Monday, August 4, 2008

Natarsha's S.K.F.A.Q....What Am I Really Getting Myself Into??

I receive alot emails about life here in South Korea from people who will be moving here and I am going to start posting the questions and answers that I get because I am quite sure that many people have questions about South Korea and may be afraid to ask them. I will be answering questions about various questions people have about life here in South Korea. Hopefully, this will answer some lingering questions that anyone may have, but just haven't asked :)

In order to live or travel to another country you must have an open mind.

*Disclaimer: The answers to these questions are from MY POINT OF VIEW and WHAT I HAVE EXPERIENCED. If I do not know the answer I will try to ask someone who does. I will try to help out as much as I can. I am no expert. Just wish I had this info available to me before I decided to come to South Korea.
Anonymous from Louisiana:

Hi Natarsha! I came across your blog while doing a little research and I wanted to drop you a line to say that I am a fan already! I am 28 year old female from Louisiana and I have always had an interest in traveling abroad. I initially considered teaching abroad when I graduated from undergrad, but didn't follow through with it. Now that I have a Master’s degree and a law degree, I still feel like I want to do something “more” with my life. Add to that the fact that I am knocking on 30 with no real life experiences, I think I’m ready to take the plunge. Like you, I am single, no kids, and no real ties to anything.

I read through your blog and found some of your experiences to be interesting. What was most interesting to me was how you came to accept your job. As stated, I thought about teaching abroad a long time ago. But, on a whim, one of my friends stated that he wanted to do it. But now that he is seemingly on the fence, I am all for it! I would like to ask you a few questions if you don’t mind. I will understand if you don’t have time to answer my questions, but I would appreciate it if you did. I have been looking at positions and may consider taking one within the near future. I need to know what I’m getting myself into!

I know that I have bogged you down with questions and I do apologize. But I really think that this experience will be beneficial to me and since you are actually living it right now, who better to get opinions from? LOL! I thank you so much for any feedback that you can give me and I wish you the best of luck in Korea!

Natarsha in South Korea says:

Hi! I am so glad that you enjoy my blog. Thank you! Since I am single, no kids, no potentials, and nothing was holding me back I felt that this was the best time for me to travel before I settled down to have a family one day. I want to be able to tell my family about this wonderful experience. I will be more than happy to answer any questions that you may have now or in the near future to the best of my ability. I will try my best to answer your questions based on my experience. Please feel free to email me: any time. I think these questions are questions many people are curious to know about. With your permission I would like to post these questions and my response on my blog to help others who may be thinking these same things.

1. Was it extremely hard to adjust to life in South Korea? I am worried that I will hate it and be stuck there in a deep depression for a year! You seem to have adjusted well to the move. Is it because you have friends there with you? Would it be different if you didn’t?

No, it was not a difficult transition for me. Sometimes I miss my friends and family because this is the furthest I have been from them for a long period of time. I am blessed to be here and I get to talk to my friends and family everyday as if I were back home. I have friends here, but I do not get to see them often because we all live so far apart, so whether you have friends here or not does not make a difference. It is easy to make friends here and I have many friends here of all races. The Korean people are really friendly, well at least the ones I have come across and met :)

2. Are there other African-Americans out there? [I’m afraid that I won’t have anyone that looks like me out there…]

YES! There are many African-Americans here. I can put you in touch with some, if you decide to come here. Don't worry there will be plenty of folk who look like you when you get here. BUT don't let that be a discouragement or a determining factor for you to come or not come...the most important thing you have to have when you come to Korea or any foreign country is to have an open mind. What I mean by that is don't be afraid to meet new people and try new things, if that is something that you are not open too, then traveling abroad is probably not the best thing for you to do.

3. Of the other people that you have met, that are non-Korean, what is the average age range? [I’m afraid that the other people there from the U.S. and other countries will all be fresh out of college and I won’t have ANYTHING in common with them]

The average age range here is between 22-35 years old. You will meet plenty of people here from the U.S., other countries, and Koreans that you will have more than you think in common with. Again, be open to meeting new people and learning and growing from those opportunities.

4. What recruiting company did you use? Were your accommodations provided (i.e., airfare, apartment, insurance, etc.)? [I came across one company on the internet that would pay for the flight and accommodations, but I was a little skeptical of them….]

I went through If you decide to go through this company make sure you tell them that Natarsha Wright referred you! The only thing I have to pay for is utilities and food. Make sure you do your research and find the best company that has your interest at heart. Stand firm in what you are looking for and do not be afraid to ask your recruiter questions and if he is not able to deliver just know that there are other recruiters out there that will be more than willing to help you. You are a commodity and you have something that they are looking for and they will pay to capitalize on your skills. It is a win win situation. You speak English and they are paying for you to live and teach abroad for 1 year. You gain a new appreciation and perspective on life living abroad.

