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It’s Not All Sunshine and Lollipops, or Where I’ve Been For The Past Few Weeks

I know, I know:  Living abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity, a chance to experience something most Americans never see, a complete test of your personal fortitude, the ultimate exit from one’s comfort zone…yadda, yadda, yadda. 

Sometimes it also just sucks.

I’m a little behind on the blog right now because, quite frankly, the last couple months have been, at best, forgettable, and at worst, more than a little depressing.  However, rather than engage in an overly detailed online rant, I’m going to discuss a couple of challenges of life here in Korea, because, basically this little blogging endeavor would be a lie if we pretended there weren’t days when we really just want to hop a plane back to our family, Bojangles chicken biscuits, and the comforting familiarity of life in the Old North State.

So, here’s the nitty gritty, the real stuff about living in Korea.

Korea’s EFL Education is Failing, But What Can Be Done About It?

Is Korea’s EFL teaching failing? This question was asked by Groove Magazine in its March issue. The article was a comprehensive account of the history of Korea’s attempt to make its population more competitive by making English language skills key to a child’s education. I thought that the answer was pretty straight forward. Yes. Korea’s EFL instruction programme is failing. But maybe it was an easy question.

Of course it’s important to set out from the beginning to establish the fact that you’re talking about the governments drive to instil native speaker capabilities among the populace. And it’s important to know that whenever you read an argument like this you have to remember that opinions have already been forged on the barstools of waegdom, so convincing any new comers to the discussion will allow for short work.

The very important first girls high school soccer game of spring

I landed in Korea in September to teach English and the next few weeks were the worst in my life.

It’s March now, so I survived, though I don’t talk about those first weeks. I’m sure I’ve had a different experience than my English-teaching cohorts, simply because my school boasts an incredibly unique personality: its kids live at the school, wake at 6 a.m. for chapel, and are good enough at English to be taught literature in the language. There’s also girls and boys high school soccer teams, which I’m coaching this spring.

Working Hard or Hardly Working?!

Book Making

Once a year the teachers at CEV have to make a text book to use at the school. This year we had to make two completely different books. One for beginner students and one for advanced students. Each book had to contain around 100 pages. It was a difficult task as we didn’t have much allocated time to complete them, but we managed to meet the deadline just about! As CEV has many simulation rooms the topics in the text books centred around them. Every teacher concentrated on one or two topics. This involved making a cover page for each topic, this was probably the only fun part about making the entire book!

Where The Heck Have I Been?

It’s been just over a month since I last wrote, I haven’t gone this long without writing in over a year, if not more.  So, where the heck have I been?

The truth is, nowhere.  I’ve been right here.  But there have been a few reasons why I haven’t written in a long while.  I’ve met some people in my life who seem to write best or become creatively inspired when they are upset or unhappy.  I am not one of those people.  I find when I’m stressed or upset, I don’t feel like pouring my thoughts out onto a page (or more accurately, a screen).  This past month has been a very hectic, dynamic, and at times an extremely stressful month.

So what have I been doing?

House sitting and cat sitting:

What to pack for a year in Korea


Gangnam Style Socks
Only one more lesson before I have to dash home and start madly packing for a weekend in Seoul, far less stressful than trying to pack for a whole year away from home.

I feel like I packed well last year, although it did take me about a month and I must have packed and unpacked at least ten times before it was moving day.

If i had a delorian, here are the things I would tell my past self to pack:

How to Stay Sane Until Spring (Korean Winter, we’re through.)

Jimjilbanging: It’s kind of like eating kimchi, but you’ve got to get naked.


photo credit

Korea is lovingly known as The Land of Kimchi, but I argue the slogan could lose kimchi and replace it with jimjilbang and no one would throw a fit. Kimchi and jimjilbangs are both well-known elements of Korean culture. Jimjilbangs are large public bath houses (mostly gender-segregated) and can be found on almost every street in Korea. Some are more fancy than others, but most have a handful of hot baths, showers, saunas, massage tables, lockers, sleeping areas and social meeting spaces. Jimjilbangs are usually open 24 hours a day and many people visit them to bathe, relax and sleep. Most rooms, including the saunas, have special minerals, woods and stones to create a soothing sanctuary and provide elements of traditional Korean medicine. The Korean jimjilbang is a familiar and calming oasis for all Koreans. Each is a mini spa that caters to your every need. They are more prevalent than Starbucks shops and you can spend a day in one for the cost of a latte and a snack. They sound perfect, right?

Volunteer in any kind of social welfare

Hi I'm Lavender. I am currently doing Korean language study in Busan.

I wish to give help to local orphanage, old folks home, animal rescued team. I love children and animal, I am willing to do teaching and even cleaning. I've been sending out my profile to people who looked for volunteers but so far no one contacted me. 

I stay in Jurye-dong, it would be best if where you need help is just around my neighborhood, I can visit often and plan my time well. I will also consider to travel if my schedule allows. Sorry that I may not be able to travel to very far destination frequently because I've very bad motion and travel sickness.

FYI I'm Asian and non native English speaker, I can teach children English if you don't mind. Do let me know if you need my help. Thank you. 


Qualification: Bachelor Degree (Hons) Electronics Engineering 

Korean Language Ability: TOPIK level 3

And just like that... It's over.

Today was my last day as a teacher in Korea.  Plain and simple.  
My. Very. Last.
I teach 6th graders on Thursdays, so Loola and I thought it would be fun to play pictionary with them today.  It was a huge success and made for a really fun and memorable last teaching day.  

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