South Korea

Fifty-two Weeks of Adventure #30: Daegu Chicken and Beer Festival

This past week was the second annual Chimac festival in Daegu. Chimac is a made-up word jamming together “Chicken” and “Mekju” which is the Korean word for beer. This festival is a marriage of two of Korea’s favorite things, fried chicken and cheap beer.

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The festival was held in Duryu Park, a large park just one subway stop from our place. I went to the festival with some girl friends on Friday night and scoped out the situation. Then Jonathan and I returned on Saturday afternoon and hung out for a few hours. Is there anything more fun than summer festivals? It doesn’t even matter what they’re for, I just enjoy sitting outside, listening to music, and enjoying the festival foods.

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Potato spiral proved a but tricky to eat without impaling the roof of my mouth.

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As you can see, there were tents for food and drinks EVERYWHERE so there was no shortage of options. We had fried chicken and kebab and a potato spiral. There were also several tents with craft beers from small local breweries. As popular as beer is in Korea (Korea has a VERY strong drinking culture), they primarily drink one of two beers, Cass or Hite, both of which are sort of the equivalent of Bud light or Miller. Very light and very mellow. We tried a Heffeweisen from one of the craft brew tents that wasn’t bad. It reminded me of our life in Raleigh, which feels like a thousand years ago, because  North Carolina is just bursting with little independent breweries.

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Jonathan was getting artsy.

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We watched a couple of performances as it started to get dark, including these girls who were pretty bad at dancing and later a band comprised of what looked like 6th grade girls plus one boy who was the drummer. I was much more impressed by them.

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How cute are they?

Being at the festival made us very nostalgic about our time in Korea and a little sad about leaving. In particular I think we will miss living in a big city and having unique cultural experiences at our fingertips. We spent a while dreaming about the places we might go in the future. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from our whole Korea adventure it’s that you really never know where your life might end up if you stay open to possibilities.

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Of course, no festival is complete without the dancing light-up beer bottle!

View of Daegu Tower at night. Which we are hoping to go up to the top of in the next week!

View of Daegu Tower at night. Which we are hoping to go up to the top of in the next week!

If you have an adventure to share, add your link to the link-up by clicking the button below. You can participate in all of the adventures or you can just do a few – no pressure. If you missed last week’s adventure about our final trip to Seoul you can find it here. And if you are new to my Fifty-Two Weeks of Adventure project you can find out more about it here.

52 Weeks of Adventure # 23: MERS Scares AKA The Adventure of Korean Healthcare

If you’re up on world news then you probably know that there has been an outbreak of MERS here in South Korea. While the first case arrived in Korea mid-May, it was only this past week that it became common knowledge. So, it’s been a fun week here.

Photo credit: http://depletedcranium.com/  This is for illustration only. I actually think this is a Japanese family. But this is a pretty common sight here in Korea, even when there is no MERS.

Photo credit: http://depletedcranium.com (This is for illustration only. I actually think this is a Japanese family. But this is a pretty common sight here in Korea, even when there is no MERS.)

If you don’t know, MERS stands for Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome. As the name suggests, it’s a virus that originated in the Middle East (and is found there almost exclusively) that causes respiratory problems. As the American media dramatically announced, “It has no cure and no vaccine!”

While this is true, it’s also not quite the death sentence it sounds like. Like the flu, MERS is the sort of virus that the majority of immune systems can fight off and recover from. In fact, all of the MERS deaths in Korea so far (and most worldwide) have been people who already had a weakened immune system from other serious conditions, usually lung conditions (Tuberculosis is very common here). That’s not to say it’s no big deal or that precautions shouldn’t be taken, but it’s definitely not the bubonic plague the media is making it out to be.

