Monday, April 30, 2018

Study in Korea| Government Scholarship: Spain to Korea(Daegu, Incheon, Busan)

Looking for a better future and a better self

Enjoying the cherry blossom in Busan, the first time I saw it!

When everybody asked me ‘why are you studying Korean language?’ I always answer, ‘why not?’ Studying other cultures and languages is fascinating, it helps understanding better the world around you, meeting and talk with people you would have never thought before, and also realize some things about yourself and your own culture!

My not-so common background!
I majored in East Asian Studies, specialization on Korea, in 2015, being part of the first class that ever graduated in that major in my country, and also the Spanish-speaking world. My job prospective didn’t look so well, nobody in the country had heard before about my major, and Korea was still not a well known country in Spain. In addition, my Korean was kind of mediocre, not enough for a job, and no classes to continue improving. So I had 2 options, the first was stay in my parents’ house while trying to find a job and probably just work in something not related to my major, or I could get out of my comfort zone and apply for the Korean Government Scholarship Program. And that’s what I did.

The scholarship that changed my life for the best!
KGSP is the biggest and most important scholarship of Korea. It consists of one year of Korean Language course and 4, 2 or 3 years for undergraduate, Master’s degree and Doctoral degree, respectively. This scholarship pays for everything: from airfare, to tuition and living expenses. Every year, hundreds of students from all over the world are granted this scholarship and start a new stage in their life. I was lucky enough to be one of them. After quite a long and complicated process, I came to Korea on the summer of 2016 to study a Master’s Degree in Tourism Management in Daegu. I had 3 objectives in mind, study Korean until I got an advanced level, complete a Master’s Degree so I could specialized more my career, and challenge myself living abroad for 3 years.

Here we went  to fulfill a Korean tradition - watch the first sunrise of the year!

Not a newbie to Korea!
It wasn’t my first time in Korea -as I already stayed for 4 months in Incheon as an exchange student by my own-, and my major provided me with plentiful knowledge about the country. I knew already the cultural cues, the busy lifestyle of Korea and the spiciness of the food, but anyway I was still fascinated with everything and I enjoyed it as it was the first time.

My two loves in Korea: Busan and Daegu
I spent my first year of Korean language course in Busan. There, I was able to study Korean with people from all different countries and experience a lot of fun culture activities. After I finished my year of language study, I came to Daegu for my Master’s. In KGSP program, the students choose the university they like most from a list provided by the organization, and it's assigned a different city for their language program. They do this so students can have different experiences in Korea, which I think it's a great idea! So, why choose Daegu? Well, I didn’t want to live in Seoul, too crowded, busy and too much of a big city for me. In Daegu I had one of my best friends in Korea, and while looking for universities that had a Master’s degree in Tourism Management, some universities of Busan and Daegu showed up. Out of them, Keimyung University looked the best, their dorm was cheap and they had an international lounge where meeting new Korean friends would be easy! So I decided to choose Daegu as my city to live for at least 2 years.

In front of the sign of my language course  university, Dongseo University!
One of the many times I could try a hanbok during my language school course
Me and my closest friends in Daegu in front of ColorfulDaegu sign!

Getting to know people from different backgrounds!
I started my Master’s Degree, which is quite different from undergraduate; less competitiveness and fewer exams, but it is expected of you to study more on your own and develop your research topic. Also, I was the youngest student, as all of my classmates are already working and in their 30s or 40s. While is true that in Korea people usually don't go directly for graduate school, I think my major was quite special, as most of my classmates started working first and then decided to specialize more with a Phd or Master's degree. At first I was surprised and kind of sad that there weren’t that many people of my age, but now I’m so happy it is the way it is. It has helped me getting to know Korean people of different ages and background I was used to. It’s been a great experience and I’m learning a lot thanks to my professors and classmates. Don’t be afraid! People here are super nice and they always will try to help you and make you feel better if you have any problem! :)

My class in the language school in Busan! People from all the continents!

