1 Year in Korea: My Favorite Moments
Can you believe I’ve already been 1 year in Korea? I certainly cannot! Time truly flies and I am looking back on all the great things that happened during this one amazing year! In this post, I put together a collection of all the awesome moments I got to experience living in South Korea for 1 year. Make sure you read all the way to the end to find out what I’m up to next!
Here are my favorite moments from living in South Korea for 1 year:
When I first arrived in Korea, one of the biggest holidays was just around the corner: Buddha’s Birthday. Jeongu and his family took me to a nearby temple where we went hiking and spending the day. What struck me was the warmhearted mentality of the Korean people. Even though I’m a foreigner, I didn’t feel out of place and everyone there just had a great time and included me. It was a great first experience after moving to South Korea and I am still looking back on to this day since it paved the way for a wonderful first year living abroad in South Korea.
Bonding With My Students
The first months working at my Hagwon were tough but I soon received a massive reward: an incomparable relationship with my young students. Already after a few months of teaching them, we had a very strong bond. They were eager to learn, we laughed a lot but there were also tears and yells. However, I have come to love those kids so much. These kids are what makes my job so valuable and worth it in the end.
Tongyeong Cable Cars
One of my first trips I took in Korea was when I went down to Tongyeong and Yeosu with my friend Rafiqua (from Rafiqua Israel Express). What struck me most during this road trip was the beautiful scenery on top of the Tongyeong Cable Cars. I felt at peace and like this is exactly where I needed to be – Korea. It definitely felt like the right decision to live and work in South Korea when I stood on top of the beautiful viewpoint looking out to the dozens of small islands surrounded by azure blue water fading into the distance. This. Is. Life.
Walking in the Cheongju City Wall Parade
Trying to integrate into my new environment, I took part in the annual city wall parade here in Cheongju. The organizers were looking for foreigners to wear traditional Korean dresses and join to parade. It was a wonderful experience walking through the streets in a beautiful hanbok with the love of my life and our new awesome friends. We even made it on TV and the newspaper! I’ll be sure to join again this year!
Passing Level 1 Korean Class at the YMCA
One of my big goals ever since I moved to Korea is to better understand and be able to speak Korean on a fluent level. I started learning Korean before I moved but it’s only been here that I took actual classes with a teacher. I was very proud when I completed my Level 1 course at the local YMCA. Besides this personal achievement, I also met a lot of great people at this weekly course. I’m currently studying Level 2.
Hanbok Engagement Photoshoot in Seoul
Jeongsu and I got engaged about 6 months before I moved to Korea, on December 6th, 2014 in Beijing. It was truly romantic and I enjoyed the simplicity of the proposal and that it was just simply our day and our thing. However, it made this life event even more special when we rented two beautiful hanbok dresses in Seoul and took romantic pictures in the palaces of the city in early fall. I felt like a princess walking around the city with my wonderful gown on and taking these romantic pictures with my love will truly always be remember by the both of us.
New Year’s Ceremony in Busan
Probably the best New Year’s Eve and Day I’ve ever spent was this year in Busan! Jeongsu and I took the KTX down to Busan and went to go see the traditional bell ringing at midnight up at Busan Tower. After getting some rest in our hotel in Haeundae, we got up at 5 and went down to the beach to attend the annual sunrise ceremony. We lit floating lanterns and watched the first sunset. It was a magical moment and truly different than the usual New Year’s Eve parties that so often result in bad hangovers, regrets and memory loss.
Princess Diary Cafe
Speaking of feeling like a princess, this themed cafe in Seoul was another major highlight in this year. Together with my lovely friend Gina, from Gina Bear’s Blog, I spent a lovely afternoon wearing yet another Korean princess gown in a cute little cafe. We spent hours taking pictures from cute/romantic to goofy – it was endless fun! Sometimes it’s the simply things that make life abroad so memorable and unique.
Wandering Around Suwon Fortress
Another sightseeing spot I visited with the lovely Gina was the fortress in Suwon, south of Seoul. I still remember the late afternoon sunshine illuminating the fortress walls in a breathtaking amber color. The warmth of the sun rays made me forget the cold winds and I, once again, get this peaceful feeling in my stomach area. Going out and doing things truly makes life abroad so worth it and makes you get to know yourself a lot better.
Read more about Suwon here.
Seollal in the Countryside
One of my biggest fears has been fitting in Jeongsu’s family. I am constantly trying to gain favor and make them like me. Now, I’m happy to say that the relationship with his parents has gotten a lot closer. One of the reasons why is that I spent some time with them and made an effort to get to know them. During Seollal (Korean New Year), I stayed at Jeongsu’s family’s house and helped preparing for the holiday. I lent his mother a hand by helping to cook, set the table and clean up. I tried traditional foods people serve during this holiday and learned about the ancestor ritual. I will never forget my first Seollal.
Celebrating My Birthday in Jeonju
I love traveling during my birthday and this year was no different. Jeongsu and I went to Jeonju, a historic town in the west of Korea. The old town is dominated by hundreds of beautiful old hanok Korean houses and is home to some of the most delicious Korean food I have ever had. We stayed at a hanok and received a warm welcome by our host. She even made us traditional Korean tea and snacks for breakfast the next day. We had such a great time that I’m sure I will be back in Jeonju pretty soon!
Big Bang Final Concert in Seoul
From traditional to modern – the Big Bang concert in Seoul definitely made it high up on the list of highlights this year. Soon after I started dating Jeongsu, I got into Kpop and one of my all time favorites is the super successful group Big Bang. They had started their world tour even before I left for Korea and ended it in March 2016 in Seoul. I was lucky that I got myself a ticket and saw them perform live. It was truly unique and is a memory that will never fade.
North Korea and the DMZ
I’ve always been intrigued by South Korea’s strange neighbor up north and had a weird feeling standing on the DMZ and looking at North Korean land when I took a DMZ tour earlier this year. It makes you realize that the world is not a peaceful place and that there are many people who are so much more less fortunate than yourself. This visit reminded me a lot of my own country’s history and the time when East and West Germany were separated. It’s a part of Korean culture, and mostly Korean society, that’s so deep rooted that everyone who lives here should at least have seen once to understand the impact of this situation on your daily life.
Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival
Who doesn’t love cherry blossoms? I mean their smell is addicting and they look like cotton candy on trees. That’s why I felt like Alice in Wonderland when we visited the annual cherry blossom festival down in Jinhae on the southern coastline of Korea. This entire area had something so magical about it that’s rarely found anywhere else. Again, another “WOW” moment for me and the confirmation that I’m exactly where I need to be at this time of my life.
Jeongsu and I are preparing to get married and I’m definitely not moving away. I love living in South Korea and am (almost) fully adapted to the lifestyle here. However, I will be changing jobs which gives me a significant amount off during summer. I will be going back to Germany for 3 months over summer to be with my family and friends. During that time, I will be traveling various places in Germany and also take a well-deserved and action-packed vacation in Greece with my mom!
You can do it too! Teach English in South Korea!