Posted in Korea, Teaching, Uncategorized

10 things to buy when living in Korea.

Happy summer, and welcome back to my blog!

I have fished around in my brain for things to write about, that relate to Korea.

As opposed to the abundant amount of blog posts about what to pack when coming to Korea, and what to buy when visiting Korea, I have not seen any posts about what to buy when living here.

If you are anything like me, you delay buying things that you need and end up buying it a year or so later. You then think to yourself, ‘why didn’t I buy this sooner?’…
This has happened to me multiple times in the last 4 years.

So, to prevent you wasting time and avoid regret, I present to you…

10 things that you should buy when living in Korea.

Check out my other lists, here.

  1. Electric blanket 
    If you have to buy just one thing from this list, please buy this! My electric blanket has saved me from freezing to death in the winter. While Korea is crazy hot in the summer, the winters could not be more opposite. While a duvet can keep you warm, the cozy heat you get from using an electric blanket is irreplaceable.
    For my female readers, electric blankets are also a God-send when you are on your period! Gets rid of my lower back pain almost instantly.

    While this is not the heated pad that I use, here is a similar one.
  2. Dehumidifier
    Korea is known for having 4 seasons. When I first moved to Korea, each season was 3 months long. What nobody told me was that the summers here are incredibly humid.
    As I have only ever lived in 1 house until I moved to Korea, I’m not sure how accurate this is but, I think Korean houses are not built as well as my very old house in London. This means, mold forms very fast. Molds annoying cousin is water.
    I regret not buying a dehumidifier in my first year, as I would have avoided sticky summers and countless times trying to scrub mold.

    Buy a mini dehumidifier 

  3. Humidifier

    I know, why would I suggest the complete opposite item to the one I have just mentioned. Well, two reasons. First, everyone is different. Second, Korea is wet in the summer, but it is extremely dry in the winter.
    When the winter is as cold as it gets here, you need to put the heating on. But the heating does make the air dry. I suffer from nose bleeds sometimes in the winter and I guess it is because the dry air. After I used a humidifier, the nose bleeds stopped and my skin was not dry anymore.
    However, a warning, please make sure you clean and disinfect your humidifier as it could be very bad for your health.I am in love with this humidifier lamp!
  4. Rice cooker
    Many of my lucky friends moved into their apartment with a rice cooker waiting to greet them. I however, was not so lucky.
    Now, I do not like rice. I can go months or years without eating it. But, a rice cooker is basically a slow cooker and steamer! You can make multiple things in their and it is very compact and cheap.
    Whenever my Korean friends visited my house, they always asked where the rice cooker was and they would look at me like I had just offended their entire heritage. Avoid crushing your Korean friends hearts by buying one!

    Here is a like to a cute 1-3 person rice cooker.
  5. Mini oven

    Again, this one might not seem necessary, but I only bought mine a year ago and I can say that I am SO glad that I bought it. This should have been the first thing I bought when I got here because I love to bake. Not only baking. When I think about what kind of foods I used to eat back home, I almost always made things in the oven.
    Mini ovens are around the same size as a microwave. More importantly, they get the job done!I have no regrets! Here is my mini oven!
  6. Shower head water purifierreview_9b028Now, I must admit, I have not bought this yet. But, I am including it in my list as most of my friends in Korea have used purifiers and they love them.
    The water in Korea is softer and I guess less chemically treated than water in London. So the water here has already done wonders for my hair.
    I am not sure about the water in other cities in the world but most of my friends have used these purifiers as they had seen negative changes in their hair and skin condition.
    As soon as I finish this post, I will order a purifier and possible give you a blog post about the benefits or cons of it!This is the most famous water purifier I have seen.
  7. Fan
    As mentioned at the beginning of this post, the summers here are intense. I came from London, where 25 degrees is considered a heat wave! To Korea, where 25 degree is an average spring day.

    Most houses in Korea are already installed with air conditioning, but air conditioning is extremely expensive in Korea! So, I suggest buying a fan as it is more cost-effective and if you end up living in a place without an air conditioner, you are set!

    Also, handheld fans are so handy when you are out and about in public!
    You can buy the Standing fan that I use here.

