Being Humankind

It is no secret that this blog doesn’t only address how to go about daily life in Songdo, but rather, it goes where my mind does. We’ve talked about social issues affecting expats such as cultural appropriation and how shocking the treatment of women is in Korea and also the rest of the world but that’s not where the story ends. Amongst all our talk of feminism, it is easy to forget to take a step back and actually think about what feminism means, or, dare I say, should mean, in today’s world.

For me, feminism is primarily about choice and the freedom to exercise that choice. Let’s face it, despite the rollercoaster of educational paths and careers that I have followed, I now live a gender stereotypical life in Korea – My husband is the sole breadwinner and I am the homemaker. The important thing is that the decision to move was a join one. Flashback to our first wedding anniversary when he told me he had the job offer. My first question was ‘when are we moving’ followed by a sidebar ‘are you going to be ok with the fact that me being able to work there is a very remote possibility’. His first concern was whether I would be happy not being able to do the work I love. Whilst I miss it sometimes, I am great at keeping myself busy, and he is great at supporting whatever my latest project is (ed. within reason. My desire for flying lessons has been met with a most vague ‘we’ll see’. I think he is waiting for this phase to pass personally – see Mr. B, I’m wise to your tricks, I just let you think I don’t know differently.) I also know that if I suddenly decide I’m not happy here there are options we can discuss: me moving abroad to take on projects for a few months at a time, or us leaving to a country that we can both work in. Choice and freedom to exercise that choice. I don’t like the kind of militant feminism that demands every task be a shared one – if there are ten things to do, we’ll take five each if that makes sense based on our individual time commitments, rather than each doing 50% of each one. Everyone should be as lucky with the men in their lives as me – grandfathers, father, brothers and husband.

Anyway, as usual I digress. Yes, feminism is important and there is a long way to go for women but equally important, and more often forgotten, is, well, it turns out it is such forgotten concept that I’m struggling to even find a word for it – feminism for men is what I guess I’ll call it.  I’m genuinely worried for both my future-male-and-female children that the world they are being born into is far from ideal. I mentioned in a previous post that women do get the short end of the stick a lot so I won’t go into that again now, but it’s not all easy for men either. Men are often depicted as tough to the extent of being brutish, lads who drink beer and scare old people as they thunder down the street. There is an expectation that they will conform to societal norms and refuse to wear pink, won’t cry in public, won’t hug one another and generally remain aloof and distant from people around them. I mean, it would suck to be born into that reality right? And sadly, those in power do nothing but propagate the myths surrounding manhood.

I’m sure you remember when Mr Trump dismissed one of his many misogynistic comments as ‘locker room chat.’ There were many voices, one of my most favourite being Michelle Obama*, that argued that accepting such a dismissal was simply offensive to all the men in our life who wouldn’t dream of speaking about women, or any human, using the tone and words employed by POTUS. So to all those shouting that it shouldn’t be OK for men to talk like that amongst themselves (and yes, I agree that it shouldn’t) let’s remember that NOT ALL MEN DO.  And you know what’s apparent? Amongst all the noise (I use the word in the kindest possible way)  calling for #genderequality, it is those good, kind men, those fathers, brothers, husbands, sons and friends who don’t have a voice, or whose voice is discounted for the simple reason that they are men – viz: ‘How can you know what it is like to be discriminated against – you’re a man and its easy for you!’ Those men, however, are SO important if we are to ever achieve a truly equal, or anything close to truly equal – until men can push humans out of their bodies it won’t be totally equal – global society.

And it is here that we see the point of this post.  There are so many of these underappreciated men in our lives, in the world, that an attempt to help them speak out needs to be celebrated and supported. To this end, my friends in London have created “Being Mankind”  – a photo-illustrated volume that gives voices to the kind men who are real role models. Men who truly define what it is to be a man. Who can share their emotions and throw off the societal-demand that they always ‘be strong’ and ‘be tough.’ Who will be house-husbands in a world where housewives are the norm. Who we aspire to be like, or raise our children to be like. Who will always share the task of being human with women.

