So I have decided this time that I would do a double feature instead of writing two separate posts. The reason for this is because these two cafes were located next to each other and had a similar gimmick. … Continue reading
Living in Korea for about 2 years, and being the coffee lover that I am, I think I have been to my fair share of cafes here in Korea. Usually when I visit a cafe, the coffee/desserts are only 50% of the experience for me. If I were only in it for the coffee, I would just stick to the non-fail typical coffee shops such as, Starbucks, Holly’s Coffee, Cafe Bene, TOMNTOMS, etc,. However, the other 50% of the experience comes from the interior atmosphere and level of cuteness/uniqueness. I would love to show my special finds with you guys (which don’t only include Seoul) and hope that you check out these places next time your in the area. I will include a detailed post on each of my top 10 favorites, which by the way, are not in any particular order, as they are all equally amazing! When I find more, I will include a part 2. But for now, please enjoy my top 10 favorite cafe’s in Korea!
It’s the simple things.
Recently, I have realized that I am starting to become really negative. I try to catch myself when I think negative thoughts, but they are getting out of hand and I am starting to bring others around me down. I am worried that the negativity is starting to Manifest itself within me, making me become an undesirable and ugly person… So I really want to try harder to acknowledge the simple and beautiful things in life.
Even when you are having the worst day possible, there will always be at least one thing that you can look at and feel some form of joy from. Instead of wallowing in your misery, it’s time to open your eyes to all the beautiful things that have always been there, but didn’t notice before because your usually to miserable to notice. I’m currently having this revelation at a hair shop in South Korea.
As I am sitting here waiting for my boyfriend to finish getting his haircut, I can’t help but notice the beautiful music playing in the background, which I found out through shazam is called ‘Don’t Worry Love‘ 걱정말아요 그래, and the smooth taste of this Americano that I was offered for free for absolutely no reason as I didn’t even have an appointment here and they know that they will not even get any business from me.
I have also been enjoying the view of the winter wonderland outside. From the photo, you cannot tell but there is the slightest layer of snow carpeting the earth, and it looks so pure and magical to me.
And I can’t forget the gorgeous and friendly golden retriever wandering around the hair salon. I think he is also enjoying the view 🙂
Never forget to take notice of the little blessings. Each day holds a is a special gift. Don’t allow anything else overshadow these precious things.
Remember. Life is good 🙂
#itsthesimplethings #lifeisgood #dontworrybehappy
So I had a bit of a rude awakening this morning when I woke up. My morning routine started as usual, me rolling around in bed for about a half hour not wanting to actually wake up, saying a morning prayer (I really needed it today), taking my ‘One-a-day’ gummy vitamins which are conveniently next to my bed and then, once my brain is fully alert and my eyes well-adjusted to the sunlight shining in through my window, I checked my email. I was already expecting an email from the manager of my school in Korea answering a few of my questions that I had sent her 2 days ago. However there were 3 emails from her and the one that immediately caught my eye was the one whose subject line read: “It is urgent (From YBM ECC) Your flight schedule is changed!!!” And as you would expect from reading that, my original flight, which was scheduled for March 21st, is now changed for March 20th at 5:30am! So basically, I have to be ready to go to the airport tonight! And while it may not seem like a big deal to most people, for me, someone who leaves EVERYTHING to the last minute and likes to procrastinate, this is extremely unsettling news. I have been forced into PANIC-MODE!
So basically, my anxiety level is through the roof, and I feel like i’m not mentally prepared for this long journey. It’s seriously going to take every bit of good out of me. Honestly, I don’t even have time to be writing this, why am I writing this?? Seriously! I have no time to be sitting around. Here’s whats going on in my head right now: I know I am going to end up forgetting something, I know that tonight I’m going to be crying my heart out as I leave my family behind for a year, I know I am going to be overtired from not sleeping on the plane, I know I’ll be stressed out running from flight to flight (Deer Lake -> Toronto -> Vancouver -> Tokyo -> Incheon) and also, I know I’ll be so nervous about the crazy week (of orientation) I’m going to have once I actually arrive in Korea. Just thinking about all of this makes me want to run and hide under my bed until it’s all over. I mean, I love travelling, airports don’t bother me, airplanes for the most part don’t bother me, unlike most people, I enjoy plane food, and I’m totally cool and experienced with travelling alone… but for some reason, right here, right now, all of this stuff seems overwhelming and impossible.
