Tuesday, August 31, 2010


We have been in Korea for a week thus far, and Tom has a blog entry ready to go but we don't have internet at our apartment yet and spending time in the hot and smoky internet cafes just doesn't appeal. I'm being cheeky and writing this from the teachers' room in one of the three schools I will teach at here in Buan.

A few notes on the first week:

Korea in August is HOT and oh-so HUMID. Before we arrived we were told about the freezing winters (thigh-high snow, apparently) so we packed thermals and sweatshirts and tights and now we are both bright pink, hovering as close to the air-con as is physically possible because we don't have any summer clothes. The hot weather will last for at least another two weeks.

The meals are HUGE. The first day we ate Korean food, we had more food in one meal than I would eat in a day. Not eating meat is pretty difficult, I will return to being a vegetarian when I head back to New Zealand. Also, European food here is weird. We had crumbed pork cutlets with minced beef, covered in cheese, with almond slivers on top. The sides were red kidney beans, broccoli and a single carrot with mustard.

Fruit is so expensive. Apples are about $1 each, and a box of ten peaches is about $45. I know fruit is expensive throughout Asia, but I was still gobsmacked by the price. Alcohol is super cheap, you can get a bottle of soju (Korean vodka) for as little as $1.20.

More to come when we can get the net at home.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

"Press" coverage

My work was nice enough to write an article about me for the weekly newsletter. Tomorrow is my last day here, and I have 4 days to pack my bags, party my pants off, fly home, visit family and farewell my life in New Zealand.


This Friday, Anna bids farewell to start a new adventure - teaching English school children in rural Korea. Anna and her partner Tom accepted the positions a few weeks ago, and fly out of the country next week: “It’s been a real whirlwind” says Anna “I still can’t believe we are going!”

Anna has always wanted to teach, and experience life in another country, and Korea was the perfect choice as it offers great packages to help meet their English teacher requirements. The offer includes flights and accommodation for the year of their contract - a western style two bedroom apartment. This is a real bonus, and means no “key deposit” – a mandatory non-refundable financial “gift” to the landlord often required in Japan and Korea. They will also have a co-teacher on hand to help navigate the classroom full of small children who don’t speak a word of English (yet!)

Unable to take most of her worldly possessions with her, Anna has been a regular on Trade Me, even parting with her beloved lamp: “It’s probably one of my only possessions that has survived the journey through the many, many many flats I have lived in Wellington”. Fortunately, after a careful vetting process, the perfect owner was found for the lamp and updates on how it is getting on are being provided on a regular basis.

Anna and Tom will be living Buan-gun in the region of Jeollabuk-do in South-West Korea. The couple were initially unsure about teaching in such a remote area – with only a few other westerners in the region - but decided to take the plunge, hoping it will provide a more authentic experience than a larger city… and crossing their fingers that there will be internet access.

Despite extensive research, finding out information about the region has been somewhat tricky, with it going by several different names - and having a somewhat sparse Wikipedia page. Fortunately for future travellers Anna plans to remedy this with a blog about life in the region… but for now it all adds to the sense of adventure (and terror!).

One thing the couple do know is that English speakers and reading material will be few and far between, and both have stocked up on books and DVDs in preparation. However Anna is slightly less prepared for the food. “There are a number of dog farms in the area and ‘kimchi’ or fermented cabbage is a popular local food… I miss my jaffas already!”

A note:
I loved that freakin' lamp. It was just a bendy-necked halogen floor lamp but it was the only piece of furniture to survive moving through the 8 flats I have lived in during the past 6 years in Wellington. When it sold, the new buyer (a godfearing retiree from Waikanae) called me to arrange picking it up. I was drunk and emotional, at a farewell party for a friend and I waxed lyrical for half an hour to this woman, telling her how much I loved the lamp, and how I was going to miss it. At one point, I begged her to let me keep it for a few more weeks, and she obliged. When it finally reached her, she sent me an email to tell me that it was okay, and she used it every day and loved it as much as I did. When I found some spare bulbs whilst cleaning out my old room, I posted them to her. It felt right.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

It begins.

Well, it really began aaages ago. I've wanted to teach English in Asia for years, and now it's happening.

Tom and I have spent the last few months applying for roles teaching English in South Korea. We were declined for the EPIK program and have been accepted to teach in Buan-gun, Jeollabuk-do, beginning August 2010. We fly out of New Zealand at some godforsaken hour of the morning on 25 August and we'll be in Korea for a year.

Here goes.