Top 10 Reasons To Celebrate St Patrick’s Day in Seoul

I literally can’t wait for this festival. Roll on March 15th!

Irish Association of Korea 한국아일랜드협회

10. Practice makes perfect

Did you know that the Irish Association of Korea has organized the annual St Patrick’s Day Festival in Seoul for over a decade? In fact, this year will be its 14th consecutive event. As the saying goes, “Practice makes Perfect”, and this year’s festival is sure to be bigger and better than before.


9. Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day

With over 1,000 Irish expats now living in South Korea, and many more people with a smidgen of Irish blood in them, this year’s festival promises to be as authentic  as can be.

St. Patricks Day Festival In Seoul

8. A ready-made lesson for Monday morning!

Come along to the festival  on March 15th, then on Monday (which is actually St Patrick’s Day) all you teachers will have some great ideas to discuss with your students. Take a break from spelling and grammar, and get your kids to decorate your classroom…

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7 ways a Korean Apartment is different to an Irish one.

Disclaimer: This isn’t the same for all apartments. Some are fancy but some are like the ones I describe.

1. Door Keys; “What does your door key look like?” they said. “I don’t have a key” I said. Instead I have a key pad with a security code.


2. Shoe Area: You must take off your shoes before entering a Korean home.  It’s just how it is.


3. Radiators; What radiators? We only have underfloor heating in Korea. I didn’t want to take a picture of the floor so I took a picture of the heating thing.


4. The washing machines. Washing machines here are so big. And randomly you put the clothes in from the top.


5. The wardrobe; Some people actually have wardrobes to be fair. But I don’t (sob sob). I have a rail where I just hang my clothes. Same same but different.


6. The oven. A dissapointing one here. There are no ovens in smaller apartments in Korea. I have a convention oven.


7. The shower: The shower is usually not seperated from the sink. It’s all in one. Just stand there and take a shower.

wpid-20140223_184942.jpgAdded bonus; The super fancy toilet seat that came with my apartment. Actually, I don’t know any other foreigner with the fancy toilet seat. It’s super fancy, heated, sprays wind and water and you can spend many happy hours on a long sitting, dropping the matter playing around with the seat.


Korea- The cost of an average month

I have some friends that intend to move here later in the year. We’ve been skyping regularly and I’ve been filling them with stories from the Land of Morning Calm. One of the things they inquired about was the cost of living. The following is an example of what I spend in the average month. For the most part, I’ve over estimated to be on the safe side. This is for one person living in a two room apartment.

Petrol– 50,000 (full tank) x 2- 100,000won Could be more if I drive to Seoul.

Phone– 69,000 (unlimited calls and data) + 10,000 (cost of phone)

Utilities– 9,000 (electricity) 88,000 (gas) (Winter costs) Based on one person in the apartment.

Travel– T Money card. 10,000 per week. Usually head to Seoul every weekend. 40,000

Food– Grocery shopping once a week. Average- 50,000won

Eating out– Wintertime, I eat out about once a week. If I go for Galbi or some meal with others, the cost is usually 10,000. If we eat single meals, the cost varies. Average 13,500won.  For this example, we’ll say I eat shared meals once a week for the month.

Going out– If you’re drinking and staying out, the average Saturday night will cost you about 100,000. Everyone is different though so this cost is variable. For this example, we’ll consider 2 nights out in the month.

Misc- Clothes, accessories. 150,000 won a month. Cinema tickets for a regular movie will cost 9,000won. Popcorn and coke usually cost 7,500won. A cup of Americano in a regular coffee shop is about 2,500won.

Total– 906,000won.

If you consider the average wage for an English teacher to be about 2.2 million before taxes, you could still come out with 2 million. This still leaves you the opportunity to save half of what you make and still live very comfortably every month.

Costs are variable on the season also- I do a lot less in winter but others go skiing and snowboarding etc. In summer, electricity costs are higher because of air conditioning.

Summer and Winter I take a vacation which are additional costs.

My car insurance is an annual cost. Last year it was about 670,000won for fully comprehensive and the installation of a black box.

My friend Evan, after reading the initial draft of this blog had the following to say about his experience here;

It’s definitely possible to get by comfortably for far less if a person’s goal is to save more money. I pay 5,000 KRW a month pre-paid for phone service, using a Galaxy S2 that cost me 80,000 KRW. Text all I want. No data, but I use wifi at home or at various businesses I’ve found.

No car means no petrol, car payment, insurance, maintenance, etc. Subways and buses are cheap enough.

I will have managed to save over 20 million krw in 14 months, making around 2.1 million a month. That’s after having to pay for my own flight over (hagwon screwed me there), unexpected moving fees, etc. Pretty good considering.

My first year, however, I didn’t save quite as much. I ate out more frequently. The bars added up, too. I still did okay, even without watching my money closely that year.

If you have any comments, leave them below!


The woes and worries of a Kindergarten teacher.

I’m always looking for blog ideas so when my friend Edel suggested to write this one, I figured I’d need more room. From the second I walk in the door in the morning, the day is filled with worries usually stemming from the fact that the students are so small. I teach Korean age 4-7 so Western age 3-6.

