For those about to make the long haul over here to South Korea, and who are in need of some help as to what to pack click here.
And here is a message we got from a fellow South African with a few questions Im sure you will have been thinking about...
Thanks for helping me with this! Almost everything is organised. I heard from them about getting a contract a few weeks ago. They still want a second set of transcripts with my final marks on them and confirmation that I've passed my honours degree but TeachKorea only told me about that today and the RU offices have closed until 3rd Jan.
Anyway, I have a tendency to want to be as prepared as possible, including knowing what odds and ends I should bring with me, should order online or should put in a care package for myself which my Mom can then send me. So here goes....
~I know you guys struggled to find a good church and I wanted to ask what you found most difficult/different about the churches there compared to what we're used to here.
~I've heard various stories about whether or not herbs and spices whcih we use in our cooking are available. Could you maybe take a look at your supermarket (or remember back to any trips you have taken into other cities/to Costco, etc) and see if one can buy (dried, fresh or as a plant): Basil, Rosemary, Thyme, Sage, Origanum/Oregano, Cinnamon, Cumin and Cayenne pepper.
~Is is possible to get Earl Grey tea? Mustard? Peanuts? Vanilla
essence? Wholewheat flour? Chutney? :-b
~I have heard both positive and negative responses to the question of whether or not one should bring your principal and co-teacher gifts. What is your take, yes or no?
~I'm a very fond baker and cook (if you hadn't guessed already) and I was wondering if it is possible to buy a small oven (convection oven) and stick blender at appliance stores there since they don't normally come standard in an apartment?
~I also wanted to ask about bedding. Did you bring your own over or did you buy it in SoKo?
Really great questions I was most definitely wondering about before I came here, so here are my answers to the above:
I still haven't given my degree to EPIK, Or The government here in South Korea! And it was not my fault at all. My mom only got my degree from Rhodes a month ago! So I thought it was just too much hassle to get it here at this late stage anyway. But they had academic transcripts and a letter from The admin at Rhodes saying that I had graduated :) So don't stress too much about that!
We looked around for ages, but all it comes down to at the end is just looking through the internet. Korea has churches everywhere, and I mean EVERYWHERE! The problem is just finding a church with an English Ministry...they have them but they are harder to find. We have found them also pretty different what from we were both used to back home, but we have come to realise that as long as you find somewhere that you feel like you belong, and you can understand most of what is being said, and most importantly that you can connect with God...then thats the most important thing! So don't worry about that :)
Herbs and spices are available, they are a little more expensive and the selection isn't very varied, but you can find the basics, so I definitely would not waste space on those things (we have Basil, Rosemary, Salt, Pepper, Meat Spices, Oregano). Also Costco definitely has these things, as well as the local marts.
I got my mom to buy little South African gifts for my Principles and Vice Principles...but to be honest, all they want is Whisky (Which you can pick up at Duty Free) I'm not kidding. My mom spent hours and a good amount of money finding thoughtful things for me to give to them, and the response when they saw the packages "Roxy,, Whiskey!!???". As for my co-teachers, I buy them little things throughout the year, but this really depends on your relationship with them. One of my co-teachers has become my best friend, so when I went to Cambodia, I found here a nice scarf and some perfume from the airport :) For the rest, Im buying pizza today for the office (they love things like that...snacks etc from the local marts is prefect!).
As for baking/cooking...my apartment didn't come with a microwave, Dales did. But lucky for me I don't do much in the line of cooking, but I do love to bake. And the ovens here are really cheap if you get them online (they are small cute ones). Have a look at this site:
www.gmarket.co.kr and just click on English in the top right hand corner and do a quick search there. I found one for W40 000, so thats about R250 :) easy peasy!
Both of our schools supplied us with brand new bedding, and Im sure your will do the same. And I have bough sheets here for the beds, so you can easily find them at Lotte Mart and Homeplus. Also, when they have big sales at Lotte Mart/HomePlus I have bought some new bedding and blankets for really really cheap!
So there you go! hope that helps!