And the mother prayed…

It took me six months to write down her story, six months to write down a few lines. It’s easier to forget.

I met a woman in the city of Medina, in Saudi Arabia who tapped my shoulder as I was conversing with my mother. “Mummy?” she whispered as she pointed towards my mother, in a low huskiness that broke as soon as the word had left her mouth. Yes, I nodded. And just the confirmation itself was so heart wrenching to her that her body abruptly began to convulse. The movement of words trying to make its way from her gut to her tongue pained her that she shook with emotion. She began to cry. I didn’t know why. I sat there with her in a moment of brief silence and fanning of tissues, she began to speak. “I from Burma…” and that’s all I heard her say. The rest was heart breaking moments of tears and shudders and hand gestures that I can still see today. The imagery she had made me visualise has not left me. I’m sad to say that I’ve upset her, by laughing with my mother in front of her, by just being with my mother… this woman crying in front me, praying in front of me, had a daughter. Her young daughter, her child, her own flesh, from her own womb – beheaded. Slaughtered. I only assume that it happened before her eyes. She had not passed the age of seven.

Please God, tell me this is not real life.

It took me six months to write down the story of a Rohingya woman, six months to write down a few lines. It’s easier to forget. I ask that you be better than me. I ask that you remember. And that you do nothing more than pray for her and the Rohingya people who have suffered and are still suffering such terrors and heartbreak in Burma. I ask that you pray for them as you pray for the lives of Syria’s children. As you pray for the thousands of individuals in refuge, in search of grace by their fellow man, in search of a place where they can be treated as humankind. The ones whose lives are constantly and consistently at risk, who are fleeing from conflict and squalor. The desperate mothers, who strive forth, as the pitfalls of humanity crumble down around them. And the children… the ones who sincerely have hope in us, we who follow your stories on television and forget them as soon as we change the channel, we who think that we are human beings because we repost your picture on social media thinking we’ve done enough, we who criticize the gunman at the harbour for giving you a bottle of water and sending you back to sea but still do nothing more than him, proving that we are no better. Yet you believe in us, you have faith in us. You’ve put your trust in us, that we’ll help you, that we’ll save you. We fail you every time.

“And the mother prayed, Child – May you never walk when the road waits, famished.”

– Wole Soyinka


Sisterhood of the World Blogger Award

So this is a pleasant surprise! Or I got nominated by accident, probably the latter but let’s think positive thoughts! It’s rather  thrilling being part of a virtual sisterhood and being nominated for an award. It’s a great feeling to be recognised by other bloggers  especially since my blog is so young. It’s almost 3 months old so it’s basically a fragile little baby who is most certainly getting lots of love from her twitter family. And that’s where I “met” Elina from Luxamundi, who nominated me for the Sisterhood of the World Blogger Award, which if I’m not mistaken is a blogger-nominate-blogger award & tag so please head over to her blog and show some love. I would obviously spread the love and tag some bloggers at the end, but first let’s answer Elina’s questions.

1. Describe yourself in 3 words

Unitidy! Just by lifting my head from my laptop all I can see are bundles of clothes, books, charges and other random objects. Which leads onto #2 – I’m a Hoarder! I honestly wish I could just put everything into a black bag and leave it for the garbage collectors but instead I just put my invaluable objects (just in case you thought them unnecessary) into bags and store them wherever I find place. Also, bags! I hoard all sorts of bags: handbags, gift bags, shopping bags even plastic bags! You never know when you might need a plastic bag. Lastly, I’d say I’m quite driven though I am definitely my own motivator, partly because I live inside my head and partly because my whole family has given up on me. But they still feed me so no hard feelings there.