This situation has led Koreans to react in ways that are just, well, so Korean. In other words, they are massively over-reacting in some ways, while not reacting enough in some ways that would actually be helpful. For example:

  • More than 500 schools in the Seoul area were closed to stop the spread of the virus, despite the fact that ALL current cases were contracted by people in the hospital, working in the hospital, or visiting the hospital that held the already diagnosed patients and despite the fact that best research indicates that this virus is not easily transmitted and only appears in people who have had prolonged contact with a MERS patient.
  • Knowing that 100% of the confirmed cases came from people who had been in the same hospital with other patients, the government refused to release the name of the hospital because they were afraid it would incite panic. I’m sorry, but that has to be one of the least logical things I’ve ever heard. If you know where the virus is, tell people not to go there. It’s pretty simple.
  • My school decided to take extra precautions by putting fresh bars of communal soap in our bathrooms. Because it’s impossible for soap to have germs, right? In good news, this is the first new soap we’ve gotten in a year. In bad news, we still have no toilet paper.

    I don't know about you, but this seems super hygenic to me.

    I don’t know about you, but this seems super hygenic to me.

  • My husband’s school has decided that they are now going to start checking the temperature of every person as they enter the school in the morning. Be advised that the closest MERS case to us is in an entirely different province and, once again, the ONLY people who have caught it are people who contracted it from the hospital.
  • I received an emergency alert on my phone (that would have been sent to all the cell phones in the country) instructing me to wash my hands, cough into my elbow, and not let other people cough on me. Duh Doy. However, this may have been news to some. For the two years I’ve lived here, I have constantly been surprised that people who wear face masks frequently (ostensibly to protect themselves or others from germs and environmental pollutants) have little understanding of how germs work. For example:
    • Old people (many of whom have tuberculosis) will wet cough all over you on the bus or subway or street with no apologies.
    • It is common practice for people, from grandfathers to dainty high school girls, to hock massive loogies into the street at your feet constantly. I have also seen some elderly people blow their noses onto the street by plugging one nostril and shooting snot out.
    • People eat and drink after each other constantly, even when someone is sick and wearing a mask. I will frequently see students take off their mask to drink out of their friend’s water bottle. IF YOU ARE SICK ENOUGH TO WEAR A MASK, DO NOT SHARE DRINKS WITH YOUR FRIENDS!
    • Again, there is this seemingly high sensitivity to germs and to social responsibility, given all the mask wearing, yet people never take the precaution of staying home or keeping their children home from school to prevent spreading illnesses. Your kid has pink eye? It’s fine. Just send them to school with an eye patch!

The media keeps saying that South Korea is in a pretty good position to contain and handle MERS since they are so medically advanced. This is certainly true in some ways and they are far more advanced than many other Asian countries. However, having all the fancy equipment doesn’t necessarily mean medical practices are what you might think of as “medically advanced.”

  • Many Koreans still believe in fan death – the belief that if you sleep in a room with a fan on, you will die from breathing the recirculated air. In fact, there must always be fresh air. So even in the winter when it is 20 degrees Fahrenheit, we must open all the windows. We may also run the heater while the windows are open, but the windows must stay open.
  • Most Koreans believe that eating and drinking too many cold foods will make you sick. Even Korean doctors will tell you this. If you are sick, you must avoid cold foods. I assume this comes from the general idea that you want to keep your body temperature from dropping too low, but I can assure you that it is OK for me to drink cold water when I have runny nose. Really, it is.
  • Korean healthcare is excellent in that it is quick and very cheap. Because it is cheap, doctors often like to run tons of unnecessary tests and prescribe lots of unnecessary medication. I once went to the doctor for what I knew was a lingering sinus infection. I told the doctor it was a sinus infection. He did not examine me in any way, but ordered a chest x-ray and prescribed me 5 different medications without even asking if I was allergic to anything (which I am) or taking any other medications. I’m pretty sure one of the meds was just Tylenol, but still. The upside was that the visit cost about $5 USD and the medicine was another $4.
  • Along with that, in America, people tend to want to know more about their health. Patients often do their own research (for better or worse) and ask their doctor about specific medications and things of that nature. It seems that Koreans tend to blindly trust the doctor and take whatever the doctor prescribes for them to take.
  • Many Koreans go to the doctor for EVERYTHING. And the doctor prescribes medication for EVERYTHING. Granted, it’s probably Advil half the time, but still. I once told my Coteacher that my arm was sore because I’d had to stand on the bus the previous day and the bus driver was driving crazily and I had to hold on for dear life. She looked at me with wide eyes and said, “You should go to the doctor!”

