18 months in Korea … The Highs & The Lows


A week ago, I hit my 18 month milestone of living and working in South Korea. This is officially the longest I’ve ever lived abroad and it kind of blows my mind.

I look back on my 17 months in Mexico and have hundreds of memories that seem to span such a wide space of time. When I think back over the last 18 months here, it’s hard to conjure up anything that doesn’t revolve around the mundane, everyday routine.

Life in Mexico was just like the city I lived in – Fast, impulsive, and wild.

Life here is exactly like my rural surroundings – Slow, relaxed, and a little dull.

But that’s okay. This is a small pocket of time in a long life full of adventures. I’m fine with slowing down for now and being a little boring. My financial responsibilities come first and foremost. Once I’ve dealt with them, I can carry on to the next adventure and get back to the old recklessness.

Life has its ups and downs here but I’ll never stop being grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given.

And, like any good look-back post, I’ve gathered together some of the best and worst moments from the last 18 months.

Let’s get the bad ones out of the way first.


+ Getting THAT News

I never experienced a “honeymoon period” of life in Korea thanks to the news I received during my first few days.

Even though it was only 24 hours later that I was given the all clear and told that the hospital had royally fucked up, this affected me more than it probably should have.

It left me kind of shell-shocked and in constant fear that maybe the original results had been right all along. Even now I’m still too terrified to get a gynecologist here and go for the regular checkups us ladies need.

Stupid, right?

But it is something I’m working on trying to get over.

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Eating All the Japanglish

One of my favourite things about my trip to Japan was the amount of Japanglish – Japanese English – that kept creeping up everywhere.

Don’t get me wrong -Korea has it’s fair share of Konglish …

Best. T-shirt. EVER. #Konglish #Korea

A photo posted by Ceri (@ceripadley) on


But what I loved about Japanglish is that it only ever seemed to crop up on menus, showcasing some of the most incredible sounding cuisine Japan had to offer.

Don't give me egg unless it has feelings.

Don’t give me egg unless it has feelings.

This just sounds so appetising, doesn't it?

This just sounds so appetising, doesn’t it?

Not so vegan anymore.

Not so vegan anymore.

And this is probably my favourite …


Short Lib. That’s a common mistake in this part of the world.

Tongue with green onion and 6 kinds of Intestines, Oh, Japan, stop! You’re making my vegetarian mouth water. It’s not Japanglish but it still made me giggle.

I’m so curious about what the 6 kinds of intestines are. Do you think they come from 6 different animals? Pig, cow, sheep, … chicken? Fish? I should have looked into it more.

And tongue? Eesh. I know I’m single but I’m not that desperate yet.


Temple & Shrine Hopping in Kyoto

What can I say about my week long holiday in Kyoto that won’t make me sound like a complete Japanophile creep?

Nothing. That’s what.

loved Japan. Everything made me smile: The architecture, the food, the people, the places, the weather, the music. I’m officially happy to be a Japanophile (I didn’t even know that was a real word) for the foreseeable future.

Or, at least, a Kyotophile.

I mean, I’m not claiming to be an expert here; I only spent a week in Kyoto. There were 2 days in Osaka tacked onto the end but, unfortunately, a huge typhoon hit so we spent our last afternoon having a quick nose around the downtown area and then grabbing some sushi and sake to enjoy in our ryokan-style hotel.


The world's coolest looking jewelry shop.

The world’s coolest looking jewelry shop.


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Tour of my Korean Apartment

I’ve been living in the same place for almost 18 months now and have been putting off doing one of these for what feels like forever.

Even though there are probably a thousand “apartment tour” videos on Youtube of teachers and expats showing off their Korean digs, I still thought it might be fun to throw my own into the mix. (Especially when I posted a shot of my apartment on Instagram last summer and everyone who had lived in Korea before seemed to freak out over the size of it.)

Unlike a lot of the studio apartments that teachers get assigned when they move here, I am actually lucky enough to live alone in a 2-bedroom place.

I love the space I have here. At first it seemed way too big for just one person. (Especially as my mind likes to play tricks on me at night. I’m serious – For the first 3 weeks here, I had to sleep with the living room lights on.) But now I’m used to it and it feels like home.

Sorry about the length of the video and sorry about the ridiculously heavy breathing and sniffing – My Asthma’s been playing up something awful this weekend.

Enjoy! (*snort*)

My Favourite Vegetarian Korean Food

Woohoo! A food post!

