Monday, June 8, 2009

Q & A: Coming to Korea

Since I have lived here for a year now I would like to think that I have a lot of experience. Of course I humbly think I don't know everything about living here and I admit I still haven't seriously studied the language.

But for those thinking of, or are on their way, coming to this other world then there are likely a lot of questions that need answering.

I know before I came out here I did my best to get different opinions and point-of-views about life here before I came. Certainly it didn't prepare me for everything but it did make me feel like I could meet the challenge.

A reader of my blog recently sent me many questions pertaining to her anticipation on coming here. I was kind enough to answer and thought that my information would be useful to other people.

So for you are the Q & A's I have from our emails.
Questions & Answers on coming here and life in Korea:

Q. When you first arrived, it seems you didn't know the language was it difficult to pick up? It seems that hangeul is a bit difficult to read. How is your reading now?

A. Before I left I studied reading it and a few phrases. I also watched a lot of Korean movies and dramas to get a feel for how it sounds. But nothing really prepares you for being in another country. It is not difficult to pick up since you are around it all the time. I can read it easily now but I have very little vocabulary. I have gotten by with just knowing phrases. I would like to learn and hope to do more soon. I would recommend getting the hangeul down as it will make life a lot easier.

Q. Which age groups have you taught and which ones seem the easiest?

A. I have taught kindergarten to first year of middle school (at the hagwon). I mostly teach elementary kids now since I work in an elementary school. The difficult thing for me is the younger kids...say kindergarten to 2nd grade. They have no patience, cry and well act like children. I like to kind of be serious so they don't buy it. Really it depends on the person. From what I hear teaching middle school kids is the hardest since they are dealing with puberty and changes like that.

Q. When you were packing and when you arrived...what did you regret not taking with you? As well as what did you pack that you might have decided otherwise if you found it in Korea?

Ok lemme think. I packed a lot of stuff actually. 2 big suitcases worth. I took a lot of American medicine.. .like over the counter stuff and deodorant. Yes you can find deodorant here but it is hell-of expensive and usually you just find one brand. You can find practically everything modern society has to offer and more here. But if you are taken to particular American brands then bring a lot of it. For me I brought a lot of maxi pads since I only like a certain kind. Also my Dad still ships me hair products that I can't find here. What I regret not taking are precious memorable things I left at home. And would have liked to burn more copies of movies onto my hard drive. But you can find a lot of stuff here.

Q. How has it been with homesickness? Have you visited your family on vacation?

The hardest part about living here is the homesickness and loneliness. You can't avoid it no matter how many friends you have. This is because you live in a foreign land and everything is still foreign. But the way to get through it is know that it passes and that it brings you closer to the people back home. I haven't been back since I got here but plan on going for vacation in August.

Well that is the Q & A in a nutshell for now. She asked a whole lot more questions in more emails which I would like to detail and will do in a follow up post.

If you have any questions about my experience here then give me an email I would be more than happy to answer. (email is located in my profile)


  1. Joy,

    I'm sure you know about Pirate's Bay to fill all your downloadable video needs? ;-)

  2. hehe! i love reading this! (and i love how retarded that sounded...haha!!) i can't wait to hang out with you!! (hopefully soon!) and i found out that SS501 (my new favorite Korean boyband) will be in Seoul August 1st and 2nd...i hope that i can go! maybe you could join me!!

  3. Ah yes I can't wait to see you bright eyed and excited. But that time is really busy for me...first school's camp and then on the 3rd I am leaving for my vacation. So probably can't see you till after I return around the 20th...^^

  4. Oh god yes... I know about Pirate's Bay... but sometimes you can't find everything ... ^^

  5. aah! well that's okay! we'll get together eventually! :)

  6. The hardest part about living here is the homesickness and loneliness. You can't avoid it no matter how many friends you have.

    I'd like to politely disagree and say that this is also a case where it depends on the individual. I've been living in Korea for a month shy of two years now and I have never once felt homesick. Lonely? Sure. But never homesick.

    Definitely agreed about the middle school students, though!


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