Buying a laptop, camera, or any electronics in Seoul

I’m the first to admit that I’m not a big shopper; if I do shop I’ve got a purpose and that is usually to buy a laptop, some component or camera part at Yongsan Electronics Mall.  Whether you’re looking for a component, piece of hardware or a whole new machine Yongsan is the place to go.  It has a few big advantages over online shopping, mainly that you can physically try out what your buying, price compare with different vendors and haggle!

Getting to Yongsan Electrnoics Mall is easy, hop on the subway and head to Yongsan station on line 1 or Sinyongsan station on line 4.  I’ve been dozens of times and bought things from $5 to $500.  Camera lenses, tripods, headphones, SD cards, computer parts and of course laptops.  Just recently I bought a notebook to travel with so I can leave my bulkier laptop home.

So lets get down to what you’re probably here for.  Advice & prices! (Scroll down for some useful Korean phrases too)

Good news!  The best internet prices ( are attainable at Yongsan.  Usually they’ll quote a price 10-20% higher than what you’ve seen online and haggle down.  I just bought an Asus notebook for ₩360,000 (see below) and in 2013 an HP laptop for ₩460,000 ($450 at last years rate).  The HP was my first time going to Yongsan and I spoke precisely zero Korean so I brought a Korean friend with me.  The vendor offered the equivalent (in KRW) to what I found on Amazon as long as I paid cash.


As far as cameras go I’ve had great luck haggling for lenses, filters, tripods and SD cards.  The first floor when you walk in is jam packed with camera vendors.  Most of them have the same products and will let you try out the lens if you bring your camera.  Just like with the laptops I found their initial prices to be slightly inflated on internet price but willing to haggle roughly 10-20% depending on the vendor and the level of your Korean.

 3 tips for the best price at Yongsan Electronics Mall

1) Research your item ahead of time.  Go into the conversation knowing how much its worth and what you’re willing to pay for it.  Ask questions using the right terminology and they’ll know you aren’t messing around but most importantly bring a smartphone with the website & price you found!  Don’t forget to price check within the market itself!  Talk to multiple vendors and don’t be afraid to WALK AWAY.  The best prices I’ve gotten are in the middle of the market.  Near the doors vendors have the highest starting offers. Doing research and knowing the items has been my biggest tool for haggling and saved me hundreds!

2) Take your time thinking and firmly state a price halfway between what you want to pay and their offer.  The vendor WANTS to make the sale.  He can’t go below a certain price but if he realizes you’re serious about buying something today he’ll do everything he can to make sure he’s the one that sells it to you and not his neighbor.  They’ll invite you to sit down, have a cup of coffee and try out the item.  That’s when you know he’s serious.  If you sit down he knows you’re serious too.  Our conversation went like this: Continue reading

You think you know what teachers do. Right? Wrong.

You think you know what teachers do. Right? Wrong.

This wonderfully written article in the Washington Post illustrates many of the misunderstandings about teaching which have turned it into a disrespected profession in the good ole U S of A.  The attitude towards teaching and education in America was one of the factors in my decision to teach abroad.

Just because you were a student doesn’t mean you know how to teach.  Just because you were prosecuted by the legal system doesn’t mean you know how to be a lawyer.  I’ve been to the doctor countless times so I MUST be qualified to treat illnesses right?  These are some of the analagies that Sarah Blaine sarcastically makes before one of my favorite lines.

We were students, and therefore we know teachers. We denigrate teachers. We criticize teachers. We can do better than teachers. After all: We do. They teach.

We are wrong.

Chances are if you are reading her article you are part of the choir she is preaching too.  That doesn’t make it any less of a good read, it simply means you should share it with everyone you know!

If you believe as firmly as I do that “We need to honor teachers. We need to respect teachers. We need to listen to teachers.” than I challenge you to help spark the change which can bring America back to the pinnacle of the teaching world and share this article.  Keep the conversation going!