2. Why did you start blogging?

I finally had the time to sit down and write and I also had a YouTube beauty addiction. In the peak of my YouTube obsession I’d say I first got the idea of starting a blog. I became skincare obsessed and just wanted to blog about it. I actually remember googling how to start a blog (though googling is not a verb – thanks for going to court Google! Way to kill an awesome verb). It seemed complicated at the time as I was a bit of a technophobe back then so it didn’t happen. But the idea kept on resurfacing so I just went for it. I guess it’s one of those things that I always wanted to do but never did for a long time, so at my granny old age I decided to finally start blogging and I couldn’t be happier. Well I could, but…

3. Other than blogging, what is a hobby that you are passionate about?

This is a difficult one for me as I’m more of a stop & starter when it comes to hobbies. I go through phases of interests but they always end at some point. I’ve had a keen interest in ballet from a young age but only started classes a couple of years ago. I’ve been on and off it for a while now but it has definitely been the longest activity that I kept at, even though I’m on an off phase right now. Honestly, I can’t do evening ballet classes after my late afternoon lecture so it’s at a momentary standstill but I’m definitely not giving up on it. But before blogging, writing, reading and photography were my hobbies, still are (evidently) but that’s now incorporated into my blog so does that still count? I swear I have hobbies! I do lots of things in my head.

4. If you could go travelling for a month, and you had unlimited financial resources, where would you go and what would you do?

For someone who has an overactive imagination I can’t actually dream up specifics. I definitely want to see Japan but I’ve got so many friends in Europe that I have not visited yet because a holiday to Europe would literally be a debt trap. Even though the thought of walking through the streets of Italy sounds incredibly beautiful, I’ve developed a deep love for the Far East so I’d probably do week in Japan, a weekend in Seoul (shopping purposes only), 10 days in Kualar Lampur and 10 days in Bali! I’m not much of a planner when it comes to holidays so I usually get a travel guide and read that on the flight and see what appeals to me. But word has it, that my ancestral genealogy goes back to the Indo-Malay region so I basically want to go to the motherland. Find my people! I kid I kid I joke, I’m South African born and bred. But also, Malay. 🙂

5. What is your proudest blogging achievement/experience?

Definitely all the positive feedback I’ve had which I truly didn’t expect. I’m actually quite surprised that I haven’t slid into a foetal position in a dark corner somewhere out of fear that people are reading my written work. Then again, the fact that people are reading my blog has probably been the biggest surprise of all! I thought no one would read yet another blog and that I’d have to force my family members to like my page. Fortunately, it’s been quite the opposite. Just putting my writing out there, even though it’s not life changing, has definitely been a personal achievement.

6. If you could meet anyone, alive or dead, who would it be?

Hmm no-one! Not the answer you were expecting I’m sure but just the idea of meeting people freaks me out. I’m nowhere near a social butterfly and I literally get social anxiety before meeting groups of people. There are many people I’d like to see in person and just be in their company but to converse with them would be something which takes place in my mind alone. It’s better that way.

7. Do you have an object or habit that you consider your lucky charm or do to get you in the zone before doing something?

I used to have a pair of lucky socks, you could say. Ok, they never brought me luck but I liked to wear them when feeling like a need a bit of luck on my side. I’m pretty sure they were Christmas socks. They were a sky blue shade and had brown pine trees on them. Sadly, I don’t have them anymore. Now I just head down to my favourite coffee shop and sit on a bench quietly and mentally prepare myself for what’s ahead. You know, being an adult instead of wearing weird socks. I don’t even celebrate Christmas – that was a strange lucky charm to have. I guess it was all in my head.

8. What’s your earliest childhood memory?

Something that always comes back to me is fond memories of my grandmother. She passed when I was 5 so I still have some vivid memories of her well before that. I remember one day she left the house and my mother and I had seen her off and literally when she got to the bottom of our steps a bird had dropped a little bit of luck on her scarf. I thought it was really funny at the time and I’m still laughing about it today. But she was also the sweetest woman and at 4, hands down she was my friend.

9. Which would you pick to be given: flowers or cake?

Cake! Easy. I’m not an avid lover of flowers I must say. I like the way they can uplift a room but other than that you have really strong scents and death after a few days.

