Teaching English…Let’s Talk Money

Well, today is my 5 year anniversary of living in Korea. I can’t believe I have been here that long. Some days it seems like only yesterday that I arrived here, scared out of my mind of what the future would hold. Other days, I forget the way we say things back in Ireland and it seems like forever since I lived there.

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One of my first weeks in Korea

 

But something that Korea has afforded me to do is to live a comfortable life never having to worry about money.

I was recently chatting to Jason feeling a bit panicked that we mightn’t have as much savings leaving here as I had hoped. Luckily we sat down and wrote down our finances and worked out that we may be only $1,000 short of what we had hoped for.

One of the questions that I usually get asked when people are considering moving to Korea is about money. Because let’s face it…it’s what draws most people to teach English here in Korea.

So let me break down what 5 years in Korea has afforded me to do…

Myself and Jason got to pay off over $15,000 worth of debt in about 3 months (we had both payed off about $8,000 in our first few years in Korea.)

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The night that we became debt free we bought a bottle of champagne to celebrate.

We got married and had an amazing honeymoon in Bali.grainnefb-56

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I got to visit Ireland and my family 4 times in 5 years.486737_496040363747367_1584591532_n

 

I got to visit Jason’s family in America once for a month.396203_372672622750809_1854014088_n

We got to do a 4 month Asian adventure together travelling to Thailand, Cambodia, Nepal and India.Agra and the Taj Mahal.

We have also gotten to travel to China, Japan (twice), Amsterdam, Malaysia and Borneo. Jason also went to the Philippines.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

cb61f-malaysia058We were able to get our dog, Willy, 2 complicated operations on his legs which cost us just under $2,000 (a bargain for what was involved!). In America, each leg would have cost about $10,000!imagewilly

We have travelled throughout Korea together.206423_208115522539854_6647442_n

229550_1841185080856_1820334_nWe have never lived pay check to pay check.

and we are hoping to leave Korea with just under $30,000

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Not bad for 5 years!

You can probably now understand why we stayed here for as long as we did. We know life in America will be incredibly different but we are definitely excited for that next challenge!

So if you are considering moving to Korea to teach English, please do! It’s a great way to have fun while saving money or paying back your student loans (I have one friend who has paid back over $40,000 in student loans over 3 years!)

If you have any questions about moving to Korea or about teaching English, just let me know.

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You Did It Ireland!!!!

Rory O'Neill, known by the Drag persona Panti, celebrates with yes supporters at Dublin Castle, Ireland, Saturday, May 23, 2015. Ireland has voted resoundingly to legalize gay marriage in the world's first national vote on the issue, leaders on both sides of the Irish referendum declared Saturday even as official ballot counting continued. Senior figures from the "no" campaign, who sought to prevent Ireland's constitution from being amended to permit same-sex marriages, say the only question is how large the "yes" side's margin of victory will be from Friday's vote. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
(AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

Okay, okay, I know that I’m way too late to the party with this post but I was internet free last weekend while camping and then my storage space was full on the blog so I had to upgrade before I could post.

I can’t explain what has been going on in my mind and heart with regards to the marriage referendum in Ireland.

I am so unbelievably proud of my small country for proving how awesome, open and welcoming we are. There have been many moments when I’ve just had tears in my eyes reading all about the referendum.

I’m sure that this referendum has allowed so many people to come out of the closet and in to open arms. These last couple of months have made being gay in Ireland something to be proud of and that really does bring tears of joy to my eyes. Especially since homosexuality was illegal until 1993 in Ireland.

I am also proud of our older generation. Many people thought that the older generation would vote no to marriage equality but they were proven wrong. As I have read, this wasn’t about choosing between religion and equality, this was about choosing family and community.

I am sad that I didn’t have a chance to vote in this life changing referendum. It is something that I imagine future generations will talk about when learning about it in History books and I’ll have to say that I didn’t cast a vote.

If you don’t know, well, unfortunately Irish people can only vote in Ireland, there is no such thing as voting at an embassy or through a postal vote.

But all that matters right now is that the right side won. My wonderful nephew, who went door to door having to explain himself and his life to strangers, will now someday get to marry. And for that, I’m forever grateful.10530691_10152310229427297_678385250644483242_n

 

Exploring the Causeway Coastal Route

Ireland summer 2012 365I can’t believe that I haven’t written more posts about Ireland!

