Lola O.
I tend to be an excessive worrier when it comes to changes in my life. I try to plan and control every little detail, and so when there is so much that is out of my control it freaks me out. I used to be a hardcore perfectionist, and have learned to let go slowly, but there is still that worrier inside of me that I need to let go of completely.

Writing has always been my form of therapy, so I am going to tell you with complete honesty all about the things I am worried and fearful about when it comes to traveling, living, and teaching in Seoul.

Airport/Flying: I have a serious anxiety problem when it comes to airports/flying. I won't go to the airport to pick someone up or drop them off unless someone goes with me, and that someone also drives. Airports freak me out because 1) They are huge and complicated structures, there are so many twists and turns and I hate it 2) Checking in is the biggest pain in the world, because something is always screwed up. For me I am worried about my luggage. Will they get lost? Will they be overweight? I am planning to bring 3 suitcases because trying to fit my life into two suitcases wasn't happening so I am doing it with 3 and although it will be a bit of a pain getting it through the airport it will be worth it once I am settled in my apartment. Going through security makes me anxious because you have to take things out, take shoes off, and you have this whole line of people behind can tell I am freaked out by moving crowds huh!! :( Lastly, I am not a huge fan of flying, I always end up wondering if I am going to make it back to land. Whenever there is turbulence I start getting panicky and praying we land safe and sound. Landing is the scariest part for me though, my stomach is doing flip flops and I just concentrate on breathing. I do my best to fall asleep and stay asleep through out the you can see why I am a worried about this close to a day journey to Seoul.

Living: Anyone looking into teaching in Seoul hears some kind of horror story about someone's apartment and I am worried that I might end up having an apartment like that. I could care less how small or large my apartment is because I am used to small spaces. My worry is the cleanliness of the place and the accessibility of it to other places. I know I will make the most of whatever place I end up in but I just hope it is a decent place. I would have to say my biggest worry/fear about living is Seoul is whether or not I will be able to adjust well to living there. Will I hate it? Will I be crazy homesick? Will it feel really lonely? Will I make good friends? Those sort of worries that come with moving to a new place come to mind.

Teaching: This is probably my biggest area of worry just because I have this huge responsibility ahead of me and I don't want to mess it up. I have had teaching experience in both small and large numbers, but there is just so many unknowns like grade level, co-teachers (biggest worry), school expectations, and most of all available resources. I am pretty much going to be thrown into this situation and I wonder if I will sink or swim. I'm just worried about how exactly I am going to teach my students and teach them well.

Other: Some questions that run through my mind every now and then:
-Am I doing the right thing?
-Is this what I should be doing?
-Will I be safe there?
-Am I bringing too much stuff?
-Will people like me, will I like them?
-What the hell am I getting myself into?

I've always been a thinker, and so that leads to over-thinking and excessive worrying. I have learned that writing it down helps me get perspective and clear up the fogginess in my head. In spite of all my worries and fears about going to Seoul I still believe that this is what I want to do in this moment of my life. I know things won't be perfect, and I will make mistakes along the way, hell I meet even fail quite a bit, but in the end this journey will be worth every stumble along the way.

Next on Journey To Seoul: Things I Am Looking Forward To...
8 Responses
  1. Ok Deep breath hun....;)

    Life changes are the most difficult. But since we know you have a sensitive gut you are going to have to try and make this change as stress free as possible.

    I too freak out over similar things especially the ones I have no control over.

    I am sure you have read a lot of blogs so know a lot ahead of time. Also don't forget there is a support network here in case anything truly horrible happens. You won't be all alone.

    I am going to go through the fears you listed for reassurance.

    Flying: Check whether you can bring 3 suitcases. You will know what airline you are flying so check their policy. If things are overweight you just have to pay a fee or repack things. My advice buy one of those standing on scales and put the luggage on it when you are all packed. I did this the last time I flew out here from my vacation in US and it helped me know what was what.

    The hardest part will be picking the luggage off the carrier belt. After that just put it all on one of those cart thingies. Is your school picking you up? If not you will end up taking a bus. Check this before you go about airport pick up.

    The flight to Korea is pretty smooth as they sail across the PAcific. If you are flying Korean Air you will have a TV monitor in front of you with lots of Movie options. Bring your ipod and other devices to keep you busy. If are going to sleep throughout the flight shoot for a window seat when you are checking in. The sometimes don't ask you what you want so be upfront about it. If there are none available ask them if you can be on a waiting list.Then when you are at the gate remind them about this and see if any are available.