10. What would your advice be to people thinking about or just starting a blog?

Just be yourself. I know that seems obvious but blogging has become the new hype and it’s so easy to see what successful bloggers are doing and trying to mimic them, trying to use the same products as them, the same photos as them and even have the same opinions as them. Be original, be you. Let your individuality stand out whether it’s in your photographs or in your writing style. The only way people will relate to your blog is if they relate to you. So gamble on yourself and don’t try to be anyone else.

Ok so now its my turn to tag some bloggers and add my own list of questions. Firstly, I’m sure most of the bloggers I’m tagging have already been tagged, but I just had to mention you as being a sister and just my way of saying thanks for the reads, the comments and generally just uplifting my mood and making me feel good about my blog and helping me fit in to the sisterhood of bloggers ❤

I tag: Amanda Speroni, Amanda Bootes, Beverbeee, Laura Marie Scott, Arielle Tan, Amber Gentleman and A Beautiful Whim.

My questions are:

1. What’s your favourite thing about blogging?
2. How many hours a day do you spend on your blog? (writing, editing, taking photos, blog chats etc.)
3. What do you find most challenging about blogging?
4. How long have you been blogging?
5. How long did it take you to start a blog from the time you had the idea?
6. If you could go back, what would you tell your beginner-blogger self?
7. What do you wish people took from your blog? (meaning or messages that maybe aren’t evident)
8. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
9. What would you like your readers to know about you?
10. What have you learnt about yourself through blogging?

To my nominees, here are the rules:

  • Send some virtual love to the blogger who nominated you and tag her in your post.
  • Answer the 10 question tag.
  • Create 10 brand new questions for your own nominees.
  • Tag other bloggers and spread the love!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post! And another big thank you to Elina for the nomination! Read her blog! Now.

*Apologies for all your names in red. I know  this is a terrible thing to do in some cultures but I’m not sure how to change it yet.

Broken Down Palace

I came across a land so desolate and undignified in nature, it saddened me. The way a man beheads a tree bleeding its life into the earth that sorrow befalls the garden, and the insects scramble back into the underground seeking refuge in its dirt. And I watch the sun’s rays through the yellowness of the leaves that I know is green – but the light! Oh the light makes everything extraordinarily beautiful. And through the light I see some windows of shattered glass and burnt wood of a house that no longer serves as a habitat. And just like that, this old tortured looking victim of man’s cruelty and indiscretion for sanctity was made to me, mesmerising, how these yellow leaves sparkle and bedazzle this broken down palace. I read a quote somewhere about seeing beauty even when it’s not pretty and thought, God that’s true. Look how nature beautifies these decaying structures, fragments of things that were, but is no more. And standing at the remains, at the all-encompassing decomposition of hope, at the feeling of loss of those who tread here, all I see is the light. And all I think is – this is beauty!



DSCF2858DSCF2862Photos were taken in Cape Town, South Africa. The excerpt was written upon reflection of the featured image, which was actually taken on a separate day. The last two images in which I’m featured were taken by Zainab Salie.

Midnight Musings

Last night I lay in bed drifting in and out of the nothingness which consumes me, worried about things that shouldn’t concern me and dreaming of fantasies that will never be. And I lay there, still, between my white sheets which clung to my skin like on a hot summer’s night, sticking to my legs. It’s like this fly persisting to attach itself to my screen, that won’t let go. But something brought me out of my slumber. There was something about this heat. It’s August, and summer somewhere else but not here. Here is Cape Town. Here is home. But tonight, my heart is somewhere else. August is usually our coldest month. But today the sun’s rays were burning my skin through my clothes, that uncomfortable feeling of restlessness you get that there’s nothing you can do about. It will burn you either way. But it wasn’t a winter’s sun. Today felt like summer. And smelled of a summer I spent in Istanbul. An old familiar scent I had once been acquainted with, a fragrance which lingered under my nose. I waited, thinking it would fade away as memories do. But it remained. A sweet, sweet fragrance which stuck to my sleeve the way scents do when you put them on your skin. It’s like a perfume I had sprayed on a shirt that I picked up some days later that was still infused with its notes. But this was not my perfume. It was the scent of my body lotion lingering longer than usual. But it didn’t smell of it. It smelled of something else, someone else. A woman, a young lady I had stayed with in Turkey. A beautiful being I was fortunate enough to have crossed paths with.