I feel incredibly lucky to be able to call myself Irish and to have grown up in Ireland. Jason has had the privilege of visiting Ireland three times. His first trip to Ireland was so busy. I wanted him to see as much of the country as possible so we were being massive tourists!Ireland summer 2012 423

One of the places that we went to was Northern Ireland. I’m quite embarrassed to say that I had never ventured up to Northern Ireland until 2011, when my sister moved to Belfast. I have been to visit her twice now and I can honestly say that if I ever move back to Ireland Belfast would be a strong contender as the place that I’d live. It is a beautiful city with low crime and beautiful buildings (But I’ll talk about that in another post).Ireland summer 2012 342

Another amazing thing about Belfast is that it is the beginning of the Causeway Coastal Route, a beautiful drive up to the Giants Causeway. My sisters boyfriend had a day off while we were visiting so myself, Jason and Neil jumped in to the car and headed north.Ireland summer 2012 375

Our first stop of the day was at Carrickfergus castle.Ireland summer 2012 358

It’s a beautifully maintained castle that is based on the sea. It was quite gloomy when we arrived but that just added to the atmosphere.Ireland summer 2012 351

Afterwards, we drove along the coast, stopping to watch a seal on some rocks and for some lunch at a pub.Ireland summer 2012 374

Our next stop was at the Carrick-a-Reid rope bridge.Ireland summer 2012 432

The views around this area are absolutely breathtaking. It is the Ireland that people dream about. The clouds cleared and the sun shone bright for us while we were here.Ireland summer 2012 403

The water is so clear and it makes you want to just jump in.Ireland summer 2012 413

Ireland summer 2012 404Once we had taken in the views and crossed the bridge, we were off for the final, and most famous stop of the day, the Giants Causeway.Ireland summer 2012 457

The Giants Causeway is named so because Irish folklore tells us that the the giant, Fionn McCumhaill had to cross the sea from Northern Ireland to Scotland to try to fight another giant. The columns that you now see are supposed to be the remains from a causeway that he made to cross the sea. Hence the name The Giant’s Causeway. Ireland summer 2012 439

The Giants Causeway itself is unbelievably beautiful and definitely deserves the attention that it gets.Ireland summer 2012 451

We had an incredible time on this day trip and I’d highly recommend adding Northern Ireland and the Giants Causeway to your Irish itinerary.Ireland summer 2012 466

How to get there: From Dublin, there are plenty of trains, leaving almost hourly. You can also drive there, which takes about two hours. There are plenty of Giants Causeway tours available in Belfast if you don’t have a car to get there.Ireland summer 2012 395Ireland summer 2012 371

Climbing Carrantuohill (The highest peak in Ireland)

 

29106_1376436622435_4198677_nJust before I came to Korea, I managed to hike the highest mountain in Ireland.

Now, don’t get too excited! Ireland isn’t a very mountainous country (instead we have beautiful rolling hills) so the highest peak actually only measures at 3,406 ft or 1,038 m.29106_1376428662236_3587094_n

We set off bright and early from Cork to Kerry (where Carrantuohill is situated). We choose to ascend using the Devils Ladder route. It is the easiest route to take but there are quite a few loose rocks to take in to account on the way up. Unfortunately the day that we climbed was quite misty (but I guess it can be hard to find a good clear day in Ireland). The beginning of the hike is through farmland at Cronins yard.29106_1376428222225_544287_n

You then pass by the two lakes and start to ascend up a rocky face of the mountain.29106_1376429182249_932651_n

Once you get to the top of the rocky face, you must continue wal upward to your right until you finally reach the peak.29106_1376436822440_1246969_n29106_1376436262426_8312944_n

 

Unfortunately, as you can see, we could barely see the front of our hands when we reached the top. But we were all happy to see the cross at the top.29106_1376430542283_5903702_n29106_1376431262301_5708030_n

 

We then descended on the same route.29106_1376429422255_6825725_n

All in all the hike should take about 6 or 7 hours total. It is quite a popular hike so you’ll definitely see others along the way.

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2014 The Best Parts

2014 was a great year for myself and Jason! Here are a few of the memories that stick out in my head:
We got to go to Ireland twice in one year! 
This was so wonderful for me. Since we’ll be moving to America next year I know that I won’t be able to visit my family as often as I have while in Korea. The first trip was taken a couple of days after Christmas and happened because my sister won a free return flight to Ireland for me in a competition! Myself and Jason were just newly engaged (on Christmas day last year) and kept it a secret until we arrived in to Cork airport. It was so nice to be home in Ireland during the winter (although I forgot how dark it gets) and we spent our entire time drinking champagne and celebrating with the people that I love most!
I got to bring my nieces and nephews to the panto.
I love Ireland so much!

We got a car and were able to take some fun road trips.