  8. Vacuum
    Most housing in Korea has vinyl plank flooring. I never realised how much hair I and Aurora shed. Not only that, but how fast dust forms! Having a vacuüm makes cleaning so much easier than using a swifter or sweeping.
    While I still use my swifter, I use my vacuum almost everyday to get rid of  Aurora’s fur in a time-saving way!There are many vacuum cleaners but here is a cheap but sturdy one!
  9. Brita water purifier

    Apparently, Korea’s tap water is drinkable. Not many Korean people drink the tap water, for I think the same reason people from London don’t drink tap water. It smells funny, the water system is old and it is well-known that the water is chemically treated.
    However, drinking bottled water is terrible for the environment and Eco system.
    Many Korean’s live in apartments and they have a water dispenser or water filtered installed. But for us foreigners, we never know when we will be moving next and water dispensers are like phone contracts, you have to sign a 2 year contract. So I suggest buying a Brita water purifier! It is slim enough to fit into your fridge, so you can also enjoy chilled water in the summer!Buy your own one here!
  10. Padding
    As mentioned above, the winters here are incredibly cold. At first I thought that I could survive with my winter jacket from back home. I later realised how mild British weather is and how extreme Korean weather is!
    My second winter in Korea, I purchased a big padded coat and I realised that I had stopped complaining about the coldness!
    If you will be here for the winter, make sure you buy padding!Sorry, I have no link for padding. However, in winter they are easy to find everywhere. I will recommend Discovery expedition!

So there you have it! The 10 things I suggest you buy when living in Korea!

This blog post has not been sponsored (although I am willing to accept some sponsors!).

If you would like to see more blog posts of this kind, like this post and follow my page!

Posted in Korea, Teaching, Uncategorized

Final week!

So guys, I have been working at this school for almost a year. Finally, my contract is coming to an end!

Although this place isn’t as bad as my co-workers and I make out, I feel like I have been counting down the days until the end of my contract since my second month. With just one week left of my contract, here is a quick review of my time here and what I am hoping to do in the future!

This is my third school in Korea. I must say, I have had excellent days and terrible days. It is so hard to tell which one I had more of. But there is one thing for sure, the staff here are amazing. I have met awesome people and made friendships which I am sure will last even after I finish working here. It’s almost like a little family. There have been dramas but when I think about my last 2 months working here, everyone has gotten along with each other.
We give a lot of stick to our team leaders, but again, I think this is one of the nicest management teams I have had experience with. Not only in Korea but back home too. It’s come to light to me in the last couple of weeks that team leaders have to do things that the director tells them too. The problems are coming from the director.

The whole time I have worked here, I haven’t really had a problem with working. Although I do complain a lot to my co-workers! The biggest issue I had was the apartment. I already wrote a post about that so I won’t mention it much here. You can go and read it here.
I always knew, but it put it in concrete that  your home has a big affect on your mood and productivity. I was and still am so unhappy in my apartment that my mood would be down all the time. There was never one day where I woke up and felt happy and in a good mood. I always wake up thinking ‘Well, I better get up and go to work.’ There was never a day where I thought, ‘I want to go home and just chill.’
I also wasn’t getting good nights sleep. Nightmares and hearing traffic outside or the neighbours. My door lock randomly ringing. So many things that distracted me from getting a good nights sleep.

Not getting enough sleep, paired with teaching classes of 19-52 students in the morning, is never something that I will get used to. Yes, the classes I taught were fun and sometimes interesting, I don’t think there is anything that makes teaching 52 students okay. It’s draining. Sometimes there are good schools, with kids that actually want to learn and enjoy your classes. But most of the times, we had terrible schools with children who swear, don’t take part in class and constantly talk over you.

Overall, as much as I complain, (and I know I complain a lot so I have mentioned it several times in this post!) I enjoyed working at this school. I am only sad to leave the amazing teachers I have met working here.

So the future?

Well, as you guys may or may not know, I studied Journalism and I still want to be a journalist. Unfortunately, finding work other than an English teacher in Korea is hard. I am looking for journalism jobs and I am hoping to blog more. I wish to make a living out of my blog, but I know I still have a long way to go.

I have taught for over 2 years now and I know it is not a career that I want to continue doing.
So, if you have any journalist friends in Korea, please let me know and let them know about me!

This coming week, I am going to be busier than ever. But after I finish working here, I am hoping that I will have enough time to blog more!