How long has it been since I did a food post? Maybe 2 years? Eek!

Korea is a nation of meat lovers. Meat and fish are in everything. In fact, in some areas, people look at you as though you’ve just escaped from the local loony bin if you dare to order something “without the meat.”

It’s a good thing I moved here, right?

One of my co-teachers loves to talk about how good certain meals in this country are and that “when I decide to eat meat again,” I’ll be able to enjoy it too.

Bless her.

I’ve been a vegetarian for 12 years now. I don’t really see this as a passing faze, as much as my colleagues like to insist it is.

But living in a place full of meaty meals isn’t a new experience for me. Like Korea, Mexico’s food was very meat-heavy. And I managed to survive that. :D

At first, moving to a country that doesn’t really cater for your diet can feel quite daunting. If you’re anything like me, you even start to feel like you’re missing out on a huge part of the culture when it seems like you can’t eat anything but flavourless, white rice for every meal.

But, over time, when you start getting a bit more confident in your new setting and feel brave enough to try out phrases in the local language, you start to discover that there’re a lot more things for you to enjoy as a hippie-dippie herbivore.

Here are my favourites:

떡볶이 / Ddeokbokki


This comes at the top of the list.

Oooooh, I love ddeokbokki. I’m not sure if it’s the healthiest thing in the world but it’s, by far, my absolute favourite Korean food.

It’s pretty much a street food but you can buy the ingredients in supermarkets to make at home. In the simplest form, it’s rice cakes and 고추장/gochujang (sweet chili sauce). On the streets, you’ll probably find fish added in.

There’s a place downtown in Naju that does it rabokki-style (ddeokbokki and ramen) where you can cook a big pot at the table yourself and add loads of different types of vegetables and tofu in with them too.

A lot of the ddeokbokki at the street vendors I’ve seen just serve plain ddeok (rice cakes) but I have tasted ddeokbokki with cheese-stuffed and sweet potato-stuffed rice cakes. Mmmmmmm. Perfection!

(I buy and make the cheese-stuffed ddeokbokki at home because, let’s be honest, cheese makes everything ten times better.)

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Teaching in Korea vs Teaching in Mexico (Part 2)


(This post is part 2 of my two-part series on teaching English in Korea and Mexico. Part 1 focused on the differences between the students. This part will focus more on my role, my responsibilities, and the working cultures.)

I like being a teacher. I really do.

While I can’t deny that I originally did a teaching course to fund my travels, I quickly discovered that it’s something I really enjoy doing. I get a kick out of it and I love working hard at something I’m passionate about.

Being a teacher for a language school in Mexico City and a high school in Korea are two very different things though. Where do I even start?

Schedule – Mexico

It’s been two years since I worked at the school in D.F. so I don’t have exact copies of my timetable any more but this is generally how it went:

Work started at 7am. I’d leave my house at around 6am (sometimes a little earlier) to travel across the city to a large office building. That first class – held in a meeting room – would usually run from 7am-9am. Perfect timing for students to get in a bit of learning before work started.

Most of them would come in with coffee cups and a little something for breakfast but I don’t ever remember them looking too tired for class.

There were some beautiful sunrises and views from the windows of those early morning classes.


After class, I’d head home to work on something for their next class (usually in the next 2 days).

Somewhere between 11am-midday, I’d leave my house and head out to another office across the city. These lessons would run somewhere between 1.5-2 hours (depending on how long the students had for lunch). That’s right – they’d use their lunch break to go to English class.

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A Weekend of Pride


By now, most people will have heard the incredible news that broke the other week: Gay marriage is now legal in all 50 states of the USA.

This news is groundbreaking.

Groundbreaking because we’re talking about a country that is one of the most influential in the world.

And while this is hardly an end to a huge battle, it’s a start. It’s not the biggest issue the LGBT community face but anything that can turn the focus on fights for human rights is always a positive.

I feel that the West is reaching a new wave of change. The internet is bringing everyone together to discuss and learn about the issues that are happening in unreported places. The world is finally waking up to how racist society still is. How homophobic. How sexist. How archaic. And younger generations – those that have been raised with as much information as they want at their fingertips – are not happy about it.

The internet and social media is bringing together a lot of truth from around the world. Truth that is still covered up by the press but talked about openly online.

That weekend I saw the world come together to celebrate a moment of change for one corner of the world.


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