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South Korea Winter Packing Tips

10 Useful Things To Pack For Winter In South Korea

South Korea has a lot of things to do during the Winter.  Whether you visit tourist attractions like the Garden of Morning Calm, La Petite France or Christmas shopping in Myeongdong.  If you’re visiting South Korea more than likely your stay will be a week or longer.

I have compiled a list of useful things to pack for winter weather in South Korea, so you don’t have to purchase these items during your stay.  Check out this South Korea packing list and see which items if not all will be useful to you.

If you’re going to South Korea check out my 10 Websites and Apps for Visitors to South Korea post.

  1. Long Insulated Winter Coat – Most city attractions are outside.  Which means that you will be susceptible to the elements. Having a warm coat that keeps away the wind will help you enjoy your time spent outdoors.
  2. Water Resistant Winter Boots – You can wake up in the morning to snow or it may have snowed the night before.  If you’re from the West Coast (California girl) then you’re not familiar with slippery streets and sidewalks.  Purchasing a pair of winter boots not only will keep your feet warm, but also dry.
  3. Universal Power Adapter (120 to 220 volts) – Choose an adapter that has multiple detachments as the power source can vary depending on your accommodations.
  4. Clothes (Hats, Mittens, Pajamas, and Leggings) – Choosing clothes that are flannel, long-sleeve, and insulate: this will assist with layering versatility and comfort.
  5. Hand Soap – Some of the bathrooms in Korea have soap on a stick as the only options for hand soap.  Bring your own if you’re conscious of germs and don’t want to use the public option.
  6. Backpack – I have included this option because the most popular method of transportation is subway travel.  Not only will you be walking up and down stairs, but you will also be in crowded and confined spaces. The best place to keep your belongings (camera, laptop, passport, etc.) safe and secure is in a zipped compartment.
  7. Laundry Bag – This is handy to keep your dirty clothes separate from your clean clothes.  In addition, if your hotel accommodations have a laundry room then it’s easier to carry than a suitcase.
  8. Hanging Travel Accessories Bag – Keep your personal items all in one easy and convenient location.  *Free of clutter and save space on your desk, nightstand or bathroom sink.
  9. Sturdy travel umbrella – The wind and the rain can really be fierce during the winter in South Korea having a sturdy umbrella helps with the elements.
  10. Medicine – I have been told that medicine in Korea is fairly inexpensive.  However, bringing your own antacids, allergy medicine, and prescriptions will save you the trouble of trying to figure out the correct dosage and usage.  *Most medicine at the local convenience store may be written in Hangul without English translations.

Have any winter packing tips to add?  Let me know in the comments!

If you like this post check out similar posts on:

  1. South Korea’s Top Attractions
  2. How To Stay Warm During Winter In South Korea
  3. Christmas Alone Abroad
  4. New Year’s In Seoul, South Korea
  5. Travel Tips: How To Avoid Long Lines And Stay Safe ​
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Downtown Santa Monica: Shopping, Food, ​And Fun

Downtown Santa Monica Shopping, Food and Fun

3rd Street Promenade & The Santa Monica Pier

I want to cover Downtown Santa Monica for anyone who has plans to come to L.A. for the first time.  A popular tourist attraction during the summer months especially if California is experiencing good weather.  Here are my helpful tips for visiting Santa Monica from a locals point of view.

Downtown Santa Monica

Activity ~ All Day

Cash/Card ~ Major credit cards are accepted at most business establishments.  Although, I would bring cash for the street vendors selling food and costume jewelry.

All Major Banks ~ HSBC, Bank Of America, Wells Fargo, Citibank, and Chase Bank

Population ~ Be aware that mixed within all of the locals and tourist you will see homeless individuals.  I’ve never seen an incident or any disturbances in the homeless population. In addition, there are always police patrolling the area.

Winter Activity ~ Outdoor Ice Skating rink (begins in early November)

Items To Bring:

  1. Bottled Water
  2. Umbrella, hat, sunblock (summer)
  3. Bathroom tissue
  4. Hand Sanitizer

Downtown Santa Monica Shopping, Food and Fun

Things To Do


Furniture Stores: CB2 (Crate and Barrel), Pottery Barn, and West Elm.

Clothing: Major Department Stores include Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, Barney’s New York Co-op, J Crew, Banana Republic, and Anthropologie.

Budget-friendly stores include Old Navy, TJ Maxx, and H&M.

Major Makeup Retailers include Mac, Sephora, and The Body Shop.

Shoes: Nike, Van’s and Skechers, and Michael Kors.

Pop-Ups Stores

Be on the lookout for pop up shops.  Because this is such a busy location with a lot of locals and foreigners visiting the area you can always find the unexpected.  Recently, when I visited the location Nestle Quick was celebrating their 70th Anniversary. They celebrated with a pop-up shop that offered games, prizes and a cup of Nestle Milk.

Shopping Tip: Wear comfortable shoes because you will be doing a lot of walking and standing for long stretches.  There are so many more stores that I don’t have listed, these are only some of my favorites to visit.