My life here at home as of late has been me lazing around all day and eating whatever I want whenever I want and hanging out with my family. My stress level is non-existent. So being exposed to all of this at once is going to be really hard on me since I’m not used to it but I’m sure I’ll make it.
As far as whats left to do: Finish packing, shower, visit my Nan (who is 92 years old ㅠㅠ) give her the cookies I made her and have a cup of tea with her, briefly meet up with one of my friends, buy some last minute things at the drugstore, charge up all of my things, and get my Dad to finish fixing my glasses. I think that’s all. I hope that’s all!
I’m not sure when I’ll update this again, maybe when I arrive in Korea. Wish me luck on my travels, I’ll seriously need it!
That’s right, the day I have been waiting for since 2008 has finally come. I received my E2 visa in the mail today and I’m finally ready to leave Canada and start a new life in South Korea. Tomorrow is the last day of my crappy part-time job as a housekeeper at the holiday inn and then, a week from tomorrow I will finally embark on my journey.
The reason why I said I have been waiting for this moment since 2008 is because looking at my high school twelfth grade yearbook, I wrote “Teach English in South Korea” as my ‘probable fate.’ And finally, I am fulfilling that prophecy. 18 year old Stephanie would be so proud :’)
My life here in Canada as of late is completely dull and there is no longer any thing here to fulfill me and help me grow as a person. It’s time to move on and I finally feel ready. My family however, are my everything and I will miss them like crazy. I made sure that I made the most of every moment I spent with them this past year and we have gotten so much closer and our love for each other has grown too much. It’s going to be hard, especially since I have spent every day with them since April 2013, when I moved out of my dormitory and moved back home. However, they are supportive of my choice and know that there is no life for me here. I guess I just have mixed feelings because it will be my first time being so far away from home for such a long period of time. I feel like the bird who is finally leaving the nest… and like I’m finally becoming an adult and moving out of my home where I spent 23 years of my life.
On a positive note, I absolutely cannot wait to move to Korea!! There is never going to be a dull moment there and it will help to clear the cobwebs from my brain. I’ve been so jaded here at times so this fresh start is exactly what I need to get out of this rut i’m in! I can’t wait to drink banana milk again and get photo stickers, eat patbingsoo, go to my favorite stationary store ‘Artbox’ and just totally immerse myself into a new environment that is so different from my ordinary life here.
The city I will be living for the next year or so is called ‘Songdo’ – actually, it’s considered a city within a city because Songdo is in Incheon, the third largest city in South Korea. Songdo is a fairly new city which did not exist about a decade ago because it was built from scratch from land reclaimed from the sea. Pretty cool right? This means that this city was planned and built from a well organized and designed blueprint so it’s pretty logical, environmentally-friendly and is known as a ‘smart city’. This city will not be complete until 2015 and is technically not even officially open to the public. Therefore, there is very limited information about the place online. However, from what I have seen, it looks very beautiful and modern unlike many parts of Seoul. There are huge sky scrapers and high riser apartment buildings (I will be living in one), and there are also many parks and shopping areas. The downside though, is that I may at times feel lonely or isolated because there are not many people living there yet and not a whole lot to do outside of parks, but – it is connected to Seoul via subway so I should be fine. I’ll tell you more about it once I actually get there.
Anyways, I’ll keep this post shortish. I just wanted to update anyone who may follow my blog and also, keep it as a record for myself.
I’ll probably make a packing related post if I get around to it and put it in the ‘Adventure’ category, so look out for that one!
