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!

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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.

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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.

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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)

Korean School Lunches

As an EPIK teacher you are entitled to lunch at school everyday. It is not free, but it is very cheap at about 3,000won per meal. You can opt-out of these lunches if you don’t like them.

I decided to give school lunches a try for a while before deciding if I wanted to continue or opt-out. After a few trial weeks I decided to continue with the school lunch because they are pretty good! The food isn’t always amazing, but we all know I’m super lazy and there’s no way I’m waking up extra early to make lunch when the school lunch is perfectly fine!

I spoke to one coteacher about the preparation of school lunch. Unlike most public schools in America that just heat up frozen nuggets, she said that Korean cafeteria staff make all the school lunches.  I’m sure there are a few things that are frozen and heated up, but as far as I can tell most of our food is freshly made and prepared by the cafeteria staff. Continue reading

New Apartment!

I have some amazing news: 1 week ago I moved into a new apartment!

Confused?  The apartment I was living in when I arrived in Busan had mold because of a leak somewhere in the building. The landlord didn’t really care or bother to make an effort to fix it. I would clean the mold, but every time it rained heavily the wall would get moist and the mold would return. There were even a couple days were I could hear the water dripping inside the wall! >.< I got sick with bronchitis and pharyngitis back in the middle of October and could not get over it for. When I was still sick and coughing weeks and weeks later, my school decided to move me. Actually, my coteacher’s had been trying to get me to move for a few weeks. But me being me, I stupidly felt bad about moving out and kept saying “No, it’s OK.” My co-teachers, principal, vice-principal, and the school office manager are amazing people. I am so lucky that they care about me so much and help me as much as they do!

My new apartment in a high-rise building which is slightly closer to my school. Instead of taking both the train and a bus, I now only need to take the bus to school. That alone has been really nice! It is still really close to the Pusan National University area (PNU) that I can walk there in about 15 minutes and still visit all my favorite cafes, shops, and restaurants.

The apartment itself is really nice. I believe the building is only a year or two old, so everything is in really great condition.

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View of the main room.

As you can see my room is pretty large!! …And also quite empty at the moment. Continue reading

The Quest for the Perfect Kimbap

My American friends all know how delicious kimbap 김밥 is because I forced them all to try it at some point and got them all addicted to its amazingness. One of the things I was most excited about doing when returning to Korea was eating a whole lot of Kimbap! What is kimbap? It looks like sushi, but it’s not. It’s better!

Initially I had a pretty hard time finding a kimbap place near me. I even mentioned this to a teacher at my school and the next day there were three rolls of kimbap on my desk! I have no idea where he got this kimbap, but it was amazingggg! Even the other Korean teachers I shared it with were saying how good it was. I need to find out where he got it.

I was also given some peach. My coteachers love to feed all sorts of snacks at school.

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Igidae Park: The most beautiful hike in Busan

I’m going out of order here, because a couple weekends ago I went on my second hike. I haven’t even posted about the first one yet!

A couple other EPIK teachers and I went to Igidae Park to check out a beautiful trail we found online. This hike was actually more like a walk-hike, a wike? Is that a thing? The trail is on the side of a mountain right on the coast. At times the trail is right over the ocean. The trail is a mix of dirt paths and wooden steps and pathways.

It’s a really beautiful “wike” and something that not many foreigners in Busan know about. The views of Gwangalli and the bridge are amazing. We had a really sunny and clear day (in the beginning at least) and I couldn’t stop taking pictures of the view.

You can also see evidence of previous military activity, like lookouts and an abandoned basketball court.

If you plan on going on this “wike”, proper footwear it’s still recommended! It starts of flat, but as you go further in there are more and more steps. I wore Keds, and that was a mistake! There are some pretty tough parts if you’re out of shape like me! ou

I highly suggest packing a lunch and finding a nice spot with a pretty view on one of the areas where you can walk out onto the rocks to eat it. Makgeolli (rice wine) is also a great idea when hiking!

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Pizza Uncle

After school one day last week, my managing co-teacher took me outside of Busan to get what she called “the best pizza”. It was maybe a 40 minute drive from school (traffic!). We weren’t in Busan anymore, instead we were in Ulsan. This area wasn’t in the big city of Ulsan, it was a village on the coast called Seoseang (서생).

It was a really rainy and gloomy day, but somehow that made it atmosphere seem better! We pulled up to the restaurant called Pizza Samchon (피자 삼촌), or “Pizza Uncle”. This was my coteacher’s third visit to this restaurant. She realllly likes it and says that it is worth the ride.

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EPIK Apartment Tour

I still don’t feel comfortable talking on camera, so instead of an apartment tour video I’m sticking to blog posts!

I have been living in my apartment for almost 3 weeks. At first I really hated my apartment. It’s really small for a Korean apartment, it smelled like cat food and a litter box, it felt really small, really lonely, really claustrophobic,  and just really not mine.

The Before

To enter my building we have a security code that we need to enter outside the door for it to open. To enter my apartment there is no key either! No need to worry about losing (or breaking! *cough Victoria*) your key! I punch in the code and the door unlocks.

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