44 things I’ll miss about living in Korea

I’ve been trying to avoid doing the “countdown to America” thing – there’s just so much left to do that I’m not looking for the days to pass by even quicker than they already are.

But, given that there is so much going on – I figured I’d at least see how many days we have left to stuff everything in. 

As of today, July 9th, we have 44 days!  That’s it folks.  44! 

So, I thought it would be fun to compile a list of the 44 things I’ll miss about living in Korea.  Believe me, there’s a bunch of people/things we are looking forward to when we get back home, but life here is pretty darn easy and definitely a lot of fun. 

In no particular order:

  1. No tipping!  It’s not required, nor expected – and sometimes even considered a little rude.
  2. The subway.  Fast, cheap, and easy to maneuver (especially in Daegu).
  3. Cheap taxis.  Yes, they drive like madmen – but they are cheap and get you where you need to go fast.
  4. Eating out with friends for $5-$10 a person (including beer/soju).
  5. Side dishes.  Every bar or restaurant offers little side dishes of tasty snacks (and unlimited refills).
  6. The “we need you” table bell.  If you need more water, beer, food, etc. – just press the button and “ding” – someone will be over to help you ASAP.
  7. Drinking beers for CHEAP!  Mind you, I didn’t say I’ll miss drinking cheap-tasting beers.  But I will miss being able to drink all night with friends and only paying about $8/person at the end of the night.
  8. Ice cream.  Korea has such a HUGE variety of individual ice cream treats.  Oh so yummy and so cheap (about $.50/each).
  9. Korean food.  Granted, some stuff I don’t like – but the majority of it…I love!  BBQ, jimdakk, deokbokki, soups, noodles, and the list goes on and on.
  10. Dunkin Donuts.  In the U.S. it’s only on the East coast – but in Korea – they are everywhere.  Specifically, I’m really gonna miss this donut.
  11. Fruit and veggie stands.  Cheap and easy way to eat your fruits and veggies.
  12. Concord grapes.  Big and juicy.  Once you learn how to eat them, it’s fun to suck in the grape (you don’t eat the peel).
  13. Cheap cell phone.  I pay about $15 a month.
  14. Cheap cable and internet.  The cable TV is $5/month.  Don’t know how much the internet is, but it’s cheap too.
  15. Not carrying around keys.  Our door has a code-activated locking system.  And we don’t have a car.
  16. Walking.  Yeah, walking sucks big time when it’s super freezing out or super hot and humid, but it’s good exercise and way less stressful than owning a car and driving.
  17. Korean pop music.  Yes, cheesy and super manufactured.  But oh-so infectious!
  18. Going to the movies for $6….not $16.
  19. NOREBANG! (Aka karaoke).  Private rooms, snacks and drinks, and cheap.
  20. Service.  In Korea, this means getting something for free.  It happens fairly often, but you never know when.  Sometimes it’s a free bottle of soda, or a free extra serving of meat, or a package of ramen noodles.  It’s great!
  21. Going to the doctor.  Okay, I don’t mean I enjoy going to the doctor…but if you do need to go – no need to make an appointment – just show up.  Most times, you won’t know what the doctor is saying/doing/prescribing (unless you speak Korean), but it’s better than nothing.  And…it’s cheap.  $2-$3 to see the doctor?  Ok!
  22. Prescription drugs.  Korea usually has the same American drugs (or something very similar) and it’s WAY cheaper.  Flonase in America…with insurance cost me $20 a bottle.  In Korea, the exact same Flonase is about $4-$5.
  23. Our water filter dispenser.  Most Korean homes probably don’t have this, but we have been renting one and it’s awesome.  Filtered, hot (really hot) water at your fingertips…as well as really cold water too.  We drink TONS more water purely because of our water dispenser.
  24. Fast food drinks to go.  If you order a soda from McDonalds, Burger King, Lotteria, etc. – they will tape the lid on and put the drink in it’s own handy carrying bag.  No spilled drink worries.
  25. Air conditioning in our apartment.  Not that we need it when we get back to Seattle, but just nice to have for those really hot days.  Very very unlikely we’ll ever get it though.
  26. Shirts with bad or confusing English.  My friend really did see a Korean woman rocking a shirt that said, “I’m so fucking disco.”
  27. Cheap ATMs.  It doesn’t matter if you can’t find your bank’s ATM.  The surcharge to use another bank’s ATM is usually about $.50-$1.00.  And it’s SUPER easy to use the ATM to transfer money from your account at Bank A to someone else’s account at Bank B.  I’ve never had a need for a check.
  28. Korean co-teachers!  We’ve made some great friends with some of the teachers at our schools.  We’ve helped them with their English, taught them a few drinking games, and they’ve helped us survive our year abroad.
  29. Non-Korean friends!  We’ve also made some really great friends with other Native English Teachers.  Some are staying in Korea another year, and some are going back home.  But we’ll definitely be staying in touch!  Some even live in Seattle!
  30. Students.  Not all students.  But I definitely have a handful of students that I really really enjoy teaching and seeing everyday.  They are funny, cute, and excited about life…and learning English.
  31. Easy commute to work.  Leave apartment at 8:10am, get to school by 8:30am.  Work. Play. Fuss around. Leave school at 4:30pm, get home by 5pm.  It leaves us with plenty of time to have a life (workout, cook dinner, meet up with friends, watch movies, read a book, play video games, etc.)
  32. High speed train.  In Korea, it’s called the KTX and it’s the fastest way to travel the country.  From Daegu to Seoul it takes about 90 minutes. 
  33. Visiting other countries.  Living and working in Korea has allowed us (time-wise and money wise) to travel to many countries (Japan, Thailand, and Australia.  And soon: Hong Kong, Phillippines, and Singapore).  Already being in this part of the world makes it faster and cheaper to visit SE Asia especially.
  34. Cell phone charms.  Cute and ridiculous.
  35. Pot bing su (팥빙수).  Korea’s version of shaved ice…but with way more toppings.  Quite possibly one of the most refreshing things to eat on a hot day or after a spicy meal.
  36. The $30 facial.  Must find time to squeeze in another one (or two) before we leave!
  37. School lunch.  Cheap, tasty, and easy (no need to pack your lunch the night before).
  38. Makgeolli.  It’s a type of Korean rice wine.  I love it best when mixed with fruit juice – strawberry, kiwi, or honey flavored-makgeolli are my faves!
  39. Kimchi.  Yes, this is included in #9, but I’m going to really really miss true, authentic kimchi.  So, it gets its own number.
  40. Korean grocery stores.  The big ones have food samples galore.  Costco has got nothing on the big chain stores here.
  41. Korean socks.  Cheap, cute, silly, and sometimes just plain odd.  But for less than $.50 a pair – how can you pass it up!?
  42. Hof Hama.  It’s a bar near where our friends Gabe and Charissa live.  It’s probably the place we hang out the most with our friends.  Unlimited popcorn snacks and huge mini-kegs of beer.  Always a good time.
  43. Seeing little Korean toddlers bowing.  Seriously, Koreans probably bow 50 times a day.  They are always bowing and you just get used to it.  But when you see a little toddler with his/her mom or dad and they bow – it’s one of the cutest things ever!
  44. Love motels!  It’s one of the cheapest forms of lodging.  Pay by the hour if you like.  Granted, we’ve only stayed in them for actual overnight trips – but they have always been clean.  Some places even will offer you a “goodie” bag upon arrival – filled with a few items to help you get your lovin’ on.