I have never been a person who shares their feelings with other people. Sure I can be an “open book” meaning that I have no problem telling you my life story – but when it comes to actual ‘feelings’ I often feel squeamish about the thought of sharing them and tend to keep them inside my poor ol’ brain. At the moment, I have absolutely no friend who I can talk to and share all of my deepest and darkest secrets. Sure I have friends who like to talk to me and unload all of their problems and concerns, and I love to listen to their every word and give advice when needed, but for some reason, I have always found it extremely difficult to share my own feelings with others. Therefore, the inside of my head is usually a jumbled mess of thoughts and anxieties that have been left to stew and brew forever. Sometimes I wish I could shake my head until all of those puzzle pieces came out so I could try to piece them together and make sense of them. But I guess the next best thing is to write about them on here, my blog. Honestly, I don’t care at this point if anyone ever reads this because I guess it’s more like a therapeutic outlet for me anyways. My reviews however, are all for you so please read them 😛
Anyways, the point of this is not to show you how introverted I am, it’s to talk about this weird feeling that suddenly came over me tonight. I had a flashback from 2012 and everything around me began to feel so surreal. In 2012, I temporarily moved to the city (8 hours away from my home town) to attend a different campus of my University (just for 1 semester). I guess I just felt like I needed a change of scenery. While there I would be renting a little white town house with a cheery bright blue door with 4 other roommates (roommates who I have not met before). However, what I did not know at that time was that 1 of those roommates was a male. The landlord told me this was strictly a house for females, and that is why my parents were so comfortable with letting me stay there. So when my parents were helping my move in, they noticed some large sneakers – like size 12 large, and my Dad suspiciously said, “Those girls must have some awfully large feet” Then my mom, trying to make sense of it said, “that probably belongs to one of the girls’ boyfriends” and that was the end of the conversation.
However, a few days later, (after my parents had left) while sitting in the living room with one of my girlfriends, a really tall guy with short curly brown hair, bright blue eyes and a gorgeous white toothy smile walked in. I can’t remember the exact conversation now but I remember saying something like, “who are you?” and he replied with something like “the random guy living in the basement” haha. Anyways, at that point I remember feeling betrayed by my landlord and feeling a tad unsafe having this super tall muscular-looking guy live in the same house as me. Since I don’t want to reveal his name, I will just refer to him as “C” from here on out.
Despite my fears back then, C and I got along extremely well, in fact he was charming, funny, witty, kind-hearted AND – completely harmless. He reminded me of a giant teddy bear that I just wanted to hug. I remember being a little shy with him at first as I was with all my roommates (2 Chinese girls and one local-ish girl), but I am just a shy person in general plus I’m introverted, plus I have social anxiety, plus I am totally awkward. However one night when they all left the kitchen he stayed and sat across from me at the table, we had a one-on-one conversation and I completely felt comfortable enough to open myself up and spill my guts to him, which I must add is an EXTREMELY rare situation as I find it extremely hard to make any connections with others. In fact, I was straight up with him telling him that I was socially “retarded” and that I never know what to say when I’m with someone. I told him that I am shy and that I don’t ever wan’t to be perceived as rude or snobby. Instead of being put-off by my personality, he seemed genuinely fascinated and completely empathetic to me. I could feel that we had made a true human connection and I valued that very much. C quickly became my favorite person living in that house and every time there was a dispute over dirty dishes or some other typical roommate problem I knew he would have my back. C was like the perfect guy, dreamy blue eyes, pearly white teeth, he was also a football player so you can imagine his body-type. His laugh was so charming and addictive and his smile melted my heart. C always knew the right thing to say in every situation, he was also loved by everyone who met him because he was just so laid back and calm. C made you feel good about yourself, when you were telling him a story, he was genuinely captivated hanging onto your every word. C was also a musician and an artist, his sketches were beautiful and he was so creative. I remember telling him that I loved to draw and he asked to see my drawings because he also liked to draw. However when he showed me his work I suddenly felt inferior and didn’t have the confidence to show him my ‘chicken scratch’. One day C even sat and watched the entire process of me and my friends baking cupcakes, he then helped us decorate them. Sounds too good to be true right?
However, my personal preference of guy is an Asian guy, specifically Korean. Yes you can say I have “yellow fever”. Anyways, at that time I was so caught up into blindly chasing around Korean guys who turned out to be complete dead ends that I never even gave C a second thought. Also, I never in a million years thought C would be interested in me. In fact, the thought never even for a second crossed my mind. For some reason I ALWAYS assume that white guys are just not interested in me, I assume I am not their type so I don’t even bother wasting my time. I think it goes back to my days in grade school when I was that fat girl with the bushy, unruly hair. Every time I had a crush on a guy, (a white guy, because my schools only ever had white people in it) they would pretty much laugh in my face and I would feel so devastated and humiliated. I never had any luck whatsoever and I never even had to confidence to look for a boyfriend until I lost all the weight in 2011. That was when I went to Korea and realized that I could successfully woo Korean men. However, I am still completely blind and oblivious to the fact that guys may actually find me attractive. I am still that fat little girl in my head with the tangled hair and I don’t even consider myself as a worthy candidate.