5. Would you recommend the experience to others? [I know that everyone has a different experience. I do have one friend that went prior to law school and she loved it. She also said that she had a friend that hated it. I just want a cross-section of opinions.]

Without a doubt! I would definitely recommend this experience to others. Everyone will not have the same experience as I am having, but nonetheless each person who decides to come to Korea will have the own experience that they will learn and grow from. I can honestly say that you will not be the same person when you return home. You have been blessed to see another part of the world. Enjoy each day...the good and the bad whether in Asia or in the United States. Life is what you make it and what better way to shape your life by thinking outside of the box. There is more than the world than the United States take this time now while you are single and have no kids to travel and enjoy your life. Enjoy this time to get to know who you are.

6. One thing that I have been thinking about is shopping. I can honestly admit that I am plus-sized and Asians are known to be slender. Are there any places to shop out there, that you know of, that might accommodate a variety of sizes? If not, I plan to load up on some clothes before I come!

Unfortunately, there are not places that I know of that have clothes that accomodate various sizes. I am a shop-a-holic and since I have been here I have not been shopping. I am a size 4-6 and have not been able to find many things in my size. I pick up a shirt or some lounge wear every now and then, but it is wise to bring your clothes from home.
7. In line with that question, are delivery rates reasonable for shipments to S. Korea? I have no problem with shopping online if needed.

I can not answer that question because it varies based on the size of the package. It is best to contact the post office for questions related to shipping and pricing. I do not order anything online, so I am not familiar with the delivery rates. I brought majority of my items from home because I did not know what I would and would not find in Korea.
8. Are there any American shows broadcast on television there? If so, are they in English? If not, do they at least have subtitles? 'm trying to determine if I should just pack my DVD collection and bring it with me. While I do love Korean dramas, I'd never make it without subtitles. I love Korean series. I check them out from the library and they are highly addictive! Korea is so beautiful!! I know that I want to visit Jeju Island. That's the spot everyone in the series "Palace/The Princess Hours" always went for vacation and it's gorgeous!

YES! There are English television shows, while most of the programs are Korean programs they do have a few English channels that show good tv shows and movies. They also have a movie theater. I brought a few of my favorite DVD's that I had to have.
9. Is S. Korea safe enough for me to travel around on my own, i.e. grocery shopping, jogging, walking, riding the train, etc.?

Yes! South Korea is very safe. You can find singles, couples, families, etc. walking around all hours of the day and night.
10. How are your accommodations? (Your building and area looks pretty neat, by the way!) I've watched a few YouTube videos of apartments and a bunch of the bathrooms are just a room with a sink, toilet, and a showerhead coming from the sink! I find that so weird! I'm sure that I could adjust, but... YIKES! I LOVE showers and I don't know what it would be like to have water all over the place! Would it be rude to possibly request an apartment that has a shower with the sliding door as I have seen in some apartments?

People's accommodations vary based on job assignment. The YouTube videos are accurate. The showers run from the sink and it is rare to have a bathtub. You can not request an apartment with a shower door because they really do not use shower doors. That is also rare, so it may be hard to find. There are also no stoves, two burners, a washing machine and no dryers. They usually hang dry there clothes. They also do not have full size refrigerators, it is another one of those things that are rare.

11. Are there little stores where I can buy household goods to make my place feel a little more like home? If I'm going to be living in one room, I might as well make the most of it! LOL!

Yes! There are plenty of stores where you can buy household items.

Hope this helps!Anonymous from Louisiana, I hope that I was able to answer your questions. I answered them as openly and honestly as possible. Please know these responses are based on my experience. If there is anything else I can do to help please feel free to email me. If you decide to come to Korea please let me know. Lastly, if you are still trying to figure out if you want to come or not ask yourself this, "Why not come Korea?" There is no better time then the present. I would encourage you to go for it! It is a wonderful opportunity and experience, but most importantly pray and ask God, if this is something that he wants you to do.

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.
~Mark Twain

Until Next Time...

Love God, Love Life, & Love Yourself because, if you don't who will?



Tia's Real Talk said...

wow this is sooo nice and a great idea,,I have a lot of catch up reading to do!!

Anonymous said...

Hi, great site. My sister might be moving to Seoul. We were wondering, where did you get your hair done? Are there places in Seoul to get your hair relaxed, cornrowed, and/or weave sewn in? Could you post the name/address of the places that you recommend? Thanks!!!

Natarsha said...

Thanks! I got my hair done in Itaewon at the Family Hair Shop across the street from the McDonald's. It is the only place I recommend. Anyone of the Korean ladies can do African-American hair.