A long flight to pursue my dream!
While I didn’t need to prepare a budget before coming to Korea, because my scholarship paid for everything (you should really look it up if you want to come to Korea, seriously!), I can give an approximate budget of what I spent in my first months in Korea. I’m from Spain so I took a plane from my city, Malaga (Malaga airport) to Paris (Charles de Gaulle), and then another plane to Incheon (Incheon International Airport), and lastly a third plane to Busan (Gimhae Airport). Of course, there is a direct plane from Spain to Incheon, from the cities of Madrid and Barcelona, but it was more expensive. It was a long trip that cost around 1100 dollars, it can cost you less if you look it earlier than I did! After that, the first month it’s going to be the most expensive; you need to buy for the first time a lot of things (dorm or room rent, bathroom stuff, kitchen stuff if you cook, a sim card, transportation card, and also you’ll probably travel more), but I would say that around 900 dollars would be enough. In Daegu, the price range would be around 250~400 dollars per month for a room with kitchen and bathroom for yourself (called oneroom), and 150~200 per month if you live in a dorm! Don’t worry, after that you’ll spend less! I can live with 600 dollars per month in my own oneroom!

Practicing caligraphy for the first time in my life!

Now after almost 2 years here I can say I did the right thing leaving my comfort zone in Spain and try to challenge myself living in this wonderful and fascinating country! I’ve learn more Korean, more about Korea culture, and more about myself! Don’t miss the opportunity to come if you can! :)

Friday, April 27, 2018

TEACHING IN KOREA | Seoul vs. Daegu ***Cost of Living***

Cost of Living in Daegu

Whether you are preparing to move to Daegu from overseas or from another city in Korea, cost of living is going to be a huge factor in your budget and plans. Daegu can be more affordable than Seoul with many of the same amenities and similar metropolitan feel. There are a few things to keep in mind when comparing Daegu to your current country of residence or other locations in Korea. Here’s a breakdown of the main considerations:
Most teachers pay nothing in monthly rent thanks to their school providing accommodations. The Daegu real estate market does tend to run cheaper than Seoul’s. For a new 33m2 studio near downtown in Daegu, you can expect to pay between ₩2-5 million in key money or jeonse (safety deposit that will be returned when you move out) and around ₩350,000* in monthly rent. A smaller, older apartment in Gangnam in Seoul would require about ₩10,000,000 in key money and ₩800,000* monthly. Teachers do have an option to forgo the provided housing for a monthly housing allowance but it can be complicated to secure an apartment by oneself without knowledge of Korean language and lots of money to use for key money. For this reason, most teachers opt for the school provided housing and enjoy the low low rent of ₩0.
*estimations based on browsing Korean Apartment Finder App, 직방

Utility bills can of course vary so much. Some districts charge more for gas or electricity than others, some apartments do not charge for water, and your phone and Internet can also vary based on what plan you choose. Keep that in mind while you consider the following estimations.
   Gas tends to be more costly in the winter than other seasons as it is used to heat your ondol (built in heating system under the floor). In winter you could anticipate a bill over ₩100,000* if you weren't conservative with the heat, but generally to keep a one room apartment warm while it's cold outside will come to about ₩40,000-70,000. In other seasons when gas is used for mainly cooking and heating water you can expect to pay around ₩20,000*. The prices do tend to vary a lot across the city so yours could even be cheaper than that.
   Standard electricity use will total up to a very affordable fee at the end of the month, likely less than ₩15,000*. Be careful in the summer with the air conditioning; many providers will place a cap on electricity usage and charge a lot once you've surpassed that. It is easy to go over that cap if you aren't conservative enough with running your air conditioner! Opt for an electric fan when you can to cut costs.
   Internet tends to be bundled with cable and can be as low as ₩14,000. Typically you won't pay more than ₩30,000 for this utility.
   Finally, you must have a cell phone. Data/call/text plans run a wide spectrum cost wise. You can expect to choose between a plan as low as ₩20,000 to more than ₩65,000 a month.
*Estimates for one room studio apartment

With a Tmoney card, bus fare is ₩1200 per trip and the subway ₩1200 per trip (both a bit cheaper than Seoul). To take the bus everyday to work will come in at around ₩70,000 and daily commute by subway would be about ₩60,000. Many teachers find their school-provided accommodation is within walking distance to work and they don't have to worry about commutes.
   Taking a taxi in Daegu can seem really affordable compared to the rates in North America, for example. Base fare is ₩2800 with each kilometer after the first two costing ₩700. To take a taxi from two subway stops away to downtown, the taxi fare will be quite close to base fare!
Your grocery expenditure will depend a lot on what you like to purchase of course. Imported foods are more expensive, dairy products and cheese may seem pricey, and luxuries like wine are taxed in Korea. If you can learn to eat and cook like a local, you can definitely save some money on groceries. Here are a few popular grocery items and approximate costs:

12 eggs- ₩2780
100g imported beef- ₩2000
2kg frozen chicken breasts- ₩12900
800g large frozen shrimp- ₩17900
330g bag of almonds- ₩6690

2 onions- ₩1180
Bunch of bananas- ₩4990
700g bag of potatoes- ₩6490

500ml cream- ₩5000
150g cream cheese- ₩3600
2 1 liter cartons of milk- ₩3880

5kg rice- ₩15900
500g dried spaghetti- ₩1890
5 pack of ramen- ₩ 3380

30 rolls of toilet paper- ₩15000
2 tubes of imported fluoride toothpaste- ₩9900
40ml deodorant- ₩5790

Coffee is such a huge deal in Korea! To brew at home, beans and grounds prices are similar to any country that imports beans, ground beans in a small bag are about ₩6000. Often you will be tempted by the gorgeous coffee shops around Daegu to splurge on a drink! Cheaper cafes will have ₩1000 Americanos, ₩3000 Lattes, and ₩3500+ for fancy drinks. Higher end spots will be at least W4500 for most of the menu.

Dining Out
It's no surprise Korean restaurants are the most abundant and affordable dining out option in Daegu. Pork broth soup with rice (돼지국밮) is filling and tasty and usually only ₩6000 with all the side dishes (and free refills). You can easily spend about this much and feast at many Korean establishments. Barbecue is a popular choice for a fun weekend dinner with friends and will typically cost about ₩12000-15000 per person, soju included. If you are interested in eating more exotic options and concerned with authenticity in the flavors (as opposed to Korean-ized versions) like Vietnamese, Italian, Thai and American food, you can expect to pay more. A fancy Italian dinner for two will run over ₩45000. Burgers and beer for lunch for two will run around ₩28000. And foreign options do not include the endless Korean side dishes!

A typical night out in Daegu might consist of barbecue, beer or cocktails, and an hour or two at the noraebang. A local draft beer is usually just ₩5000 and there are many bars in the city with ₩5000 cocktails, although the price typically ranges from ₩5000-8000. You can end your night out with friends at a noraebang (private Karaoke room) for just around ₩15,000 per hour. You can even find some noraebangs as low as ₩10,000 per hour! So much cheaper than Seoul’s average rates of ₩25,000-₩30,000.

Bonus! Good deals in Daegu
   Eyeglasses can be very affordable. Walk into any shop and they will test your eyes to find your prescription for free. You can choose frames from as low as ₩10,000 a pair all the way up to designer prices. Lenses tend to start at ₩25,000. You don't need to go an optometrist or pay anything else!
   Haircuts are also a steal in Korea. Budget friendly salons will charge less than ₩10,000 for a cut and style and the most high-end place in the city won't charge more than ₩20,000 for the same services. You can expect to spend ₩15,000 on average for cut, shampoo, styling and even a drink while you're waiting.
   Be sure to check out the local markets for lower prices on produce and other miscellaneous items.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

4 Best Terrace Dining & Cafes on Apsan Cafe Street | Daegu, Korea

Terrace Dining on Apsan Cafe Street

Springtime is such a lovely time to be in Daegu. The gorgeous weather and bright blooms attract many to spend time outdoors before it gets too hot. The only thing better than enjoying fresh air and sunshine is doing that over a tasty brunch or handcrafted cafe treat. Here is a list of four options for enjoying outdoor dining on Daegu’s lovely Apsan Cafe Street. This long tree-lined boulevard sits just below lush Apsan Mountain and is a short walk from exit two of Hyeonchungro Station exit 2. Just head out the exit and take a left at the intersection. You will find yourself at the bottom of the Cafe Street where everything on this list (and plenty more) can be found.

Zione: Authentic Italian by the Mountainside

If the name Zione rings a bell, that's because this is the sibling restaurant to the Dongsunro staple of the same name. Zione is known for their rustic setting, lovely outdoor terrace and mouthwatering dishes and the Apsan Cafe Street location is no different, if not more breathtaking. The window-wrapped building features lofted ceilings and a rooftop terrace making a perfect setting for indulging in a glass of wine and Italian food with friends. Tables accommodate up to eight and if you can't grab a seat on the terrace, you will feel like you are outside from any table in the restaurant due to tall windows on every wall. If you can't tell just by looking, the food is fantastic and includes authentic imported cured meats and cheese paired with the freshest local produce.