Lime (Electric Scooters and Bikes)

Rent scooters to get around faster and save money on rideshares.  The price begins at $1 and consist of downloading a mobile application.  To find out more information on their website here.

Bird (Electric Scooters)

Electric vehicle sharing, you will see these scooters on major streets and near popular stores.  Their pricing also begins at $1 and consists of downloading an app to pay for your rental services.  To find out more information about the Bird company check out their website here.

Metro Rail ~ Best Option

Expo Line to Santa Monica metro runs from Downtown L.A to Santa Monica.  The last stop on the line goes directly to Downtown Santa Monica.  To find out more about the metro fees visit L.A. Metro.


There’s a driver service available if you’re also looking for ridesharing options.  Be aware that the prices may be higher since you’re traveling to an area with a lot of traffic congestion during the weekend.


Metered Parking

There’s metered parking available that allows you to park for three hours.  However, they’re only a few spaces available. Parking enforcement is widespread so be aware of the time you park.

Street Parking

Street parking is not available in the immediate area.  If you’re looking for free spaces plan to walk several blocks because you will have to park near the residential area.  Don’t forget to read the street signs because most of the area requires a permit to park.

Garage Self Parking

Garage parking is available, you get the first 90 minutes free and then pay an hourly rate thereafter.


Although, this may seem really weird there are not a lot of public restrooms.  The main public restroom is located inside the food court. If you’re not close to the food court be sure to check for a restroom as you’re leaving your parking structure and visiting a restaurant.  In addition, there are bathrooms located inside most major department stores.

Places To Eat

There’s a wide selection of food choices available if you want to dine-in or you can choose your food to go.  Check out the City of Santa Monica website here.

Summertime favorite: Recently, I went to the Lemonade restaurant to grab lunch.  They have friendly customer service with a reasonably priced menu and offer an indoor/outdoor seating area.

Downtown Santa Monica, Leomande restaurant

I ordered their Backyard BBQ Brisket bowl with mashed potatoes, topped with corn and sweet potatoes.  To wash it all down I choose a frozen pink Lemonade and a chocolate chip cookie for dessert.  I can honestly say the meal was very flavorful and good portion size.

Downtown Santa Monica, Lemonade, Backyard BBQ brisket bowl

Lemonade is located at 301 Arizona Ave., 3rd Street Promenade Santa Monica, CA 90401.  For more information visit Lemonade L.A. for store locations and pricing.

Food Trucks

If you’re looking for food trucks they’re located on Ocean Avenue.  They’re always changing so you can’t determine the selection beforehand.  Tip: If you want to learn more about L.A. famous food trucks check out Roaming Hunger website.


Santa Monica Stairs

Stair level access allows you to walk to the Santa Monica Pier and a closer view of the Ocean.  There are several wooden stairs that lead down to the ocean located on Ocean Ave.

My two favorite locations are on Arizona/Ocean Ave and Ocean Park Blvd./Ocean Ave. Tip: Be aware this is a frequent workout destination so the area can get busy in the early morning and late afternoon.  In addition, both stairs have a lot of steps so it’s not for the faint at heart.

Check out the City Of Santa Monica website for beach activities and attractions information.

Beach Activities

If you prefer to walk on the beach there’s a walking path and a biking path.  The path stretches more than three miles and you can walk from Will Rogers State Beach to Venice Beach.

Downtown Santa Monica Shopping, Food and Fun

Don’t forget your blanket, umbrella, and snacks before you go.  Although, there are independent vendors selling on the beach there prices are on the expensive side.

In addition to riding bikes/walking, you can also play volleyball.

Santa Monica Pier

If you don’t want to get wet and have to worry about rinsing off sea water than you can go to the Santa Monica Pier.   Enjoy the rides (rollercoaster and carousel), free walking tour, games (Playland Arcade), and sweet desserts.

The Santa Monica Pier is a perfect place for a date night with restaurants such as the Bubba Gump Shrimp company and The Albright.

To find out more information on the food, fun, and events held at the Santa Monica Pier check out their website.

Things are just some of the things that you can do while visiting Downtown Santa Monica.  I didn’t mention the movie theaters, comedy clubs, or late night activities.

If you like this post check out related stories on:

  1.  Long Beach Aquarium Of The Pacific Experience
  2. Downtown Los Angeles: Gentle Monster And Sightseeing
  3. San Francisco Self-Guided Walking Tour
  4. 24 Hours in L.A.’s Koreatown
  5. The 7 Best Breakfast Eateries Around L.A.

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Downtown Santa Monica


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Long Beach Aquarium Of The Pacific Experience

Aquarium of the Pacific Entrance

Conservation & Fun Activities

The heatwave is on in California and I like everyone else searching for ways to beat the heat.  Usually, I avoid tourist areas during peak periods because of the crowds and traffic congestion.  However, I made an exception to the rule, and my family and I decided to go to the Long Beach Aquarium Of The Pacific.

Long Beach Aquarium Of The Pacific

The aquarium is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.  Their mission: “Instill a sense of wonder, respect, and stewardship for the Pacific Ocean, it’s inhabitants, and ecosystems.”  I believe this goal will help conserve the ocean inhabitants for year’s to come.  The aquarium is centrally located near the Long Beach/Los Angeles harbor so it provides a cooling saltwater breeze.