Ultimately, I don’t think we have too much to worry about as far as MERS is concerned, but it certainly has made for an interesting week and has given me the change to reflect on the greater adventure that is living abroad in a country that has very different ideas about health and healthcare than what I’m accustomed to.

*Please note that this post uses a lot of generalities based on my experiences. I’m fully aware that my two years of experience here does not make me an expert nor does it mean that every Korean person feels and behaves this way.

If you have an adventure to share, add your link to the link-up by clicking the button below. You can participate in all of the adventures or you can just do a few – no pressure. If you missed last week’s adventure about our trip to Tokyo you can find it here. And if you are new to my Fifty-Two Weeks of Adventure project you can find out more about it here.

Fifty-Two Weeks of Adventure # 17: New Do, New You

Hi, I’m Lily and I take my feelings out on my hair. For my entire life before I went to college my hair looked exactly the same – straight, dark blonde, all the way to my butt. My last year of high school I was allowed to highlight it a bit, but that wasn’t a dramatic change – it was just kicking up the blonde that was already present in my hair.

During the fall semester of my freshman year of college I decided to go nuts. I was young and away from home for the first time. Just as my parents feared, I went crazy.  I decided to dye my hair a medium brown.

Here I am at the beginning of college.

Here I am at the beginning of college.

And here is the change that started it all. (After the green was corrected).

And here is the change that started it all. (After the green was corrected).

The initial results of this were pretty exciting, but after a few days it became clear that the box dye I’d used hadn’t been equipped to cover all of my ash blonde highlights and in bright light it was clear that my hair was not really medium brown but was, in fact, pond scum green. I was horrified. I needed professional help.

The professional fixed my hair relatively easily. She just dyed it a darker brown with lots of red in it to counteract the greenish cast. Problem solved. And I loved the deep dark auburn even better than the lighter brown.

I think realizing that I could do something like turn my hair green and still have it be totally fixable was what sparked my obsession with changing my hair. Since then I’ve dyed it regularly everything from chocolate brown to bright copper to strawberry blonde. I also started experimenting with cutting it, though it still took a few years to work up the courage to cut it all the way up to my chin. When I finally tried that the summer after my wedding, I entered a whole new world of possibilities. My hair grows relatively quickly so I’ve grown it long and cut it off again several times since then (though I’ve never grown it all the way to my butt again).

Most of my hair decisions are incredibly spur of the moment. I am suddenly seized with the desire to change. Changing my hair (especially if it’s a dramatic change) makes me feel like I’m being made new. It feels like a fresh start, a way to shake off who I’ve been or where I’ve been, a chance to become a new and hopefully better version of myself. And once I’ve decided to do something I don’t like waiting around.

About two months ago I suddenly decided I wanted to be blonde. I haven’t been blonde since I was 18 and I knew that unlike most color changes, I wouldn’t be able to do this overnight. It’s not possible to go from dark to blonde in one step without damaging your hair, particularly if there is still color left in it from previous dyeing. So I decided to take it slow. I went to the hair dresser and got a few highlights. I figured this would get things started without fully committing. This would, after all, be my 3rd major change in 8 months.

This was my hair this past August - bright copper red.

This was my hair this past August – bright copper red

And here it is in December. Brown with bangs.

And here it is in December. Brown with bangs.

On Saturday I went back to the hairdresser intending to get a few more highlights. I had been planning to grow my hair out over the summer, but suddenly felt that I HAD to cut it. Immediately.  I came out with all the highlights and a swishy bob.

It even has bangs when I want them.

