Hello, my name is Hilda, some people call me Hils. Back in 2011 I had made the decision to move to Korea to teach English after I had seen multiple job ads about it on my student job board. When I graduated university two years later I did just that. It has been one of the best decisions I have made so far. The people, the food, the sites, I just love. I am originally from Oakville, Ont, Canada (close to Toronto). I am currently living in Dongtan, South Korea (40 min from Seoul). I have two obsessions since being in Korea; Cafes & bubble tea!
1. Why did you move abroad?
There are a few reasons why I moved abroad; First, I really wanted to travel more, especially in Asia because it is so cheap. Second, teaching English abroad sounded like a really fun job to have and a great experience. Last, the pay in Korea is pretty high for someone without an English degree or a TEFL certificate.
2. How do you make a living?
In Korea I am a teacher. I absolutely love it, the kids are so sweet and respectful. I don't think I’ve ever had a really stressful day or a bad day yet (knock on wood). But all the teachers get along, we don't have loads of work to do, no one works weekends. It's been a pretty good first experience for me.
3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
To be honest I am really bad with calling people. I tend to talk to family and friends on whatsapp or on Facebook almost everyday. I don't really use skype because I'm never home. When I do call home I use the magicjack app because it allows you to make free international calls on wifi.
4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in Korea?
My favourite thing about being an expat in Korea is probably all the random acknowledgment. One time I was on the subway in Seoul and a boy about 13 years old bowed at me and I was so surprised and happy. Bowing is a way to show you respect someone. I'll be grocery shopping and I will have parents with their kids bowing at me that I don't even know, but they recognize me from the academy I teach at. I love that kind of stuff it feels good.
5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Korea?
I haven't had any bad experiences yet, but I would just say the language barrier. I suck at learning new languages and its hard to pick up on Korean.
6. What do you miss most?
What I miss most about home is mostly friends and family (my dog). I also miss the simple things like having a drying machine, being able to drive everywhere, people speaking English and like a true Canadian I miss Tim Hortons.
7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
Most of the people I met in Korea are though my school. They are other teachers or part time staff. But I've also met people very randomly. I met one of my friends standing at the front of a crowded bus, we started talking because she spoke English and became friends. I met another one when I decided to go out exploring Seoul solo. We were both out alone and she asked if she could tag alone. Meeting people in Korea is very random for me.
8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
A Korean habit that I find the most strange would be about beauty. Everyone is so obsessed with being beautiful, that is the first thing they look at. I have boys that look in the mirror and fix their hair and check their teeth. Girls do the same thing, then will ask if I think they are beautiful.
9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
Electronics are really cheap!! When I was coming to Korea, so many people asked me to ship smartphones back home. Then I went to a store and actually saw the prices, it's more expensive in Korea than in Canada.
10. Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life?
The cost of living is lower than in Canada. Rent here is very cheap; I think I paid more for my university dorm, even though their probably the same size. Veggies and fruits are on the expensive side, but things like transportation and clothes are on the very cheap side so it balances out.
11. What advice would you give other expats?
Advice I would give to other expats would be to get lost. There has been so many times where I have tried to go somewhere but end up getting lost and find a really nice place to go to. Then my coworkers always ask me how I find these places.
12. When and why did you start your blog?
I started my blog in February 2014 after I came to Korea. I had started a blog a few years before that but it was a lot of work that I didn't realize. So, I started this one so I could document my travels and also so my family and other people could see what I am doing in Korea.
Hilda's blog, Her X Travels
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