Long Beach Aquarium Of The Pacific Experience, Entrance

After parking, we made our way over to the aquarium and were greeted by jazz music playing.  We prepaid for our admission so we were able to go over to a small kiosk to print our tickets without waiting in line.

Currently, the front of the building is under construction.  They’re building a new front wing called Pacific Visions that will not be completed until next year.  Immediately, to the left of the main entrance is a marine-themed gift store.  We decided to visit the gift store last so that we wouldn’t have to carry our souvenirs around all day.  * A lesson learned if you’ve ever visited Disneyland.

1st Floor – Great Hall Of The Pacific

The first exhibit we visited was the Southern California Baja Gallery.  A floor to ceiling viewing area allows you to see some of the largest fish and kelp inside the aquarium.

Helpful tip: Be prepared to spend extra time at each viewing to make room for people who take pictures.  Additionally, if you walk to the middle or the end of a viewing area it’s usually less crowded and you’re able to get better photos.

Harbor Seal Pup Exhibit

Next, we went past the harbor seal pup exhibit.  The seals swam by so fast that it was really hard to get a good picture.  However, their fast-paced movement and noises excited the young children who stood in awe at their agility.  We moved outside to continue viewing the seals and sea lions. The hot air was slightly relieved by an outdoor water mister.

Lorikeet Forest

There were food stalls selling water, and other beverages, however, the price was a little too expensive so we decided to visit the bird forest.  According to the brochure the forest opened in 2001 and is part of a conservation breeding program.  The program assists the Lorikeets as they’re on the endangered species list.

Shark Lagoon

Sharks and stingrays swam around the lagoon as a tour guide explained the different species.  Although there was a very large stingray inside the lagoon most visitors focused on the shark.  It’s nice to know that I’m not the only person who is still affected by the movie Jaws.

The hot weather was becoming unbearable again so we skipped the moon jellies touching exhibit and went back inside.  *Fun fact: Throughout the aquarium, there are several learning stations for children to complete activities in conservation and ways to reduce plastic pollution.

Second Floor

On the second floor, we were able to clearly see the giant blue whale display that spans halfway across the ceiling.  An impromptu video began and the lights were darkened as a video on the conservation efforts of the aquarium began to play.

Cafe Scuba

To keep our energy going we decided to grab a bite to eat.  We choose the chili-cheese french fries and a drink which cost more than seventeen dollars.  Cafe Scuba has both indoor and outdoor seating area so it’s perfect for whatever season.

Long Beach Aquarium Of The Pacific Experience, Cafe Scuba
Cafe Scuba

We joined other families and couples as they munched on their snack favorites.  *Most popular item seemed to be the chicken strips and french fries.

After a brief rest, we went into the Tropical Pacific Gallery exhibit.  Home to more than 500 animals the tropical reef contains more than 350,000 gallons of seawater.  Coral colonies, frogs, seahorses, and fish were all so beautifully colored it almost seemed like a painting.

Coral Reef, Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach
Long Beach Aquarium Of The Pacific Experience

Finally, before leaving the aquarium we went into the gift store and purchased a colorful children’s book with pictures of various marine animals.  *Don’t forget to validate your parking ticket before leaving the aquarium.

The Long Beach Aquarium Of The Pacific is located at 100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach, CA 90802.  General admission is $29.95 (adult) and $17.95 ( for children ages 3-11 ), and parking costs $8 dollars for an all-day flat rate.

*Be sure to check AAA and Costco for discount savings if you plan on visiting multiple attractions.  To obtain more information on the Aquarium Of Pacific check out their website.

Nearby Excursions

Within walking distance of the aquarium, there are two different boat tours.  The harbor boat tour is $15 dollars and lasts for forty-five minutes and tours the Long Beach/L.A. harbor.  In addition, there’s also a whale watching tour where you can go out to the Pacific Ocean and look for whales, dolphins, and sea lions.

The Queen Mary

Prone to motion sickness than there’s also the Queen Mary nearby.  Currently, the Queen has a Diana: Legacy Of The Princess exhibit on display.  For more information on the Queen Mary check out their website.

Pike Outlets Mall

Pike outdoor shopping mall and restaurants are located adjacent to the Aquarium.  In front of the mall, there’s a Ferris Wheel and a bungee trampoline ($12 cash only) for outdoor fun.  For hours of operation and more information check out the Pike Outlets Mall website.

Parker’s Lighthouse

Looking to enjoy a romantic dinner; consider the restaurant located inside Parker’s Lighthouse.  Find more information on the menu and hours of operation check out Parker’s Lighthouse website.

If you enjoyed this post check out similar posts:

  1.  The 7 Best Breakfast Eateries Around L.A
  2.  Downtown Los Angeles: Gentle Monster And Sightseeing
  3. San Francisco Self-Guided Walking Tour
  4. Downtown Santa Monica: Shopping, Food, And Fun
  5. Apple Picking and Farm Activities

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American Misconceptions About Living In South Korea

American Misconceptions About Living In South Korea

Expat Life In South Korea

After arriving in South Korea there are always expats who are disappointed and want to go back home.  Usually, there are several reasons why they want to return home after such a short time living abroad.

