Korean Magic Straight Perm

Who is the worst blogger in the world? ME!

The summer in Korea is brutal! It’s not hot; the average temperatures have been steadily in the mid-80s. It IS crazy humid though, making the mid-80s feel like upper 90s. Just standing outside for 5 minutes causes you to sweat.

My hair and humidity do not get along. I have naturally wavy and frizzy hair and I hate it sooo much. I never leave the house with my natural hair. I always run a straightener through it.

Korea’s humidity made using a straightener pretty pointless. I would straighten my hair in the morning, walk 5 minutes to the bus stop and already it was wavy again (though still much better than my natural waves). Straightening my hair in the humid weather wasn’t fun either.

So, I made the decision to get my hair permed straight.

It’s not the first time I have done it. I actually had my hair chemically straightened during college twice. Both times I had something they called the “Organic Treatment”. It was described to me as something between the Brazilian and Japanese straightening treatments. It was amazing. My hair was always straight and smooth. The thing I liked about the Organic was that it would fade, I wouldn’t have wavy frizz growing at my roots and straight hair at the bottom.

I went to a salon in Busan that I read about online. I wanted to go somewhere where the stylist would be familiar with thinner foreigner hair and spoke a little English.

In the days leading up to my appointment I was having visions of my hair being fried off and ruined forever. I was extremely nervous about this new treatment. Continue reading

How I Pay My Student Loans From Korea

One of the most important things I researched before coming to Korea was how I was going to pay  my student loans every month from abroad. I found the solution… though slightly complicated. It didn’t work out the way I wanted it to at first, but eventually it all got sorted out.

Thanks to another EPIK teacher’s blog (sorry I don’t remember specifically so I can’t link it), I found out that when using Citi Bank both in Korea and the US there is no wire transfer fee.

1. Open a US Citi Bank Account before leaving the US

I did not have a Citi Bank account, so I needed to set one up before I left the country. I went to a local bank and a really nice man helped me set up the best account for my needs.

We settled on an Access Checking Account. As long as I do one of the following each month, I do not have to pay the $10 monthly maintenance fees:
1) Pay 1 bill (this includes my student loan payments)
2) Maintain $1,500 in the account
3) 1 direct deposit Continue reading

Mini Update: September 2016

Hello everyone!

I have officially completed my year of teaching with EPIK in Busan. So what am I up to now?  …I’m still here! Busan granted 6-month contract extensions to the teachers that started in August 2015. August is the middle of the school year in Korea. Busan is trying to make it so that all teachers start at the beginning of the school year. I have my problems with how Busan handled these contract extensions….but I’ll vent about that another time.

The contract extension means that I will continue teaching at my schools until the end of February 2017. After that….I don’t for sure yet, but I know I’m not ready to leave Korea. I am ready to visit home for a short while, and I will be doing so during my winter vacation. I can’t wait!!!

Check out my Instragram for more frequent updates. I post lots of photos of yummy food from all around Busan.

Right now there are probably about 15 blog posts that I wrote and never posted because I think they are poorly written or just stupid. Stress from work and personal stuff has put blogging on the back-burner. In 2017 I’m going to make blogging more of a priority again.

❤ Natasha

Why I Haven’t Been Blogging

I can’t believe how long it’s been since I last updated. It’s been about 3 months! So, what happened? In short, my life just got crazy busy and I haven’t had the time, energy, or (honestly) the desire to write any blog posts. If you want more details, continue reading!

An EPIK Surprise

Back in maybe December or January my vice principal notified me that a nearby school was looking for my school to share me–the native English speaker–with them. My education district in Busan only has 3 or 4 middle school native English teachers, and I happened to be the closest one. He asked how I felt and I kind of made an “ehhh” face and said, “I’ll do whatever you tell me to do.” His answer was “no”. The topic came up again a few times over the next month but each time everyone said they didn’t want to share me with a second school.

Because my school shrank in numbers between the two school years, we lost 3 classes. Therefore, I lost three teaching hours. In the eyes of the education office, I had plenty of time to spare. My school came up with a plan where I would teach the 1st graders twice a week to increase my hours and make me too busy to go to a second school. Well, it didn’t work.

Exactly 1 week before the start of the new school year, after a whole month of desk warming and preparing lesson plans for my new schedule, a letter arrived from the Office of Education informing me that I would indeed be teaching at two schools now. No one saw that coming. I was pissedContinue reading

Useful Links and Apps for Foreigners in Korea

I have put together a list of websites and apps that I use in Korea and Busan. App links go to iTunes. If you want Android versions, you can google them yourself ^.^

Communication

Kakao Talk (App) (Desktop): Koreans don’t text, they Kakao. Free texting, free calling, free video chatting. The emoticons are also fun (though many you do need to pay for).

Naver Dictionary (App): A dictionary/translator for single words or short phrases. For long translations people use Google Translate (though most often it is just jibberish).

Continue reading

Q&A

Firstly: Whoa. When I saw my blog views last night I couldn’t believe it! Thank you all so much for viewing my blog and enjoying it! It makes me so happy that many of you found it so useful.

Anyways, I got a few e-mails last night from you guys (thanks so much!) and one of them contained some really good questions! I decided to do a little Q&A post answering them because I think maybe others also have the same questions. The person who asked these questions is going to Busan, so some of the answers are directly about Busan. However you can assume things are similar in the other big cities.

Q: Are there areas where Koreans and expats hang out together?

Language exchanges are a good start. I just put up a post about my favorite language exchange group, MokTalk. There are others around the city as well.