I know I'm squinting in this picture, but you get the idea...

I know I’m squinting in this picture, but you get the idea…

hair with bangs

My adventure for this week was another Bombs Away decision and I’m just gonna go with it. I’m ready for a new season and I’m hoping for a change. Maybe this can be a start.

If you have an adventure to share, add your link to the link-up by clicking the button below. You can participate in all of the adventures or you can just do a few – no pressure. If you missed last week’s adventure you can find it here. And if you are new to my Fifty-Two Weeks of Adventure project you can find out more about it here.

There’s No Place Like Home-If Only You Can Find It

I am 3 years old and Home is a duplex I share with my mom and my brother. I love because it has an upstairs and a laundry chute that goes straight from the floor of the upstairs bathroom into the laundry room below. Before this there were other homes, but I only remember them in singular, faded images. A rocking horse. A brown basket full of books. But this home I remember in its entirety. My brother’s hamster Conan, and the witches I knew lived inside the air condition vent. This is my mom’s home, but not my dad’s, which is a little confusing for me. Sometimes my brother drops me down the laundry chute for fun.

I am 5 and Home is a long brick house with an eggplant-shaped pool in the back yard. I don’t like it as much as the duplex because there are no stairs, but I do love that pool. And I like that this home has more family in it. My mom and my brother, but also my pop and the new baby. My imaginary friend, Sammy the Squirrel, lives in the backyard and my maybe-boyfriend Christopher lives next door. This is the home we board ourselves up in for my first major hurricane. I’m confused because the hurricane is named Andrew, like one of my cousins, and I can’t figure out what they have to do with each other. One night at dinner, my spaghetti is too hot, so my pop takes it outside and runs around the pool with it to cool it off. Then it’s just right. I’m sitting on the tile floor in the kitchen eating my milk and cookies (because we aren’t allowed to eat on the carpet in the living room, but from here I can still see the TV) when my mom and pop tell us that we are going to have yet another baby. “I guess the new baby will be the old baby now,” I think, and they tell us that we will move to a bigger house before the new baby comes. I am devastated to leave my true love, Christopher, but am consoled when I consider that the new house might have a window seat.

I am 7 and the new house does not have a window seat or any stairs either, but it does have a two-story wooden playhouse in the backyard and a neighborhood full of kids my age. Now we are six: my mom and my dad (because I realized nobody else has a pop and I didn’t want one either), my brother and my two little sisters. I was confused by the arrival of the second sister. I’d been certain she would be a boy to even things out demographically. I even pre-filled out the book my parents gave me about being a big sister with these details. “I have a baby brother. His  name is Gus.” I wasn’t so sure about another girl, but she grew on me. Home is the place for dress-up and fairy tales. The place where I live out a hundred storylines in my imagination and read books out loud with my dad before bed each night. It’s the place where I start growing up – where I have my first sleepovers and learn how to shave my legs and wear a training bra.

I am 11 and Home is shifting again. We are moving to a new place with lots of land. A place where we can breathe, my mom says. There’s a spiral staircase in the living room that leads to the second floor. When we first move in, my brother lives upstairs, but after a few years he moves out and the tower is mine. I spend many hours reading in my tower room, listening to the sound of rain on the tin roof, wondering what it’s like to fall in love. I am Home when 9/11 happens and we watch the towers fall over and over again on the TV in the living room. Home is the place where I chronicle my first serious crush and where I cry when my brother is deployed to Iraq.    In those volatile teenage years, Home is a place full of internal turmoil – a refuge from the daily torture of high school, but also a place where I feel I can’t do anything quite right. Where I fear I’m always in the way. In those years it is a place where I haven’t quite grown into myself. Where I am a child, but I no longer want to be.