I want to write this post not about whether you should apply to become a teacher or study abroad in South Korea.  I want to write about the myths of moving abroad.  My hope is that this will help form realistic expectations before the next adventurist takes the leap and travels to South Korea.  Who knows maybe you’re like me and you leap before you look or maybe you’re the exact opposite.

These are some of the myths I believed before I moved to South Korea and I frequently see posted on social media forums.

City Life vs. Rural

The city of Seoul is a very large city.  That being said, living outside of Seoul is a very different atmosphere.  A lot of places have been referred to as being rural with a lot of farmland.  If you’re the type of person who loves a bustling nightlife and participating in a lot of activities you might want to really be sure that you’re willing to live anywhere in South Korea.

You don’t want to be the person who waits for the weekend to travel to Seoul and hates every Monday because they have to return to work.  It may sound harsh, but I have seen more than one post about this issue.

I believe a good way to accurately gauge your travel tolerance levels is to use your current location.  Another city I love to visit is San Diego, California.  That’s about two hours away from where I currently live.  I love to travel to San Diego, but not when there is a ton of traffic.

I have heard news reports of it taking four hours to travel from Los Angeles to San Diego on a Friday afternoon.  I also don’t like to travel long distances when it’s a holiday or on the rare occasion when it’s raining in California.

Be specific about where you want to live whether it’s in a big city like Seoul, a coastal city like Busan, or in a rural area.

K-pop Celebrities

The next myth I want to discuss is something if I’m being totally honest I’m also guilty of having this expectation.  I thought going to South Korea was going to be like in those K-pop music videos.

I thought that I would get off the plane and would see all of these Hallyu wave celebrities and it would be so exciting.  The reality is you have to go to specific locations to see those celebrities i.e. recording studios, nearby convenience stores close to the YG building, etc.

I don’t condemn anyone who wants to travel to South Korea to see their favorite artist.  There are thousands of people who come to Los Angeles, California every year for that very reason, that and the sunshine.  The only problem with this expectation is that if you don’t have any other reasons for wanting to visit South Korea you will be disappointed.

I’ve heard that fans wait outside these buildings all day during the weekend waiting to see their favorite artist.  After you’ve stood outside and on the rare occasion you get lucky and see the artist.  Then what?  The total time from their car service to the door is between two to five minutes.  I’m being generous with the five minutes that’s including a customary bow and polite greeting.

I’m sure every artist appreciates their loyal fans, but we can’t forget they’re going to work.  They don’t have a lot of extra time between promotional schedules to stop and spend time with their fans.  I never stood outside a building or attended a fan meeting when I lived in South Korea, however one day I will have to share the story of my visit inside a popular celebrities house when I traveled to Santa Barbara, California.

Who knows maybe you will be pleasantly surprised and have a memorable fan encounter, but if you don’t have other places you want to visit within South Korea you will want to return home sooner rather than later.  There is so much more to do in Korea such as mountain retreats, island tours and visiting historical sites.

Credit Cards

A lot of people want to know if they will be able to use their credit cards in South Korea.  Before I moved to South Korea I considered going to Koreatown and opening up a bank account with Woori Bank.  That’s until I discovered that my local bank branch here in California also has an office in South Korea.

The worry was replaced with knowing I could call a local number in South Korea and speak to someone if there was ever an emergency.  Tip: If you’re like me and you don’t want to travel to your nearest branch you can visit any bank branch that has a Global Atm and withdraw Korean Won.  Please be aware there’s a small transaction fee, however because of the currency exchange (the U.S. to Korean Won) I still saved money.

Greeting Other Foreigners

Depending on the country where you’re from you may be used to politely greeting someone as you walk past.  It’s customary in California that if I see another African American person, regardless if I know them or not, I smile and say a polite greeting.

With research on customs in South Korea, I was aware that Koreans don’t follow this custom so I didn’t have any expectations with them.  However, I didn’t expect this would also be the case for other foreigners in South Korea.  I assumed since we shared one common goal (both being foreigners in South Korea) there would be an immediate bond.

I soon figured out that just because a person is from another country doesn’t mean they want to hear your life story about why you came to South Korea on a subway ride home.

Changed Behavior

The next myth that I frequently see people ask questions is the belief that they will immediately experience personal growth.  Maybe it’s because we’ve read the book Eat, Pray, Love.  Except the location is changed from Italy to South Korea.

I have mentioned before that I had the belief that I wouldn’t eat any fast food once I arrived in Korea.  When in fact the first place I grabbed a bite to eat was at Starbucks.

Yes, you should try new restaurants and eat out as much as your budget can afford.  However, know that every once in a while you will miss the comforts of home and you will look for the familiar.  That’s okay, there’s always tomorrow to go try Kimchi Jjigae.


You can expect at some point that you will feel homesick.  At some point, you will miss your family and the comforts of home.  However, getting into the rut of always comparing South Korea to another country is a disservice to both you and Korea.

