Observations in Korea / 01

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I made it! I’m in Busan, living in a small apartment in a great part of town, about five minutes from the school I’m working at and only about a minute away from where my friend Dylan lives. Things really ended up working out perfectly – the timing, the job, and the location are all great. My coworkers are all Korean, and they’re all very sweet and friendly. My first few days were a bit rough in terms of the jet lag, but I think I’m slowly (sleep by sleep) getting back to my usual self with my usual energy levels. My apartment wasn’t quite as furnished as I had hoped (my kitchen contained the following: a few bowls, one wok, no cups, a spoon and a pair of chopsticks – the essentials), but after a few trips to the store, I’m getting settled in just fine. 

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On Sunday afternoon, following my first and only-so-far minor panic attack about moving halfway across the world all on my own for a whole year, I managed to wander my way to the beach, which calmed me and buoyed my spirits immediately. It’s a little chilly here at the moment, but still warm enough to sit in the sand for a while, enjoying the sunshine. Such a wonderful change from the cold Canadian weather. I’m sure there will be lots of things I’ll miss about Canada during this year away, but winter will not be one of them. The beach is a 15 minute walk from my apartment and is utterly gorgeous, so if you need me, I’ll be at the beach! 

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I recently began following an Instagram account of a girl who moved across the world from LA to Bahrain. She’s been posting her observations of what daily life is like in a different part of the world, and I thought it was such an inspired idea. I’m sure I’ll get used to so many of the small cultural differences and they’ll no longer seem interesting or remarkable, but for now I’m trying to record all the things that seem noteworthy about Korea – maybe you’ll think so too!

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  • A lot of the buildings here are done up with coloured lights and animations. We have that back home too, especially in Montreal, but it seems more prevalent here. The Gwangalli bridge is particularly awesome – it has all these neon lights moving around and although I was totally dazed from a long day of plane rides and time differences when I was driven across it, I still noticed how cool it was. 
  • Classical music is really common here. I’ve noticed that it plays in a lot of public places – on both my Korean Air flights en route here, they played classical music during boarding and de-planing, and I’ve heard it in the supermarket too. I even visited one convenience store whose door chime was Pachelbel’s canon! No complaints from me, it’s pretty soothing. 
  • Speaking of Korean Air, their flight attendants are dressed impeccably. Most flight attendants are, of course, but their uniforms are so crisp (they have these very architectural bows tied around their neck like the one shown here) and perfect hair. 
  • They sell shampoo and conditioner in Costco-size bottles with pumps just at the regular supermarket. I could not be more pleased about this. Also, when you buy hand soap, it’s packaged with a refill! Of course this isn’t true of every product, but it happens much more often here than back home from what I’ve seen so far. 
  • The tables at Korean diners have buckets sunk into the table with chopsticks and spoons inside. Very convenient. 
  • The major Korean alcohol, soju, is incredibly cheap. Like, $1 for a 375ml bottle.
  • In my building, there is one set of elevators for odd-numbered floors, and another set for even-numbered floors. At least, that’s what I was told, but I admit I haven’t experimented yet. 
  • Most apartments (from what I’ve seen), including mine, are unlocked by a code punched into a number pad, not a key. I love it.
  • There are sidewalk fruit vendors everywhere, selling mainly apples, strawberries and oranges for cheap.
  • A lot of the toilet paper here is lightly scented. 
  • I’ve seen a lot of people wearing face masks both while walking around and riding motorcycles. I’ve also noticed that people do spit more on the street and even inside. 
  • Korean potato chips taste the same as Canadian ones, except perhaps less salty. 
  • The majority of the cars I’ve seen driving around look very clean and brand new. That being said, I do live in a pretty expensive part of Busan. 
  • Their version of a dollar store is Daiso, which is a Japanese store. It’s full of brightly coloured, adorable things, and offers more than our dollar stores back home – I just bought a yoga mat and a cute little succulent plant in a vase for around $5 each. 
  • Taxis are very, very cheap.

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All in all, my first impressions of Korea are very positive. I live in a great part of town and I’m slowly discovering all the different things it has to offer, one step at a time! 

Lately | March

Currently March 5

Staring at my bags, packed in the corner of my otherwise empty room.

Flying to Korea tomorrow.

Amazed at all the synchronicity I’ve experienced as this big move came together. 

Content that I’ve been able to say my goodbyes-for-now to almost all of my loved ones. 

Giggling (still) over how gosh-darn cute these Korean flag cupcakes I made turned out. 

Designing a website & logo for a new venture I’m really excited about.

Drinking a lot of chocolate almond milk and white wine.

Eating a batch of these amazing cookies, one by one. 

Loving the fact that it’s still light out around 6PM nowadays.

Turning pro (slowly but surely) after reading the awesome book.

Editing interesting videos for the Red Tent Sisters

Discovering new podcasts I can fall in love with – the comments section in this article helped! 

Nervous about starting to teach children on Monday.

Staying positive. 

Grateful for all the love and supportive words I’ve gotten from everyone around me about my move to Korea. 

Resolving to get back to my yoga practice + start taking more photos again. 

Filling notebooks with ideas and quotes. 

Planning to watch all this year’s Oscar-nominated movies…of course, now that the Oscars are over, right?

Happy to be escaping the frigid temperatures and snow to go to a warmer climate. 

Excited/disbelieving/overwhelmed by the fact that in a few days I will be living in Korea. 

Feeling BLESSED. It’s a wild and wonderful life.