Onwards To The Land of the Morning Calm

So I’m moving to South Korea.

For those of you who have been following along here on Very Nerdy Curly and on twitter won’t be too surprised I think. I’ve talked about it before, quite seriously actually. I’ve tweeted in mini essays about it and why I think it’d be a great idea and your feedback has been lovely. In the end I was just making sure I was convincing myself… or rather, I was letting myself realize that it was the right choice.


I’ve found myself in an odd, but not terrible situation. I’ve been getting more writing work, which has been wonderful, but also means I don’t have to be in any specific place. Granted, my on-air show at the local station is at stake here, and I do love my radio family, but I only have a show one day a week and  I’m very interested in the English language radio opportunities in Korea. There’s also internet radio, so I could just start up my own show in the land of the Morning Calm. I’ll be teaching English again, something that I did in Japan once upon a time, though I’ll be busier and teaching more often… which will be a great improvement.

One of these things is not like the other...
One of these things is not like the other…

When I told my sister, the first thing she asked was: why Korea? Other than the reasons mentioned above, the main reason is the ability to make and save some money. I’ve been thinking about the best way to go about that. I have quite a few friends now in Denver where the economy and job market (especially in tech and creative works) is doing really well and I’ve been seriously entertaining heading there, but I wanted to do so feeling secure. I can’t do that at the moment. I know any one of them would be willing to put me up until I got a job and got myself situated, but it’s a point of pride and self-reliance that I want to do it on my own. I’m determined really. So while I tried to find something local, I even went the retail route, nothing was coming up.

However I knew I could get a job teaching English. I’ve done it before and have multiple teaching and childcare credentials to my name. It makes sense. The Korean economy isn’t in the best of shape, no, but I also know how to live frugally. Any graduate student becomes more than efficient at that before long after all. So while my salary may only be around $2k a month in Korea, I should be able to save at least half of that every month as my housing will be paid for by my school and expenses won’t be too high going by what I’ve researched.

Also there’s the creativity aspect. The last time I lived and worked in Asia, I wrote a book. I really want to get back to creating, and every time I’ve been in Asia, be it visiting or living there, I have found myself immensely inspired. I don’t know what it is, but I like it. And I intend to use it.


So that’s the grown up plan. Go to South Korea doing something I will enjoy, broaden my horizons a bit, live responsibly, CREATE, save money, and do things on my terms. Will I stay a year in Korea? Probably. But I could stay longer. It’s hard to say now when I still have lots of steps to go through before I head out.

The first time I went to Korea it was the summer of 2010 and I was finishing up my contract in Japan. It rained pretty much the entire time. I 34319_541674772841_5522780_nwent with a fellow JET and we did all the touristy things like the DMZ tour and palace hopping and the folk village. We got new glasses Namdaemun and ate more kimchi than we knew what to do with (especially since our taste buds were so use to Japanese food which, while delicious, is not spicy at all). It was only a three-day-long trip and I immediately yearned to go back. After finishing The Mongol Rally I finally got that chance, and I won’t lie, a large part of me wanting to head back to Korea after the rally was to gauge if I did want to move there. I’ve been writing about that trip in detail at The Nerdventurists, but in short, I found myself aching to stay longer. Korea is a country caught in rapid constant change. It’s modern and not afraid to affiliate itself with the Western world, but also it is fierce in keeping to its traditions, especially when it comes to food. It’s not as intense about it as Japan, which I find interesting from a cultural standpoint, but I also understand it given the two countries’ history.

It’d be remiss to talk about reasons I have been drawn to Korea without mentioning their pop cultural exports: KPOP and KDrama. Two years ago I had no idea about the Hallyu craze. I wouldn’t have been able to name a single Korean artist or actor if you paid me. But in my YouTube roulette looking up versions of a song I loved from a German musical (look, I’m super nerdy OK?), I came across a Korean version and immediately fell in love with the singer’s smokey voice. That singer turned out to be Kim Junsu, a legendary figure of the KPOP world and former TVXQ member (the first Korean boy group to break into Japan). Little did I know it would be a slippery slope and I discovered his discography and music videos and the rest is history.

