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“How do I put my entire life into this?”

A question I pondered to myself five months ago as I stared quizzically at my silver suitcase laid open on my floor, waiting for me to pack. Anything.

“This suitcase is massive,” I tilted my head, “would I be able to fit myself inside of it?”A question that was neither here nor there but in case you were wondering, the answer is yes. Yes I could.

Eventually I figured out the whole packing situation and since I’ve been in Korea for awhile, I have a few tips for upcoming EPIK teachers. Below are my suggestions on 5 items you should pack and 5 items to leave behind when moving to South Korea.


What to pack:

1. Fitted bed sheet

In Korea we use a pad that goes over the mattress and I’m constantly pulling at the corners to keep it on. The only problem is that the bed size at your place will vary. I have a double but I know a couple EPIK teachers who have a queen (lucky buggers). Perhaps bring over a queen fitted bed sheet just to be safe because you’re not going to find fitted bed sheets here.

2. Comfort food

One thing I miss most about home is familiar food. I brought over a can of maple syrup (how Canadian of me right..) but I suggest if you like a certain spice, flavour, snack or tea, bring it over. There’s a likely chance you won’t be able to find it at your local grocery store.

3. Favourite personal hygiene products

Do you only use Crest Whitening Toothpaste? Dove Pomegranate & Lemon Deodorant? U by Kotex Tampons? You probably won’t find it here. Bring a few.

4. Gifts for co-teachers

This is not mandatory, but it’s a kind gesture to give a gift to your co-teachers (I have 5!) after receiving your first paycheque to thank them for all they have done. Bring something small that represents your home country such as small flags, thank-you cards, candy, etc. You can add onto the present when you arrive but they’ll appreciate having something from your home country.

5. Bathing suit

I don’t know if it’s just me but it’s impossible to find a bathing suit here. I live in Busan aka beach central and cannot find bathing suits (specifically, bikinis) at any store. Koreans don’t really wear bathing suits, not even to the beach so that could explain why they are hard to find. You could shop online but, save yourself the hassle. Bring one from home.

What to not pack:

1. More than two check-in suitcases

If you’re going to be in Korea for a year or two, you don’t need to check-in more than two large suitcases at the airport. If you do, YOU’RE BRINGING TOO MUCH STUFF!

2. Blow dryer/curling iron/straightener

The plug you use at home is probably not the plug we use in Korea and a blow-dryer/straightener/curling iron will burn out an adapter. You can purchase blow dryers easily at grocery stores and straighteners at Olive Young or department stores (among many other places).

3. Kitchen utensils

I cannot even count how many kitchen supply stores there are in Korea, especially in little markets where you can buy them for cheap. Leave the spatula, cutlery sets, and mugs behind.

4. Pillow or blanket

They take up too much space in your luggage, buy it all here.

5. Books

You’re better off purchasing an electronic book reader so that you’re not taking up space in your luggage. If it’s bulky and you don’t use it every day, it will start cluttering up in your bachelor size room.

If you’re currently an EPIK teacher, what are your suggestions to bring or leave behind? Let me know in the comments below!

This post was created for EPIK e-Press.

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