I recently filled out an interview for Expats Blog, which can be read here.

Expat Interviews

In case you don't feel like clicking on that link, you're in luck! Because I'm also going to post (some) of it here, plus a little extra that I've added. Between emails from strangers, Facebook messages from acquaintances, and random questions asked in person, here are the main questions I get asked.

Where are you originally from?

Originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma, and I was living in Austin, Texas before moving abroad.

Where do you live now?

Incheon, South Korea.

When did you arrive?
November 19th, 2011.

Are you a teacher?
Yes. I teach at a private academy, or hagwon, teaching students that range from (Korean) elementary grade three through middle school grade three.

Why did you move?
As much as I loved my life back home, I'd been entertaining the idea of teaching English abroad ever since studying Japanese in high school -- where my teacher told us about various programs. After getting laid off from a retail job where I was basically spinning my wheels post-university graduation, I decided to look into teaching. The struggling U.S. economy meant finding a teaching position at home would be difficult, so the timing just felt right to finally go abroad. 

How long are you staying in Korea?
My current contract ends in August of 2014. After that... no idea what I'm doing.

Do you like Korea? 
I love it here. This country is wonderful and every single day I'm extremely happy with my decision to move here. I definitely miss home (though I think it's more the people I miss... and my dog...), but the fact that I am even able to move to the other side of the world and have a great job amazes me. I feel incredibly lucky to have this opportunity, so I'm enjoying it as much as I can.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
Honestly, it was extremely comfortable. This was my first time traveling abroad, so even though I'd lived away from home since starting university and felt extremely self-sufficient, I was anxious. But the transition into life in South Korea was almost effortless -- this is a modern country with nearly everything I would want or need from back home. I was also lucky to be placed at a school with twelve other foreign teachers, many of whom also live in my apartment building. Having support from other expats as soon as I arrived definitely made the first few months of finding my way around much easier.

What advice would you give someone who's moving to Korea?

Research everything. As you're looking into jobs here, especially in the English teaching domain, really, really do your homework. I've been fortunate in my experience with a private academy because it's with one of the larger academy companies in the country, so I wasn't at a great risk of being tricked by shady owners, but that is a thing that happens. That being said, don't believe everything you read online. I found, before coming here, that there are a lot of very negative, bitter people, and the internet is just the tool they need to vent their frustration. Don't take it to heart. There's plenty of positive, yet honest, information out there for you. Contact bloggers. Find a way to e-mail people at the school you're looking into. Get all the information, and keep a good attitude.

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?

  1. Embrace the adventure. Things are going to be strange, crazy, confusing, and wonderful. Just roll with it. If you keep a positive, friendly attitude, you'll be pleased to see how far it gets you. The frustration of a language barrier is softened significantly if you can smile and be patient with the situation.
  2. Let yourself wander and get lost. Exploring for the sake of exploring is rewarding and a great way to get to know a new place. Don't be afraid and remember that most of the time, the worst case scenario is you get lost and you'll have to find someone to help you. Which really isn't so bad.
  3. Don't be afraid to try new things. This means foods, tourist trips, participating in public events or festivals -- anything. Can't tell what that is on your plate? Take a bite. See a cool tourist trip but don't have anyone to go with? Go alone, you'll make friends. Are you being singled out at a festival as the only foreigner in the immediate vicinity? Smile, laugh, enjoy it, and get some great pictures.
  4. Learn about the culture. I found my culture shock was softened greatly by having a decent amount of knowledge about Asian customs, manners, food, etc. That being said, I still read up on Korea in particular. Other blogs were the biggest help, actually, especially ones by other ESL teachers. They gave me a good idea of what to expect as a teacher.
  5. Again, do your research about any potential jobs or places you would live. Find all the information you can, so you can make informed decisions. Don't be afraid to be a little assertive (especially if dealing with a recruiter) -- make sure you get all of your questions answered before making a commitment to a job.

Do you have any more questions? Leave them below in the comments or feel free to click on my "Contact" page for info on how to get in touch with me! 


  1. your blog is super awesome! my fiance and i are planning on moving to south korea (ochang/cheongju) in a month. we are so excited and counting down the days. maybe we'll see you there!
    if you want to follow along with our adventures, you can check out our blog, too, at http://korearomps.wordpress.com/
    (: --traci

    1. thanks! you guys are going to love korea, seriously so great. i've adding your blog to my feedly reader feed so i can keep tabs on your adventure! i love reading other korea expat blogs. :)


  2. I'm really happy to have found your blog! You post such interesting, helpful posts with beautiful pictures that it makes your blog a pleasure to read. It's great that I have gotten me some hints what to do here! I hope you're still enjoying South Korea if you're here and I wish you good luck!

    1. Thank you so much! That's really kind of you to say -- and I'm glad I could be helpful! Enjoy Korea! Best of luck to you too!