The book itself is a stunning depiction of several real-life stories that will take you through a gamut of emotions, and for every book that is bought, another is donated to a school where young men (and women) will have access to it and be inspired say no to outdated stereotypes in favour of being kind, confident and empathetic human beings. And the best bit – you can totally help!

In order to increase the print run of Vol1 and launch Vol 2 of the book, they’ve got an all-or-nothing-Kickstarter campaign that you can read about here that only has 3 days left to go. If they don’t reach their target, they don’t get any of the funding pledged to date, so it really is a case of every penny counts. Any donations, pledges or shares of the kickstarter campaign website are all welcome – you’ve got the links above, but here are the websites in full if you want to share them on!

Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1914102455/being-mankind

Being Mankind Website: https://www.beingmankind.org/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/beingmankindorg/

Let’s take a stand and make a difference that counts. #genderequality #beingmankind #beinghumankind #kickstarter

Being Mankind

*It would appear that the post script is becoming a more regular feature of my posts. Luckily I know you will only read on if you are particularly interested. Now Michelle Obama is a great feminist. Educated, ambitious and driven, but with everything she does oozing class and grace. I’m given to understand (correct me if I’m wrong)  that the First Lady (or First Husband) is required to give up her/his career whilst his/her spouse holds the position of POTUS and I defy anyone to say that this action is anti-feminist.  Never once did you get the feeling that she resented being the wife of  ‘the most powerful man in the world.’ I mean, she is his wife much like he is her husband. No ownership implied in the possessive pronouns, just a statement of fact – neither of them can be anybody else’s husband/wife whilst they are each others after all.  Rather, she supported him in his job and pursued the agenda for hers whilst together they raised two equally fabulous children all within the public eye. She didn’t eschew the need to look incredible at all times in the name of feminism and personally, I think she is everything a leader should be. If it were up to me #michelleforpresident2020 would be a given. Now excuse me whilst I go and think about my most serious girl-crush….

 

#Riverdale

I watch so much TV that it was inevitable that I would start reviewing shows and movies. The main problem with this lays with the fact that I am so behind on a number of cult shows (I only finished watching Breaking Bad in April 2017, and don’t even ask when I’m going to watch Better Call Saul) that not many people would find my reviews of any use or interest. That’s where the #netflixoriginals come in. A few weeks ago, I binged watched the first five episodes of #Riverdale and each week since, I have been waiting for the latest episode to be released – Friday America time, so it is usually Saturday morning before I get my fix.  And yes, I am hooked.

The initial pull came from the fact that it is loosely based on the Archie comics of my childhood. Hands up if one of your favourite things about a trip to India was being let loose in the bookstore to carry as many books and comics (Archie, TinTin, Asterix) as your little arms could carry? Flashback to Sydney 2016 when Raj found me after 10 minutes alone in a bookstore sitting on the floor surrounded by books and almost in tears trying to decide which ones to cull. I guess some things you never grow out of. Anyway, I digress.

So Riverdale. The show is set in the same town as the comics and the main characters share a name, and some basic personality traits with their literary counterparts but therein end the similarities. The TV show has been given a definite update for the 21st Century, with a healthy injection of film noire and modern-day anxieties and crimes running rife. Gone are the Dawson’s Creek type high school worries and in come changed identities while on the run from violent ex-partners, murder, embezzlement and psychiatric breakdowns. Archie, Jughead, Reggie, Veronica, Betty, Moose, Midge, Ethel. They are all there but fighting a whole different set of battles. Interestingly, the show has also jumped on the diversity bandwagon and many of the lead characters are #poc or at least have some ethnic ambiguity.