That’s why when C confessed that he was interested in me it completely caught me off-guard. It even scared me, literally. I remember I made it a point to avoid him everyday. I noticed that whenever I had to leave my room to use the kitchen my door would make a loud screeching sound and C would know I was out of my room, he would then promptly enter the kitchen to talk with me (or that’s what it seemed like to me) it made me feel so uncomfortable. I later fixed the problem by pouring cooking oil over my door hinges so they wouldn’t squeak and I could successfully sneak in and out of my room unnoticed. The rest of my days living in that little white house after C’s confession was about survival. It was about strategically planning my meals, when I would use the bathroom etc. around C’s schedule so I could completely avoid him. It was about entering and leaving the house at certain times so I could successfully miss him. I remember he would wear slippers and they would make this God awful swishing sound whenever he would walk: swish swish swish. I would cringe in my room whenever I heard this sound but it was helpful in letting me know that it was him in the kitchen so I could stay safely in my room until he was gone.
C’s confession was so blunt and to the point, but then again, that’s what I always admired about C, his honesty. I remember he privately messaged my on Facebook (even though he was in his room which was only a few steps away) he said “your some cute, I just want you to know that” immediately in my head I just thought: “Me cute?? Really? He actually thinks that about me?? Why me??” It was out of the blue and completely random but I just took it as a compliment and moved on. He continued to flatter me by assuring I was the best kind of roommate after I jokingly said that I was the worst roommate because all of my grocery’s were slowly taking over all of the other cupboard space. Then he took it a step further by bluntly saying that he was sexually attracted to me from the moment he walked into the door and met me for the first time, and he told me he wanted spend some time with me, either going for a walk or a Disney movie date. Cute right? But I knew he had other intentions and so that is when the avoiding began.
Looking back on this now it all seems so silly, what was I afraid of? Why was I avoiding C when he sounds like the perfect man? If this were high school, he would be the one I was swooning over praying he would look my way. And who cares if he had other intentions? Of course he did, that’s no excuse because we were both adults and that’s what two people physically attracted to each other do, and it’s not like I wasn’t already “active”. To my close friends and family I painted the poor guy to be a monster trying to corrupt an innocent girl. Honestly I have no idea why I reacted this way. I really regret avoiding him because he was a great friend.
To be honest, I have only ever had 1 serious boyfriend in my entire life. (it happened in high school) He was a white guy from my home town and he was chubby, like me. However I would now label our relationship as being (for the most part) strictly ’emotional’ and not ‘physical’ I think I hated myself too much back then to go any further with him, I lacked the confidence and I was scared. Unfortunately, I have only been ‘physical’ with guys who I have dated since my boyfriend and I broke up and since I lost the weight- all of them being Korean. Therefore, I think I am just intimidated by “western” guys. I think it’s because I have been rejected by them my entire life so even now I assume that they are just not interested in me. Another reason is that I don’t know the first thing about flirting or being physical with a western guy, I only have experience with Korean and I’m assuming it’s totally different. I have no confidence whatsoever when it comes to western guys but I am completely confident with Korean guys because they have shown interest in me ever since I have shown interest in them and I have never had a problem ‘wooing’ them. Also, I think for some reason I am a bit of a control freak and I feel that a tall bigger western guy, such as C, is so much bigger than me and I feel so small and inferior to them. but with Korean guys; since they are smaller, I feel more in control and on the same level as them. I don’t really know the answer, these are just some thoughts. I am so rusty on the whole dating game and I have never been very successful. I blame it on my social anxiety and my lack of confidence due to constantly being rejected in the past. I guess for C, it was just bad timing because I obviously wasn’t ready to let him in fully. It’s just sad that he had to somewhat suffer because of my selfishness.
