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Ilsan Lake Park

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Ilsan is undoubtedly becoming a very popular place. Recent construction has seen the arrival of One Mount, MVL, Aqua Planet and lots of new apartments to deal with the increased population. It’s just a short drive from Seoul and it’s a really fun city with lots to offer.

One of my favourite things to do in Ilsan is a trip to Lake Park.  Lake Park covers a HUGE area, over 900,000 square metres and boasts the largest artificial lake in Asia.

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These days, I go to the park to run. The track around the perimeter covers approximately 4.9km and it’s so wonderful to see the assortment of walkers, cyclists, runners, skateboarders out and about exercising. The walking trail is longer at about 8.9km. There is also a basketball court and a game area.

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If you’re not that into exercising, fear not. There are a tonne of things to do in the park. It’s the ideal venue for a picnic and a get together with your friends. It has lots of open spaces for people to sit and enjoy. I’ve gone with my friends a few times and the atmosphere on a Sunday afternoon is perfect. It’s peaceful and relaxed and you can spend the afternoon people watching is you wish.

It’s a great place to bring your family. There are lots of things for children to see and so.

 

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You can easily get lost in the park. Even a gentle walk will bring you to pagodas, gardens, the cactus centre, the mini zoo, there is such a variety of things to do here, you can never get bored!

At the weekend, you are bound to find live entertainment in the park. There always seems to be a band or singers performing and entertaining the crowd.

A few tv dramas have been filmed here also, the best known probably been Star’s Lover.

 

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The musical fountain is also here. You can enjoy a performance several times during the day.

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Really close to the park is One Mount and Aqua Planet. One Mount has both a water park and a snow park as well as shopping so together, this could be the perfect get away from Seoul!

 

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Directions: Jeongbalsan Station (Subway Line 3), Exit 1 or 2.
Walk along Jungangro-1261 beon-gil Street or Jungangro-1275 beon-gil Street for 10min.

For those with a car, there is a car parking fee. It is 300 won for the first 30 minutes and an additional 100 won for every 10 minutes after that.

The glasses cleaning machine!

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I simply LOVE the glasses cleaning machine. We passed by one today so I took a quick video. Enjoy!

 

Left Coast burger~ a review

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When I heard we would be dining at a burger joint, I had my doubts. I mean a burger is a burger, right?

With an ideally convenient location and a great menu, Left Coast Burger in Itaewon can count me as a fan.

Location;
Itaewon Station (line 6) Exit 4. Turn left. Walk about 100 metres. The restaurant is on the 2nd floor.

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Ambiance: It looks like you need to be a cool kid to get a job here. Even the chefs looked uber cool. They all speak perfect English and it’s quite a relaxed feeling in the restaurant.

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This was when we arrived but by the time we were leaving, the place was packed.

If I could add one negative thing it would be the music. It was so loud that we had to raise our voices to hear each other.

Food: The menu has something for everyone. It’s not just regular burgers, you can get.mini combinations and lots of sides, salads, a veggie option, quite a variety.

The size of the portion is a little on the small side. Usually, I can’t finish an entire burger in a restaurant but I wiped the plate here. The burger was the perfect size for me but for those with a larger appetite, I fear they might be left wanting more.

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Price: Side dishes were 5 or 6,000won with the mains being 11,000won upwards. I thought the pricing was fair for the portions you got so definitely no complaints.

Staff: They know their stuff. They were super helpful in explaining the menu, made recommendations and were attentive. Almost too attentive. We were a group and the staff might as well have joined us for there was barely a second when they weren’t topping up the water or clearing the dishes. Personally, I would have preferred a little space but they were still great.

Bathrooms: The great door sign was enough;

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The bathroom was large, clean, had plenty of tissue and soap and I had no complaints.

Overall opinion: I will definitely eat here again. It’s a clean, well run restaurant. The food is great, the atmosphere is relaxed, it’s reasonably priced AND it’s in Itaewon.

7/10.

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3 ways to find an E.S.L. job in Korea

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If you had asked me how to get a teaching job here three years ago, I would have responded with a list of recruiters. Now, the method by which teachers are recruited has changed. Lots of schools want to cut out the middle man so here is my list of how to get a teaching job in Korea;

1. Update your status.

Everyone has Facebook, right? Some people use Twitter. These are honestly some of the most powerful tools to get you that job.