The first episode was a little strange I must admit. I kinda wanted to see the old school Betty and Veronica rivalry over lovable goon Archie, while Jughead sits in the side-lines  scoffing burgers and running from Ethel. Moose and Midge fighting, Reggie causing trouble, Archie’s parents being picture-perfect and Veronica’s dad being the over indulgent spoiler that every little girl deserves. But actually, whilst the sweeter than sweet version worked in pen and ink, I don’t think it would have translated well to the screen. So once I got over my expectations what I got was actually way better. Betty isn’t just the nice girl next door and Veronica is much more than the entitled rich bitch that everyone wants to be in with. They are forming the kind of ‘hos over bros’ friendship that goes beyond frenemies and you know that they have each others backs and Archie is not going to get in the middle like he always does. Veronica’s mum is totally present and figuring out how to fit herself back into her previous world and supports her daughter. Fred Andrews (er HELLO Luke Perry, your comeback to the screen is so very welcome) is figuring out life in a single parent world and the Coopers are hiding the truth about their elder daughter’s illegitimate pregnancy by calling it a mental illness. Underlying the entire series is the classic ‘Who dunnit’ storyline – who killed Jason Blossom? I’ve basically suspected every character, so I am looking forward to finding out who the killer actually is – and I really hope that they don’t make finding out a cliff hanger into Season 2.

As the episodes progress, darker issues rear their ugly heads causing concern about the newly-lovable characters but helpfully, it is a kind of concern that I can put aside for a week at a time without worrying too much. I think, given that I’m a girl who’ll read the end of the book first so that I can prepare myself for the worst, that this lack of concern is what they call progress.

I’m currently on episode 11 and we are no closer to finding out who the killer is but Polly is living with the Blossom’s (family of her baby-daddy) to do some snooping whilst it appears that Jughead’s dad has been framed for it, Betty & Jughead’s burgeoning relationship (I know!!)  has hit the rocks,  and it looks like Archie and Veronica might be taking real steps towards being together… Watch this space I guess.

If you’ve been taking a break from Netflix binge-ing, order in, get your fat pants on and binge away – totally worth it!

My #nuclearholiday #YVR

Yes, you read that correctly. I’ve come a long way mentally from the last stream-of -consciousness-post that I sent your way and I can now make fun of myself and my mini (ed. Ahem) panic attack. As you know, I decided that while Raj was travelling, I would travel too, and booked a trip to Vancouver to see my brother, Kesh, and sister-in-law, Rosa. Sidebar: have I mentioned recently how lucky I am that Raj is SO indulgent of me and my over-active imagination? I don’t think many people would have accepted my need (and my mother’s need!) to not be in Korea at that time and gone along with plans which were a complete over-reaction, but he did and, with regards to this, will, I believe, continue to do so. Definitely a lucky girl.

Anyway, once I landed in Vancouver, it only took a few minutes with my joker of a brother – I call him this to his face, it’s ok and truly, Kesh is the funniest person in the world – for me to accept that my panic was probably uncalled for and for him to coin the phrases, subsequently developed into hashtags for my social media needs obvs, #nuclearholiday and #falloutfun. Some might consider these in bad taste, but I defy those who say that to experience my levels of panic and then avoid attempts at humour to make yourself feel better about it.

I was spoilt in Vancouver. Rosa and Kesh live super centrally to everything – all my needs were met within a 15-minute walking radius of the house, and #keshcooks became an oft-used hashtag on Instagram. Kesh has always enjoyed cooking (you know my feelings on that already) and Rosa and I are more than happy to clean up, which he hates. The sun made an extended appearance during my stay and long walks to see the surrounding area, excellent food and copious amounts of salted caramel ice-cream were the order of the week. I was able to do the usual ‘buy-things-that-I-don’t-get-in-Korea’ easily and catch up on a couple of zombie/sci-fi films that haven’t made it out here too. I finished reading my current collection of psychological thrillers – Mr. B is SO thankful for that, as it is helping to temper my ‘what if’ scenarios that I wake him up with – and I learnt a couple of things as well.