There’s something about the people of travelled lands. There’s an education in them which needs to be learnt, studied and talked about. There’s an education in them which needs to be experienced, which needs to be lived. A humility I discovered in them. It’s in their hearts, in their affection, in their generosity and their hospitality. Like a note, a subtle scent of something unexpected that surprises you that you feel delight. That was the scent – delight! It’s a memory of a young woman who had spritzed her perfume on her scarf before she left the house, the memories of a kind woman, a generous one. Memories of the people who stole my heart, who showed me what it meant to be looked after by strangers, who bestowed upon me acts of kindness, who internalised in me the feeling of being in someone else’s house and calling it home. It was the greeting at the airport when you saw me, a little shy & nervous. It was an embrace to pacify me. It was the first cup of coffee you had made me. It was in the time I was sick and you fed me or in the time I got lost and you came to find me. It’s everything in you, in your nature, in your being. It’s your scent, your fragrance which lingers onto others, onto those who pass by you. It’s the scent we take back to our homelands and remember you and how you made us feel. It’s you. You are the rose, the flower.

A few of the most beautiful women I’d ever met! I can’t thank them enough.

Seoul’s Shopping Districts

Hi, I’m Gameema and I’m a shopaholic. OK, maybe not all the time, but sometimes, when I have some cash money and depression that only retail therapy can cure. But if you are a shopaholic then I’m going to be your enabler. And if you aren’t completely addicted to shopping then you haven’t been to Seoul, where consumerism is the be all and end all and no-one is exempted. The shopping district in Seoul caters to all individuals, even those on a budget. You can actually take yourself on a full-on shopping spree here! There are so many elements to this consumerist culture that I’ve tried breaking it up into sections.

The Department Stores
Be careful to check your bank balance beforehand as the Korean department stores will definitely break your budget. This is brand central, with an array of international brands to tickle your fancy or to make you hate your life if you’re not in the 1% elite. You’ll immediately be in awe as you walk through the doors as the marble floors and down lighting will make you feel as though you’re in some kind of wonderland. I loved going to the department store in Myeongdong, which was love at first sight. I can’t even begin to explain the magnitude of these buildings and what they represent for a modernistic first world culture. It’s like malls on steroids.  I couldn’t count the amount of floors there were but I made my way up to the 8th and that was basically a summit for me. I’d advise you to take an elevator as the escalators have made me so dizzy I swear I lost consciousness. The Department Stores are my favourite places to find international skincare brands. They are of course high end buys which seem to be preferred in Seoul. You may also find a Boujoir counter which I thought a bit ridiculous as this is a drugstore brand everywhere else in the world (not that I’ve been everywhere but you know). But cheaper brands like Boujoir get a better reputation if sold in department stores and it also gives them a little more freedom to raise their prices and still be cheaper than other cosmetic brands there. But that’s just the ground floor. All the way up is mainly fashion stores, which is like 7 floors of designer clothing, which also includes bags, shoes and price tag panic attacks. But enough with all the expenses, let’s talk alternatives.

The Markets
The markets are like the department stores minus the flashy lights. It hosts a wide range of Korean brands and an overwhelming sense of stuffiness. Claustrophobic folks – Beware! These are mainly indoor markets and may make you feel like you’re in one of those Where’s Waldo picture books surrounded by a mass of people. Except here are actual humans and clothes, and bedding and pig noses. Ok maybe they aren’t that much like the department stores. Markets are a big deal here. I feel like every place you go to in Seoul has a few good markets. The Dongdaemun market is probably the largest market you can find and also has quite a number of floors and not to mention a few buildings. Famous for its late night shopping, this market closes as late as 5am. For what reason, I’ll never know. They are known for selling high quality goods, even the same quality as the department stores but without the exorbitant price tag. I wouldn’t say it is necessarily cheap, but you do have a bargaining window here so take it! Korean brands are of a high quality so these items can last years and still maintain good condition. You do obviously get less extravagant markets in Seoul, but are they really worth talking about? Probably not. Let’s move on.

