We knew we were going to be leaving Korea for at least 4 months, as our director asked us in May if we wanted to renew our contracts. Back then we were already pretty exhausted and not very happy with the job so we decided to say no to another year. It was a difficult decision because we were enjoying all the benefits of Korea; the money, no rent, the new culture, the food and shopping, the travel opportunities. At the same time we realised that teaching English (at least in Korea) was not a very sustainable solution for us creative types!
We decided at the time to go home for at least 6 months, work on creative things and then decide what to do next. In the meantime I accidentally found myself an amazing new design job in Auckland, so it looks like we’ll be staying for a while!
We spent our last few months counting down the bad classes, while trying to appreciate the good kids and the cute moments. We spent a lot of time reflecting, went to Seoul a few times and did lots of packing. We ate a lot of Korean BBQ, and even more cake! We drank a lot of our favourite Korean summer drinks too (fruit ades, iced chocolates, mango smoothies…) We stocked up on clothes at Uniqlo and I bought enough makeup to last me a lifetime!
Here are a few photos from our final days in Gwangju, and our last Seoul trip:
All the delicious food we ate in Sinsa:
We’ve been away from Korea for almost 5 weeks now and there are still some things I miss.
- the freedom of being a foreigner. Sometimes being on the outside is a good thing!
- being in a very different culture and finding out interesting new things everyday.
- being on my feet and moving around a lot at work!
- all the overseas brands we can’t get in New Zealand: Uniqlo, H&M, Krispy Kreme, Kath Kidston, Baskin Robbins, all the makeup brands etc…
- the safety! I never felt unsafe walking home alone at 10.30pm.
- that everything is open really late, so you can pop into a cafe at 1am if you need a sugar fix.
- sleeping in really late and starting work at 2pm.
- feeling like I’m on holiday and spending money like there’s no tomorrow!
- hearing a different language around me and being able to talk with Rob in our own little bubble most of the time.
I don’t miss:
- working in a Korean business and “teaching” kids when they’re exhausted and grumpy.
- the spoilt and entitled attitude of most Korean children (and parents!)
- our dusty old apartment which wasn’t very inspiring to keep clean.
- getting very sick every 3 weeks! Bye bye antibiotics.
- our run-down health and bad diet.
- not being able to design everyday.
- the awkward day-to-day communication issues.
Overall, I’m very pleased to be home. Korea was an amazing experience and it let us explore different parts of our personalities and what we wanted out of life. It led me to realise that I wanted to work in something fashion-related, and also made me realise that I definitely do need to be part of a team to make more exciting work.