Here are some of the things that go through my mind on a regular day;

  • Why are they so noisy?
  • Why do they always hand me their snots?
  • Do I have spare clothes in case this child actually vomits on me?
  • Why is this child crying?
  • That child has been in the bathroom for about 10 minutes. What is he/she actually up to?
  • If I turn my back, will some child get injured?
  • Why do they always offer me the sweets/chocolate that’s been half eaten?
  • Can I really give this child the scissors?
  • This child just licked the glue. On a scale of one to complete freak out, where should I be right now?
  • Why don’t they want to sing songs with me?
  • Does this child even speak Korean?
  • If I open this window, can I trust the children not to climb out?
  • Is that child asleep?
  • Dilemma- wake this child up or leave them alone and let them sleep?
  • Are any of these children actually learning English?
  • “I am a tiger” is not the proper response to “how are you?’ but since it’s an English sentence, should I let them away with it?
  • If I make this child stand up for the whole class, will I be listening to a complaining mother for the rest of the day?
  • If I let them walk up the stairs, can I trust them not to fall?
  • If I put them in the elevator, can I trust them not to squash the small child/fight/hang like monkeys from the bars? Best take the stairs……
  • If I see two children about to run in to each other, should I shout like a lunatic and warn them or should I let it happen and have them learn their lesson?
  • I forgot to close the door…………
  • If I bring this cup to class, will I somehow injure a student?
  • Why doesn’t anyone listen when I bring up the subject of a child falling behind?
  • How long can I harp on about said problem before people get immune and stop listening?
  • How do I say ” If *name* doesn’t simmer down in class, I’m going to get fairly angry” in Korean?
  • Why do we even use tables when they are just used for recreational activities by the students?
  • Why do we have chairs?
  • Can I let this student out to use the bathroom without the necessary supervision. Answer; No. No assistant today, can I take the risk?
  • Am I doing enough with the children in terms of English?
  • Can I do more? If so what can I do?
  • Is this too much English for a Korean kindergarten?
  • Do they remember who I am? Next class, will they know why I’m there or ??????

Story; For the first 6 weeks of the school year in 2013, one of my 4-year-old class’ would burst into hysterical tears when I appeared at the door. I tried everything, stickers, bribery, anger, singing, happiness, Naver Junior and nothing could stop them. When asked why they were crying, they responded “her eyes are too big”

They compliment me on how good my English is. I’m like “children, I’ve been practising every day. This is the key”

A student gave me a sticker once and told me if I collected all ten she’d give me a present!

The afterschool class were supposed to spell “shirt” once but ended up spelling “shit” and that made me laugh. They didn’t get it.

If you’re a teacher and wish to add a woe or worry, leave a comment below!

My name is Shauna and I love Kimchi!

I’ve just read an article about the rise and rise of Kimchi. Here is the link .

When first I arrived in Korea, my nose followed the curious smell that simply hung in the air at meal time. I didn’t have to go to far to realise that Kimchi was the source and that any negative thoughts should be kept to myself for fear my lack of love for this unique dish was grounds for deportation. That’s how much the Koreans love Kimchi.

My food teaching revolved around the word Kimchi. “What did you eat for breakfast? Kimchi and rice. What did you eat for lunch? Kimchi and rice.  What did you eat for dinner? Kimchi……………and rice” Can you see the trend here? No other food is actually worth mentioning or eating in the eyes of a 6 year old Korean child.

I simply couldn’t take to it. It was a mental block, really. What put me off was that it was cold and all there in one big pile together. And the smell. Urgh, that smell. I would be a cast off, sitting, eating my bland lunch of rice and vegetables desperate for a bit of flavour. For the longest time I stayed strong but the more and more Korean friends I made, the more it became next to impossible to avoid it. It’s everywhere, especially if we went out to a meal together. Eventually, I started eating Kimchi Jigae (Kimchi soup) which is cheap and cheerful and puts a fire in your belly, the perfect Sunday morning hang over cure. This escalated to mixing some with rice at lunch time and now, I simply cannot imagine my life without Kimchi.


Lunch dishes including Kimchi.

This year, when Kimjang (Kimchi making) was finished, my landlady presented me with the biggest container of Kimchi you’ve ever seen. Daunted by the task of having single handedly eat a mountain of Kimchi, I first took the natural decision to share it out among my friends. Turns out not many of my foreigners friends are partial to the old bit of Kimchi so my mountain was still a mountain after sharing. Taking one for the team, I set out to eat it all and there are so many dishes you can make with Kimchi that I think I’ll run out before I try them all.

My personal favourite is Kimchi Jigae. Easy to make with hardly any preparation time, this is the perfect dish after a day at work. And if you already have the Kimchi, you simply need to add a little tofu or a few spices  or beans or whatever you have in the press to add that extra flavour.

Next is Kimchi Spaghetti/pasta. So delicious, easy to make and especially flavoursome if you add cheese. Sometimes, if I’m going all out Kimchi and ramen is super delicious with cheese on the top.

As a world’s biggest fan of potatoes, Kimchi is the perfect addition. Mashed potatoes and Kimchi, baked potatoes and Kimchi, chips and kimchi, potato salad and Kimchi, colcannon and kimchi, potato pie and kimchi, just so many things, the list goes on and on.

You can simply eat Kimchi and cheese on toast. Delicious, nutritious and so easy to make. That’s a recent addition to my Kimchi list. There are a million others including one dish I like to call “Simply Kimchi”.

Pro’s of eating Kimchi include;

  • Healthy
  • Cheap (especially if a kind Korean will give you some for free)
  • Easy to prepare
  • Long lasting
  • Delicious
  • Is suitable to all those who are vegetarian, vegan, and other things that end in “an”

Con’s include

  • It’s kimchi….uurrrghh
  • The smell…..
  • It can make your food taste funny if you keep it too close and don’t have a fancy Kimchi fridge
  • There’s just so much of it

Some can tell the difference between the different types of Kimchi but I don’t think I’m quite at that stage yet, hence failed one requirement of bring a Kimchi Grand Master like the adjumma in the article. Never mind, I’ll continue to eat my Kimchi and encourage other foreigners I meet to do like wise.