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What should a first timer bring to SK?
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Squaffy



Joined: 25 Feb 2003
Location: All over the place

PostPosted: Sun Mar 23, 2003 10:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

yeah - like - 'this is my mom', 'this is my pop', 'this is my dog called Scruffy', 'please don't eat Scruffy, Scruffy is my friend!'.

*out pops the pink flash card*
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desultude



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Location: Dangling my toes in the Persian Gulf

PostPosted: Sun Mar 23, 2003 4:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bring the following:

Patience- with yourself, everyone else is doing things as they are done here- you are the one who is learning, and I find people here to be quite patient with my cultural stupidity.

Fragrance and color free detergent if you have allergies- the washers are not up to the standards of the other modern stuff here, and you will smell you detergent for a week, and itch.

Yes, if you are a princess, as I am in this regard, bring a pillow. You can find the fat foam things here, as well as the grain-filled little square (quite beautiful)- embroidered Korean pillows, and very weird down pillows, with a hard grid on the back which I suppose is intended to help it keep its shape, but keeps you from scrunching it. I brought an down pillow from the U.S., and can't imagine not having it. (Scrunch it into your carry on and be the envy of the flight here.) I also brought a set of western sheets and pillowcases in all cotton. They may be available here, but I haven't found them. The good news is that Korea has not gone the way of some newly developed nations with the use of synthetics- good cotton and wool bedding is available, the sheets are just not in the forms we are used to.

I agree also that you should bring photos. I have my family's and friend's photos plastered on my walls in my apartment and in my office. I take them to class the first day, and the students do love it. They especially love the photo of my 82 year old father- family is sooo important here, and they will appreciate seeing your family, and seeing that your family is important to you.

Bring your English operating system if you plan to get, or be provided with, a computer here. It took a couple of weeks to get the staff to help me install a n English system- a couple of weeks after classes began without a syllabus.

If you are a person with big feet BRING PLENTY OF SHOES, and comfortable ones. Ditto clothes, if you are not a small woman. There are literally no Korean women's clothes in my size here (U.S. 12) I would say that if you are over a U.S. 8, you could have problems.

There are big department stores in the cities here that have a good selection of most everything, from tea to nuts. But good coffee is really expensive. Real maple syrup does not exist, as far as I can see, and I haven't even seen the fake crap. There is no oatmeal, that I can find, but I cook barley in the morning, and it is great with the fresh strawberries here. (Korean produce is so good. You will quickly realize how really debased U.S. factory produce has become.)

My first trip to the department store/ supermarket here was actually terrifying. I recognized very little of the food. The really familiar stuff (lemons, avacados, etc.) in the produce department was prohibitively expensive. Meat is unbelieveably expensive. Ditto U.S. type canned goods.

I quickly learned to adapt to the cheap and fresh foods here. If you can find someone to translate for you, ask about "country chickens"- they will be skinnier and more yellow than the pink fat "french" chickens which are raised in cages. The difference is incredible- go for the country chickens. they have a lot of flavor and very little fat (and no hormones, etc.)
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Ya-ta Boy



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Location: Established in 1994

PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2003 3:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Since no one else has mentioned it...

Bring your sense of humor. Especially your ability to laugh at yourself. I will go out on a limb here and say that ALL expats, with no exceptions, take themselves far too seriously.

Maple syrup can be found in any grocery store right next to the dong-gass sauce, unless you are into only imported stuff. The local stuff suffices.

Think comfort food. What do you absolutely NEED once in a while? Is it chocolate pudding? (Next to impossible to find here.) Is it tapioca? Totally impossible, as far as I know. Envelopes of dry gravy work just fine on mashed potatoes. Other dry sauce mixes. Dry salad dressing mixes would be a boon to the hungry expat who gets tired of ketchup and mayo with a few chopped up pickles.

Stock up on spices. They can be found, but only after you know your way around.

Spend some time collecting easy to make, one-dish recipes. Talk to your mom and your granny.

Maybe your favorite video. One you can watch over and over. (TV access is usually limited here.)

Think about hobby supplies. You will have a lot of time to spend alone. Consider what hobbies you enjoy that you can do alone and prepare accordingly.

Someone asked about making do. I make my own molasses. I take a cup of corn syrup and stir in as much of the dark brown sugar as possible. It does a dandy job in gingerbread. Smile
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half_pint



Joined: 16 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2003 8:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I will agree with the suggestions to bring photos - especially of your family, pets and home.

Bring a tape full of Simpsons episodes and give it to me when you're finished with it.Smile

I don't know if anyone said deoderant and toothpaste, but bring them both.
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sid



Joined: 02 Feb 2003
Location: Berkshire, England

PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2003 8:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bring a big towel.
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OiGirl



Joined: 23 Jan 2003
Location: Hoke-y-gun

PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2003 1:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

desultude wrote:
Fragrance and color free detergent if you have allergies- the washers are not up to the standards of the other modern stuff here, and you will smell you detergent for a week, and itch.


I know about those sensitivities -- and am thankful I don't have them! You brought a whole year's worth of detergent!?!

desultude wrote:
clothes, if you are not a small woman. There are literally no Korean women's clothes in my size here (U.S. 12) I would say that if you are over a U.S. 8, you could have problems.


Excellent women's clothes in Itaewon, at the bottom of the hill, at the shops to the right as you go up the hill. Lots of size 12+, excellent prices, like W4,000 for things intended for The Limited. Worth a trip to Itaewon once a season.
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OiGirl



Joined: 23 Jan 2003
Location: Hoke-y-gun

PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2003 1:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sid wrote:
Bring a big towel.

Save the space in your luggage and buy a large, thick, cotton towel at any big department store. Some of the best towels I've ever had.
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weened



Joined: 10 Feb 2003
Location: May you live to be a thousand years.

PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2003 3:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Also bring a comfortable pair of walking shoes and don't be afraid to use them. You'll see and experience much more this way.
I second the deodorant suggestion.
I found big towels at EMart for those who forgot to bring them. Pricey, but ever so worth it.
Patience and a little bit more.
Some more patience.
Extra patience.
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desultude



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Location: Dangling my toes in the Persian Gulf

PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2003 4:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oigirl- Thanks for the info on the shops in Itaewon- I am in Daegu, but will be up that way next month- and will be in a shopping frame of mind. Now, what about size 10 plus women's shoes?

No, I did not bring a year's worth of detergent. But I am scouring the stores for some. Unfortunately, detergent is heavy, so I don't know how to carry it practically from the U.S. I will try to find some super-concentrated brand. For the moment, I send my clothes through an extra rinse cycle, and use less of the smelly stuff that I would otherwise.
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maxxx_power



Joined: 17 Mar 2003
Location: BWAHAHAHAHA! I'M FREE!!!!!!!

PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2003 4:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

half_pint wrote:
Bring a tape full of Simpsons episodes and give it to me when you're finished with it.Smile


Any particular requests? I have GB after GB on CD Laughing
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Manner of Speaking



Joined: 09 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2003 7:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On my second gig here I brought:

- 20 pairs of Fruit of the Loom or Stanfield's underwear (Korean men's underwear seem to be all cotton/polyester blends, which only feel great to wear if you're a cross-dresser).

- Couple of pairs of comfy wool work socks (for wearing around the house); maybe half a dozen pairs of sports socks.

- forget about bringing dress socks, they are everywhere here.

- 4 large bottles of Tums/Rolaids.

- strong menthol cough drops, such as Fisherman's Friend. (Hall's Menthol Lyptus cough drops are here but hard to find). You will get a LONGGG cold your first winter here.

- dozen pair of disposable ear plugs. (If you are in a noisy neighborhood or an apartment they will help you sleep at night.)

- 3 large terry-cloth bath towels.

- one single-size bed sheet set (available here but expensive).

- italian spices.

- winter touque (sp?), headband, and leather gloves (gloves are expensive here).

- about a dozen second-hand novels from used bookstores.

- about 50-100 small gift souvenirs of Canada (bottle openers, flag pins, decals, etc.) to give as gifts, game prizes to students, etc.

- 1 or 2 board games (monopoly, trivial pursuit, etc.).

- about a dozen wall posters/maps of Canada, USA, etc. to decorate my classroom. (if you go into any travel agency back home, tell them you are a teacher going overseas; most travel agencies have a closet full of old promotional posters that they would be willing to unload on you).

- my favourite sun-tan lotion.

- 1 dozen bottles of deodorant.

If you are running out of suitcase space and you know you will be working in a fairly large city, you can safely TAKE OUT OF YOUR SUITCASE the following: dress socks; spare razor blades, toothpaste, or dental floss; t-shirts; sewing kits; batteries; condoms; bar soap; asprin/tylenol/etc.; umbrellas; blank computer disks; stationery of any kind; alarm clocks/clock radios; pens/pencils; coffee beans; winter scarves.
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Manner of Speaking



Joined: 09 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2003 7:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I take back my suggestion on big towels....apparently you CAN find them here now.

Anybody know where in Seoul I can buy large-sized jeans for men? (38-40)? Embarassed
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Wishmaster



Joined: 06 Feb 2003

PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2003 3:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, there are certain things to bring. I would recommend a games(both for yourself and your students). You might have a great deal of solitary time(depending upon where you live in Korea), so bring games that you can play solo(such as a computerized chess game or a Playstation system). It will help you out with the boredom.

Deodorant is not a big deal. You can easily obtain these items at the import market. But, if you don't want to pay the increased prices, I would recommend bringing your own.

I love the import markets because it is like Christmas when I go in there. After weeks and weeks of seeing the same old Korean brands, I get geeked up when I see Doritos, Pop Tarts, variety of soups, etc. Still haven't found Slim Jims but damn near everything else is available.

Bring big towels. I now know where you can obtain them but when I first got here, it took me awhile. Save yourself the aggravation and just take them with you.

Posters. Bring some posters that you can plaster your room with. My room still looks very spartan after more that 8 months here. Bring some things like photos and postcards of your home so you can get comfort when the rigamarole of life here starts to get you down.

If you like Marvel or DC comic books, I would recommend that you bring a supply of 100. I'm a comic book fanatic but the pickin's are pretty slim here.

Bring videos. I would recommend that you record many of your favorite sitcoms and movies...cram as many episodes as you can get on the tape. I would say to bring a supply of 50 video tapes.

Bring activities for your students. Get books that will help you fill in the 5-10 minute gap at the end of the class. Believe me, you will thank yourself for having a bit of clairvoyance in this little matter.

You might not miss the comforts of home your first 2-3 months here but you will miss it after about 10. Be wise and prepared.
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Cabbit



Joined: 19 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2003 3:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Bring videos. I would recommend that you record many of your favorite sitcoms and movies...cram as many episodes as you can get on the tape. I would say to bring a supply of 50 video tapes.

If you are in Australia, dont bother bringing video tapes. They don't work on the machines here......we found out the hard way.....boohoo Wink
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crazylemongirl



Joined: 23 Mar 2003
Location: almost there...

PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2003 5:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Photos, I can't beileve I forgot them.

Get a cd burner before you go and mix a collection of your favourite tunes

a journal, so that you are venting your bad days into a journal so you don't become another complaining white dude.

the abilty to laugh at yourself and the stupid things you will do in your first few weeks

Trinkets/stickers to give away. I had some bic pens which are to use an americanism a dime a dozen in nz but my kids thought they were the greatest thing such sliced bread.
CLG
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