Think about it. There are so many people who are either currently living and working in Korea or used to work here and still have contacts.  If you have 500 friends on Facebook and just one of them shares your status about wanting a job in Korea, how many people have you reached? Ask even friends of a friend to get in touch and keep an ear out for possible job openings.

My good friend Janet (http://janetnewenham.wordpress.com) has recruited 3 people for her school alone. She simply used the power of social media to get the word out.

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2. Search the web;

Some school try to hire directly so they advertise on websites like Craigslist and Dave’s E.S.L. cafe. . Recruiters also post here. There are also group on Facebook like  “jobs in Korea” that get a variety of postings from schools and recruiters you can look into.

 

3. Use a recruiter;

A quick survey on my Facebook page showed that people highly recommend;

1) Korvia Recruiting  - For public school positions.

2) Korean Horizons- For public school positions.

3) For South Africans, Teach Korea.

4) Star Teachers 

 

With using a recruiter, make sure they are actually IN KOREA. The exception seems to be Teach Korea. They are based in South Africa. According to a friend this is because there are very specific problems with getting all the documentation in S.A. and this recruiter is excellent at walking you through what needs to be done.

From experience, choose a good recruiter and then trust them.

* All the above were recommended by friends. If you have one that you’d like to share, please comment below!

 

 

Getting eye lash extensions.

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I never realised how hard-core being a woman was until yesterday. The only thing I could think about was that if your job is a model or beauty pageant contestant or whatever, it is a full-time hard-core job.

It wasn’t my intention when I woke up yesterday to get eye lash extensions. Honestly, I’m just not that into beauty stuff to deliberately go out and get it done. But, I had lunch with a friend and she was keen to try it so I just thought, why not? Live dangerously, get it done. If nothing else, it’ll make a great blog!

While you can get this done in lots of places in Seoul, you should make an appointment. That was mistake number one for us. Thankfully, we had a Korean with us who called everywhere until she found a place with the time to do it.

Here are my thoughts as well as a little video so you can see them and hear my thoughts!

Location: Flor Nail in Hongdae. http://blog.naver.com/some_me7/40211100986 (in Korean but you can see the pictures and directions)

 

Cost: I got the Silk ones so they were 50,000won. You can also get a lighter type for 80,000won

Good points:

A relaxing 1 1/2 hours which is how long it takes.

It’s pretty cheap considering it takes that long.

My eyes look great now!

 

Not so good points;

It’s kind of freaky to have your eyes taped for that length of time

The glue irritates your eyes so they are red for a while afterwards.

 

Recommendations:

Bring music to listen to.

Make a reservation

 

I’m working on my youtube channel so I’ve posted my thoughts here;

 

Tips for surviving your first year in Korea

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Two of my friends are getting ready to come to Korea. They asked me to write a blog on how to survive your first year here. It’s been a while since it was my first year so I took to Facebook to ask my friends. I was astonished at the replies I got back. There are so many things that nobody tells you before you come here. Hopefully we can sort some of that in this blog.

1. Language: Although English is widely taught and spoken by some people here, you should learn Hangeul. You simply won’t survive without it. And the best thing is that so many words are the same in English and Korean, you just need to be able to read out the Korean to understand.  You can learn your letters and a few basic words before you arrive. Although it looks super complicated, you can learn your letters in a number of hours. Here are some useful websites;

http://www.talktomeinkorean.com/

http://rki.kbs.co.kr/learn_korean/lessons/e_index.htm 

2. Culture: Know what’s expected of you in the workplace, when you visit someone, greeting people etc. A simple Google search will provide plenty of articles to read on this issue.

3. Supermarkets: The good news is that there are small supermarkets everywhere but for the bigger things there are two big supermarkets Emart and Homeplus (in Korean). You can buy everything from clothes to household items in these two places.

A tip is to buy with your card. I don’t know the ins and outs with this but it’s preferred to avoid the taxman.

