Monday, May 4, 2015

Blog Carnival: New & Inspired Ideas of Home Comforts

It is my fifth month contributing to the Reach to Teach | Teach Abroad Blog’s monthly "Blog Carnival." Each month, a blogger-teacher-traveler hosts and asks a question, which is voluntarily answered by interested bloggers. Published by the fifth of each month by the host on their blog, the Blog Carnival focuses on advice and helpful tips for ESL teachers. If you'd like to contribute to next month's Blog Carnival, please do contact Dean at - it is a very welcoming process. 

I lived and taught English as a Second Language (ESL) in two rural elementary schools in Icheon, South Korea for one year (2013-2014). 

It is my privilege to be hosting the Reach to Teach | Teach Abroad Blog's Blog Carnival this month.

May 2015 – Abigail Nedeau-Owen:
Abigail Nedeau-Owen of Bodging for Apples II asks:
How has living in a foreign country changed your idea of home comforts? 
[NOTES: Feel free to talk about what aspects of living in a new place - such as your living quarters, the culture in your city, the food in your city, etc. - you liked the most.]

When I was living in South Korea, heated floors made the cold winter nights cozy. If I were to build a house, I would insist on heated floors and a divot inside the doorway for shoes. Kicking off my shoes as soon as I entered my school and apartment in order to slip on a pair of comfy indoor shoes or “slippers” became a comfortable routine.

Now that I am back home in the United States, I do sit on floor more often and more purposefully. I like to think I’m paying homage to the heated flooring or ondol in my Korea Life, because I enjoyed having a warm bum so much that I sat on the floor a lot – at home I would eat, write, watch TV, lesson plan, and craft. However, sitting on the floor is now more than a habit. It is what is natural. For a year, I watched my Korean co-workers and friends lounge on the floor for hours, eating and drinking and talking, and I joined them! I like sitting on the floor; it stretches the muscles and is simply, comfortable.

Beyond wishful thinking for jjimjibangs, public transportation, and a culture of readily available health foods in markets and Korean cuisine, there are a few things I still eat, use, and do from my days in Korea. First off, I eat kimchi weekly. I haven’t gotten around to making my own yet, but the Asian markets keep me supplied. Mandu or dumplings, along with aloe water, make special appearances. There are also days I need a bowl of rice and hot soup, together again. Ramen is another Korean staple incorporated into my Now Life. My dad found a spicy garlic ramen in black packaging at one of the Asian markets that has the most delicious noodles and makes me sweat with every bite. I can’t get enough.

Chopsticks, soup spoons with long handles, and side-dish dishware are other crossovers between my Korea and Now Life. We keep a small wooden chopstick box on our kitchen table full of, you guessed it, chopsticks and said spoons (just like in the Korean restaurants). The accessibility plus preference for chopsticks when eating, for example, kimchi makes me very content.

One of the things I most admire about Koreans is how well they take care of their body. From the kinds of food they eat to sun protection, Koreans are healthy and good-looking because of their awareness and determinations to be such. I experienced many different ways to take care of my own skin, the green exfoliating scrub bath mitten one of them.


Behold the green exfoliating scrub bath mitten! My first exposure to these bad boys was at the jjimjibang, or Korean-style spa. My friends and I decided to get a full body scrub from the little ladies in black lingerie, and it was a full body scrub. They got in all the nooks and crannies with these rough scrubbies, and when they were finished full-body-scrubbing me, they showed me my pile of freshly removed dead skin. It weighed something like five grams. I was sore, bright pink, and a little dazed, but my skin had never been smoother.

I was delighted to find the same green exfoliating scrub bath mittens at my favorite Korean beauty shop, and bought enough to bring home and last me up to now. I scrub with green almost every time I shower to get that deep down clean and smooth skin. Some other skin measures I adopted from my Korea life are rubber gloves and make-up. Rubber gloves for washing dishes and cleaning around the house and at work, because skin care. Make-up like BB cream for my face, because it helps smooth my complexion, adds some SPF protection, and makes me feel good.

Lastly, hiking and family. There are mountains everywhere in Korea, and people hiked in Korea. Head to toe gear and a fitness level that shamed me, hiking was something everyone did. Hiking is cheap, good exercise, and an excellent way to enjoy a nice day with friends and family. Hiking in my Now Life takes a bit more effort for lack of mountains and accessibility to hiking areas without having to drive. Yet, it is still something I value and find hugely comforting. I enjoy the outdoors just as I did in Korea.

Family is a home comfort I take from Korea in that I feel like I am more actively aware of our time together. A year is a long time to be so far away. I spent a good amount of time with my Korean friends and their moms and daughters and sons. They didn’t necessarily have different ideas about family, but I noticed a more multi-generational attitude. And in general, families live pretty close to each other. South Korea is a very small country after all.

Winter Hiking in Wisconsin

All of Us, Easter 2015

Thank you, Korea, for all you taught me.


Abigail prefers walking to motorized vehicles and likes the idea of slow travel, getting to know a place by building up a routine that absorbs the new culture. Her interests include illustration, editing (film & writing), reviews, boston terriers, artist books, and iPhonography. 

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