(1) My brother and I are more alike than I realised – I have emergency plans in place, he walks a different route every day so that in the event of the Zombie Apocalypse he has escape options. I look at buildings and wonder how easy, or otherwise, they would be to scale (up or down, need-based) and he always sits facing the room in a restaurant so that he can deal with potential assassination attempts more easily.

(2) I talk A LOT. Rosa was away for the first two days of my trip, and I talked my, somewhat quiet, brother’s ear off non-stop. When Rosa returned, she and I jabbered on endlessly. Kesh said that the word count of the apartment had increased by 5,000 words a minute and he really couldn’t get a word in edgeways even if he wanted to.

One pretty important thing that came out of my trip is that I finally know what I want to do with my time here in Songdo. Apart from the obvious perks of being an expat-wife, Kesh suggested that I should put my crazy imagination* to use and do a creative writing course. I mean, it’s so simple but SO GENIUS I am surprised that none of us thought of it earlier. I’m on the hunt now for a suitable online creative writing course that I can do from Korea so that I can embrace my future career as a writer. It might even mean that some of my previous, as yet unseen by the world, musings and writings might make it into the public eye. Who knows. At the very least its a fabulous way to keep busy. So, readers, if you have any hints for any courses that I could look into, please do leave a comment with the details and I’ll get searching. This might mean that my somewhat-erratic blogging habits become even more erratic, but I will try not to let the one affect the other. Here’s a couple of pictures of beautiful Vancouver as an ending….

*Here’s another example of the way my mind works, just in case you hadn’t figured it out already: The return to Songdo has been hectic. Landing on Sunday, one overnight guest on Monday and then Raj’s cousin, wife and six month old arriving on Tuesday for a visit. We have a few fun things planned so I hope to share a bit more about the local area and things to do in the next couple of posts, but all this is by way of setting the scene for an amusing anecdote. On Monday, we borrowed a travel crib and car seat from a colleague of Raj’s for the aforementioned six-month-old. I made our overnight guest (who reads this blog – Hello!!) fix the car seat into the car on Monday night- having two children of his own, I determined that he possessed the appropriate skills to do this correctly. On Tuesday morning, I get into the car and get the fright of my life – I forgot the car seat was there and all I saw was a big red blob behind me, which became a serial-killer who snuck into the car during the night and was going to stab me and leave my decimated remains in the car park. Well, I quickly realised that wasn’t the case, and whilst waiting for my heart-rate to come down, I texted Raj. He laughed. I moved on with my day, but I will always remember the time that I was nearly a goner.

The Day of the Sun

Today, April 15th, is the birthday of the founder and first leader of North Korea, Kim Il-Sung, and is considered the most important holiday in DPRK. Every year, this is celebrated by parades, fanfares, oh and the usual missile testing / potential nuclear test hanging over the peninsula in the lead up to the day.

It’s an annual thing, and whilst many Koreans don’t seem particularly phased by it, to me it is a stark reminder that we live in a country that has never signed a peace treaty, a country that is still at war. Now this doesn’t affect day to day life usually – I didn’t even notice it was happening last year – but this year’s planned birthday celebration by our ‘friendly’ neighbours have lead to increased tensions and concerns over our safety here. On top of this, there is the fact that the annual response/show of strength from the US was decidedly disproportionate – dropping of a MOAB in Afghanistan – and well, I’m nervous.

Let’s bear in mind that I have a seriously over-active imagination. Flashback to last week’s Board Meeting when I read 5 psychological thrillers. I now refuse to have a cleaner come to the apartment in case they are a serial killer/pull some sort of single-white-female action on me and I’m lucky, really lucky, that Raj is so indulgent of my crazy. Anyway,  I digress. Now that you can begin to understand that I have a slight tendency towards over-reaction, you can imagine the effect that even the smallest threat of nuclear conflict has on me.