There are many bars and clubs around the city that both Koreans and foreigners hang out at. I’m the worst person to be talking about this. You will hear the phrase “round two” a lot in Korea. After going to dinner with friends, Koreans always suggest “round two”. Round two is usually a bar or suljib (Korean bar).  My kind of round two, on the other hand, is cake and coffee at a coffee shop!!

Anyways, here is the little that I do know. KSU (Kyungsung University), PNU (Pusan National University), Seomyeon, Gwangalli, and Haeundae are the areas where you can find a lot of foreigners and Koreans mixing. Thursday Party is one popular bar that has branches in all of these areas. KSU and Seomyeon have many popular clubs.

Obviously anywhere you go there will be Koreans. If your group is having a great time, they might ask to join!

Continue reading

MokTalk: Language Exchange in Busan

*Update 4/6/16: MokTalk has moved to a bigger cafe! Check out the updated info below!

While I was studying in Seoul, I participated in two language exchanges. These were both one-on-one, but they were a huge factor in me learning Korean well and becoming more confident in the language. I also met two really amazing people and our “meetings” turned into just opportunities to hang out with a friend, and also practice language. I knew when I returned to Korea that I wanted to participate in more language exchanges.

I have been to two different language exchange meetings in Busan, but MokTalk is my favorite. I’ve been attending MokTalk since I first arrived in Busan, and it was only last night that I realized the meaning of the name. I feel very stupid that it has taken me this long. 목요일 (mok.yo.il) means “Thursday” in Korean. So, mok + talk = Thursday Talk.

Even if you don’t attend MokTalk, there are other language exchange meetings around the city that might be closer to you. I know there is one in Seomyeon and another in PNU. I really recommend language exchange meetings, even if you don’t want to learn another language! They are a great way to meet people! Before attending MokTalk, I didn’t know anyone in Busan. Now, I have an amazing group of friends!

Moktalk

When: Thursdays. 7-9pm

Where: SEA Space Cafe near Kyeongseong University.

12920343_10204435919656927_456239342153543206_n

 

Fee: Order coffee, tea, juice, etc when you walk in. Prices are ~3,500-5,500won. Give the receipt to one of the MokTalk organizers.

Join: Check out MokTalk’s Facebook page for all the latest information about the meetings.

11138101_825160740937227_2095260000360004773_n

When you arrive to the meeting, you should order a drink and bring the receipt to a MokTalk organizer. All the MokTalk organizers are super friendly, wonderful people. You will be asked to make a name tag and shown to a seat. People show up at differrent times, so it starts off with everyone at one table, but it eventually grows to a few tables in the cafe. From 7:00-8:00 everyone is speaking primarily English. There is no set topic or guide, you are free to talk about whatever you want with your table.

At 8:00 you are asked to change tables, so that you are able to meet and talk with different people. At this time they also set up language tables based on the native speakers of different languages that show up. At this time I move to the Korean table where there are other foreigners learning Korean. A few native Korean speakers also join the Korean table as well.

At 9:00 the meeting ends and some move on to round two at a nearby bar. Because I don’t live nearby, I usually don’t participate in round two. I’ve gone a few times when I didn’t have school the next day and it’s been really fun both times.

Some language exchange meetings have the “speed-dating” vibe or are just too loud. MokTalk has a more friendly atmosphere and you can actually hear people when they are speaking.

(Credit: both photos are from the MokTalk Facebook page)

Packing for Korea

I’m throwing this post up super quick. I really wanted to get this up fast because I know a lot of you have started preparing to pack!!

Winter camp is kicking my butt and I’m a lot busier than I thought I would be. Therefore, I don’t have time to read though this really carefully. I’m sure there are a million spelling/grammar errors, possibly some sentences unfinished or out of place because I wrote this post maybe two weeks ago and just added a few things.Don’t judge me for this mess of a post hahaha! I’m sure I also forgot a bunch of important things. Please comment and I will add them!

Suitcases

IMG_2088

I brought a 3-piece luggage set that was a gift from my aunt and uncle. On the plane I brought the smallest suitcase (for anything valuable and my computer) plus a backpack (for anything I would be needing on the plane). The two larger suitcases were checked in. Inside my largest case, the Vera Bradly weekender bag was packed with all my bath/medicine related items, that way the bag wasn’t taking up wasted space. This bag is also lined, so if anything spilled it wouldn’t ruin the bag or leak out onto any clothes.

Something not pictured was the Lewis N. Clark luggage strap. I strapped together my two smallest bags so going through the airport, hotel, orientation dorm building was super easy. I now use the luggage strap to tie the Vera Bradly bag to whatever luggage I’m using when I travel with less baggage. It’s really useful. Continue reading

Closing Out 2015

How is 2015 over already? I know everyone says that at the end of every year, but it really feels this way for me more than any other year. The Korean school schedule is quite different from the school schedule in America. Both countries begin the school year at different times, and of course both countries celebrate different holidays. Even the importance of shared holidays are weighed differently.  At this time of the year in America, students and teachers are on vacation from Christmas Eve until the day after New Year’s Day. The start of this vacation always signaled the end of the year for me. Korean schools do not have this vacation. Christmas Day and New Year’s Day are off, but we work and go to school between them. I did not even realize that today was New Year’s Eve until one of those Facebook Memories with a photo from New Year’s Eve two years ago showed up.

I decided to remind myself that today is the last day of 2015 by looking back at the year. (Plus I was in the mood to blog!) Continue reading

Blog Post Requests

 

I know the new wave of EPIKers are starting to prepare for moving to Korea. I’m sure you all have lots of questions and I want to answer them! Please comment below with any questions or potential blog post ideas that you are interested in!

❤ Natasha