    Flying made me really gassy so I brought along gas pills. Bring any meds that might help your stomach be at ease during the flight. Bring some peppermint tea bags as this too relieves stress in the tummy.

    Bring an eyemask and earplugs too if you want really good sleep. On long flights they will turn off the lights for ppl to sleep.

    Living: It is a roll of the dice what kind of housing you are going to get. Do you want part of Seoul you will be in. I can tell you about the housing in this area. Generally though I think they are getting a lot better at knowing what kind of home is good for a teacher. If your school has had previous teachers then they will know what a good house will be. You won't know whether you hate or love it till you get here. Think of the first year as a testing zone. Just allow yourself to be open anything.

    I bet you will make a lot of friends. You already have me ! ^^

  2. Teaching: My biggest advice since you will be working in public school. Get to know your coteacher and ask them how they would like you to teach and follow this. Teach the kids in a slow and clear way. If you have an open heart for kids then you will do fine. I don't know what level you will teach though. But just be yourself and respectful that they don't know English too well.


    Right Thing: Oh gosh how I dwell on this everyday. In the end though you really can't tell. I just remind myself I am not some crack addict on the street and I am fine. I think it is great to go on an adventure and actually do something different.
    Should be doing: It's just for a year...see the world..of course you should be doing it ;)
    Safe: Depends on how you take care of yourself. Avoid staying out alone at night drinking and walking home alone. Generally just keep yourself safe.
    Too much stuff: 3 suitcases...probably. But about the same as me. You will be coming as winter is here so you need winter clothes which are big.

    Like you?: Ah don't worry about that.
    Getting yourself into: culture shock and not being able to go to a supermarket and find all the things you love...haha... but you are also getting into a different world where there is a lot of culture and really interesting food and people.

    If you know my past here then you know the crap I have gone through. Still I never blamed Korea. I tend to be an overthinker and fighter anyways.

    All this worry and planning is just part of the transition. Keep on believing in yourself and things will be ok.

    I look forward to hearing about your arrival story when it comes. ^^

  3. You might want to buy a cheap scale and weigh yourself and then yourself with your bag to get an accurate weight of it. Depending on the carrier, one extra bag (over the two allowed) is around $350 for 50 pounds. You can mail yourself a 20 pound international box from the U.S. Postal Service for $54--so 3 boxes or 60 pounds would only set you back $162.

    I usually mail a box of books, a box of medicine, and one of comfort food to myself.

    I brought too many dvds the first time before realizing all I needed were a couple of large external hard drives (cheaper and bigger in the U.S.) to download what I needed. Laptops are also cheaper, faster, and newer in the U.S. than here.

    Bedding and towels can be found at Costco and a membership is 35,000 won here (around $30 U.S.), so you might want to use that room in your bags for somethings else.

    Good Luck!

  4. Lola O. Says:

    Joy, THANK YOU for all the advice, and I consider you a friend already. I cannot wait to meet you in person when I get there:)

    I tend to get a stomach ache when I fly, so I will try that peppermint tea suggestion. I was also thinking of learning a few relaxation or meditation exercises to help me out.

    John: I'm planning to fly with US Airways/Asiana

    US Airways has the best luggage policy I see. The third bad should cost me $200( $100 for an extra bag + $100 for it being 100lbs

    Since US Airways and Asiana have a partnership the bags should go straight to Seoul.

    The sad thing is that besides these 3 luggages my mom is mailing me a box full of medicine, comfort foods, and my

    Yeah...just call me the over-packer...

  5. No problem ! Well you will have enough stuff I guess to not worry about things for a while. When you first move in you will need things like pots and ...which is easy to get.


  6. Lola O. Says:

    Yeah...I'm hoping I have some awesome co-teachers that take care of most in the kitchen supplies...but we shall see.

  7. Maria Says:

    The few questions that you had at the bottom reminded me of my own worries at 11 moving from the Philippines to the US. (Moving anxiety seems to be universal.) But as long as you know that this is what you want to do, then you're definitely doing the right thing. This is what you should be doing because you want to do it, and it's up to you to keep yourself safe. This is not a permanent thing if you don't want it to be, but at the same time, how will you know unless you've tried?

    Sounds like a lot of fun adventure you're getting into. I wish you the best of it! I'm sorry I don't have much to contribute, being that I'm only contemplating teaching overseas and don't have that experience yet. But one day I wish to be in your position. :D

  8. Lola O. Says:

    Thanks Maria, and you are right it really is just moving anxiety. I feel a lot clearer/better about things.

    This is what I want to do so I am going to pursue it because you never know until you give it a try:)