The Streets
Fashion streets are prominent in Korea and Seoul has no shortage of them. They have definitely been my favourite places to shop as they are a lot cheaper than the markets and they have this thing called fresh air. These streets can get packed on weekends but there’s always an easy escape and a fresh lemonade stand. Again, the quality of the Korean brands is exceptional so you can’t go wrong here. My favourite fashion streets in Seoul are at the Ewha Women’s University in Sinchon and Garuso-gil in Sinsa-Dong, which is supposed to be the Parisian street in Seoul. One day when I’m in Paris, I’ll let you know how accurate that statement is. The fashion street in Sinchon is a bit rugged in comparison to Garuso-gil and a lot busier too. It hosts a lot of boutiques selling women’s clothing catering for the students of Ewha, and I found a lot of the shops to be quite cute. You’ll know what I mean when you get there. It is also the best place to shop for stationery! I promise you, Korea does the prettiest perk me up miscellaneous goods ever! I could literally spend a few solid hours looking at ornaments, journals, lamps, clocks etc. you name it, they’ve got it (in pink!). Garusogil on the other hand is more sophisticated. It’s a little less cutesy and a lot more artsy. If it were in Cape Town, It would most likely be infiltrated by hipsters. I hadn’t spent much time there because I found it towards the end of my stay when hunting down Paula’s Choice. I also found Forver21 there to my surprise, as I always went to the one in Myeongdong, which we’ll get to in a bit, as well as Melvita, Banila & Co., the best Missha store I’ve seen and Wonderbra. Yep, women need bras. But in between all the smaller boutiques you may find some good bargains. I sure did.195189

I feel like Seoul is always having a sale. It’s an extremely competitive market so you never fall short of a good deal. Don’t even speak to me about the summer and winter sales that occur in Myeongdong. That’s another dizzying experience which my mind tends to block out. But my love for Myeongdong will never die. It was my Krispy Kream breakfast on a Saturday morning and a wander around the streets, markets and department stores. It’s the hybrid of Seoul’s shopping district and the heart of my shopping memories. Two massive department stores practically a block away from each other, numerous street vendors selling goods at dirt cheap prices and basically an outside market of the most trending international and local brands. If you have one day to shop in Seoul, this is your destination.

There are so many amazing places to shop in Seoul, all of which cannot be mentioned in this post. But if you are planning a trip to Seoul or are interested in Seoul’s shopping district then do look out for places like Itaewon and Hongdae, even Insa-dong. There’s so much to do in this city you’ll literally feel like taking another holiday on your return home. It also took a while for me to go shopping when I returned home as I knew I had left the biggest bargain behind. I dream of going back there and just spoiling myself!

Shopping in Itaewon

Where’s your favourite place to shop? Leave a comment below Xx

Hiking in South Korea & Temple Visit

I could never put down to words the best moments I’ve had on my travels. Or even the worst for that matter. Each experience, good or bad has had a positive outcome. I don’t think I remember everything I did whilst travelling, or every single place I’ve visited. There are only memories, some more vivid than others. And with them, are a mass of feelings which I can still feel if I let my mind drift back there. Some of these recollections are vague, disappearing into the mind of an aging wanderer. Some are so powerful they hit me right through the chest. There are these feelings I remember having, feelings of loneliness, of excitement and feelings of contentment. And then there are photographs of places I’ve seen, beautiful places I have been, and I remember being there yet I can’t remember how that felt. There’s nothing worse than not feeling anything, than not being moved by anything. We can’t force ourselves to have an emotional attachment to something, no matter how beautiful or sacred that thing might be, but we can make an effort to be present in those moments.

This Photo Journal holds some memories of visiting a temple in South Korea. It is located deep within the Korean countryside, in the midst of the Yeongwol Mountains in Gangwon Province.


