So here we are! In arguably the strangest time in all of history. But one thing to be incredibly grateful for is, of course, the fact that in 2020, we have excellent internet. Just for today, you can stop making banana bread and LEAVE YOUR BANGS ALONE as TravelBud offers you the opportunity to make time for a rendezvous with culture.
If you’re embarking on your teach abroad journey with TravelBud to Teach English in South Korea, are thinking of enrolling or are simply interested in the awesome Korean culture, look no further for the ultimate Korean guide: quarantine edition.
Food, glorious food
There’s no better lense into a culture than through Korean cuisine and the etiquette that surrounds it. Before leaving on an adventure abroad, I would add Korean takeout to the dinner menu one of these nights to allow your palette to become acquainted with all the various flavours of Korean cuisine. Even better- try your hand at making some easy Korean dishes. One of my all-time favourite Korean cooks on Youtube is a delightful Korean lady who spins culinary gold out of her New York apartment.
Some light reading
Delving into a good book is a nice break from transforming the whole Netflix bouquet to “recently watched”. Order some of these Korean books online and get reading!
Focus on your health
Staying healthy is imperative in times like these and traditional Korean health tricks and kicks are an interesting way to go. With an average life expectancy of almost 81 years old and only 3,2% obesity rate out of a population of 51,64 million, follow some of these interesting health tips from Korea. Try Ginseng tea, a cup of crazy looking Ssanghwacha or do a classic Korean facemask remedy for your skin.
Brush up on your Hangul
You definitely don’t need to be fluent in Korean by the time you arrive, but you will realise quickly when you get there that if you can have a basic Korean convo, you’re ahead of the game! You’ll never get lost in a taxi, order the wrong thing (like I did when I tried to order a combo number 5, but ordered 5 combo meals by accident). As a bonus, your students will think you have secret magic powers! In a culture that values respect, speaking to locals in Korean will showcase that and will allow you to forge friendships with locals as opposed to staying inside your expat bubble!
I would recommend starting with some basic phrases, basic classroom commands, directions, and numbers for the money side of things!
Get ahead with K-Pop and K-dramas
If you’re running out of things to watch, why not go down the rabbit hole of K-pop videos or get deeply entangled into a K-drama? This way, you can learn a little bit about the popular Korean culture that is a celebrated part of all things Korean. If you’ve been learning a little bit of Korean, this is also a good way to engage with the language and learn some slang that you can impress your students or co-workers with.
Check out this list of the 15 best K-dramas and tick them off one by one!
K-pop is taking off in a major way in the west, so not only will you be ahead of the curb in your home country but you will definitely up your level of cool with your students. Perhaps you can rattle off some names of K-pop groups or better yet, prepare for a dance battle with your 6th graders!
I’ll never forget when I made a slide show and tried to impress the 6th grade girls with a picture of Justin Beiber, only to be met by a sea of unimpressed and confused faces. I learnt my lesson quickly, and in round 2 I dropped a young pic of G-dragon and I was the coolest teacher on the block. Check out my favourite K-pop groups: BTS, EXO, and Big Bang.
Create your Korean Bucket list
Once you get to Korea, you’re full of the joys of your new life. You try new things, you see new places, you are the YES man you always wanted to be. After a few months, you get into the swing of daily life and by the time you leave, you realise that you didn’t get a chance to see and do everything you wanted to do. I would encourage you to create a Korean bucket list with 12 things (1 per month) and have #noregrets. Get yourself excited and decide what, out of the thousands of things you can do, would suit you best. Below are my 20 bucket list items for Korea! Pick and choose what you like and add your own!
- Attend a K-pop concert
- Wear a traditional Hanbok (you feel extremely regal)
- Climb/cable car up Namsan Tower
- Rent a bike in a park in Seoul
- Do a silent, weekend retreat
- Jindo Sea parting festival
- Visit Gwanali beach in Busan
- Go to a Korean theatre production
- Visit a jimjilbang (spa house)
- Sing in a Noraebang
- Visit Jeju Island
- Go to an amusement park
- Visit the DMZ
- Go to a baseball game
- Go skiing
- Go to a dog and cat cafe
- Visit a traditional village
- Visit a traditional market
- Take the KTX somewhere
- Catch the guard changing ceremony at the Gyeongbuk palace
So there you have it! If you’d like to add content and do your own quarantine post, email [email protected] 🙂
Now that you’ve got all the details, are you ready to jump into your own Korean adventure? Click here to begin your application to Teach English in South Korea today!