Some years ago, I made a big decision to apply to teach English in Korea meaning that if I was accepted I would be moving to South Korea by myself for a year. Before this, I had travelled abroad with my family before and even lived abroad as a teenager but I had never really explored on my own or really travelled to explore a place intentionally.
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Landing in South Korea
I remember vividly landing at Incheon airport by myself where I was meant to meet a new fellow teacher that I had met on Facebook. We had booked a hotel to stay in together on our first night, but her flight was delayed so I was on my own. My Korean was very basic and I was by myself, so I had to figure out how to get my airport shuttle from the airport to my hotel. A few hours after landing I made it to my hotel and I was very thankful and excited about the new adventure I was embarking on.
Ulsan: My Home For a Year
I lived in Ulsan, a city three hours away from Seoul by train. Ulsan is a seaside metropolitan city in the south east of Korea. It is also South Korea’s seventh largest metropolitan city and is famous as an industrial city.
My apartment was around 25 minutes away from Ilsan beach. It was my first time living in a beach area and it made me realise that I loved living in smaller seaside cities. I was able to explore the city of Ulsan throughout my time there and I enjoyed the relaxed vibes. While Ulsan is one of the smaller cities and is probably not the most popular to visit in comparison to Seoul, Busan, Daegu and others. It definitely has its gems such as Daewangam Park, Mount Gaji, Taewhagang Bamboo Park, Ganjeolgot, Paraeso Waterfall and more.
Travelling in South Korea
Living in South Korea allowed me to appreciate the culture in an immersive way. On a daily basis I observed and was involved with the culture such as learning how to greet people in different contexts, taking off my shoes inside, learning the Korean language, trying Korean food and generally learning about cultural aspects in Korea. Korea has a rich culture to explore as well as lovely sights and a great transport system that allows you to travel all across the country easily.
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Living in Ulsan and not Seoul taught me that South Korea is more than Seoul. While Seoul is great, I learnt that there are many more places to visit outside of the capital city. I had the privilege of visiting Geoje during cherry blossom season in April, which was absolutely beautiful. I travelled down to Jindo Island for the sea parting festival, where the sea parts once a year. I was able to regularly visit Busan my favourite city in Korea due to its close proximity to Ulsan. Busan is a popular summer holiday city because of its beaches such as Haeundae and Gwangalli Beach, which are beautiful.
As well as Busan I had the chance to visit learn more about Korean history and visit Gyeongju. Taking a trip to Jeonju Hanok Village allowed me to visit a popular cultural location in Korea, that replicates a traditional Korean village. I visited Seoul multiple times, I loved places such as Myeongdong to try street food, N- Tower to see the Seoul skyline, Hongdae to shop for clothes and many other places as there is so much to do in Seoul. I also visited Daegu regularly to get my hair braided as well as explore the town. There are so many other places I would love to explore such as Gwangju, Jeju Island, Incheon and more which I hope to visit on my next trip to South Korea.
The Impact of Living and Travelling in Korea
Moving to Korea was the first time I moved abroad solo and was the first time I had really explored a country in the way that I did. Whilst living in the UK I did not explore much, but I can say I fell in love with travel when moving to South Korea because it gave me a different mindset towards to travel. I had the opportunity to experience a new culture, meet new people and travel around different cities in the country which impacted me greatly.
I loved travelling in Korea because I was able to experience new things that I had not seen before like 24 hour convenience stores, having Kimchi with almost every meal or trying to learn a new language in the country of origin. My experience of living and travelling in Korea overall lead to the beginning of my travel and lifestyle of blog you are on. Since then I have visited multiple countries in Asia, Europe and Africa and that love for travel was fuelled in Korea.
Overall moving to South Korea helped me to see in the beauty in the country and travel in general. South Korea is simply a great place to travel around whether you are visiting Seoul or Jeju Island. If you are looking for culture, good food, reliable transport, beaches, mountains, busy cities and more, South Korea has all those things for a wonderful visit!
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