I won't lie, it is hard to be away from home for the holidays while teaching English in Korea. But, I also realize just like the Thanksgiving I spent on a beach in Kenya during my semester abroad in college, this Christmas in Korea will be one I will soon not forget. It's already been epic and it's only the middle of December. Last weekend I paraded around Seoul with a couple hundred singing Santas (I promise to blog about Santacon soon) and this week I spent the last few minutes of each class teaching my students the lyrics to their favorite Christmas songs. I really got into the spirit this weekend when I went shopping for gifts for my family and friends back home. Although I will not be there to see them open their gifts, it is almost more satisfying to imagine their reactions. Who didn't have a pair of Psy socks on their list for Santa this year? Rather than send home extravagant and expensive gifts, I am mailing packages full of small gifts that remind me of the people I love.
Here are 5 of my favorite gifts so far. Please comment with other suggestions and remember a card or a long-overdue Skype date can also be the perfect gift because we all know:
"Maybe Christmas", he thought, "doesn't come from a store."
"Maybe Christmas... perhaps... means a little bit more!" - How The Grinch Stole Christmas
1) Korean beauty products are famous all over the world for being inexpensive yet full of fantastic all-natural ingredients. I am sending lots of sample sizes home to my mom and if she likes them I plan to bring home full size bottles when I leave Korea.
2) I bought ALL the Psy Gangnam Style socks a woman had in her stall in Namdaemun Market this past weekend. I think I made her day. How can you go wrong with a gift that is less than $1?
3) I enjoy giving hand-made gifts. I wish I had the time and talent to make jewelry myself, but I also love supporting local artists and there are many in Seoul who craft beautiful jewelry.
4) If you've lived in Korea for awhile you may have some souvenirs or gifts left from past vacations. I almost forgot I had this tea from Taiwan in my closet.
5) You can't go wrong with Korean stationery. As my students would say, "So cute, so cute!" These adorable notebooks are made in Korea and cost less than $1.
Good luck with your shopping and remember, if you are teaching in Korea, send your gifts soon!
Devan Meserve, a New Hampshire native and St. Lawrence University alum, decided that after two successful post college years living and working in Boston she was primed for exploration beyond the East Coast. With encouragement from friends and family and Aclipse’s expert advice she landed an instructor position with Chungdahm April English. Devan is loving life in Uijeongbu: she is continuously impressed and entertained by her young students and spends her free time following Anthony Bourdain’s advice, “I’m a big believer in improvising and getting lost.”
Check out her blog!