IMG_1571I am not familiar with Temple Stays or the reasoning behind them. But I did watch Eat Pray Love one too many times and thought it a wonderful idea, minus the cleaning part of course. There was something really beautiful about this place though, something surreal. The autumn leaves gave us an incredible scenic view – that picturesque postcard material.  I swear I want to turn one of these photos into a puzzle so that I could relive this moment of seeing such beauty. But it’s not just the outward beauty of the space we were in, there was something else here, something more.

IMG_1559IMG_1558Most times we travel through lands we’ve already seen hundreds of times in images, in films, in this media frenzy world we live in. So when we get there it’s always packed full of hungry tourists waiting to get their share in it. Queues and queues of people, who have flocked from all over the world to visit these amazing places, stand and wait in in the summer heat with sun hats on heads and maps in hand. And it’s all very busy and very exciting as well. But what if you went to a different neck of the woods, to a more distant place?

IMG_1597IMG_1594You might just find yourself in an empty space, walking through a massive forest breathing in fresh air and listening to children’s voices laughing in the distant background. There’s not much that I remember from being here. But I remember the people who were with me, friends who paid their respects at the prayer area. And I remember the children, who were always laughing. The feelings I’m afraid, have passed on. I’m scared to say that I felt nothing more than appreciation for nature. But maybe that was enough. Maybe that was all I was supposed to take from this visit. But look what rich history there’s left to uncover, a culture, a story. And then you realise, no-one’s been here before, not really. There’s something about being in a land untouched that appeases you. It’s finding new ground, finding a hidden gem in a tiny corner of the world completely enclosed by its large trees that make you feel really little. There’s peace in these places. So stray a bit, move away from those tourist attractions and wander around. And find the road less travelled by.


If you’ve had a similar travel experience or have done a Temple Stay, please share your experiences in the comments below! I’d love to hear your thoughts.

You can find similar posts here: Photo Journal – Mosque Hopping & Midnight Musings

Teach Abroad – Surviving Korea’s Last Minute Culture

If you’re someone who’s well organised, a perfectionist or German then working in South Korea might just be the thing which drives you off the edge. The Korean working environment is no doubt a professional work place but their last minute culture will turn you into a flexible teacher in no time. Your class schedules are set and it’s very well planned out and half the time things are going according to plan. But it’s the other half that makes teaching in Korea all the more exciting.

I’ve summed up the Korean working environment into three parts: the plan, the changes and the let’s not tell the English teacher anything part. We’ll skip the plan for now, it won’t matter that much anyway. The changes however, are something which you need to note. Changes to class schedules are constant. You might be sitting at your desk facebooking, sorry I meant researching creative approaches to teaching ESL to kindergarteners, thinking you have a free period and then bam! Your co-teacher bursts into the staffroom panicking as to why you’re not in some other teacher’s class. “Huh? But I haven’t got a class now” might be your initial reaction. And then you’ll get a perfectly reasonable Korean answer which would be something along these lines… Mr So & So had to do something because of such & such and now the kids have to get English and you are already 5 minutes late. Great. So you get to class and the kids have been waiting for about 10 minutes for their English teacher to arrive. “Ohh teacher late!” Yep, according to them you are late and since you don’t have a lesson plan, because chances are you weren’t supposed to teach that class that day anyway, you have now become incompetent too. But don’t worry, they’re kids and they’ll forgive you. 093If you don’t speak Korean, like most new teachers who haven’t yet grasped the language, you won’t know much about the day to day events until it’s actually happening. And most times, you don’t need to. You are responsible for English lessons and English camp and that’s about it. Your colleagues have an excellent work ethic as well so they don’t have time to baby you and report back to you on the school’s events as they are extremely busy. I’m giving Koreans the benefit of the doubt here by saying this is the reason English teachers aren’t informed about schedule changes and school events. But when there’s an English competition, you’d expect at least one of your co teachers to inform you. After all, you are the native English teacher. Who better to help the students than you? If you’re lucky, they’ll let you know a day in advance so that you can prepare the students to put on a great show. On the plus side, I do recall a number of my classes being cancelled due to schedule changes so hey, you win some, you lose some. DSCN2185One day I arrived at school to find out that all classes were cancelled as the entire school would go on an excursion. This was great news! When we got to our destination in the midst of the village, we had to get on what looked like a hand crafted raft made out of narrow tree logs. It was a stunning location; the village’s main tourist attraction and it was a place I had wanted to visit ever since I arrived in Yeongwol aka No Man’s Land. The only thing that kept me from jumping up and down out of sheer jubilation was the chunky heel on my boots, not to mention my mini skirt! And then I realised everyone else in sport’s gear dressed to be in the wilderness. But I let go of my tantrum child stamping her feet shouting, why didn’t anyone tell me about this! Which by the way, was very similar to my who doesn’t tell the English teacher about the English competition tantrum I had going on with myself. I probably spent half my time starring at my colleagues with angry eyebrows throwing tantrums in my head. But I wasn’t going to let this upset me. I just walked carefully onto the raft, found a good spot to relax and took it all in. The scenery was incredibly beautiful and the boat ride was a rare opportunity. I felt like I was floating through nature. It’s one of my most memorable experiences whilst living abroad.DSCN2134