Zione (Apsan)
Address: 21, Hyeonchung-ro, Nam-gu, Daegu
KR Address: 대구 남구 현충로 21
Hours: 12:00-22:00
*English menu available

From our table gazing out to the sunny terrace
Apsan Mountain through the window
Chef’s special plate with salami, prosciutto, mozzarella, arugula, olives, tomatoes, and avocado drizzled in olive oil
Quattro Fromaggi pizza

Tea Making Room: Minimalist Design Cafe with a Terrace

Tea Making Room doesn't offer much in terms of dining- only two desserts on the menu. However, the artisanal beverages and view alone make this worth a stop for anyone looking to relax and bask in the beauty of the mountain. The Cafe is a two-story building that appears to be former private residence with lots of natural light. A large second story terrace has plenty of tables and the perfect backdrop of hanok roofs and Apsan mountain. Tea Making Room is not on the main Cafe Road; to find it you will need to take a right at the easy-to-spot Cafe Droptop near the top of the road and you will see the pink sign for Tea Making Room just in front of you.

Tea Making Room
Address: 6, Hyeongchung-ro 5-gil, Nam-gu, Daegu
KR Address: 대구 남구 현충로 5길 6
Hours: 12:00-22:00
*Hanguel menu

From left to right; Iced Earl Grey Milk Tea, Tiramisu Cream Milk
A vast terrace, several tables facing the mountain not pictured

Rio Coffee: Brazilian Coffee and Cake on the Terrace

Friendly staff and lots of windows make for a very light and airy vibe at this charming spot located centrally on the main Cafe Street. Check out the gorgeous mango tiramisu cakes amongst the modern tropical decor and enjoy a drink on the terrace located out front; perfect for people watching. The menu has a variety of smoothies and fresh fruit juices in addition to classic cafe choices, plus several bakery selections.

Rio Coffee
Address: 36, Hyeonchung-ro, Nam-gu, Daegu
KR Address: 대구광역시 남구 현충로 36
Hours: 9:00-24:00
*Hanguel menu

Lots of natural light and greenery
Mango Tiramisu with fresh fruit for juices and smoothies
Look for the Rio inspired mural!

Leban 101: Vietnamese Fusion Hidden Gem

There is only one 4-person table that is technically outdoors at this restaurant, so it almost doesn’t fit this list. But Leban 101 has so much charm and a great menu for a nontraditional brunch (or just a lovely meal anytime) it’s worth a mention. The menu is not too expansive but thoughtful with a few soups, meat and rice dishes and side dishes plus imported beers and canned juices. For a light brunch, try the Mango Juice from the Philippines and the Spring Rolls; they are too delectable to not specifically recommend. If you can luck out with an outdoor seat you will enjoy some tasty food under a rainbow canopy of lanterns with one of the best spots in town for people watching.

Address: 37-1, Hyeonchung-ro, Nam-gu, Daegu
KR Address: 대구광역시 남구 현충로 37-1
Hours: 12:00-24:00 (last order 23:00)
*bilingual menu

The best seat in the house
The best spring rolls!
Com thit heo- Grilled Pork Rice

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Korea Festivals 2018| 10 Things to Check Out in May

May is the busiest month full of fun events. Here are 10 events that you might want to check out!

Fringe Blossoms
Did it snow last night? What is looks like soft snow lay on tree is actually fringe trees’ blossoms! Come out for the white and lush green beauty that you can enjoy only in a couple of East Asian countries!

Dalseong-gun Fringe Tree Habitat 달성군 이팝나무 군락지
  Date: Peak blossom from now for 7 – 10 days
  Address: 102, Ipamnamu-gil, Okpo-myeon, Dalseong-gun, Daegu, Korea
  KR Address: 대구광역시 달성군 옥포면 이팝나무길 102
*The address is a house nearest to the habitat. The habitat is across from the given address

Daegu Yangnyeongsi Herbal Medicine Culture Festival
Experience Korean history and culture through its herbal medicine! The Herbal Medicine Culture Festival is taking place at Yangnyeongsi Market, the oldest herbal market in Korea!

  Date: May 3 – 7
  Location: Yangnyeongsi area (near Banwoldang Station)
  Address: 51-1, Namsung-ro, Jung-gu, Daegu
  KR Address: 대구 중구 남성로 51-1
  Website: Click here
  What to expect: herbal medicine exhibitions, making herbal pills, herbal medicine food truck, etc.

