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

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

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

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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

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

Chuseok in Ulsan

Ok! I am finally going to update about my Chuseok holiday weekend! Better late than never right?!

What is Chuseok?

Chuseok is often compared to Thanksgiving. Both are celebrations of harvest. While Americans give thanks for all the good things in our lives, Koreans give thanks to their ancestors  and preform ancestral rites ceremonies.

Chuseok is on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar, so every year the date changes. This year Chuseok was September 27th. The holiday is actually celebrated for 3 days–the day before, the day of, and the day after–and are considered “red days”, meaning no one goes to school or work. This year the three days fell on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. We were also given Tuesday as a red day, called a Holiday Makeup Day. The explanation I was given for this was because the holiday fell during the weekend when people already don’t work. So, we all had a 4-day holiday weekend! 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

100th Day

Koreans don’t count things by months like we do in Western culture. Instead, they celebrate the 100s. Babies have a huge party on their 100th day of life and couples exchange rings and other gifts on their 100th day of dating.

Today is my 100th day of living in Korea. I can’t believe how fast the time has flown. It feels like I arrived here only only month ago, not three! Even though I miss home almost every day, I’m really loving life in Korea. I’ve made many friends and have seen and done many exciting things (which I REALLY need to catch up on blogging about!).

My 100th day is falling in the middle of a really exciting week for me. You’ve all read about my leaky and moldy apartment. I’ve been sick for over a month now, and my school finally had enough. On Monday they signed a lease for a new apartment for me! It’s bigger, closer to my school, has tonsss more storage, and most importantly there is NO MOLD. I will start the moving in process tonight and on Sunday one of my coteachers will help me move my larger/heavier items with her car. I am very excited!

I’m excited to see what the next 100 days have in store for me. Maybe a trip to Japan? Maybe a 9th grade class where not a single student falls asleep? ….Who am I kidding? That will never happen!

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To celebrate, here is a blurry and terrible photo of me standing in front of the “Tree of Thanks” my 8th graders and I made in my classroom.

❤ Natasha