One Month (and a bit) in Korea


Last Sunday I hit my one month mark since arriving in Korea.

In the last five weeks, this blog should have been overflowing with photos and entries all about my first thoughts and experiences of living in another new country. The quirks, cultural differences, language difficulties, everything and anything should have been typed up and published to serve as memories to look back on in the years to come.

And, of course, instead of this, there’s been silence.

Ever since my health scare during the first week, I haven’t felt able to write honestly about what my feelings were. I wanted to make it seem like everything was hunky dorey; That everything was rainbows and unicorns and kimchi and soju and that I was having the best time of my life.

The truth is that moving here has been an adjustment.

Duh, Ceri! I hear you say. Did you think it would be easy?

Of course not.

What I mean is that, excluding the fact that I’ve moved to a different country on the other side of the world, this city girl is now trying to adapt to life in a more rural town.



At first it was charming and peaceful. The skies were clear and beautiful, and I didn’t have to wash off the smog imprinted on my skin from the traffic pollution at the end of the day.

But then after a week, that silence became a little deafening.

Don’t get me wrong. There were some things I absolutely adored about Naju.

I mean, look at these views …




And, of course, it didn’t take long to learn where everything was.

My local shops are just across the street. And I can see my house from the beauty school …

That's my apartment complex in the background.

That’s my apartment complex in the background.

But, there’s something about being in the centre of hustle and bustle that I enjoy. Cities are generally big, impersonal, polluted, noisy, fast-paced and full of the worst kind of corporations. I love them. I can’t help it.


And I always wondered whether there’d ever come a time when I’d be put to the test over how my metropolitan spirit would handle living somewhere that’s a bit more out of the way.

That time is finally here.

Will I ever be able to navigate the much-needed buses around this town? (Because I couldn’t even do that in Wales.)

Will I start bringing flowers into my home and become one of those gardener types?

Will the fresh air do good for my beaten and abused Asthmatic lungs or will the surrounding nature only aggravate my allergies?

Tune in next week to find out …


Or … y’know, just stay and read the rest of this post.

The truth is that while I did start to feel a bit trapped and claustrophobic living on the outskirts of town during my first few weeks – I had some real miseries during that time -, things have definitely gotten better.

Now that I know my way around and have found the confidence to gesture like a madwoman when the Korean phrase I’ve memorised doesn’t work, I’ve started to feel a bit more settled.

It’s actually much easier to relax around here because there’s no need to rush from place to place. And I’ve managed to lose some weight from all the walking up and down hills I do every day.

Oh yeah, and just when I was still slightly undecided about whether I liked Naju, it gave me this …



Well played, Naju. Well played.

And have I mentioned how much I love my job? I work at two vocational schools – one for beauty and one for horticulture – and, while the students definitely have less drive to listen in class or pass their exams than kids who are preparing for college, they’re fantastic. I get such a kick out of teaching them that all the hours I put in to preparing my lessons just don’t seem like work.

Yes, this is how I teach English.

Five points to the person who can guess what grammatical structure I was teaching here.

(And, yes, I am that sad teacher who feels like crying tears of joy when she hears her students actually use something correctly that she’s taught them.)

Anyway, after just over a month, things are going well here. Now that the initial uncertainty has been laid to rest, everything’s okay and I’ll definitely be happy to update the blog more in the next few weeks and months.

In fact, I debated writing a fun post about the interesting cultural differences but, given how some people took my post about Mexican cultural differences the wrong way, I might let that idea die. What do you guys think?

In the meantime, I still have a lot of other things to write about. Especially as I have these extra exciting adventures to look forward to:

1) Long Weekend in Busan with Old Friends

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On the first weekend of May, I’ll be travelling across to Busan to meet up with some fabulous old friends from the old countries for a holiday weekend of (hopefully) sun, sand, and soju.

2) Paul McCartney


No, really. Paul Mc-Fucking Beatle-Cartney. Live. In Seoul. In PERSON.

This is actually happening.