I’ve talked about my battle with depression and panic disorder here and there, but I had never tried any sort of music therapy before. Despite working in radio, I’m not much of a music person. I mainly did talk radio. If someone had asked me my favorite band a few years ago I literally wouldn’t have been able to tell you; not because I couldn’t choose, but because I simply didn’t have one. But there was something about Junsu’s voice, his passion, and frankly his killer dance moves that helped me. His dance tracks help me feel energized and happy, his ballads can comfort me or help me cry when I need to and the tears won’t come.

Through discovering him I discovered his new group, JYJ, and other artists. I got introduced into Korean Dramas and found many of my friends were also fans. It was a new world for me and one that just genuinely made me very happy. It’s very unlikely I’ll ever be able to see Junsu live as he has to enlist in mandatory military service this year, but his work alone has done wonders for me. I wish I could explain it better, but I invite you to watch the two videos above to see sort of what I may be talking about. Or at least enjoy the show.

In my planning to learn Hangul, I came across a proverb that I thought was quite apt for this decision and going forward.

가려운 곳을 긁어 주다


Galyeoun gos-eul geulg-eo juda. It literally means “you scratch where it itches.” Moving to Korea has been itching my brain for ages. I kept going back and forth, back and forth, but it’s time to scratch that itch. I know I’m still young and that there’s no rule saying you can’t keep bouncing all over the world as you get older, but I want to do this now before I do get settled somewhere (if I ever do, let’s be real). It’s time to scratch that itch. And so, 가려운 곳을 긁어 주다!

Living and working in Korea will bring a slew of challenges, but I am ready for them and am excited for them. Now to get all that paperwork done…

Growing Up In A Micro Life

I was doing an interview about The Mongol Rally the other day and was asked what I wanted to be when I “grew up.” I got sort of angry at the question for a multitude of reasons. Did they thing because I had driven from London to Mongolia this summer instead of working that I wasn’t an adult? The fact that I prefer to travel with my money than save for a down payment on a place shouldn’t indicate my maturity. I just choose to use my money in a different way. After thinking about the question for awhile and getting over my initial annoyance at it, I came to a realization.

On the road in Siberia during The Mongol Rally. Photo by Scott Joseph, Travelstache
Photo by Scott Joseph, Travelstache

This notion of “growing up” is a bit behind the times I feel. With so many different career paths and lifestyle choices now, what is perceived as being “grown up?” Having a 9-5 job I hate in a cubicle with a house, a mortgage, and 2.5 kids?

That sounds awful.

I thought I wanted that, and maybe I will one day (lord i had a dream about being pregnant last night!). This is not me shaming anyone who has that life. If it’s what you want and enjoy, then all the power to you. I’m happy for you. The idea of being stuck somewhere is horrifying to me. I wrote about my inability to stay still almost a year ago, and it seems it’s that time again to reevaluate my life. Ironically, it was also around a month after returning from abroad that I felt this same itch. I guess it’s going to be a yearly tradition.

My first lesson at an English Camp in Shizuoka
My first lesson at an English Camp in Shizuoka

I read an article a few years ago about micro-lives and how there’s many people who live certain lives for a year or two at a time and then move on. That’s me. I lived and taught English in Japan for a year. Then I moved to England to try and do the “grown up” thing and do my MA at a prestigious school, but I hated it. So I moved to New York City and was a live-in nanny in an apartment overlooking Central Park for a year. Then I moved back to London to do an MA, but this time in a field that I was already succeeding in on my own with my podcast. I’m looking at possibly moving to New Zealand next year on their Working Holiday Visa scheme.

Producing in London
Producing in London

Why not?

I get restless if I am in a place onto long. There’s too much of the world to see. I am getting serious about my freelance writing and audio work so I can move around more easily. Ideally I’d love to live in different places around the world while working on things I enjoy.

It’s not the typical “grown up” life style, but it’s the one I want, and why shouldn’t I have it?

I’m not naive enough to think it’ll happen easily or even soon, but it’s a goal. And it’s vital to have those. As long as you have something to reach for, be it owning your own car or moving to a foreign country or marrying Tom Hiddleston, you’re making progress in your life. Even if they’re just baby steps, they’re steps, and that’s better than staying still.