 

Right before Willys surgeries we realised that we would need a car since the surgeon was located in Haeundae in Busan which is about an hour and a half away from us. Having the car allowed us the freedom to take trips and not worry about if Willy will be allowed on the bus or having to find a sitter for him. Now he gets to come on all of our adventures with us!
Jason and Willy on one of our adventures!
The beauty! As you can see Willy loves
to chill in it.

 

Our puppy had a surgery to help him take adventures again.

 

When we rescued Willy his front paws turned inwards. This didn’t cause him any pain in the beginning but we gradually started to notice that he couldn’t walk for long distances. It got to its worst point when I brought him for a hike and he just layed down after about 15 minutes and couldn’t go on. Since then we found a specialist orthopedic surgeon who managed to remove Willys joints completely (they were what was causing the problem) and replace them with some of his stem cells, cow bone and blood. Amazingly his body grew new bones where his joints were and he can now do everything that every other dog can do.
This was Willy in the vets office after his second surgery.
His first walk after being stuck in doors for about 6 months!

We got married!

 

What can I say, it was an incredible day and a day that we won’t forget for a long time to come. To read about our wedding day click here!
Happy, happy, happy!

 We signed our last contracts in Korea.

 

In September we signed our final contracts in Korea (we hope!) So that means that as of the end of August our time here in Korea will come to an end. We are both excited about what new adventures America will have in store for us.

 We became debt free.

 

This actually only happened at the beginning of December. It was such a great feeling to pay off our final debt and know that when we move to America, whatever money we have will be ours! I cut up my Irish credit card also. We have both learned to live modestly while here in Korea and are hoping to bring that lifestyle with us to America. Which means no more loans unless it’s for a house!
We bought a bottle of champagne to celebrate becoming debt free.
I hope you all had a great 2014 and an even better 2015! Merry Christmas everyone!
I got to see this lovely lady twice in one year!
Willy is back to hiking like a pro!
Just after arriving in Ireland and surprising
my family with our engagement!

Ireland 2014

The beautiful Rock of Cashel

This was always going to be a special trip home, not only were myself and Jason getting married but my best friend Lou was also going to be tying the knot and I was honoured to be asked to be her bridesmaid!

Our flight to Ireland would be going Busan-Seoul-Amsterdam-Cork. When we arrived to Seoul we found out that they had no seats next to each other, we enquired about paying extra for economy comfort where there were seats together but it was a little over our price range. The woman then asked Jason what his purpose for visiting Korea was when I decided to go for it and tell her that we were going to get married. She was so nice that she upgraded us to comfort for free! It was a great flight and we managed to sleep for the entire time. Then as we were boarding our Aer Lingus flight the air hostess commented on my ring so we informed her that we were getting married. Later on in the flight she gave us some bucks fizz (mimosa) and snacks for free. A wonderful way to begin our holiday in Ireland.

The perfect way to start our time in Ireland!

For our first week we didn’t do much, just caught up with family and friends and finished planning our wedding. After our wedding our friend from Korea, Ian, came to Cork for a couple of days. We brought him to the beautiful Gouganbarra (one of the few places in Cork that Jason hadn’t been yet).

The church in Gouganbarra, the smallest church in Ireland.
It was such a beautiful day!
Jason and my niece Megan on a little hike that we did.
Ireland really is so beautiful!
Myself and Ian.

I then had a great time at my bestest friends hen party.

Myself and my friends Roisin and Kate at the hen party.
The bride herself!
We also got to meet Ians mom and we all visited the Rock Of Cashel together with my mom. After we left Ian, myself, my mom and Jason made a detour on our way home to visit my uncle and then we went to the beautiful Lismore castle.
 
A grave at the Rock of Cashel.
My uncles next door neighbours.
Lismore castle.

The next day myself and Jason had a delicious lunch at the farmers market near me and then we took a trip to the Donkey Sanctuary in Co Cork. It was so much fun walking around the fields and getting to interact with the donkeys. We had really wanted to visit here especially after seeing the wonderful Donkey Sanctuary in Leh.
While there we found out that one had been born on our wedding day! We decided to adopt this sweet guy!

The farmers market with some delicious food!
Myself and Jason at the Donkey sanctuary…1 week married!!
Our adopted donkey!

Another day myself, my mom and Jason drove down to Kinsale and spent the day exploring Charles Fort in beautiful weather. We then had the most delicious fish dinner I’ve had in all of my life at Fishy Fishy restaurant as a wedding present thanks to my friend Kate. (My friends know us so well…Lou got us a voucher for afternoon tea which we loved also!)

The cafe at Charles Fort.
A coffee with a view.
The beautiful view from Charles Fort.

