5 Reasons to Celebrate NOT Getting Placed in Seoul

5 Reasons to Celebrate NOT Getting Placed in Seoul

When the email about my English teaching placement in Korea arrived, I was extremely disappointed. Like most other EPIK applicants, my first choice was Seoul. Knowing almost nothing about Korea, it is easy to fall into this “Seoul mentality.” You start to think if you’re placed anywhere other than Seoul, it’s going to be a year of roughing it in a tiny, mountainous, rural village. Even after I Googled my placement city, Daegu, and found that it had a population of almost 3 million people and was the fashion capital of Korea, I couldn’t help but still be upset. However, after one short year in Daegu I realized I had lucked out. Here are my top reasons why I’m happy I wasn’t placed in Seoul.

 

1. It’s cheaper.

Living in any major city can get expensive. While Korea is relatively cheap, I definitely saved a lot more money than if I had lived in Seoul. Everything from the cost of food to the cost of utilities is less expensive when living in Daegu, and it’s nice to have the extra money for trips or to send back home.

2. It’s easier to get around.

Seoul is overwhelmingly big. I’ve lived in a large city my entire life, but the second I saw Seoul’s subway map I wanted to break down in tears. Getting around in Daegu, with its two subway lines, was such a breeze. It was also a smaller city with a central downtown, so my friends and I would meet for dinner a few times a week with little planning. I feel like if I lived in Seoul, I would have seen my friends less because it would take too much effort to get anywhere. And let’s be serious, it’s hard enough to venture out from your warm apartment in the middle of winter to meet for BBQ even if it’s only a 15 minute bus ride.

3. You want to get out…in a good way.

Living in a smaller city does sometimes mean there’s less things to do, but that also encouraged me to get out and see other cities. I would leave Daegu at least one weekend, if not two, a month.  I was able to snowboard on the soon-to-be course of the 2018 Winter Olympics, visit the green tea fields of Boryeong, and swim with sharks in Busan.  Seeing other cities enhanced my experience in Korea. If I had lived in Seoul I would’ve been less likely to travel around Korea as much.

snowboarding

 

4. Trips to Seoul are like mini holidays.

Getting out of Daegu was a necessity, so weekend trips to Seoul seemed like short fun-filled holidays. I remember one weekend I ventured up north with about 10 girls for a weekend getaway. We crammed the weekend full of touristy things, drinks, dancing, and of course a wonderful rendition of “Total Eclipse of the Heart” at a noraebang (karaoke rooms often found throughout Korea).  Trips like these to Seoul were definitely some of my favorite memories.

singing in south korea

 

5. A more true experience.

Living in Daegu was difficult, but I felt immersed in the Korean culture because of the challenges I faced. There was a language barrier in Daegu because English speakers were harder to find, but it made interacting with locals more interesting. Some of my favorite meals were ordered by hand gestures and I still have no idea what I ate half the time. Yes, there was Western culture in Daegu, but it was limited. In Seoul, you can travel to Itaweon and feel almost like you’re back in America, which is nice when you’re homesick, but can skew your outlook of Korean culture. Think of it this way, if someone born and raised in Korea moved to Washington D.C. or New York for one year, would they really have a well-rounded idea of America? Not being placed in Seoul is not the end of the world, like I had thought, and it actually gave me an authentic glimpse of Korea.

 

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