So all of this means that today, I’ve cancelled our weekend in Seoul (we’ll still go in tomorrow for the Coldplay concert – no way in hell I am going to miss that!) in favour of staying in Songdo working on my contingency plans. Sadly, I feel like I do need my own plans as the British Embassy cancelled its LOCATE programme in 2013, so we can’t register with the embassy here, the UN doesn’t have a contingency plan because the threat of war has always been considered low and accordingly, Raj’s office doesn’t have a contingency plan in place either. [Note from Ed. Amma when  you are reading this, it’s still fine here, don’t worry, because obviously, knowing Raj, all the plans we need are in his head]

So far,  I’ve made sure that our emergency evacuation bags are packed – see below for the list of recommended items to keep packed ready to carry with you – I’ve signed up for the South Korean travel advice alert emails from the British Embassy, and I follow the British and US embassies in Seoul on Twitter for any updates. I’m keeping an eye on the UN non-family posting duty stations list and, when Raj is travelling at the end of the month I am planning to go visit my brother and sister-in-law in Canada instead of staying here alone which I would normally do. I mean, this last step is 100% not necessary but if (big, hugely unlikely IF) Raj got an email from work regarding an evacuation I’d only get the update 8 hours later due to time differences as these aren’t sent directly to family members and that would freak me out. This happened when the demonstrations in Seoul over President Park’s impeachment were at an all time high – Raj was in Europe (9 hours behind), so by the time he woke  up and saw the email advising us to avoid downtown Seoul and forwarded it to me, it was late afternoon and had I been going to Seoul, I’d have already been there. So yeah, for the moment, Raj travels, I travel.

Ok last bit of over-cautious worrying stuff from me. Here is the list of what the British Embassy recommends you keep packed in case of emergency:

Essential Items & Documentation:

  • 3 days supply of lightweight, high energy, non-perishable ready-to-eat food and water per person.
  • Eating utensils
  • Toiletries (toilet paper, soap, tissues etc)
  • 30 days supply of essential medicine or prescription drugs
  • If you have a baby, at least 3 days supply of milk formula, food, nappies etc
  • Passports
  • Local Identity Card
  • Birth Certificates
  • Marriage Certificates
  • Nationality documents (if relevant)
  • Power of attorney if you are taking charge of someone else’s child or children

Desirable Items:

  • Rusksack
  • Blankets or sleeping bag
  • Extra clothing (inc. one warm item whatever the weather) and strong footwear
  • First aid kit
  • Torch and extra batteries
  • Small AM/FM radio with extra batteries. Lightweight SW radios if possible
  • Money: Local currency and US dollars
  • Insurance documents
  • Medical records including vaccinations
  • Driving licences
  • Financial documents
  • Wills
  • Address Books
  • Household inventory

Right, I’m off to bother Raj with a slew of questions and ideas for our contingency plan. Stay safe friends x

 

 

 

 

Job Hunting in Korea: A Process

I’ll begin by saying that whilst I am not actively looking for a job, I do keep my eye on several different sources and am a member of a couple of interesting mailing lists, so that if an opportunity should come up that piques my interest, I am ready to apply.

Two weeks ago, one such opportunity came up and so I spruced up my CV and portfolio, wrote a covering letter**, spell-checked, re-did the spell check changing all American English to British English (I really need to change the default on my dictionary) and sent out the email in the required format. Minutes later I received the ‘don’t call us, we’ll call you if you are successful for interview’ email (also known as the if-we-don’t-reply-it-is-because-you-suck) and patted myself on the back for getting it done 5 days before the application deadline. Then I wrote a list of questions that I had about the role, as the job description was either vague or lacking on certain basic points of information.  Later that evening I spoke to my mother – who, by the way,  I am pretty sure has implanted some sort of chip into my brain, because it isn’t normal for her to know EVERYTHING before I tell her – who said she had recently bought me a pretty ‘work’ dress and was planning on sending it to me irrespective of my non-working status so that I could wear it when I was feeling fancy. It seems however that both her and my confidence in my ability was somewhat misplaced as I am yet to hear back so can only assume that I wasn’t up to muster for the job at hand. Oh well. Time to focus on my secret-project-that-I-can’t-tell-you-any-more-about-and-really-must-stop-metioning-at-all.