The Best Teachers Don’t Do What They’re Told

The Best Teachers Don’t Do What They’re Told

This is a great read for any teacher, parent, administrator or anyone who just wants some insight into the teaching world.  Each and every day teachers perform hundreds of tasks; being a teacher can often feel like you are trying to balance a juggling act while giving a motivational speech to college freshman and simultaneously a lion tamer with a dilapidated chair.  The phrase “choose your battles” comes into my head regularly and if you haven’t learned how to yet ask someone to help, its a wonderful life skill.

Less is more and while you should always maintain a professional level of responsibility The Best Teachers Don’t Do What They’re Told dives wonderfully into how thinking outside the box is often more effective than conforming.  Don’t forget to balance the two!  

ESL, Special Ed, Regular Ed, Honors/Advanced classes or higher ed.  I don’t care what you’re teaching, its worth the read!


Sometimes its okay NOT to make a happy face



6 ways to enjoy the holidays while living abroad

Here are 6 simple ways to brighten your holidays if you are a long way from home!

This year I’ll be celebrating my holidays outside of the United States for the first time.  Heck its my first time really being away from home!   Yeah, sure I was away from home at college near Boston I always managed to get back to New Jersey before the last decorations were hung.

I first realized how different the holidays would be in Seoul during Thanksgiving.  Okay, so maybe I ate Turkey three times that weekend but it wasn’t as good as my family’s usual feast and what REALLY makes the holiday is of course, family.  That being said I am grateful for my work family and friends here for helping me feel at home while living nearly 7000 miles away from my folks.


1) Celebrate and spend time with fellow expats.  

Chances are they are in the same situation as you and missing their family too.  If you are from the same country you can bond over traditions that you share.  If you are from different countries than you get even more insight into how the world celebrates a particular holiday.  I brought dreidels to all my Thanksgiving celebrations turning it into Thanksgivukkah and was surprised at how many Americans had never played before!

2) Celebrate and spend time with the locals.  

Chances are they have heard of your holiday; especially if its Christmas.  I was surprised to learn how few Koreans knew about Hanukkah but didn’t let it get me down.  I took it as an opportunity to reciprocate all they have taught me about their culture.  Every country celebrates holidays differently and it can be fun to experience the traditions and notice similarities.  You’ll be surprised at how many of the locals want to show you the way they celebrate. I’m excited to see how Koreans get into the holiday cheer even though they don’t decorate or have nearly the same shopping craze as Americans.

3) Continue your old traditions

Even if its just listening to Little Drummer Boy or Last Christmas on repeat, play your favorite songs and games.  It will keep your spirits up even if you are homesick.  You can email mom for grandma’s recipe and share it with all your new friends too. (she may even get the hint and send you a care package)  If you always donate to the needy then keep it up!  There are needy folks everywhere.  If you usually volunteer at the local food bank to help the hungry then talk to your local friends and find one at your new locale.  Whatever it is you do to bring the holiday spirit out in yourself I’m confident you can find a way to make it happen around the world.

4) Presents! 
Continue reading

Cynical quotes about a modern world

“Life is what happens while you’re looking at your smartphone.”

Check out these illustrations. My favorites are the above link & “Please like me.”

Smartphones are great tools and can make boring commutes go quicker but there is so much more out there. Pick your head up and go live your life!  Before smartphones you never saw someone staring at their hammer for 8 hours a day.  Sure once handheld video games were invented we had some awesome distractions for a 12 hour road trip but they are inherently “games.”  There is so much more to life than playing games and staring at Facebook!

“Please like me.”

Forget what everyone else thinks.  When I was little I was a “band geek” and a “nerd.”  I played nerdy sports and liked video games; I actually enjoyed school, learning and music.  Crazy right?  (Whats most amusing is that the older I get the “cooler” all of those “weird hobbies” are becoming.)

My parents and teachers taught me not to worry about what other people think.  The phrase “he’ll be pumping your gas” was said a few times and although I crave all of your “follows” and “likes,” the real reason I write this blog is because I enjoy it.  I enjoy writing down my thoughts and perhaps even providing advice and insight to someone out there.  I get to chronicle what is the biggest adventure thus far in my life and share those experiences with whoever wants to stop by.

When I read and see all the cynicism out there on the internet it inspires me to do more rather than give in to mediocrity.  Get out there and go do what you love, don’t do it because someone else likes it, do it because you want to!