A year’s worth of wisdom

Whit here:

I am not sure if anyone noticed, but we arrived in Korea one year ago. We had already spent a couple of nights here, one of which we spent frantically trying to find a lost passport. Then there were those 2 weeks in Thailand. But most of the last 365 days have been spent eating kimchi and rice. So what would I tell myself one year ago today? Here is a list of 6.

1. Stock up on Crest. As soon as you run out Lindsay is going to convince herself Korean toothpaste is sub-par. You can argue the fact, but she is going to bring up the fact that she has never had a cavity and you have.

2. It smells funny now, but just eat it. The food hardly smells edible at first, but my goodness Korean cuisine is underrepresented around the world. It will change your life.

3. Kiss advanced notice goodbye. You might be doing something you weren’t expecting to do any hour of the day. Maybe you will work, maybe you won’t, maybe you will go to the doctor, or Seoul, or the bathhouse. You are at the mercy of your employer. But don’t fret, this isn’t always a bad thing. One English teacher I know showed up for school today, and she was the only one there. Unexpected day off!

4. Prepare yourself for two years. Korea will suck you in. The kids are cute, the food is good (see number 2), the pay is great and the life is almost too easy. Sure it feels like regular life sometimes, but then something happens to remind you its actually Korea.

5. Taking offense isn’t an option. I guess you can still take offense to some things, but it may make life difficult. You might sit near someone in a restaurant who will let out a tremendous fart. You might get jumped in line by a woman your grandmother’s age, you might get told you are fat, ugly, have a big nose or need to shave. But I promise you will eventually not flinch.

6. Travel Korea. I know it may not look like much now, but there is a whole beautiful country waiting to be explored. In smaller towns, if you smile and show good Korean manners, the people might just treat you like a god. Don’t be surprised is someone buys your meal. Oh and bring a tent. There are plenty of camping opportunities around Korea, but the tents aren’t too efficient. They are meant for car camping not backpacking, which makes it difficult on the carless. If you like to rough it this isn’t your type of camping, but why not give Korean camping a try for a year or two? With all of the restaurants and markets nearby, you won’t go thirsty or hungry.


  1. Daniel says:

    Hi! I’ve been following your blog for most of this year as I’m heading over in…well, a week now. The entire blog has proven incredibly helpful, and between this post and some of other teachers I’ve contacted in South Korea, I’m sure I’ll be travelling with a chemist/drugstore in my suitcase. Without bombarding you guys with questions too much, do you know any foreign teachers that bought laptops over there? My plan was to buy one when I got there but another UK teacher I’m in touch with suggested I buy it at home instead. Any suggestions would be incredibly appreciated.


  2. Summer says:

    Love the post, Whit!


  3. Hey Daniel, Glad we have been of some help. On the laptop issue, we brought ours over and it worked fine until the screen went black. I think we abused it in the move and on our trip in Thailand. We bought one here for more than we would have paid at home. I would suggest buying one at home and bringing it if you have a nice laptop bag. In the US they are definitely a little cheaper. Here a good one with a camera for skype will cost you over $1000. Hope that helps.


  4. Brittany says:

    Great post! Do we need to ship some Crest?


  5. Jessica says:

    I’m with Brittany. I thought that, too! I’m surprised Lindsay isn’t a toothpaste snob herself!


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