Before we knew it it was time for my best friends wedding. Jason was a bit worried that seeing her beautiful wedding I’d regret my decision to cancel ours but luckily for both of us we were still happy with our decision, it was right for us. But Louise and Garys day was so wonderful and I was so honoured to play a role in the wedding. Their reception had the most beautiful hand crafted decorations everywhere that Louise had handcrafted herself! It was a perfect day, I don’t think anyone stopped smiling once throughout the day. Everyone had so much fun and we all danced well in to the night! She looked so amazing in her wedding dress that her nan made especially for her. I can’t express how much I enjoyed their day!

She looked so beautiful in a dress that her grandmother made especially for her!
Photo by Derek Hines.
Myself, Lou and her two sisters, Elaine and Jess.
Photo by Derek Hines.
The wedding party.
Photo by Derek Hines.
The beautiful dining area.
Photo by Derek Hines.
Some of the wonderful DIY projects that Lou did for her big day.
Photo by Derek Hines.

The remainder of our time in Ireland was really just spent buying some final things and preparing to leave again.

I always have the best time in Ireland but it also breaks my heart to leave again, especially this time around as we have no idea when the next time we’ll get to visit will be. But alas that is the life that I have chosen to lead.

Our final drinks at the airport.

Here are some more photos from our time in Ireland:

Ian trying to capture the perfect photo at Gouganebarra.
The “bros” reunited.
My handsome husband!
The beautiful forest of Gouganebarra.
The view from the restaurant where we got married.
Jason enjoying a drink in one of the many nice pubs that we visited.

Our wedding :)

My wonderful husband and I!

Our wedding was for me such a beautiful relaxing day. It probably wasn’t most peoples idea of a dream wedding but for us it was perfect.
We had initially planned our wedding in Ireland to be very small as we were planning to have a white dress wedding in the Philippines (The day after our Irish wedding we actually decided to cancel the Philippines one because the Irish one was so nice and we both already felt married)

We didn’t really observe most traditions on our big day; I didn’t wear white, we didn’t exchange rings, we didn’t stay away from each other the night before or the morning of and most importantly to us we didn’t spend $10,000!

That morning I went to town with my sister Dee and we got our hair and make-up done together, It was a really nice way to spend the morning. I decided just to get curls in my hair and leave it down as I personally hate tight up-do’s.

When we got home I changed in to my dress. I had actually bought the dress only 4 days beforehand in a vintage shop and the second that I wore it I loved it! It was so slimming but also gave me a booty too which was great! I have never been a vintage person so I was surprised that I found my dream dress in a vintage store rather than a high-street store.

Once we left our house the beautiful sunny morning changed in to a horrible rain shower (so typical that it happened just when we needed to be outside. I then walked up the small isle in the Cork registry office (equivalent of a courthouse wedding in America)

Trying to get away from the rain.
Myself and my mom ready to walk up the aisle.
We were laughing here because the door was so tiny that we both couldn’t fit in.

Once I got to the top the registrar (the man who was to marry us) told me to hold Jasons hand, I was a bit confused and turned to see my wonderful husband in tears. He was so emotional throughout the ceremony and even had to take a deep breath in the middle of saying that he would take me as his wife (a little gasp was left out by a few of us, but he was just trying to steady himself)

The look that every bride dreams of…
Consoling my lovely husband.
Jason saying his vows.

We had asked my two sisters to read a couple of poems and we also lit some candles. Before we knew it we were husband and wife!

My sister Dee saying her vows.
Lighting our unity candles.

After the ceremony my wonderful friend Niamh drove us to the beautiful 5 star hotel that my family had booked us into for a couple of nights while the rest of our family and friends went to the restaurant.

Once we arrived back to my house we realised that we were locked out.

The Fota hotel was so beautiful and when they found out that it was our wedding day they gave us some complimentary passes for the spa. After checking in we were leaving the hotel going to Niamhs car when it just lashed down rain on top of us…and none of us had an umbrella! My hair was a bit messy for the rest of the day but I really didn’t care, I was having such a lovely day!

That evening we had dinner in Bunnyconnelans restuarant which is unbelievably beautiful sitting on a cliff and surrounded by the ocean. The staff there were so great and we spent our evening chatting and singing and just having fun.

My sister Teresa and her infectious smile.
Tucking into some canapes
My sister Joanne.
Dee and Neil.
Keeping it classy.
My sister Maire also keeping it classy.
I don’t think I stopped smiling all day/night.
Jason enjoying himself.

It was such a memorable day for both of us. People were confused as to why we were so chill and having such a small wedding but after that day everyone came to us and told us how much they loved it.

The next day was spent literally just eating and relaxing…absolutely perfect!

Here are some more photos from our big day:

Signing the registry.
How handsome is he?!?!
My mom and Lou
Lou and Jason.