So there you go.  There’s more I could add, but 44 was the magic number I was shooting for.  🙂

7 Responses to “44 things I’ll miss about living in Korea”

  1. 1 Naomi July 9, 2010 at 6:01 am

    I think you forgot number 45: Actually having something to blog about…

  2. 2 micah July 9, 2010 at 6:29 am

    45. lisa wearing a hanbok (traditional korean outfit)

  3. 3 Mark Z July 10, 2010 at 8:53 am

    Awesome list. There are things on here that I’ve forgotten to miss—thanks for reminding me! 😛 Btw, come visit me in Boston if you ever need your Dunkin’ fix. I also happen to live a block away from like 8 Korean restaurants, 3 Korean groceries, 2 Korean hair salons, a hof, and a PC bang with a big sign for bingsoo. 😀

  4. 4 Megan July 10, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    Hi Lisa,
    I just spent a few hours reading over your archives; this website has been really helpful in preparing me for my move to Seoul next month (also with EPIK).
    I have a few questions:
    1. What was the dress code for orientation?
    2. Does EPIK pay for your flight home?
    3. Are rice crispie treat ingredients available there? (Random, I know, butI’ve done this with English clubs in the past and it has been a huge hit.)
    4. When does the contract end? (Mine should arrive in the mail this week)

    Thanks for any help and congratulations on your engagement and a successful year!


  5. 5 Joshua July 12, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    I like the frequent mention of cheap food and alcohol here – something to look forward to in Taiwan… I leave in about 2 weeks 🙂

  6. 6 muchadoaboutlisa July 25, 2010 at 2:50 am

    Hi Megan,
    Sorry for taking so long to get back to you…I JUST saw your comment. 😦 I’m glad you have found my blog useful and good luck preparing for your move!

    So to your questions:
    1. For orientation, the dress code is really relaxed. Shorts, tanks, flip flops are ok. But there’ll be a couple days at the end where you’ll want to wear some nice clothes (business casual). So be prepared for that.

    2. If you finish your contract, EPIK does give you an “exit allowance” of I believe…1.3 million won. This basically is them paying for your flight home – but you won’t get this money until your very last day of your contract.

    3. Yes, you can get rice krispy ingredients here. THere is some Korean version of rice krispy cereal…but if you can’t find that, I did frosted flakes or chocolate krispy cereal..and both worked well. Finding marshmallows is sometimes difficult though. I found a bag at Costco and sometimes places like Home Plus or Emart will have them (in much smaller bags and a little expensive too).

    4. Your contract is for 1 full calendar year. So your EPIK orientation time does NOT count towards your contract (and you aren’t paid for any of this time either). So although we came to Korea on Aug. 19th…our contract didn’t start until Aug. 26th (the first day we started at our schools). And then our contract ends 365 days later…Aug. 25th.

    I hope this helps…again, sorry for the delay. If there’s anything else…don’t hesitate to ask!!

  7. 7 businesscasualforwomen.shopnas.com September 26, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Under no circumstances should flip flops be considered appropriate footwear in the business world, unless your
    business is located on a beach, near a pool, or in a locker room.
    – Do your workers come into contact with customers on a daily
    basis. You can team a blue polo shirt with a khaki for
    a casual look.

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