I am 18 and my concept of Home has been ripped in two. Home is Louisiana. It’s a white house with a tin roof and oak trees all around. But it’s also a dorm room in a little town in Illinois. It’s the girls that I live with who are helping me become me. It’s a triple set of bunk beds I always have to be on the bottom of because I’m afraid of falling off. It’s the commuter train to Chicago and the little parks dotting neighborhoods full of dear old houses full of stories. It’s the college itself, alive with new ideas that challenge me and with laughter and with love. And lately it’s also becoming a red-headed boy from Indiana.

I am 22 and in the space of a few sacred moments at an altar what was Home is now “my parent’s house” and my Home is wherever this red-headed man is. But, of course, it isn’t quite as clean a break as that. It takes a while to break the habit. To stop thinking of my childhood house as Home. Our first apartment together in Illinois is small and sweet. In the winter the bedroom window leaks so badly we sleep in layers of sweatshirts covered by a pile of blankets so thick, the weight of them makes it hard to breathe. It’s here that our family grows to include two cats – animals I’d always believed I hated until those two darlings stole my heart and changed my mind. For a year we live here and we learn so much about love. But Illinois never feels like it could be a forever home to me. And after a year we know it is time to move on.

I am 24 and Home is Raleigh, North Carolina. For the first time I feel my heart is tied to a place itself instead of just the people who live there. My heart belongs to North Carolina. Its lush green hills, the trees everywhere, the lakes and the creeks and the impossibly glorious fall. The bluegrass music and the hipsters with their micro-breweries and the sweet clean air in my lungs. This is Home. This is where I learn to run. Mile after mile along the winding greenways. This is Home  – the place where I both land and quit my first real job. The place where I learn to take control – where I become strong and healthy and focused.  The place where so many people I love are close enough to visit and where my best friend lives just around the corner. This is Home. This is where I want to grow old. But I’m not ready to grow old just yet.

I am 26 and Home is a fragmented thing. Sometimes Home means an apartment in South Korea, covered in bright floral wallpapers and growing mold in spite of aggressive attempts to keep it at bay.  This Home is full of love and adventure and a willingness to try new things, to change and to grow. But in many ways it doesn’t feel like Home at all.  Home is also America. All of it. The sights and smells and tastes and people that mean comfort and joy and love and belonging. Home is each other, just the two of us, wherever we may be. But home is also the family, the friends, and the pets we’ve left behind. The places we have lived and loved. The places that have shaped us.

Sometimes Home is a dorm-room, an apartment, a house, a city, a state, an entire country. Home seems to be an ever-changing creature. But always it is a feeling. It is the place where love is given and received. It is the place where you are free to be and to become yourself.  It is the place where you are known.

Just Around the River Bend: Nobody gets me like Pocahontas does

The past few months have been filled to the brim with activity. Trips and adventures, anticipation and hard goodbyes. Since my last post I have been to my sister’s high school graduation in Louisiana, to my best friend’s graduation from her Master’s program (see the picture – Master Christina), on a weekend getaway to Washington DC, on an anniversary cruise to the Bahamas, to visit sweet friends Thai and Lanise in Wilmington, had our dear friends Brandon and Christy visit us and went to a Durham Bulls game, and had a crazy girl’s weekend in Chicago/Wisconsin with my roomies. We found a wonderful girl to keep our sweet kitties while we are gone, sold both of our cars, and moved out of our beloved apartment in Raleigh. We said goodbye to a place we love and many of our closest friends, and drove 17 hours down to my parents’ house in Louisiana to store all of our furniture and visit my family and grandparents (aren’t they the cutest?) From there we spent a few days in Orange Beach, AL on vacation with Jonathan’s family (which included the sailboat cruise pictured below  – most terrifying thing I’ve ever done) before making the 14 hour drive back up to their home in Cincinnati where we have spent the last week trying to fit our entire lives into four 50-lb suitcases.Durham Bulls Game Washington DC Bahamas Landscape Bahamas Christina the Master Grandparents sailboat

Girls WeekendI have cried more times than I can count, but I am still incredibly excited about the adventure ahead of us. While it has been harder than I imagined saying goodbye to family, friends, pets, and a city I have come to think of as home, the prospect of all we will learn and see and experience in Korea and wherever else we may make it to on the way has given me hope and excitement about the future. The world feels full of possibilities and even the most ordinary things seem beautiful.