Until then, wish me luck and stay tuned!

Posted in Korea, Uncategorized

Home away from home

Hey, guys!

It’s been a while since my last blog.

I finally handed in my resignation and have been trying to find another job so life has been a bit crazy. But I have a short an hour before class so I will blog!

I actually prepared the content for this blog a while ago. As you can probably tell form the title, this post will be about where I live. I think I made the title sound more enthusiastic than I actually am about where I live. You guys will see why!

Let’s start with some history.
Since I moved to Korea in 2014, I have lived in 7 houses. Two of them I was just crashing with friends while trying to find a job. Three of those houses were a very decent size and I fell in love with one of them because I had a lovely bathroom and a big balcony. Those are very rare to find in Korea if you are living somewhere that isn’t an apartment or house. I then moved to Seoul and I lived in the apartment which is below where I am living now. I had the chance to move one floor up when another teacher finished working here. Finally, the place where I am living now.

When I moved into this apartment, I had a horrible time. The internet wasn’t working, it has 1/3 the size of my last place, it was a basement apartment, it was dirty, the wallpaper was a disgusting poo colour and there were dead bugs in my bed. On top of all of that, I couldn’t fit all of my things in to the place so I had to throw out a bunch of stuff. It was not a pleasant experience.

My place is called a ‘1.5 room’ meaning the kitchen is separate from the bedroom, but I must tell you, there is just a door, which I can’t open fully, that separates my bedroom from my kitchen. The size of the place is tiny. I would consider it to be a ‘goshiwon’ which is like a dorm room. It is smaller than a ‘one room’, which is what I was told this place was. It is so tiny, my fridge is next to my bed. Literally, I don’t have to stand up to get something out of my fridge.

Anyway! I should calm down on telling you guys the negatives of my place and give you some images. I tried really hard to make my room cozy, so I hope you guys enjoy it!

My kitchen and bathroom are both tiny right? It’s okay. As much as I hate this place, I only have one month left and I have actually gotten used to it now. When it is tidy and clean, like in this video, I suppose it isn’t too bad. Maybe I have just gotten used to it.

The kitchen is so tiny that I feel restricted and I hardly cook. There is no counter space for me to prepare food on. That is the hardest thing to accept. Apart from that, I really hate the orange colour of the cupboards especially against the green tiles. I am also used to cooking with a gas stove. This is the first time I have used an electric stove and  I have to say, they are so hard to cook with.

The bathroom, I had issues with when I moved in. Actually the apartment downstairs was the tiniest bit smaller than the one I am in now. The ceiling in this one is higher. It is annoying when I have a shower that everything gets wet. I have to take out Aurora’s litter and hide the toilet tissue in the cupboard so it does not get wet. But hey, a bathroom that has a toilet that flushes and water for a shower is something that other people don’t have. I have to be grateful for the things I have.

Okay, now time for the bedroom! And the most unusual thing, the fridge.

Yep. There is the fridge. Right next to my bed!

Although it is small, I hope you guys like the decoration because I did try really hard. Actually, watching over the video, it looks much better than it does in real life. Or maybe I just have the bad first impression still stuck in my head.

I wish I had videos of my house back home in London. The difference is 100% noticeable.

The biggest differences are the fact that my kitchen is not big enough for me to actually cook in, the fridge is not in the kitchen, there is no living room and there is no bathtub or shower cubicle.

The thing I do like about my place is that it is a good location. I think that regardless of where you live in Seoul it is good location because the transport system is great! Just like London.
I am trying really hard to think of other good things about this place, but nothing is coming to mind!

At the end of the day I am just thankful for having a roof over my head.

So, what do you guys think? Am I overreacting? Did I decorate it well? Aurora is cute, right?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! Also let me know if there are similarities or differences in your homes. I’m curious! If any has a similar blog post to this or wants to make one in response, leave the link in the comment box!

Thanks for reading!

Posted in Korea, Portfolio, Uncategorized

Update: Racism in Korea

Well, I actually can’t believe how time flies. I was on facebook a few days ago and I got one of those reminders about what I was doing on that day in previous years. I came across a post that I had made 2 years ago! It shocked me because it felt as though I had only posted it a year ago. I have been in Korea for almost 3 years now! Crazy!
When I saw the post, I thought, I should probably make an update or an alternative version to it. So, if you haven’t already go and check out ‘Racism in Korea?’

