Ten Years in Korea: One Moment Each Year

August 15, 2021

Well, it's now been 10 years since I came to Korea "for a year" (sorry, mom). 

10 birthdays, 

5 apartments, 

3 jobs, 

2 cats, 

2 weddings,

2 babies,

1 master's degree,

and countless memorable moments.

I've narrowed down the ten years into ten photos; one memory per year.


My cousin, Meghan, took this photo of me outside of Pearson Airport in Toronto on August 15, 2011 before my first flight to Korea. I wouldn't let her come into the airport with me, so she dropped me at the curb. I was a fresh-faced 24 years old and had absolutely no idea what was to come. 

I originally came to Korea through a Toronto-based recruiter, Canadian Connection, who placed me with the Jeollanamdo Board of Education. Before being sent to our respective cities, we had to participate in a week-long orientation where I met so many great people who I am still friends with to this day (though they've all abandoned me for other parts of the world and I'm the only one left in Korea). I wrote about orientation in three parts 1) here, 2) here, and 3) here. This particular photo was taken about a month after our arrival. There were a few legendary parties held on this beach and it really started off our Korean experience with a bang. I wrote a bit about the beach party here


This is a photo of me during my first trip to Jeju Island in the summer of 2012. I took the trip with my friend Erin and, while we were merely acquaintances at the time, this trip solidified our friendship which has lasted until today. We had so much fun. I wrote a blog post about the trip here. This was also around the time that I was fully in my honeymoon phase with the country and I suddenly changed my mind about returning to Canada after my first year. It was a really crazy time in my life. 


I discovered Big Bang after arriving in Korea, and this was the first of many Big Bang concerts that I went to. K-pop concerts are truly a unique experience and this one, as my first, was particular special. We got caught taking photos within the first few minutes and security tried to kick us out. As an avid rule-follower who doesn't like getting in trouble, this experience had me shook. But a big shout out to our friend, Gilbert, who somehow sweet-talked them into leaving us alone. You can read more about the adventure here.


God I loved this car so much! It was my first car ever and it was such a little beater but really got the job done. I once drove her 4 hours to the east coast to attend a pop-up concert on the beach. On another occasion, I drove her 4 hours towards Seoul to celebrate Christmas at an amusement park. 


It was this year that Parkhwan and I "came out" as a couple although we had been dating since October 2014. This particular photo was taken in a department store in his hometown of Daegu. Meeting parents is a huge deal in Korea, so when he had to stop by his parents' house I literally hid out and waited for him in the back seat of his heavily-tinted car. Don't judge me. I wasn't ready yet 💀


Starting my master's degree in 2015 put me on a new path which moved me from the public school system into the university system. I started working at my current university in 2016 and while I am so grateful for the experience I gained while working in middle and high schools, I have never looked back. I love my job so much.  


Our engagement! You can read about the whole story here. We had our Korean wedding in December of this same year, so while writing this post I asked Parkhwan whether I should include our engagement or our wedding. We both agreed on the proposal. It was such a special moment and a turning point for us that set us on our current path.  


We have so many amazing memories from our handful of trips to Canada and our Canadian wedding certainly comes out on top. It was such an amazing experience to be surrounded by Canadian family and friends as we celebrated our commitment to each other. While it took a surprising amount of determination and work ahead of time to make the day as simple and enjoyable as possible, we accomplished our mission and simply enjoyed the day. You can read more about it here.   


MJ arrived in June of 2019 which transformed our world as we knew it. What else is there to say? I wrote about that experience here.


As we all know, 2020 was a rough year. However, covid cases were tame around MJ's first birthday which meant that we were able to celebrate with a Korean-style party. They don't hold back! Is it too late to write a blog post about that experience now that he's two? haa. 


And here we are at the 10th year: 2021. It was literally the first day of this year that I found out I am pregnant with our second.

My "one year" in Korea has been both full and fulfilling. There is no way that 24-year-old me could have ever predicted the way that things would go. It's really mind-blowing to reflect back on my experience and it makes me feel appreciative of what I have and excited to see what the future has in store for myself and my lil fam ♡

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