DSCN2199DSCN2204In time, you’ll become accustomed to the last minute culture and though these situations might get your blood boiling at the time, they’ll soon become great stories. You don’t need to prepare a hundred Just In Case lesson plans or write blog posts about your inabilities to handle changes maturely (cough cough). In time you’ll learn how to let go of your ego and accept that things are done differently elsewhere. Cultural awareness would help you a great deal in not only understanding a new culture but also accepting the culture for what it is and respecting your co-workers for their way of doing things. Sure, you might be the one embarrassed at the end of the day for showing up like Elle Woods to a day on a raft but that’s part of the journey. It’s what makes your experience unique. So own your Legally Blonde moments and have fun with it. Life’s too short to be a bore. elle woods 4

Find more on teaching in South Korea here!

Teach Abroad – Life in the Korean Countryside

At some point in your life, this thought will cross your mind. How long you entertain it is up to your level of boredom in your current position. When I think of moving abroad, even today, I still imagine comfortable living. I picture a spacious apartment located in the swing of things, with a coffee shop across the street, my school not too far away and the convenience of modern day transportation to make everything easier. In fact, I think most of us imagine the best case scenario in order to push through the exhausting application process, and yes, some people are gifted with this wonderful story. I on the other hand, have bad luck and people who have bad luck get put into bad situations. OK, that sounds depressing, it wasn’t that bad. It was however, unexpected

Arriving in Korea was exciting. Half the flight’s passengers were English teachers so we all huddled together at the airport. I applied directly with EPIK so it was a relief to see people at the airport to meet us. We were put onto buses and taken to a city to do 10 days of orientation. I won’t bore you with the details but you share a room with another teacher on a campus residence and you get food, warm showers and classes till it’s practically dark out. The best thing about orientation is that you get to make friends. It gives you the realisation that you’re not alone and there will always be someone to support you. The thing I found dodgy though, was that we were only given our placement locations after signing our final contracts. That’s when you find out exactly where you’re located and at how many schools you’ll be working. I was placed in a small town in the midst of nowhere and my primary school was a 30 minute bus drive away in an even smaller and more remote village. So much for all those teaching ads saying your school would be within walking distance. Liars. Even my secondary school in my town was a 20 minute walk away.