Eventually, change will occur, with your interactions with people on the subway, grocery store shopping and making friends from all over the world.  Somehow, slowly you will change, however, don’t expect this fresh off the boat, train or airplane. The jet lag alone took me almost a week to remedy.

Final Thoughts

This is only my experience on the myths people believe about living in South Korea.  I believe if you are willing to try new things, you will find your own home away from home.  Whether it’s standing in front of KBS studios, busking at Hongdae or visiting Seoul Metropolitan Museum, I hope that whatever your travel plans you have an amazing adventure.

If you like this posts check out my other stories:

Would love to hear your comments below on some misconceptions about life abroad in South East Asia.

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Common misconceptions about Living In South Korea!

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Startup Visa Intellectual Property Rights Presentations

Gentle Monster, Los Angeles, CA, Korean Eyewear Brand

Intellectual Property Rights Presentation

After completing the Oasis Four class I was sent an email alerting me to the upcoming Oasis-One class.  The class consisted of a two-hour orientation that would be held on Friday, May 12, 2017, and two weekend classes that would be held from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. the following Saturday and Sunday.

I submitted my application on the Korea Invention Promotion Association website along with the necessary identification requirements.  On the first night of class, I got lost trying to find the correct subway exit.  This was my first trip riding Line 2 subway, to the Gangnam station exit.  Usually, the farthest I traveled on Line 2 was to Itaewon where I visited the Foreigners market.

Luckily, I had obtained contact information from one of the attendees in the previous Oasis class.  I called and asked her for directions then headed back to the subway station.  After finding the correct exit I walked to the Korean Invention Property Association building located about three blocks from the subway.

During the two hour orientation we introduced ourselves to the rest of the class and the presenter.  The presenter gave us a brief introduction about her life in South Korea and then presented a powerpoint presentation with helpful tips on thriving in the Korean business culture.  After her presentation, we were informed that we would have different presenters during the weekend classes.

Day 1 ~ Saturday Weekend Class

Our first presenter turned out to be a lawyer that practiced law not only in South Korea, but previously worked as a patent attorney in the United States.  It became an extremely helpful session as he used real-life cases to inform us about Creating Ideas For Inventions, Overview Of Intellectual Property Rights, and Understanding Patent Institutions.

Day 2 ~ Sunday Weekend Class

On the second day of class, the weather was rainy and windy.  It was typically a day I would spend sitting on the couch watching a Lord of the Rings marathon and eating junk food.  However, after signing the attendance rooster we listened to the presenter as he discussed Understanding Patent Specifications.  We had a midday lunch break before the afternoon session began.  I went to a great Indian restaurant nearby and had a chicken curry dish.  Again, I wish I had taken a picture of both the name of the restaurant and the dish.  A different presenter took over the afternoon session and presented on the Basics of Patent Information Search.

Lastly, the director of the program, called us, one by one up to the front of the class and we were presented an embellished dark blue horizontal folder with our Oasis 1 completion certificate.

Overall, the class was very informative for any foreigners who wish to start a small business in South Korea.  I enjoyed the free lunch provided during the weekend sessions, however, the best part of attending the training was being able to network with fellow entrepreneurs.

Patents and Trademarks Information:

Korea Intellectual Property Rights Information Service

Korea Intellectual Property Office

WisDomain Global

Have you started a small business overseas, or in South Korea?  Would love to hear your thoughts on this incredible journey in the comments down below.

If you want to read more about the startup business scene in South Korea check out my posts on:

  1. Entrepreneur Korea Interview
  2. A Platform For Entrepreneurs: Seoul Startups
  3. Starting A Business In Korea
  4. Digital Marketing: Small Business Strategy​
  5. Small Business Interview: Brandon Walcutt, Kohsi Design Centre
  6. Where To Buy Korean Food
  7. Path To Obtaining A Startup Visa In South Korea
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Insadong Street Shopping & Gyejeol Bapsang Korean Buffet

Street Shopping And A Korean Buffet

I decided to meet with my two new friends whom I met on the one day trip to Petite France and Garden of Morning Calm.  We met on a Saturday, in Insadong (인사동) a little past 11:00 a.m. since we wanted to beat the afternoon lunch crowd.

In my opinion, midday is the perfect time to go to Insadong because it’s a popular tourist area.  There are so many shops to browse and buy one of a kind souvenirs that you definitely want to spend a couple of hours looking around.  There are street vendors selling everything from sikhye (Korean rice beverage) to socks.

Korean Buffet

I will talk more about that in a moment, first, we decided to go to Gyejeol Bapsang, (계절밥상) an all you can eat Korean buffet.  Before we went inside the restaurant on the upper level there were two clowns walking on stilts, making twisty animal balloons.  In the background, upbeat music played as a small crowd of children gathered waiting for a balloon.

I’m only sorry that I didn’t take any pictures of the food inside the restaurant, hunger took over and instead of capturing the moment I only thought about how I wished I didn’t eat breakfast.  However, I wanted to share my first experience visiting a buffet in South Korea.

