“I am here!” — Korea was not what I expected…

The thing about abandoning everything and living in a foreign country where all aspects of it — language, culture, custom, are unfamiliar, is shocking easy. Back in 2010, I was a newly grad fresh out of college who didn’t want her fun to end, and my decision to work in Korea was a no- brainer. With my airfares and apartment paid for, I figured that the year abroad would be a party.

It was, in a way, but it was definitely not what I had expected.

"Hello, I am Sherry Teacher." A year at all-girl, Seguro Fashion High School

“Hello, I am Sherry Teacher”

I had envisioned myself teaching at an all boys high school in the heart of Seoul, sort of a teacher by day, glam girl by night kind of deal. In reality, I taught ALL-GIRLS high school and lived in SSangmun, a suburb that has more traditional rice cake (떡) shops than bars. Another aspect that I had failed to taken into consideration was: “Koreans speak Korean, not English.” Now this may seem obvious, but I had honestly believed that because Seoul is an international metropolis, I could survive with just “안녕하세요” (“Hello”).

Arrival: my empty fridge looked quite depressing with only apples and face masks, "Mom~~~~"

Arrival: my empty fridge looked quite depressing with only apples and face masks, “Mom~~~~”

I arrived in Korea mid-August for orientation. The one-week orientation was more like a vacation, although we had mandatory lessons, we were just a group of kids from all over the world who wanted to see the world. We were young, enthusiastic, spoke English, and always ready for a little bit of fun. The fact that I was alone in Korea did not dawn on me until post-orientation.

I was picked up by my co-teacher who dropped me off at my apartment and left. No dinner, no pillow, no blanket, no cell phone, no internet, I couldn’t even boil water for instant noodle (it was a gas stove, so you have to turn on gas before a fire could be lit). As I bit into an apple, I realized that I have no families nor friends that I could call for help, and even if I had wanted to, I had no means of contacting any of them. 

My desolation, thankfully, ended the next day after I purchased pillow and blanket. First step, bed. Next step, cell phone and internet.

EPIK t-shirt, signed with love (fighting sherry!)

EPIK t-shirt, signed with love (fighting sherry!)

아자 아자 화이팅 Sherry!!! (“aja aja fighting”, Korean for encouragement, similar to “go go go”.)

READ about “Things you need to know before you visit” 


Leave a Reply