For anyone who is packing up to head back to the States, a few tips and word of advice that can come in handy for you.
Let's admit it, living in Korea and being surrounded by so many cute and cheap things, you've probably picked up a handful yourself. For the limited amount of space that you can return home with (usually two check-ins, one carry on and one personal bag) this is just not enough! Give a hand to those in need and donate the extra clothing that you have. With the Philippines needing as much as they can at the moment, throwing a few donations that way will help. Many churches are collecting for any donations they can get so your extra clothing, pillow, bedding and other goodies will come in handy.
For those of you who are not looking to stray so far as to donate to the Philippines, go local. There are tons of donation bins that are set up around neighborhoods that make donating easy. You just simply slide in your donations in and walk away. This is the quickest and easiest way to get rid of your stuff.
On a personal note, I actually took all of my donations (mostly blankets, pillows, canned foods, sauces, cook ware) and stored them away. Through the packaging and cleaning out stuff around the house, I also compiled a bunch of cardboards, books, etc that I collected and handed it off to the grandmother who is always coming around to collect cardboards, cans, and any other goodies she can find in the garbage. It definitely hurts me to see this, so stacking up a handful of goodies for her totally made my day because she just was amazed that someone would do such a thing. That and I ran after her for half a block ^.^
For starters, we all hope the packing has been done throughout the weeks. It is not easy to clean out the life you had in Korea, especially a whole apartment full of it. In fact, I have been packing and cleaning out the place for the next person for weeks now. Gradually and little by little, throwing out the things that I do not need to use and packing the rest up. Unfortunately if you are like me and have a lot of stuff over the two years, you just might need to send some stuff home.
If you start sending stuff home, at the very cheapest cost you can send it through boat which will take up to two months to get to your home country but the cost for a huge box is totally worth it. The best part is that Korea offers everything at the post office so you can just bring whatever you want to package to the post office and do it all in one shot. They provide you with boxes, markers, packaging tapes, glue, they even have glasses for the elderly and a book of postal codes. On another note, these boxes go by weight and I was able to send two boxes home for less than $50. It actually beat me to the house because it's already in the States!
Also, keep in mind that you may go over in weight and if you do not want to pay the extra luggage costs, keep things that you are willing to toss at the airport in an area where it will be accessible. This way you can quickly take them out, toss it and not miss your flight!
For many who have been able to save a large sum of money, bringing this money back home may be difficult, especially if you don't want to get tax on it. Just to be on the safe side, get the paperwork from your branch to show proof of your working hours. They have a documented list of employees that you can bring back, a list of the total payment you have recieved in Korea and you can also get a breakdown of day to day paperwork if needed for your accountant. It is best to have all this collected and brought on the plane with you before landing in the States, just to be on the safe side. It'll also save you the headache later on.
Many people tend to close out their bank accounts for good and spend a lot of time at the bank. Korea actually automatically closes out your account if it has been inactive for a year which can save you the time. Just be sure that you do not need to have a minimum in your account because of the different bank accounts there are. If you should, and need to reopen your account in the future, you can do so with the same card because all of your information will be on file.
Packing up some souvenirs to bring home may be difficult because of not only the limited amount of space you have in your suitcase, but also the things that you can get back at home. It may make sense to get everyone some cheap soju booze, but remember they do have it in the States, just for a different price. A few things that I suggest to bring back that many will love is cosmetics for the females, and food for the males.
There are so many brands that they do not carry back at home (you can find Face Shop, Missha, Nature Republic, maybe a few others) so this gift will definitely be unique. It is also for the simple fact that every woman loves cosmetics and they're cheaper here. Korea is also known for cosmetics, a total win win!
Guys are always harder to shop for, so go for the traditional snacks of dried seaweed, unique to the Korean culture. Seaweed is extremely light and you can slip them into side pockets of your luggage which makes it that much more easier to transport. If you are afraid they won't like the seaweed taste that is a little strong, go for a 10,000 won pair of boxers that you can find in tourist areas, that'll definitely be unique and light!
If you're looking for something even cheaper and lighter, that is unisex, a pair of socks doesn't hurt. There is the hit "Psy - Gangnam Style" socks that you can give to anyone. Korea does also have a ton of other cute socks that are pretty unique souvenirs, especially the mustache ones!
Thank You Notes
You never know when you need a recommendation letter or to come back to the job. For this very simple and important reason, you should always leave a thank you note. No matter how bitter things can be at your branch, leaving a thank you note will come in handy should you need to contact anyone in the future. It's always good to leave on a good note!
Graduating with a double major in Communications and Chinese from Rutgers University, it wasn’t long after working in the Big Apple that Cindy Ung decided to take a break from the cliché 9-5 lifestyle and move to Korea to teach English for CDI. Making the bold step to leave her comfortable, mapped out life in the States, she has fallen more in love with the Korean culture as each day passes. With weekly mountain hikes, weekend road trips, discovering great foods and beauty products, constantly meeting new people, her life in Korea has been everything but mapped out.
Check out Cindy’s blog to get a glimpse of what Korea has to offer.