Other tips from my friends include;

“You need to get stickers on your fruit on veg bag before you go to the register” (talking about loose items)

“Know the seasonal fruit and vegtables”

3. Transport: The bus, subway and train system here are excellent.

Subway;To make it easier for you, it’s a good idea to download the jihachul app so you can navigate the subway. system. You can figure out running time and waiting times for subways on this app. And yes, it’s in English.

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For those not living in Seoul, remember that the subway finishes well before midnight so if you live outside the city and you stay out, you should consider alternative transport home.

There is a jingle at transfer stations and end of line stations.

A Tmoney card is the name of the transport card in the Seoul and surrounding area. You can buy them for a few thousand won in most 7-11 and convenience stores. Then use the machines at the subway systems to load them with money or at a convenience store. The average cost of a journey can be calculated approximately using the jihachul app.

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Buses: There are different colour buses depending on where their destination is. Here is a site that explains just about everything transport related, http://www.kias.re.kr/sub06/sub06_06.jsp

You can also download the Seoul Bus app. Unfortunately, it’s in Korean but if you know the bus number you can check where on the route the bus actually is.

You can use your T Money card on the buses also or pay in small cash or coins.

Taxis; Taxis are EVERYWHERE. The regular ones are silver or orange. The should have a meter and the drivers information visible.

The black ones are more expensive. Supposedly they are more luxurious.

In Seoul, you can use your T Money card or a bank card to pay for the fare. You can also get a receipt. Outside of Seoul depending on the place, you can’t use a T Money card. You should have some cash to pay for the journey.

Here’s a nice little article on the whole thing, http://www.visitseoul.net/en/article/article.do?_method=view&m=0004007002011&p=07&art_id=39543&lang=en

4. Banks 

Everyone wants a bank account straight away because they come loaded with money. It’s always preferable to wait until you get an Alien Registration Card to do this. The main banks in Korea are;

Nong Hyup

Shinan

KB*B

KEB

Woori Bank

Some schools make you open an account in a particular banl to avoid transfer fees etc.

Banks are opened from 9-4 Monday to Friday. The exception are the expat banks like KEB who have branches open on Sundays for certain hours.  You should consider this if you have a 9-5 job.

At least 2 of these banks have excellent expat services (KEB and Shinan). You can set up internet banking and download an app on your phone to check your balance etc.

Most banks have someone that speaks English especially the ones with expat services so don’t fear going in alone to set it up.

KEB also have an account called an Easy One that will lodge money straight to your overseas account.

* I should note that other banks potentially offer the same service but I have my account with KEB. You should bring all the details of your home account for registration.

Bank Transfers; You can transfer money from your account to another Korean account  by using either online banking or going to a bank machine. It’s very easy and the machine has English language so you can’t go wrong.

Paying your billshttp://whatawaygook.wordpress.com/how-to/pay-your-bills-at-the-bank-machine-in-korea/

Insurance: Should you need car insurance, travel insurance, health insurance etc, you can contact the Samsung Insurance rep who can speak with you in English. You can reach him at byung625@gmail.com and his name is Byung. I have my car insurance with him and travel insurance and it’s always great value and he speaks perfect English.

5. Apartments; Apartments here are generally a one room or two room for single people. Unless you really luck out in which case you’ll have a few rooms.

You will have a washing machine and  heating to navigate in Korean but fear not, I already have blogs done on how to use them.

http://whatawaygook.wordpress.com/how-to/use-a-korean-washing-machine/

http://whatawaygook.wordpress.com/how-to/use-the-heating-in-a-korean-apartment/

6.Rubbish disposal; This is a tricky one. Every place and every housing complex has a different system. If you live in a huge housing complex, they have one day a week where everyone leaves out their rubbish. This rubbish is separated by recycling, food and other.

If you live in a random apartment this is how it usually works;

1. Go to the supermarket or local shop and buy the rubbish bags. The yellow ones are for food rubbish. The bigger ones (blue in my area) are for general waste. Then I also have recycling. I leave recycling out in a box or a paper bag.

2. Look on the street for other rubbish that is waiting to be picked up. Leave your rubbish here and it’ll get collected.

If you have a bigger item like a chair that you want to get rid of you can either 1) Leave it out and let someone else take it and use it or 2) Go to the supermarket and get a sticker for it. Put the sticker on it and leave it outside with your rubbish.