Lately, as my time to move to Korea and start a new life quickly approaches, I am just thinking a lot about my life here and what it all means. I am thinking about the friends I have made here and the friends I have lost, I am thinking about regrets and mistakes. I guess that is the normal thing for someone to do who is about to leave their old life behind them and move on to a (hopefully) brighter future on the other side of the world. Honestly, it just came over me randomly tonight as I just realized how much I missed the sound of C’s voice and his laugh that used to make me tingle inside. In fact even as I write this I am desperately wrecking my brains trying to remember that lovely sound. And that’s what brings me here now, writing this. I’m not sure why he crossed my mind tonight, I don’t usually think of him these days as it has been almost 2 years now since I was living with him in that little white house with the bright blue door, and I have not seen him since then. That was a time in my life that was very bitter sweet. I made a lot of mistakes in that little white house but I also made a lot of friends in that house. It was a time of my life where I left the safety of my own home and the sheltered environment my parents provided me with to experience the world on my own for the first time, in the city. I shed a lot of tears during that time but I also grew up a lot and now as I edge closer to a new life, I can’t help but reflect upon my life here during the past few years. I guess I am just trying to make peace with my past before I leave here so that I can truly start new. Hopefully I can find some value in my past experiences and learn from my mistakes as I continue on this journey, after all, no one is perfect!
Btw, if anyone ever reads this lengthy post in the future, thank you and please feel free to share your experiences or leave your input. I would love to hear all about it. The comment button is kind of disguised but it’s on top right of my posts and sort of circle-shaped and has a number inside (the number of comments), just click on it and comment away.
From the moment I received my degree certificate from my convocation, I began the process of gathering my documents for my E-2 Visa so that I can teach English in South Korea. That was about 4 months ago and I am still trying to get everything together in time for the start date (March 1) of the job I have applied for. The job I applied to is at a widely known private franchise called ‘YBM ecc’. I chose YBM not because I have read many good reviews about it, because I really haven’t. In fact if you are searching online for a “Good Hagwon” (private school) the results will turn up slim to none. That is because people like to share their bad experiences on the internet and rant – much like what I am about to do in this post. Sadly, the internet is a medium for complainers to come online and -for a lack of a better term, “piss and moan” about all their problems and bad experiences. Am I saying that there is no weight to their complaints? No of course not, but when you read these reviews take them with a grain of salt, and keep in mind that half of the problem is probably the posters attitude. That’s why despite the complaints made online about YBM and every other hagwon out there, I have decided to go ahead and apply because I know that YBM will at least honor the contract by paying me on time and I also wont have to worry about them going bankrupt and me losing my job randomly. Other complaints to me are not important because first of all I know the reason why I am going to Korea and that is to teach children English, not to party or to take advantage of all the benefits my job will provide, but to take my job seriously and teach. Although I have no prior teaching experience I am confident that I will have a good attitude, act professional and take my job seriously. Even if, heaven forbid, I have to go to work on a scatter Saturday or stay a little later than scheduled.
The YBM website is very organized and they clearly tell you all the steps of the application process. I will copy and paste the entire process for you:
- Send the following documents to the YBM Head Office Attn: Danny Kim (HR Manager) firstname.lastname@example.org
- Your resume with contact email and phone number
- Digital Photo (Does not have to be formal) Please use .jpg format
- State the month you are looking to depart from
- State any cities or specific locations you want to apply for
- YBM head office will contact you after your application has been reviewed. Sponsorship for the teaching visa will require these documents:
- Nationwide background check issued by your gov’t with the apostille certification affixed
- Photocopy of your Bachelors/Masters degree with apostille certification affixed*
- Passport with at least a year or more of validation left
- 5 passport size color photos
- * Canadians must get these 2 documents notarized at the Korean Consulate nearest to them.
- A phone interview will be set up once you have (all/most of) your documents in order.
- When one of our company-owned schools and you mutually agree upon a position, an official contract with the specific school and salary will be sent to you by email directly from the YBM Head office. View our sample contract also posted on this website.
- To confirm and accept the official contract, the applicant would send the required documents directly to the school by FedEx, UPS, DHL or drop them off in person.
For those who live too far to take your documents in, you will have to mail it in using secure express mail.
- Once we have your documents we will apply for the E2 visa with the Korean Immigration Office.
- Once the E2 visa issuance/confirmation # is given out by the Korean Immigration Office it will be emailed to you.
- You will then submit your passport, E2 visa application form, application fee, photo and transcript to the Korean Consulate.