Now, when I was reading over the blog post, I was thinking, I still agree with all of the points I made in that post, but I couldn’t decide if my view on racism in Korea has changed or not. Also, apart from an updated version, I thought that maybe I should make a post about size in Korea instead of Racism. So I will do both. This post will be an update on ‘Racism in Korea?’ and then I will make another post about size in Korea.

Racism in Korea – Update

So, I mentioned in my last post that people stare. They still stare. It’s not a big issue. I have actually started to notice it more but as I said in my first post, I don’t think they are staring at me because of my race. When I do notice them staring, it still doesn’t bother me.

I have actually had more people speaking to me! This kinds of proves that people aren’t as racist as you make them out to be. There are two ways people start speaking to me. The first one is just straight up talking to me, even before I have acknowledged them. The second is, they stare at me and I catch their eye and smile at them. If they are close enough and confident, they usually speak to me. Asking me where I am from, what I am doing in Korea, if I can speak Korean and so on.

Now, in my original post, I gave 4 main points that I hear people mentioning when they speak about racism here. I am going to speak about those 4 points again.

  1. Taxi drivers driving off –  Now, I am not going to lie, I have experienced taxi drivers driving past me. But I still do not put this down to racism. Yes, it is so frustrating when they drive off and I get angry too, but I thought to myself why are they doing this. I have noticed a few things when they drive off. First thing is that there is someone standing further down the road, maybe the taxi driver thinks they were waiting first. Second is that maybe the driver was going to fast to slow down safely. Everyone in Korea knows that the drivers, especially taxi and bus drivers, are crazy. They speed all the time.
  2. Taxi drivers refusing to take you – Another thing that has happened to me more. Now, the taxi driver has stopped. They have seen your skin colour and they stopped. You tell them a location. As I mentioned in my previous blog, people get in taxi’s without saying hello. They just say the place they want to go. I will defend taxi drivers in that case. But there have been times where I have said hello to the taxi driver, told him where I want to go, and he or she says no. Now, it is frustrating. Especially if you are in a rush. But again, I think their are reasons why they have refused, apart from your race.
    A. You are on the wrong side of the road.
    B. You have hailed down a taxi which is going to a different location. There are different kinds of taxi’s in Korea. There are some in Seoul which go towards Incheon or other surrounding cities. Generally if you get one that is going east, it will not go all the way across the city and take you west.
    C. You have asked them to take you somewhere really close. I understand that sometimes you just need a taxi to take you one subway stop away, but for them, they need to think about their income. They would rather wait and take someone who is going a bit further.
    D. You have asked them to take you somewhere too far. The opposite of my third point. Taxi’s usually have to think about your final destination. Will they be able to get another person easily from your final destination? Is it worth the money going across a motorway and having to drive back without a customer?
    There are many reasons apart from your race.
  3. Not respecting the countries culture – I obviously still agree with this point. I have learnt a lot about Korean culture being here and I have also improved my Korean speaking skills. So, generally, Koreans are very pleased and feel good about the fact that I understand their country and their language.
  4. Dress code – Now, this is one that I kind of have a different opinion about. Since I have been in Korea, cleavage, shoulders and backs have been put on show more. Before, it was all about covering your top and wearing a short skirt. But now, Korean women are also showing their chest, shoulders and backs.
    Working in a company with 90% women has showed me a lot. This one kind of leads into the next post that I will make about size in Korea. So I will try and keep it as related to race as possible. For some reason, it is fine for Korean teachers to wear short skirts and have their shoulders exposed without anyone batting an eye at them. But as soon as my skirt was ‘too short’ (still longer than the Korean teachers), It was an issue. Now, it is so hard for me to say that this is to do with race, and I actually don’t think it is. It is to do with size. And so I will leave this here!

In general, my opinion is that Korea is still not as racist as people make it out to be. Race is such a touchy topic, especially now. So, it is important to just forget about your race. As I said before, even though someone is staring at you, it doesn’t mean that they are thinking racist thoughts. Be positive and give others the benefit of the doubt. Maybe then you will realise that their stares could be something positive. A compliment. You never know!