EDIT: 03/03/2017: Apparently it isn’t unheard of for the process to take up to 6 months just to reach interview stage so I am told that I should learn to be more patient and not jump the gun. Sounds like an unlikely thing for me to do however I can but try **puts patient hat on and waits**

Of course, in the last two weeks I’ve had a couple of other interesting emails and messages as well – one I missed simply because I hadn’t switched on my UK phone in a while and the other two were more calls to make certain agencies aware of one’s existence as they host worldwide events and having a database of event producers around the globe is always a good thing, so let’s see what comes of these.

Anyway, for those who are actively looking for work here, a few things I have learnt. Of course, this is entirely dependent on your particular industry, skill set, years of experience and so on so proceed with a pinch of salt (by the way – Pink Himalyan Salt is now sold in both Homeplus and Emart. YAY).

Language and location are key factors in the job hunt. Even when a job description requires English, it is always English as a second language. Where this isn’t the case, several people I have spoken to have found that their lack of Hanguel means that they can’t even write a short covering email to which to attach their CV. I believe the area around Songdo is big in the bio-med/technology fields so perhaps you’ll have better luck if you are in those fields. It seems to me that there are many more opportunities in Seoul that would not require Hanguel but then comes the question of whether you want to make that commute daily (or twice weekly, or whatever) which is a matter of personal preference. There are some people who wouldn’t mind this, but after year of 4 hours roundtrip commuting in London, there is little that would make me want to do this again.

Another obstacle can be in finding the openings in the first place. There are, as I mentioned in a previous post, as few facebook groups that you can join to keep an eye on openings but I’m yet to be able to sign up to any local recruiters. IFEZ has a couple of initiatives in place to assist and in a couple of weeks, they are holding a workshop to help spouses network, provide information about the visa process (not such an issue for a GCF spouse any more) etc. The best source I have found is still LinkedIn. I’ve had a couple of people contact me through my LinkedIn Profile and one skype-interview progressed very well, until I had to turn down the role due to the vagueness surrounding my visa situation. Fortunately, that has now been cleared up and upon receiving a formal job offer, getting a work permit is easy-peasy-consider-it-done (so I’m told, I guess the reality still has to play out).

For the teachers amongst you, opportunities are more plentiful. There are plenty of Hagwons nearby and of course, Chadwick International. You can also do your TEFL or equivalent online in order to open this door to you. The one thing I have found is that when people are advertising for English Teachers, there is usually an overt preference for North American or Canadian accents, which puts paid to me applying. I don’t get why the Queen’s English would be eschewed for its less correct younger sibling (and a lifetime of Zee not Zed) but never mind.

Anyway, that’s me and the job search for now. To sum up: It is hard for most people to find work in Songdo and also in Korea in general. Make sure that you have that conversation with your partner before you make the decision to move here and keep expectations realistic. It is certainly possible to find a job out here but the process is going to require proactivity and perseverance so GOOD LUCK!

** OK. Here comes a bunch of personal opinion but this business of a covering letter for the events industry is HILARIOUS to me. In the UK, the events industry is a personal one, relying heavily on making contacts. Every job, whether permanent or freelance, that I have had has been because I’ve known someone who is hiring, or a friend of a friend was looking. In one instance, the interviewer knew a former teacher of mine and after giving me the usual chat about taking time to meet other candidates called me up on Monday morning – I had interviewed on Friday late afternoon – to offer me the job. When you work in events, you need to be personable because you will be dealing with clients, suppliers, colleagues and staff all in the space of 10 minutes. Yes, you need to write clearly and efficiently – I always follow up a phone call with an email detailing exactly what has been discussed and agreed…. what good would a 2ft square stage be when I need  12ft square to fit a band, backline etc – but in the first instance, you have to build a rapport with your production team. Once you get on site, if you can’t talk to the people you work with you are screwed. Anyway, as I said, that’s just my opinion and as I believe a picture is worth a thousand words, I always send a copy of my events portfolio (selected case studies) to convey the scope of things I have worked on. But that’s just me.  **