Bus Stop outside my primary school

Living in Korea’s countryside is difficult. Mainly because you’re so far away from everything else and the public transport system in and out of these towns are seldom. I lived in a town which had no shopping centre; the biggest supermarket was about eight isles big. If you wanted to go to the cinema you had to take a bus to the next town. That’s where I also went to do my shopping and get my groceries at an actual supermarket. There’s not much to do in the countryside unless you’re one of those let’s get isolated and write a novel type of people. I mean, you could go out running through the mountains, it’s not like there’s anyone creepy waiting for you in the woods. There aren’t a lot of people in these towns. The only thing that might freak you out is your own exhausted reflection looking back at you when you run into a mirror placed along these running paths. Sound weird? It is weird. But hey, at least you’ll know what you look like when you’re out jogging.273Teaching wise, I couldn’t ask for anything better. My class schedule was the standard 22 hour teaching week and I hardly did any admin. My students were obviously very cute and surprisingly well behaved. You will get a bunch of students who are difficult to manage but even my naughtiest kids loved to listen to The Very Hungry Caterpillar. In some of my classes I had a co-teacher but for the most part, I was on my own, which I preferred. The curriculum needs altering so some creativity is required on your part. Overall, it was a fun and relaxed teaching enviroment. I received a lot of help from my principals, vice-principals, co-teachers, and most of all, the woman who made everything easy for me, Mrs Lee, who basically ran the school. Honestly, if it wasn’t for their support I would probably have died in the village.

019 If the hustle and bustle is something you’re trying to escape then the countryside is for you. You might see the occasional cat on a leash situation and a whole lot of old people walking around but it’s quiet. I found the countryside very relaxing and started hating trips to big cities because I couldn’t stand the rush of things. So whether you end up in a city overwhelmed by the neon signage or in the middle of nowhere, guttered by the empty space of one street towns, any situation you’re put in is up to you to make the best of it. There’s beauty in everything. If you can’t find it in your surroundings, then find it in the people.

In Flight Skincare Routine

Travelling can be a blast! An eventful nonstop journey of sightseeing, culture, food and of course, shopping! But long haul flights can really dampen your mood when you arrive at your destination and your skin is going through World War Three with itself. Taking care of your skin on flights is essential. Think of all that air compression on board, blasting air cons sucking out all your skin’s moisture and leaving it vulnerable to the massive germ called an airbus. So before you try to sleep the flight away, why not pamper yourself on board so that your skin looks its best on vacation?
The most important thing to do on long haul flights is to keep your skin hydrated. I don’t mean your everyday moisturiser that hydrates your skin for a normal day’s work. We’re talking about epic moisturising agents that will retain the skin’s moisture levels throughout the flight. Remember, from the minute you step onto the airbus, bolstering air cons are already attacking your skin’s moisture levels so I suggest you begin your regimen as soon as you’re buckled up.
Start with cleansing your face. No use applying awesome products to a dirty surface. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a hot cloth to cleanse your face and hands. This is perfect for getting rid of any dirt on the skin’s surface. If your airline does not offer this, no worries, pop out a moisturising cleansing wipe and clean your skin. I’m not a fan of cleansing wipes but they sure are convenient. If you choose to start your regimen after take-off then using your normal facial cleanser in the bathroom is great. Apply your toner as per usual and thank the universe for sample sizes. I usually skip this step and go straight into my serum. A serum containing hyaluronic acid is perfect since it traps moisture into the skin. I obviously use my favourite skin care product ever, Hada Labo’s Super Hyaluronic Hydrating Essence, and just pat that into my skin. You could then follow with a really rich moisturiser like Paula’s Choice Replenishing Moisturiser from the Skin Recovery range or you could opt for a mask instead.
Hydrating sleeping masks are perfect for long haul flights. They are extremely hydrating and long lasting. If you’re worried about looking like a weirdo then choose a clear mask so that no-one will know the difference. Origins make an amazing overnight mask that’s super hydrating and clear on the skin. Try their Drink-Up Intensive overnight mask and you’ll fall in love! It quenches parched skin and leaves it feeling super soft in the a.m.
Personally, I prefer to use my hyaluronic acid serum followed by my Origins overnight mask to achieve optimum results. When I get off the plane, my skin is soft, plump and well, happy! So don’t be afraid to proceed with your skincare routine on board; it’s so worth it! And if you’re brave enough to sport a coloured face mask, just remember you’ll never see those people again (fingers crossed!)

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