The restaurant is located on the lower level of the Insadong Maru building.  Because we were so early the restaurant was not busy and we were able to pay the cashier and go inside without waiting in line.

Once inside the restaurant, we walked past beautiful glass displays of traditional Korean earthenware (옹기 or onggi) crocks.  The restaurant uses the earthenware to store different sauces for the various banchan dishes.

The restaurant is rather large and has a relaxed vibe with enough space between the tables where you don’t feel as if you are listening to your neighbor’s conversation.  The food selection is vast and plentiful.  There is a selection of meats (pork, chicken, beef (including bulgogi), and seafood, additionally there are enough vegetable dishes for vegans to sample and enjoy.

Once you’ve sampled a selection of meats, salads: I’m talking about potato salad not the green leafy vegetables, but those are there as well, rice (brown + white available), and soup (my friend recommend the corn as the best) you’re free to roam over to the dessert bar.

If you’ve ever wanted to sample Korean rice cakes or red bean ice cream without the commitment this is the place to try Korean desserts.  Otherwise, there is the usual varieties of ice cream: chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry, along with fresh fruit, and cookies.


We left the restaurant and decided to go window street shopping.  The shopping area was filled with young girls dressed in traditional Hanboks’ they rented from a nearby shop.  The other shops we enjoyed were the calligraphy brush store, hand-painted fans, and the music store.

Poop Cafe in Insadong, South Korea
Outside the Poop Cafe in Insadong Shopping Plaza
Poop Cafe - Insadong
Poop Cafe Menu in Insadong Shopping Plaza

Overall, I recommend visiting Insadong shopping area and while you’re there stop by Gyejeol Bapsang buffet, it’s well worth the price of admission.

Wishing everyone good health, prosperity, and happiness for the Lunar New Year!

If you want to read about other popular tourist attractions I visited in Seoul, South Korea check out my blog post on:

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Insadong street shopping
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7 Things To Do After Applying To A Korean Language Program

To Do Lists To Complete Your Application

So, you’ve researched online and applied to a Korean Language program in Seoul, South Korea that you want to attend.  Whether you’re applying for a short-term or regular semester program here are the next steps you will need to complete your preparations to attend a foreign language program.

#1. Pay Fees (Tuition & Dormitory)

An invoice will be emailed with an attachment itemizing the tuition and dormitory fees (if applicable) to be wired to the bank account provided by the University.  Additionally, there may be a one time charge for an international express mailing fee to mail your admission letter.  It’s important to note that you should pay your fees as soon as possible because your admission letter will not be mailed until your fees are paid.

#2.  Admission Letter

The University you’ve chosen will need to send you an Admission Letter to present to the Korean Consulate in your city to process your Visa application.  You will need to provide your address and a telephone number so the University can send your Admission package.  Remember the package is coming from an international address and sometimes a signature may be required upon delivery.

#3. Bank Statement Printout

You will need a recent bank statement printout with you or your parent/guardian’s name, address, and minimum (varies by University & Country) financial requirements.  *When I applied for my Visa at the General Republic of Korea Consulate Office in Los Angeles I was required to show my last three bank statements proving that my monthly bank balance consistently met the minimum financial requirement.  My suggestion is to verify the Visa requirements in your city before heading over to the Consulate office.*

#4.  Round Trip Airfare

You will need to present a round-trip airfare ticket as proof of purchase for your Visa requirements.  A helpful tip is to set up an airfare alert on your favorite booking websites for round-trip flights to South Korea.  *Make sure that you check what time you will arrive in South Korea.  I was not allowed to check into my dormitory until 3:00 p.m.*

#5.   Dormitory, Officetel, and or Goshiwon

If you don’t plan on staying at the school provided dormitory I would suggest as soon as you’ve chosen the University you want to attend you begin researching the area where the school is located.  Seoul is a huge area and it can be frustrating if you don’t know the different cities/provinces you should choose to live while you study abroad.  There are a lot of affordable officetel and/or goshiwon it all depends on your budget.  Check out my blog post on Facebook Groups in South Korea for group chatrooms that list available housing.

#6.   Visa D-4 (student) or C-3 (short-term)

After you’ve received your admission letter you will need to take the completed Visa application form, passport, processing fee (usually cash only), one passport size photo, admission letter, plane trip itinerary and financial documents to your nearest Korean Consulate Office to apply for a Visa.

#7.   Travel Shots

If you chose to live in a dormitory most Universities will require proof of a recent Tuberculosis test.  *Double check with your Doctor or Travel vaccination clinician because additional shots may be required depending on your previous vaccinations. (Hepatitis A/B combo, Hepatitis C, Malaria, Tdap, etc.) *

Lastly, some additional fees that I wish I knew about after applying to my Korean Language program:

  • Purchase extra passport-style photos.  You will need the photos for your school I.D. and Alien Registration Card ($10 won).
  • Look into purchasing international medical insurance.  Universities will require that you have medical coverage while you attend school.  Look into prices either provided by the school or a reputable insurance provider.
  • Purchase textbooks and workbooks needed for your Korean language program.  Plan to go to the University a little early on the first day of school to purchase necessary class requirements at the nearest bookstore. *After completing the program I was reimbursed my textbook fees.*

For a listing of the available Korean language programs in South Korea click on the link.   I hope this list helps you understand what to expect after you have applied to a Korean language program.