Sometimes…

Even I run out of things to talk about. So one of my tasks today was to write a blog post, but sitting here (well, lying here, as today I am adult-ing from my bed) I actually don’t have a lot to tell you folks about. My draft posts either (a) bored me when I was writing them or (b) need a lot more information than I currently have to hand to make sense. It isn’t like I’ve been sitting around Netflix-ing either. I’ve actually had days where I haven’t even put the TV on. I went to Singapore for a weekend to meet a friend *Hi Raj Mistry* and last weekend there was a Ski Trip organised by IFEZ to Pyeongcang – home of the winter Olympics 2018. At the start of February I finally signed up to PT sessions (with an English speaking trainer) and am working on my strength and mobility (and hopefully some weight loss as a bonus) but that’s not an interesting journey for anybody except my older brother and my sister-in-law (shout out to my personal fitness cheerleaders in Vancouver). I recently applied for a 6 month contract position as an events consultant, but more on that if and when I find out what the process is like. The baking has stopped in honour of our ‘get healthy’ regime but I’ll pull it out for special occasions. I continue to Instagram pictures of food. Oh, and I started a secret project that I obviously can’t write about because then it wouldn’t be a secret. Also, even when it isn’t a secret I am not sure I can write about it because, well, its complicated. Let’s forget I said anything.

I guess I could tell you a little about the weekend’s ski trip to Pyeongchang, but there isn’t a huge amount to tell. As IFEZ organize everything, the sum of your responsibility is to turn up to the G-Tower for the 4 hour coach journey to Pyeongchang and choose the activities that you want to do (Ski lesson, snow board lesson, just hang out etc.) On the return, we stopped at the Olympic Ski Jump venue which was awesome but my general lack of attention span means I didn’t listen to the tour guide and just wandered about and looked at things. The main thing I learnt is that this particular resort has a high level of English, so if you wanted to book a weekend trip there, it wouldn’t be a difficult thing to do. Here’s some pictures to keep you going:

Ok, one of my daily tasks from the trainer is to get out of the apartment and hit 6000 steps daily, so I better get going on that. Luckily, it is starting to warm up outside so the thought of a stroll through the park isn’t too arduous.

Happy Tuesday everyone – and I promise I’ll come up with more interesting things to write about soon!

Social Media & The Expat

So at home in London, I was not quite so proficient at checking my social media (it was a task to be completed on the parts of my commute for which I had network) or uploading things to it. However, I quickly realised that we are so incredibly lucky to have such instant methods of updating and communicating with family and friends at home so I’ve become better at it. I regularly upload photos to my Instagram (which I prefer to Facebook because it has a more limited audience) and as I’ve downloaded Instagram for my mum, that means my parents can easily see what I am up to or the end results of things that we have spoken about. I’m using Twitter to find out information about things in Korea, but also as a source of news (yes, yes, I am being wary of fake news and the like). I mean, we are SO lucky not to have to wait 2 weeks for real letters to be delivered or to get a calling card and make 5 minute phone calls from pay phones with a bad connection so, I embraced technology when we moved and used the internet way more than I used to for personal usage back home. The biggest change in my social media habits is the use of Facebook. It is actually an amazing resource for getting information about different things here, and so I decided to make today’s post about the different Facebook groups that I have joined and pages I have liked since Raj signed his contract.