How Budapest Surprised Me on Your Friend Elle

Screenshot 2015-02-10 14.24.38

I’ve got another post up on Your Friend Elle, and this time it’s a two parter! Back when I was studying in London I got a mad case of wanderlust (ok, this is a fairly regular occurrence), and I randomly picked a city on the map and headed off. Budapest surprised me in multiple ways. It’s a beautiful city with rich history and the best hostel I’ve ever been to.

In this first part I let you know some of the things you just can’t miss on both sides of the river. Make sure you stay tuned for what to eat, where to stay, and what to see outside of the city in Part 2!

Read this and more at Your Friend Elle.

I’m driving to Russia… wait what?!


So remember when I wrote about my inability to stay still? Well, travel has won out, but not in the way you may think. No, I’m not going Korea. Instead I’m driving to Russia. It’s not until July, but it’s one hell of an adventure and one I’ve wanted to do for years. It’s called The Mongol Rally and it’s a 10,000 mile drive from London to Ulan Ude for charity. Yes, 10,000 miles. That’s a lot of time to spend in a car, but it’s for a great cause and it’ll be something to remember.

My team is called The Nerdventurists and I’ll be travelling along with my fellow Baker Street Babe Sora and tea blender and comic artist extraordinaire, Cara McGee. You can learn more about them at the Nerdventurist website. Basically we’re waving our nerd banner high as well as our lady banner. Not a lot of women take on the Mongol Rally challenge and even less Americans. We’re a unique team, but we’re all about the opportunity it’s going to grant us and hopefully we’ll raise tons of money in the process!

Click to enlarge

While we are given a starting point, a check in point, and a finish line… we are not given an exact route to get to Ulan Ude. It’s called the un-route, and so we have to decide exactly how to get there. There’s multiple options: we could go towards the arctic circle and swoop down, we could go south into Iran and Turkmenistan, or we could go via Australia… if we really wanted to.

In the end we decided to go something akin to the “central route” by past Ralliers. If we go this route we’ll end up passing through: England, France, Belgium, Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Turkey, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia… at minimum. We may decide to swing by Slovakia or Greece or Serbia. Least to say, it’ll be quite the collection of passport stamps!

Continue reading I’m driving to Russia… wait what?!

On My Inability To Stay Still

I am 27 and I have traveled to 29 countries. I’ve lived abroad in three. I’ve traveled by car, by bus, by rickety airplane, by ferry, and by foot. I’ve been places I loved and yearn for every day and places that I have no interest in going to again. Since I graduated college in 2009, I haven’t lived in a single place for more than a year.

Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

It’s been a very exciting and fulfilling few years. I’ve seen so much and have had some of the most amazing experiences. But I’ve had to deal with a lot, and I’ve had a lot of setbacks. All in all, it’s been truly amazing and I feel very lucky that I’ve been able to see so much in a relatively short period of time, but it has also been exhausting. Picking up your life into suitcases and boxes and shipping them all over the world, finding a flat, getting a job. It wears away at you. But really, I wouldn’t trade it for the world because the pros so outweighed the cons at the end of the day.

Part of why I loved London so much was that I could run off to Europe for a weekend. I was my own travel agent, my own boss, and I was independent and curious. The US isn’t a great jumping off point for travel. It’s expensive to get anywhere by plane and takes about five thousand years if you want to drive.

Having lost my battle with trying to get a job in London, I came back to the United States telling myself it was time to settle down. I’m 27, that’s what I should do, right? I should be a proper adult. I needed to be grounded, to start a career, put down some roots finally. And the whole time I told myself this, a part of my heart ached, really ached, at the loss of being able to jump around the world.

Continue reading On My Inability To Stay Still

A Venetian Adventure on Your Friend Elle

Hey everyone! Sorry it’s been so long since a post. I finished my MA in Radio at Goldsmiths and moved back to the USA from London. It’s been a bit of a time and as I job search in the states, I am constantly reminded (& yearn for) my travels around the globe.

So, when the fabulous Elle of Your Friend Elle was looking for travel writers, I lept at the chance. And look, my first post is up!

YFE_VeniceClick the screenshot above or follow this link to read my tips for traveling the canals of Venezia. Unsurprisingly, Assassin’s Creed makes an appearance.

I hope you all enjoy and I hope I’ll be able to write more for Elle, it was super fun (& she was super patient as I moved across the pond!)