If you have any questions about attending a Korean Language program in South Korea let me know in the comments below.

Finally, if you would like to read more stories about my University experience check out my blog posts on:

  1. South Korea School System
  2. Non-Teaching Jobs: South Korea
  3. What To Expect The First Week Studying Abroad
  4. University Student in Korea
  5. How To Stay Warm During Winter In South Korea

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Disclosure: I may be compensated in exchange for featured placement of certain sponsored products and services, or your clicking on links posted on this website.

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Informing Friends & Family You’re Moving Abroad

Informing Friends and Family You're Moving Abroad

Bridging The Gap Between At Home & Abroad

The confusion of having to tell your family and friends that you want to move to another country is nerve-racking and requires plenty of advanced preparations.  I informed co-workers and family I intended to study at a University in South Korea I experienced a myriad of questions.  Because of the current political climate (Fall 2016) they didn’t understand why I wasn’t afraid to leave my familiar surroundings.

Unbearably, they would ask a whole host of questions.  Some of the questions I had the answers too, and some of the questions I didn’t.  I prepared myself for the usual questions when I first mentioned the plans that I enrolled in a Korean Language program in Seoul, South Korea.

Common questions included: Do you speak the language?  How, are you going to live on your own if you can’t read the directional signs or menus in restaurants?  Additional, questions included do you know anyone who lives in South Korea and where are you going to live?

For most expats or nomadic lifestylist who want to live abroad, teaching English is a viable resource.  Two programs, for example, are the EPIK and TALK program.  The program provides monthly income, housing, a group orientation (meet new friends), and assistance with completing the Visa requirements.

However, this was a question I always hated being asked; “Are you going to teach English?”   My closest friends and family members don’t understand why I would want to leave a full-time job with medical and insurance benefits.  The thought of taking time off to follow your passion for writing and traveling is a choice they believed I should live without experiencing.

When I listened to stories told by creative activist like Whoopi Goldberg, who went to live in Germany to perform improvisations.  She talks about how much her eyes were opened because of her experiences, I know that I don’t want to have any regrets as well when I reach a mature age.

Just for the record, it’s not that I don’t like kids, my families, or anyone else’s.  But, to answer the question if I ever want to teach, tutor or create lesson plans, the answer is, “No, I don’t!”  Not now, not ever.  I know my strengths and teaching is not one of them.

I believe people are called to teach, they are born with patience, love, and understanding to mold young impressionable minds into future politicians, lawyers, and doctors.  Those are the teachers that you remember years later as having changed your life.

Mrs. Lamb was that fifth-grade teacher for me, the only woman who sang an upbeat song as her introduction on the first day of school instead of writing her name on the chalkboard.  If you’re not this kind of teacher, if you’re not the kind of teacher who stopped teaching to make an announcement on anti-bullying long before bullying ever became a campaign, then you don’t need to be a teacher.  This is just my opinion and not a requirement to be a teacher although I believe that it should.

My rule of thumb has since become to inform friends and family of major life decisions after I’m absolutely sure what’s right for me.  This way, their fears, and doubts will not leave me feeling unsure about my choices.

The reaction to informing family and friends of your plans to move abroad is a process that will be different for everyone.  If you plan ahead and prepare answers to common questions not only will you alleviate fears that you’re rushing into a decision, but your discussion can go a little smoother.

Additionally, I want to share another resource I came across with researching about teaching programs (location flexible) is VIPKID.  They provide access to teach anywhere in the world as long as you meet the program’s requirements.

Lastly, I want to share resources with anyone who doesn’t want to teach English but still desires to move abroad.  Check out these two Facebook groups; Non-Teaching Job Seekers Korea & Jobs, working in Korea.

Do you have an interesting story about informing friends and family of your move abroad?  I would love to read your messages in the comments down below.

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Maangchi: Korean Grocery Store Blog

Korean Cooking Maangchi Grocery Blog

Emily Kim aka Maangchi Demystifies

The Korean Grocery Store

Yesterday, I was debating on whether I should posts a blog on necessary mobile applications while traveling Korea.  The alternative was posting a business startup checklist I created.  While I was being indecisive I did what I always do, I researched on the internet what has already been covered.  After finding different articles and blog posts I wondered if I could add anything new to the conversation?

The result of this indecisiveness, I didn’t post a blog.  However, I did want to keep to the schedule of posting 3x a week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, even if this post is a little late.

I thought I would share another blog posts that provide great resources and correlates with my previous blog Life In Korea.  The website is called “Maangchi,”  Emily Kim cooks authentic Korean recipes that she learned from her mother while growing up in Korea. The blog she posted, “How To Shop At A Korean Grocery Store” is a four-part YouTube video that assists shoppers with navigating a Korean Grocery store.

Download the Korean Convenience app and find Korean chips, cookies, and snack with English and Hangul brand names, allergen and ingredient information.