Below is a list of the pages and groups, with links to each on Facebook. A number of the groups are closed groups, which means that you send a joining request and the page admins will accept or decline your request as appropriate. Some of the pages require you to send a message to the admin to confirm why you want to join the page (this helps avoid the inevitable spamming) so be sure to read any pinned posts and follow the instructions!Hopefully the dearth of information that is available makes it worthwhile to have a Facebook account, even if only for the purposes of joining some of these groups! And it goes without saying that all opinions on the groups mentioned below are entirely my own.

Songdo Expat Community : The very first group I joined and also the one I have used the least. I find it a difficult group to navigate and as a result, questions/comments posted often go un-noticed. When we first arrived, landing on a Sunday with a fair amount of luggage and nobody meeting us at the airport, I posted a question about the best way to get from the airport to The Prau and got no answer. I mean, sure, we worked it out, but for a group professing to make life in Songdo easier for expats, I don’t find it very helpful. Still, I’m loathe to leave it just in case I miss something golden…

Anglo Info Seoul : News, tips and advice for life in Korea. This is one of the groups that I let post to my newsfeed and I usually read an article a day. It’s where I learnt about the recent governmental troubles and protests taking place in Seoul, about the Chicken Flu outbreak of 2016 and other day to day news that I would have normally obtained from the free dailies on my commute. Similar to this group, but less active in my opinion Everyday Korea and Community Korea

Ourshop India: Indian groceries online. And before the opening of Costco in Songdo, also a useful stop for ordering a few Costco goodies online. Delivery is quick and efficient once payment is made (and they have a variety of ways to pay). There are other online Indian grocers but I haven’t used them so haven’t included them here.

Employment groups include  Jobs in South Korea , Jobs: South Korea and Non Teaching Jobs in South Korea all of which facilitate posts from prospective employers and employees alike.

Waeg Farm is a group for those of you who can’t do without your goat’s cheese – especially when it is made fresh and delivered straight to your door!

Korea International Nanny Service is not just for childcare, but cleaners / housekeepers often post here as well. Great if the 3 hour minimum call from the Incheon Cleaning Service  is too much for your needs

Korea Heritage Society  a group to share and enjoy in the rich culture of Korea, with regular posts on activities and events taking place across the country

Used Cars fro Foreigners and Koreans Check out my post on driving here for more information on why this group is so useful!

Expat Grocery Gurus Korea: New Products, Discounts And Clearance Sales featuring tips and advice on where to buy products, when there are sales etc. Everyone here is super helpful and friendly so if you are looking for the source for a particular product, don’t hesitate to ask!

Particularly useful for expats are:Every Expat in Korea,British Expats in Korea,  Indians in Korea and Expat Women in Korea. I mean, you get the odd douche (excuse my French) on all of the groups but by and large the communities are helpful, friendly and supportive.

Not one I’ve had much need to use but always a good to have around is Expat Healthcare in South Korea.

Cooking in Korea is a great resource for sharing recipes, gleaning inspiration, asking for tips and advice and, as I find when I’ve achieved something new in the kitchen, a bit of validation from others who are also navigating the world of Western Style cooking in Korea.

For Incheon/Songdo specific groups, these are a few that I have found:

Incheon Global Campus and Yeonsu, Incheon, South Korea features interesting events and information from our locality

Incheon-Songdo Photography for all the photo lovers in the area, with some really stunning shots of where we call home!

For buying and selling second-hand goods check out Songdo Flea Market and Incheon Flea Market.

Songdo Girl’s Night Group is a community for the ladies of Songdo with at least a monthly event planned

For the exercise conscious among you, check out GCF Yoga which is a beginners Yoga Class, taught in English 3 times a week at the G-Tower for GCF employees and their families and Zumba in Songdo , which is about, well, Zumba classes in Songdo.

Road Tips ideas for trips and events for the expats of Songdo, by the expats of Songdo.

I’m sure new groups will come along sooner or later, but for now, that’s all folks.