport.

All our hotels for Thailand are booked. We are spending the first 4 nights in Phuket, taking a ferry to Phi Phi Islands and spending 3 nights there, then on to Krabi for 1 night and back to Phuket for the last night.

We are busy finalising our flights to Korea at the moment, but we should leave on the 23rd for Busan. We have bought our bedding, towels, crockery and a few other essentials online and they will be waiting for us at our apartment in Korea. We then start orientation and training on the 25th of February.

My next post will probably be from Dubai!

We are moving to Korea!

Busan, South Korea

We have decided to move to Korea! After months of trying to figure out where we are in life and what on earth we were going to do in 2015, we have decided to take some time to travel the world. For now, the plan is to travel Asia in 2015, Europe in 2016 and the US in 2017.

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We have recently accepted jobs teaching English at a school in South Korea, a little outside of Busan. We went through a wonderful agency, Adventure Teaching. They were by far the most professional and helpful. Within a week they had set up an interview for us at a Christian International school. The school offered us both jobs and we start at the end of February. We have signed a year long contract.

Busan skyline

Busan skyline

Busan city

Busan city

View from Busan Waterfront

View from Busan Waterfront

The school is about 10 minutes away from the little town we will be staying in and they have provided a furnished apartment for us.

Cherry blossoms outside of Busan

Cherry blossoms outside of Busan

A Korean temple

A Korean temple

There is so so much we are looking forward to! Right now we are in the middle of applying for our work visas. If everything goes well all of our documents will be sent to Korea tomorrow morning.

This is just a quick little post to keep everyone updated with what is happening. We are super excited about this! Keep checking this blog for more updates.