I snagged one of the last decently-located tickets to the show and am actually going to see one of the best songwriters of all time perform.



3) Japan in August

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And, of course, my summer vacation’s coming up in July/August so my friend, Rachel, and I have decided to fly to Osaka together and have a little holiday in Kyoto.

I’m so excited for this. Not only have I been wanting to go to Japan for the longest time but Kyoto is going to be an absolute dream. Of course, I’d like to go to Tokyo one day but ever since I read about the history and culture of the country, Kyoto’s the place that’s always stuck out.

Seriously can’t wait!

4) Visitors


How cute are my girls?

Turns out that if you move to Korea, a lot of people really want to come and visit you. 😀

I’m already in the early stages of helping two of my best friends come and visit me this year. On top of that, my parents are also laying down their own plans to visit next year in March (for my mother’s birthday/cherry blossom season).

Not only is this frickin’ AMAZING but it’s inspiring me to get my ass in gear when it comes to learning Korean so that I might at least be a semi-decent host for my guests.


So that’s that. The start of my (hopefully) more regular blogging about Korea.

Have you moved to a new place before? How long did it take you to settle?


10 thoughts on “One Month (and a bit) in Korea

  1. Girl, I don’t know HOW you are living in a rural Korean town and not going crazy. Good for you and good luck! I know I couldn’t have done it.

    Your upcoming plans sound amazing though. Busan is absolutely wild and so much fun. My favorite place for a weekend getaway in SoKo if I wanted fun and sun. I AM SO JEALOUS ABOUT MACCA. But have fun and I can’t wait to read about that and Japan and Busan and everything else 🙂


    • I started to go a bit crazy but now taking up hiking and heading to Gwangju (the big city) once a week is definitely getting me through it. Hahaha.


  2. Love the post! My own TEFL experience is very modest, by comparison. But I did find that there were times when, living in a very small town in India for about 3 months, I hankered after a big place such as Kolkata (which I’d arrived in from the UK and spent some days exploring), even though I generally prefer being in rural areas. I think when you’re in a new country with no family around you the possibilities offered by a city become very attractive.


  3. That’s so awesome that you enjoy working at your school, so much of the experience there hinges on that fact. I couldn’t imagine myself living in a rural town anywhere, let alone South Korea, so cheers to you for having the courage!. I think you’ll like Busan, I never went there while living in South Korea (yeah, I know, it’s horrible) but I only hear nice things about it. Have fun, can’t wait to hear (er, read?) about it on your blog.


  4. It’s great that you love your work so much, Ceri! I understand the feeling of missing city life. Living in a small town in a country where you don’t speak the language is definitely a bigger challenge than if you’d moved to a city. At least in cities you can find an ex-pat crew for those days when you just need to vent to someone over a cocktail. Are there many other westerners in Naju?

    Also, regarding your quandary about whether to write the post about cultural differences: I say go for it. Like you told me, there will always be people who nitpick and interpret it negatively. But I also think it’s a good opportunity for you to analyze how you feel in Korea. Maybe you don’t even need to publish it, in the end. But writing it will help you begin to write you own narrative about your time in Korea. I wish I’d written more about Georgia as I went along. I think bottling up my opinions and feelings. rather than writing about them and analyzing along the way, only harmed me in the long run.

    Just my two cents! :-*


    • There are quite a few Westerners in Naju which is quite surprising. I never seem to bump into them though. Haha.

      I think you’re right about the cultural difference post. 🙂 I guess I have to be careful how I word it if I end up publishing it though.

      Thanks for your reply, hun. 🙂 Hope things are well with you back home. x


  5. Awww yayy Ceri! You know you can ask me anything you’d like about keeping your sanity in a rural area of Korea, because I’ve been there. Like, a long time. 🙂

    So glad you have bubble tea and things are looking up! From being told you have HIV at the beginning, things could only have gone up, really… hahaha.


    • Haha, of course! You were there forever! How????

      Seriously, though, I’ve been coming round to the beauty of a rural area but there are soooo many things that still get to me. (Namely the creepy crawlies.)


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