7. Post Office: The postal system here is extremely efficient and safe. If you wish to send something in country then just put the senders details on the top left corner and the receivers details in the middle. Then send it either the quick way or the regular way. It’s pretty cheap.

If you want to send something home, there are two options 1. Land 2. Air.

Land will take between 3-6 months to reach it’s destination. It’s cheaper than sending it by air and it’s good to send home clothes and other items that you don’t want but are in no great rush for.

Air takes only 7 or so days to get to the destination. It’s the fastest way to send things home.

The Korea Post website is in English so you can go ahead and check the rates and fees etc…..http://www.koreapost.go.kr/eng/sub/subpage.jsp?contId=e1010601

The post office is open from 9am-6pm .

8. Alien Registration Card

Your alien registration card is the card you get when you become officially registered with immigration. You will need this card for the following;

  1. Visit to the hospital
  2. Visit to the dentist
  3. If you’re stopped by the police
  4. Entering and leaving the country
  5. Opening a bank account
  6. Making a loyalty card
  7. Getting a phone contract

It’s so important. If you lose your ARC you must immediately report it missing with the police and then go to immigration and apply for another.

9. Expat websites and finding groups

There are some seriously useful websites out there for expats. I’ll list a few here;

http://seoul.angloinfo.com/

http://www.korea4expats.com/

http://www.iherb.com/

http://global.gmarket.co.kr/Home/Main

http://english.11st.co.kr/html/en/main.html

http://www.thearrivalstore.com/

For the teachers among us……

http://www.waygook.org/index.php?wwwRedirect

For the Irish;

http://iak.co.kr/

http://seoulgaels.weebly.com/

https://sites.google.com/site/busangaa/home

https://www.facebook.com/daegu.fianna.3

Also USE FACEBOOK! So many areas have their own Facebook pages. In my area we have Geumchon Crew, Ilsan have their own page and so on. You get the drift. Google it or Facebook it and you’re bound to find some groups.

10. Random tips;

You have the option on taking over a phone contract from someone who is already here. Keep that in mind before going off and starting one of your own.

Olive Young sells lots of foreign brand cosmetics.

Don’t open your gas valve all the way. Open it just enough so the meter turns otherwise you’ll have a big bill.

Bring a huge towel with you.

Go to cineinkorea to find out what movies are showing in a theatre near you.

Just go with the flow if you have no idea what’s happening.

You can call the tourist information people on 021330 if you need some help.

In the deep winter, don’t leave your heating completely off if you leave for over a week. If your pipes freeze and burst, your entire floor will have to be taken up and replaced. No one wants that………..

Never trust the green light when crossing the street. Pedestrian crossings are out in the stupidest of places so always look left when crossing and don’t take the chance if it’s a bus approaching.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

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*If you want to add something to this list, leave a comment below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AngloInfo Expat of the week

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This is reblogged from the AngloInfo site, http://blogs.angloinfo.com/expat-of-the-week/2014/06/13/meet-the-expat-66-shauna-browne-from-south-korea/. All credit goes to them.

You can find out everything you need to know about Seoul on the Seoul AngloInfo site, http://seoul.angloinfo.com/( where I happen to blog from time to time)

Meet the AngloINFO Expat of the Week

1.      Where do you live now, and where did you move from?

I live in Paju, South Korea and I moved from Tipperary, Ireland.

Shauna Browne from Paju, South Korea

2. How long ago did you move? What made you decide to make the move?

I moved to Korea in 2009 so I could travel more, have an adventure and get outside my comfort zone a little.

3. What do you miss most from home?

Family. We’re a really big musical family and there are days when all I want to do is go home, sit down with my family and play a few tunes. My older sister moved here in January but she never wants to play music with me!

Playing accordion at the Seoul Céilí International Dance and Music Festival

4. What do you appreciate the most in your adopted country?

The convenience and the people. Everything is so easy compared to back home. There is a service for everything and it usually only costs you half what it would in Ireland.

I’ve been lucky enough to meet some great people here in Korea. I have lots of Korean friends who always go that extra mile to help me out and that makes the difference.

5. How did you make new friends in your new home?

The Irish community here is great. There is a sports club which I’m part of, I play a lot of music and I’m the chair of the Irish Association here so I get to meet a lot of new people.

