I came to teach in Korea straight after graduating from college, so I had never lived on my own until now. The idea of being free and living independently did excite me, but this being my first time living alone, I anticipated feeling homesick. That’s why it was so important for me to set up my apartment to have a real sense of home. Here’s how I did it, and some tips on how you can achieve the same.
Scotch tape is your new best friend!
Picture of how I decorated my workspace
You’ll find the apartments in Korea to be simple and compact, with just the right amount of living space. Ideally, there will be a dining area for two, a small kitchen, a corner for any media outlets, and space to put a bed. Working with a limited amount of surface area can be tough, but luckily this method of turning your apartment into your new home doesn’t require any floor space! You can fill up the bare walls of your apartment with just about anything and it will already feel more like home. I have sticky notes of recipes I’d like to try, post cards and greeting cards from friends and family, calendars, pictures, and just about anything that’s colorful. I’m even thinking of bringing home some of the posters my students have made at ChungDahm for their Critical Thinking Projects. Coming home to an apartment filled with pictures and memos gives a comforting feeling that someone lives there.
Gotta miss mom’s cooking...
Another way to make your apartment feel more like home without taking up any space is by making it smell like home. You can achieve this by cooking at home or lighting a scented candle for a few hours a day. In the U.S. I loved cooking and baking, and I loved how the smells would fill up the house. In Korea it’s a little difficult to do so with the limited kitchen space and no oven. Actually, with only one stove it takes me so long to cook meals, that I just cook all my meals for the week on Sundays and pack it. I did find this neat recipe for making chocolate cake in a mug in your microwave. That should get your apartment smelling delicious and have you feeling right at home while you enjoy your chocolate cake!
Bringing your home to life by bringing life to your home
Getting a potted plant for your apartment is the icing on that chocolate cake in a mug of yours to making your apartment feel more like home. I thought about getting a fish, but I didn’t know what I would do with it after a year (assuming it would live that long). However, a potted plant has a way of brightening up your apartment and you could easily give it to someone else as a parting gift (again assuming it lives that long).
Okay, so you just got a call from your recruiter saying that you will start teaching in Korea in two weeks which means you have one week to get here. All of a sudden you’re frantically packing clothes for all seasons, shopping for shoes since Korea doesn’t make your size, and saying goodbye to all your friends and family. BUT among the millions of things you have to do, remember to pack some sentimental things that remind you of home that you can put up in your new apartment. Hope you find this useful!
Yuna Lee is a current instructor at Chung Dahm Learning. Yuna was born and raised in the D.C. metropolitan area and graduated from the University of Mary Washington. She has traveled to many different places including Honduras, Ecuador, and Nepal. However with her father being Korean, she wanted to learn more about her heritage, so she set off to Seoul, Korea to do some soul-searching. Now, she is loving the freedom and independence of her post-college life. Teaching at Chung Dahm has been such a rewarding experience. Follow her blog to read up on the interesting things she has to share!