Colorful Daegu Festival
One of the biggest Daegu festivals is taking place soon! Its signature “Colorful Parade” is definitely a must-see in this spring!

  Date: May 5 - 6
  Location: near Dongseongro Station (Line1)
  Address: 39, Dongseong-ro, Jung-gu, Daegu, Korea
  KR Address: 대구광역시 중구 동성로 39
  Website: Click here
  What to expect: Colorful Parade, art market, street performances, food trucks, etc

Dongseongro Festival
How can we miss the downtown festival? Dongseongro becomes even more eventful during May when Dongseongro Festival is happening!

  Date: May 11 - 13
  Location: near Dongseongro Station (Line1)
  Address: 39, Dongseong-ro, Jung-gu, Daegu, Korea
  KR Address: 대구광역시 중구 동성로 39
  Website: Click here *Korean only
  What to expect:

Daegu Fashion Jewelry Week 2018
 Just across from Dongseongro, Gyodong is famous for jewelry stores located in its corners. When you come out for Dongseongro Festival, make sure to broaden your horizon and check this out, too! 

  Date: May 11 - 13
  Location: Daegu Fashion Jewelry Special Zone (Dongseongro – Gyodong)
  Address: 84, Dongseong-ro, Jung-gu, Daegu, Korea
  KR Address: 대구 중구 동성로 84
  Website: Click here
  What to expect: performances, exhibitions, hand-on experiences, fringe festival, etc

Igok Rose Festival
If you’d like to rather spend more relaxing weekend, come out to Igok Rose Park for its annual rose festival.

  Date: May 11 – 13
*Blossoms are expected to last until early June
  Location: Igok Rose Park aka Igok Fountain Park
  Address: 199, Seonwon-ro, Dalseo-gu, Daegu, Korea
  KR Address: 대구 달서구 선원로 199
  What to expect: dance contest, hand-on experience,  

Eworld Colorful Festival
How can we not mention Eworld when it comes to festival? Eworld is busy preparing for May Festivals that includes spectacular firework and balloon flying event. 16,500m2 wide field of Yuchae flowers.

Image: Eworld

Season 1 : Colorful Balloon Festival (April 28 – May 25)
Season 2: Colorful Flag Festival (May 2 – June 17)
*Colorful Firework show: May 5(The Children’s Day!)
  Location: Eworld
  Address: 200, Duryugongwon-ro, Dalseo-gu, Daegu, Korea
  KR Address: 대구 달서구 두류공원로 200

Dalgubeol Lantern Festival
We’ve been waiting for a year for this festival! Dalgubeol Lantern Festival finally starts on May 16. Its most popular merrymaking event takes place on the last day.

 Date: May 16 - 19
  Website: Click here *Korean only
  What to expect: Lantern Parade, Colorful Merrymaking, etc

Lotus Lantern Parade
  Date: May 19, 18:00
  Location: Duryu Baseball Stadium to Banwoldang Intersection

Colorful Merrymaking
■ Date: May 19, 18:00
■ Location: Duryu Baseball Stadium (inside Duryu Park)
■ Address: 7, Gongwonsunhwan-ro, Dalseo-gu, Daegu, Korea
■ KR Address: 대구 달서구 공원순환로 7
■ Admission: Tickets sold out (You can enter a zone without purchased ticket on the day of merrymaking. First come, first served)
■ Website: click here *Korean only
*Please kindly note that only lanterns that are provided by the organization are allowed. 

Coreopsis field at Sunrise Park
Daegu is blessed with a variety of blossoms throughout spring! The time for yellow delight is coming up next!

  Date: Late May – early June
  Location: Dongchon Sunrise Park 해맞이 공원
  Address: 212-2, Hyomok-dong, Dong-gu, Daegu, Korea
  KR Address: 대구광역시 동구 효목동 212-2

Daegu Flower Show
If you a flower lover, this is the fair you must check. Daegu Flower Show marks its 9th event this year. Last year, 10,000 people visited each day. This year, the number is expected to be even bigger.

Image: Daegu Flower Show

  Date: May 31 – June 3
  Location: EXCO 1F
  Address: 10, Exco-ro, Buk-gu, Daegu
  KR Address: 대구 북구 엑스코로 10
  Website: Click here *Korean only
  Amission: 8,000won for adults
  What to expect: flower exhibition(gardening, wild flowers, aquatic plants, flower design, preserved flowers, orchids, etc), flower design contest, flower tea class, florist seminar, etc.