 Seoul Gaels on tour in Shanghai

At the very beginning though, I made friends by going out with my co workers and talking to their friends and then gradually I got involved in the other organisations.

6. How often do you go back to your hometown?

Not that often. Any chance I get, I usually like to head off and explore a new country or city. In the five years, I’ve only been home twice.

Round and about in South Korea

7. What were the biggest challenges you faced when you moved?

Language. I live in a city outside Seoul so not many people are willing to speak English to you, even if they can. At first, I was lost, I couldn’t pay my bills or understand what anyone said but after I got the basics under control, it became easier.

Getting involved- I like to be involved with lots of different things and when I moved here first, I didn’t really do anything except go to school and come home. The first few weeks were definitely the hardest in terms of beating the loneliness and finding out where I could go to do the things I wanted to do. I was really lucky to meet great friends from day 1 so I had it easier than a lot of people.

8. And the nicest surprises?

There have been loads of great moments. Being able to do things alone and in Korean was a huge thing. Being able to buy a car, having my sister come to live here, passing my Korean exam, meeting some amazing people, being able to help out in the Irish community and seeing that community grow has been a great thing.

9. Any tips for beating home sickness? 

Everyone has days where they miss home, it happens. For me, it’s all about attitude. Going in to a new adventure knowing that every day won’t be a great day, being able to laugh at yourself when something random happens and just appreciating the good days is what works for me.

Also, if I was to do it again, I would research things better. I wish I had known about AngloINFO and all the great blogs and sites on Korea before I came. I would have researched more and been a little more proactive in terms of finding things to do from the outset.

10. What do you do for a living?

I am a kindergarten teacher so I teach English to Korean age 4 to Korean age 7.

11. How do you spend your free time (in your adopted home)?

These days I am the Chair of the Irish Association of Korea so that keeps me busy organising events and responding to general inquiries. Busiest season for us though is December through March when we organise the St. Patrick’s festival.

In the rest of my free time, I play gaelic football with the Seoul Gaels which is a lot of fun. I also play Irish music with and thankfully the demand for sessions is high so we’re usually out and about playing every weekend.

Playing gaelic football with the Seoul Gaels

12. Are you settled here now? Or do you plan to move on one day?

Right now, things are going really well so I have no plans to move on in the immediate future. However, things change so I guess the plan is fairly loose but I’m very happy where I am right now.

13. Would you share something embarrassing that happened to you as an expat (but that makes you smile when you look back)?

Oh gosh! Where to start with this! So many embarrassing things have happened. I have red hair and I remember a few months after I got here, sitting on the train and having a woman come over to me and just start stroking my hair and then my arm. Koreans just don’t have red heads!!!! These days, it’s not so bad but I still get the occasional toucher.

The very first week I came here, two friends and I decided to eat out. Armed with just a dictionary, we headed down town and chose a packed restaurant to eat in. We asked the lady for the menu and she pointed to the wall. We look over and the wall is covered in Korean, not one picture and you could hear a pin drop in the restaurant. The Koreans were in stitches but we persevered and ordered by pointing at someone else’s food. I can’t remember if it was delicious or not but every time I order these days, I think about how far I’ve come from that first night.

More than once, I’ve gotten the subway in the wrong direction, stayed on it for 30 minutes, clueless and then have to backtrack.

I also walked in to a DVD room once as a way to stay out of the rain only to discover it was a front for……..other activities. Lesson learned.

14. And finally, if you could give one piece of advice to someone considering moving to where you live, what would it be?

Have a good attitude, you won’t like every part of life in Korea. It’s a huge change from where you’re coming from and it’s a lot to take in. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Get out as much as you can and get involved, even if it’s in something you’ve never tried before. Friends make the life here a lot easier and opportunities open up when you know a lot of people.

Finally, do your research. These days there are a tonne of great websites, blogs, Tumblr accounts etc. out there so for the few months before you move check them out.

Most of all though, just have confidence in yourself and a little bit of imagination and you’ll have no problems!

 

You can read more from Shauna in her AngloINFO Seoul blog A Long Way from Tipperary. Connect with Shauna and other AngloINFO users in Seoul. You can also like us on Facebook and Twitter.

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