A few months ago I was watching Pocahontas on Netflix (hurray Netflix for getting that contract with Disney, but boo for not being available in South Korea) and as I was singing aloud at the top of my lungs to “Just Around the River Bend” (what…you mean you don’t do that every time you watch a Disney movie? What…you mean you don’t just watch Disney movies by yourself?) I was really overwhelmed by the lyrics. Pocahontas is trying to decide whether to do what is expected and traditional by marrying Kocoum or keep chasing her dreams.

You have to admit, Pocahontas is pretty bad-butt.

You have to admit, Pocahontas is pretty bad-butt.

“Should I choose the smoothest course
Steady as the beating drum?
Should I marry Kocoum?
Is all my dreaming at an end?
Or do you still wait for me, Dream Giver
Just around the river bend?”

And I wept. (What, you mean you don’t weep openly while singing along to Disney songs in Disney movies that you are watching by yourself?) Because I knew exactly what Pocahontas was asking…well, not the marrying Kocoum part, but the rest. Should I choose the smoothest course (stay put, settle down, find a desk job, start a family)? Is all my dreaming at an end? Or do you still wait for me, Dream Giver? I thought, “Pocahontas really gets it.” She gets what it is like to feel deep down that there is something else out there for her, even though everyone else is content to stay where they are and do what is expected. Pocahontas understands what it means to follow the Dream Giver (even though her Dream Giver was probably some sort of weird-looking cloud spirit, judging from the controversial Mother Willow).

“Just Around the River Bend,” has become an anthem for me over these last few months. In the harder moments as well as in the exciting times I have been spurred on thinking about what I might find beyond this particular river bend. I think the Dream Giver is still waiting for me there.

Jonathan and I have set up a new blog to chronicle our Korean adventure together: Two Sore Thumbs…Because two redheads living in Korea stick out like sore thumbs. We would love for you to follow us there so we can continue to share life with you, even from the other side of the world.  Such Small Hands will stay up and may still be used occasionally for non-Korea related posts, but most of our adventures will be posted to Two Sore Thumbs. Hope you check us out!

Start Spreading the News!

Hear ye, hear ye. The Dunns have some exciting news. I know where a lot of your minds just jumped. No. It’s not that. Didn’t you read my last post? My uterus is still Baby-Free since 1987. (Though that would be just like God…tell him what you don’t want and SURPRISE! While He chuckles on his heavenly throne. “Hey Gabriel, check this out. Lily thought she was just gonna decide not to have kids. But look what I just did there.”)

So no, we are not having a baby (that I know of). Nor are we buying a house (no money), getting a dog (too much work), traveling to Europe (again, no money), joining the circus (no skills), becoming professional ballroom dancers (no rhythm), or taking up archery (although that would be cool.) What we are doing is moving…

…to South Korea. Mid-August. To teach English in a public school. Aaaahhhhhh!

How This Came About

First off, those of you who know me know that teaching abroad/living abroad is something I have been interested in for forever. So the interest is not new. We considered teaching abroad right after we got married, but ended up getting jobs in Illinois and decided it would be best spend our first year of marriage in a bit more familiar surroundings. Additionally, most of the places we were really interested in teaching (Europe/South America) were the types of schools where we would either have to get teacher certification/advanced degrees or would have to raise support like missionaries, neither of which we wanted to do. So that idea was put on the shelf.

Fast forward to this past fall. We were having dinner with our friends, Aaron and Caitlan Small, and they were telling us about some Christian schools they had visited on a recent trip to Indonesia that were looking to hire American teachers and provided housing as well as a salary. When Jonathan and I got home from that dinner, we immediately started researching those schools. Unfortunately, it turned out that we needed degrees in education to apply at these particular schools, but the fire had been lit. We decided to re-visit the idea of teaching abroad being more open to different areas of the world than we had looked at before. We felt that the timing was really good for us to be able to do something like this, and while we didn’t have a clear sense of direction yet, we decided to start exploring and see if God opened or closed doors.