Available for free on iOS and Android

Part One

Part one of the series: Rice and Produce, where she offers helpful tips on the correct rice to purchase whether you’re making bibimbap or cooking a stew.  The second video Soy Sauces, Pastes, and Spices is my personal favorite.  Since I have a shellfish allergy I definitely needed to watch this video to help with the confusion of Gochujang a Korean spicy dipping sauce.

Third Video

The third video in the series Noodles, Powders, Grains, Beans & Seaweed offers helpful tips on purchasing products at the grocery store.  Some of the tips I learned, checking the color of powders and sauces (containers should have one uniform color, with no discoloration), and how to read the back of food packages to check the level of spiciness and when the product expires.

The fourth and final video; The Frozen Section, Dried & Fermented Seafood, Rice Cakes, Tofu & Kitchenware covers a wide range of topics.  I found the section on cooking with Tofu and the recipes she tagged in the video extremely helpful.  I plan on cooking the recipe for rice cake soup for the upcoming Seollal holiday.

Final Thoughts

I want to highlight a contributor to Korean cuisine for any of the readers who are not already a part of her 2 million-plus subscribers on YouTube.  The website has provided great resources for anyone, like me, who felt completely overwhelmed with the thought of walking into a Korean grocery store.

Lastly, I could have focused on her informative step-by-step recipes or cookbook, yet I want to mention another reason to check out her website; the Global Grocery Shopping Directory her community has compiled.  Now, there’s no reason not to try cooking your favorite dish you enjoy at your local Korean BBQ (my favorite in L.A. is Hae Jang Chon) restaurant.

I hope you enjoyed this blog where I highlighted a website that I have found to be a great resource for understanding Korean cuisine.

If you want to read about my life abroad in South Korea and more about Korean food check out:

Would love to hear your thoughts, should I continue posting highlights I have found helpful with Korean cuisine, beauty, language, and culture?

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Confucian Ceremony At Sungkyunkwan University In South Korea

Confucius Ceremony At SungkyunKwan University In South Korea

Religious Dances and Formal Ceremonies

I went on another day tour with the Royal Asiatic Society.  I met up with my tour group outside of Anguk subway station, exit 6, at 9:30 a.m.  There was a vendor selling socks and writing supplies nearby, while we waited a lot of the other attendees browsed the merchandise.  I met with my friend who I had met on my previous one day tour at Petite France.  (Click on the link to read my experience at Petite France & Garden of Morning Calm One Day Tour.

Once we were all assembled outside of the station our tour guide waited for the next bus to take us to Sungkyunkwan University.  This would be my first experience catching a local bus in Seoul.  What can I say about the bus system in South Korea?  While I was happy I was with my tour group and I didn’t have to pay attention to directions, I was not happy with our bus driver.

In total, we were a group of twenty along with the regular commuters.  The bus driver swerved along the bends in the road a little too fast.  My body swayed back and forth with each turn.  While I was holding onto the bus rail for dear life through the twists and turns as we went up the mountain I tried to look out at the view.


First, we toured the University campus and we were able to see the long history of the campus that has existed for over 600 years.

Statue of Kim Ch'ang-suk.
Statue of Kim Ch’ang-suk. A notable Confucian scholar.

It was amazing to believe that this was a place the scholars of the Joseon Dynasty had once studied and debated the hot topic issues of the day.   We stood in front of a tree that was more than four hundred years old and I wondered how many scholars and teachers had sat under that tree?  If only they could share their stories, what stories would they have to tell?

The ceremony began and we watched the scholars line up and take commemorative pictures.

Confucian scholars at Sungkyunkwan University.
Confucian Scholars at Sungkyunkwan University.

In a slow march, the scholars walked into an open area where the main Seokjeon Daeje, (ceremonial rite) would take place.  Watching the ceremony that was all in Korean I understood a little more of the traditions from Korean dramas, but it was nothing compared to hearing the drums, seeing the synchronized dance, and sacred offerings, this was a brand new experience.


The performers lined up in eight rows with eight dancers in each row, with dozens of musicians performing a synchronized ceremony.  My friend and I noticed that most of the drummers who played the instruments were all women.  Additionally, there was someone standing at the front of the group leading the drummers and keeping them on a beat and in sync with a sound made by a small musical instrument.


After the ceremony ended they offered a free lunch in a nearby pavilion.  We decided to skip the free lunch and head over to Insadong shopping district.  I was craving Samgyeopsal (삼겹살), which is literally my favorite meal.  It consists of a bowl of white rice, pork, garlic, red pepper paste, vegetarian kimchi (my preference),  green onions, and lettuce to wrap it all together.  I could have it every day and not get tired.  That and those little pieces of orange chicken with beef seaweed soup.

I discovered this was my favorite meal during my frequent trips to the faculty cafeteria at school.  To the lunch ladies at Hankuk University for keeping me nourished and healthier then I have ever been on a balanced diet, I would truly like to say thank you.  They were there when I needed homemade food on days when it was too cold to function properly.

Overall, touring the campus and attending the Confucian ceremony at Sungkyunkwan University was an eye-opening experience and I’m grateful I had the opportunity to attend.

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