- The final E-2 application process will be completed with the Korean Consulate.
- After receiving the E-2 visa stamp in your passport please inform your school.
As of right now, I am between step 3 and 4. I have already had my phone interview* on December 23 with Danny (YBM HR manager) – *not so much of an interview as it is him selling you the school – and now I am currently waiting on the very last document needed before he can send me a contract: The notarized RCMP background check (If you didn’t know by now, I’m Canadian). This is where my frustration ensues.
First of all, as I said before in my introduction in the “home” section, I live on an isolated island, in an isolated town which is pretty much in the forest. Therefore, resources are very limited. I have to drive an hour away to get any of the documents I need for my application. And, the nearest Korean consulate to me is in another province, therefore, I have to send everything away and wait days and days before I ever hear from them. I first applied for my police check back in October, the same day I received my diploma. The first step was to pick up an application at the police station and fill it out. Then, before moving further, I was told I needed to get a Provincial court check. The nearest court was an hour away so I had to wait until a day when my parents and I had no work. After I drove to get my court check, I gave the court check and application form to my mom and got her to drop off after work (this police station is not in my town, but in the same town my mom works in 15 minutes away from me). Then, when she brought it back they told her: “Oh, we have new forms to fill out now, the one she filled out is wrong so get her to fill this one out instead.” That was kind of annoying but no big deal. This form though needed detailed information about about my employer and job. However, at this point I had not even applied for a job as I was told it was a good idea to start gathering your documents before applying for a job. Therefore, I held onto that form for a little while before handing it to the police station for processing. My plan was to wait until I completed my 120 hour TEFL certificate and had all of my other documents like my notarized degree and transcripts before applying. The end of November was when that happened. I applied to YBM and filled out all the required information on the police check form. However, at this point, Danny was telling me I should get the fingerprint version of the RCMP check. So, I went to the police station the next day and passed in my completed form and got my fingerprints rolled on paper. I asked them how long do they think it would take and they said about 1 week. Three weeks later, I got a call from them to pick it up. Written across it said: “this is not a certified RCMP check as fingerprints are required.” I was very confused about this since I had my fingerprints taken. I then found out that it was a Vulnerable sector check (not at all what I needed) and I was required to send in my fingerprints myself to Ottawa in order to get them processed. This, I was told, would take up to 2 months. By the way, we are now up to late December. My job offer remember starts on March 1. However, I found online that if you get your fingerprints taken electronically, it only takes 3 days to process (in Canada time, this means at least 1 week). Therefore I called and got an appointment asap (a week later) at the nearest police station that has the technology (1 hour away). Anyways, I got the results back on Jan. 9th and on the 10th after work I sent them to the Korean consulate to get it notarized (however, the 10th was on a Friday and mail don’t go out in my town on the weekend so technically Monday is when it sent). I thought it would only take a week until it got back to me because that’s how long it took them to notarize my degree so I was anxiously waiting today for the mail to arrive. However, instead of mail from the Korean consulate, I received a phone call from them telling me that they were going to process my docs today. This means I probably wont get them back in the mail until Thursday at the earliest.
That is why I am so frustrated now 😦 time is ticking! If I want to start my job on March 1 Danny said I will have to be there at least a week before the start date to go to orientation! February only has 28 days so I am freaking out right now! I can’t afford any more mix ups because even if things go 100% smoothly, I will still be pressed for time. As you can see by the application steps, there are still many more steps to go and a lot of them require me to mail out my documents which take a long time!
Anyways, my next step is to upload a pic of my notarized RCMP check to Danny as soon as I get it so he can see I have all my documents and send me a contract. Then, I have to sign it and send it to Korea along with all my other gathered documents. Then, after they receive my docs, they will begin to apply for my E2 visa through the immigration office (I read online that this takes about 5-10 days hopefully in my case it will be 5!) Then they will email my my visa # and I will fill out a visa form and send it as well as my passport, passport sized color photo and transcript to the Korean consulate so they can stamp my passport and send it back to me. Then I will tell my employer and they will book my flight whoooo. I just hope I can make it on time for my job start date, wish me luck!
P.S: Feel free to ask me any question you may have regarding this. Or, share your frustrating experiences with me so I will feel better 😛