Of course, Asia has the highest demand for English teachers of any area in the world right now, so we started exploring programs and countries there. Essentially what we found is that there were three categories of Asian countries:

  1. Countries where you need no qualifications to teach except for a high school diploma and the ability to speak English, but where you get paid about $300 USD/month, which is enough to live on, but not much more. (Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia)
  2. Countries that paid teachers well and covered housing and airfare, but were also much more selective and preferred teachers with certification, years of experience, degrees in education and/or Master’s degrees. (China, Japan)
  3. Country that paid teachers well, covers housing and airfare, and only require that you have a degree in English or TEFL certification. (South Korea)

We decided to apply with recruiters who work in South Korea. We applied to the public school program (called EPIK) where you essentially apply to the program, have to be accepted and then public schools will fill openings from the pool of accepted teachers. We also applied to be considered for private school jobs (which are special language schools that kids attend after regular school) but those are on a case-by-case basis rather than a formal program.

After many months of working on applications and acquiring documents, we found out two weeks ago that we had been accepted into the EPIK program. We FedEx-ed our paperwork to South Korea yesterday.

What We Know

  1. We have been accepted to the program, but do not have contracts yet. We have been told that it is 95% certain that we will be placed and have contracts within the next 2 months. (Only extremely rarely does something happen to mess this up, usually the applicant having been dishonest about something or withdrawing themselves).
  2. We will arrive mid-August, complete 9 days of training, and then head to our schools and new home to start teaching.
  3. We will not know where we will teach until the job offer comes in. We have requested the metropolitan are of Daegu, which is in the southern part of the country and is the 4th largest city in South Korea (about 2 million). We were told that Seoul and Busan would be much more selective and would probably choose teachers with prior experience so we chose the next biggest city we could find although we don’t know that much about it. We are not guaranteed to be placed in Daegu although they will get our applications first.
  4. We will be provided with a small, furnished apartment free-of-charge. We will also receive a relocation allowance that should nearly cover our airfare. We will have health insurance and will each be paid a salary equivalent to somewhere between $1700 – $2000 USD/month. Our only expenses will be utilities, food, and transportation, though we plan to do as much traveling as possible while we are there. The money we save will help to pay off my student loans from Wheaton and my current grad school tuition.
  5. I will plan to continue my grad school classes distance from South Korea.
  6. We will be eating a lot of rice, sweet potatoes, and kimchi.

How We Feel About It

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Ok, mostly we feel like this, but it is also a little bittersweet and scary. We really love Raleigh and could see ourselves back in North Carolina when we are ready to settle down. This has felt like home to us and we will miss it, especially our friends.

One More Cool Story

My biggest concern with all of this was having to tell the family I work for that I was quitting and moving across the world, especially since the kids really rely on the stability that I (and their old nanny before) provide since their parents are so busy and all over the place. I was also hesitant to say anything before we were sure this was happening. After we got accepted to the program, I decided to go ahead and tell them we would probably be moving at the end of the summer so that they would have plenty of time to find a new nanny.

The day I was going to talk to them, the mom came out of her office (while I’m sweating and my pulse is racing) and says, “I just want to update you on our situation. We are moving to Shanghai on July 13th. We don’t want you to quit before them, but wanted you to have time to find another job.”

Which made it so much easier for me to say, “Actually I think I have a new job and it is teaching English in South Korea starting in August.”

Perfect timing or what?! AND now I will be able to visit them in Shanghai where they will have an incredible 4 bedroom apartment overlooking the river. Amazing.

So, sorry for the long update, but so excited to share this with all of you!

And also, we desperately need a home for our darling kitties for 1 year. We want them back when we return! If any of you would seriously consider taking 2 wonderful cats and loving them for a year, please let me know!