A Travellerspoint blog

September 2014

Things to do!

As many of my family and friends already know, I am going to be ending my time of teaching English abroad for something equally scary: starting over in America. It's coming up soon in March 2015. It is now September 2014. That's, like, 6 months.

Though I've lived in Korea for about 8 years, I have failed somewhat on the tourist attraction front. I mean, it's gotten a lot better over the past few years, but I have really missed seeing a lot of stuff. I'm going to try to jam-pack it into this fall because let me tell you, the winters here are awful. I mean, just terrible. They don't salt the sidewalks AT ALL, so walking anywhere is pretty hazardous. When I lived in Seoul, my entire street was covered in a thick sheet of ice for weeks at a time. Walking outside to let Kron do his business was a challenge every day. Fall here is beautiful and mild and lovely, so I'm going to force myself to do something every weekend (starting next weekend).

Over the Chuseok holiday, I finally made it to Namhansanseong, an old fortress that was just declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in June. It was a little too warm for my liking, but it was absolutely beautiful. Kron and I will definitely be going again at least one more time.

I also ventured to Everland. Too hot. Too many people. But cheap! And the T-Express wooden roller coaster was not too shabby. (This coming from someone who LOVES roller coasters.)

I need to make a to-do list for what I really want to do in Seoul before I leave (there is SO MUCH!):

  • Seoul Tower (Namsan Tower) - seriously, how have I never been here?
  • Bukcheon Hanok Village - traditional Korean homes! Near two palaces!

- BONUS! Gyeongbokgung! Changdeokgung!

  • National Museum of Contemporary and Modern Art - I LOVE modern art!
  • Hwarangdae (Gangneung) - burial mounds! Royals buried here!
  • Seonyudo - "Host to a water purification plant for decades, this island was recently turned into a park – but instead of dismantling the plant, it was incorporated into the park’s design: support columns are given over to ivy, chemical settling basins turned into lily ponds."
  • Jongmyo Shrine
  • The Blue House - like the White House, but blue.
  • Seodaemun Prison
  • Kimchi Museum - when I first moved here, I mocked the kimchi museum. Now I want to go.
  • kimchi-making class! Other cooking classes!

I also have one week of vacation in the winter, and I think I'll be heading to Hong Kong for that week. Stay tuned to see if I can complete my to-do list!

Posted by lrbergen 04:52 Archived in South Korea Tagged tourist_sites life_in_korea Comments (0)

Year 8


This year, I turned 30. Quite a milestone, yes? I had to renew my passport because it expired. Yet another milestone. And I got to thinking about another landmark in my life and it gave me pause. As of this month, August 2013, I have been living abroad and teaching English for 8 years.

8 YEARS!!!!!!!!!!

That includes Mexico and Korea.

So what have I learned?

  • Don't really trust your Korean boss. I've been duped into it a couple of times with mildly to horribly frustrating and disappointing results.
  • When given something to eat that you don't know, at least try a bite. More often than not, it's actually good, and it always makes for a great story.
  • Wherever you go, pack lightly. Read up ahead of time to see if you're going to a place that doesn't have, say, tampons (I can safely say most of SE Asia does NOT carry these). Do you really want to be the one tied down to a rolling suitcase? Do you really want to wait at baggage claim because you brought too much stuff? It's so satisfying to get off the plane, go through immigration, and leave the airport.
  • There are trade-offs to everything. You might get a great job with awesome pay, but there will always be something that is not so great. Always. I love my life, but I don't have a house or car or husband or children. Trade-off.
  • Learn to roll with the changes. I am not good at this. I usually take it as a personal affront if there are last-minute changes at my job, but I do somewhat okay outside of that. If you live in another country, you'll have to deal with a lot of difficulties in your everyday life...setting up a cell phone, going to the doctor, figuring out immigration...at least in Korea, no policy ever stays the same. So. There's that.
  • Learn at least a little bit of the local language. I have really slacked off on this in recent years, but on my backpacking trip in Vietnam, I learned a lot of basic phrases and important words. While it wasn't essential to basic communication (a LOT of people there speak English in the more touristy towns), it was just...nice. My Korean is terrible, but I mostly know how to communicate in my everyday life, and that is very helpful.
  • You NEED vacation. You do. I have a friend who didn't take a real vacation for more than a year and I can't for the life of me understand how he did it. I have learned that I need to get out of the country on this vacation, but not everyone can or needs to. I actually just got back after a week from the Philippines and I honestly feel I am much better for it. It's Korean culture, however, to work long periods of time with no vacation. WHY?!
  • Don't keep working at a job you hate. Of course it's hard to get out of it and get a new one, and your life will get upset for a while, but in the end it's worth it. I know teaching here is most of my life. I've quit 3 jobs because there is no reason to be miserable.
  • Change can be really good.
  • But so can routines.
  • It's a bit easy to get desensitized to beauty and wonder and excitement.
  • *This post was written in August 2013. It is now September 2014! Oops!

Posted by lrbergen 04:50 Archived in South Korea Tagged tips_and_tricks living_abroad Comments (0)

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