Sooooo, it has been a while since my last post here, but besides being busy with work I have also been busy traveling all over South Korea to give you guys this post and many posts to come with my must-sees, haves and do's while in Korea!
For this post I would like to talk about the benefits of living in a smaller city and all the things you can do in Ulsan. I think one of the hard decisions when applying to become an English teacher is choosing the city that you will work in. Some people can handle the hustle and bustle of Seoul whereas others prefer the quietness of the countryside, or something in between. But there is also the question of having a life outside of work and deciding how much of a life you want can depend on the size of the city. However, South Korea is pretty good about having things to do in each city.
Ulsan is the 7th largest city in South Korea. This means that some areas are full of life and others are full of nature. I work in the Dong-gu area of Ulsan and everyone I have ever met always mentions how far and small it is when I say which town I live in. On weekdays I enjoy the location because it is quiet. It is a residential area full of apartments, houses, and schools. Everything I need is within walking distance (bus stops, markets, a nice river to walk around, a hospital, a clinic, coffee shops, movie theater, bowling alley, dance studio, PC cafes, Karaoke, etc.) This is nice because I do not have to spend as much money on public transportation or taxis to go grocery shopping or go to other classes after work.
Although this town is nice and full of the things I need, it sometimes lacks the things that I want like other leisure activities (roller skating, ice skating, a mall, some museums, craft places, cat cafes, etc.) If I want to meet up with friends for something fun or just some shopping I have to hop on the bus for a 50 minute bus ride to downtown, which can be inconvenient. The long distance means ending nights early so I can get home on time and catch the last bus at around 10:30 pm. This can make finding time after a long day of work to run some errands or hangout with friends difficult. In most cases something must be sacrificed whether it is quality time with friends or a good night's sleep. You may be thinking, well then just wait for the weekend. However, I am a firm believer that people shouldn't be looking forward to the weekend. Life should be enjoyed everyday not just getting by Monday through Friday to then live on Saturday and Sunday. However, if I was okay with this lifestyle, a choice would still have to be made. Do I hangout with my friend or travel to a new city or see something I want to see. I could invite my friends, but it isn't always a guarantee that someone will join or be interested in the same things. So, all in all pick a city that matches your personality and how you want to live.
In Ulsan, I have been fortunate enough to have fallen into a routine that suits the lifestyle I am currently trying to live. Ulsan is a city that when I don’t have anyone to go places with it offers quiet activities that are not looked down upon if someone is seen alone. Without further ado, here is a list of things you can do in Ulsan alone or often to spice up your week (these can obviously be translated to other cities too).
I will start with the one that has most impacted my life and routine… try something new! While living in South Korea I have been fortunate enough to find and try many new things such as dance classes (pole and kpop style dance classes), art, and a language exchange. I regularly attend my kpop dance classes and a language exchange during the week which after work takes up most of my time. But it is something to look forward to during the week and it keeps me social. I also dabble in cafe hopping along the beach near my apartment because it doesn’t take much time, it can be done alone, and it is very relaxing to just sit and sip on coffee with a view.
As said before, usually I try to travel to new cities on the weekends, but occasionally I have a slow weekend where I stay in the area. In Ulsan, I have made it a point to visit the whale museum since Ulsan is known for whales. I have also traveled to Seuldo Island, Daewagam Park which has a suspension bridge and connects down to Ilsan beach. This is a fun day trip because you can walk from the Park all the way to Seuldo Island if you want to. However, I would recommend making it a weekend trip so that you can experience each booth set up along the beach strip (like Squid games sugar challenge) and taste test many Ulsan style junk food. Along the beach you can also rent a paddle boat or enjoy sidewalk busking by locals.
All of these attractions are in the same area so let me offer some in other parts of Ulsan. There is another famous beach, Jujeon beach which is known for having stones rather than sand. It is a quiet area with many amazing cafes and restaurants to rest at with a view of the sea. Speaking of views, The Ulsan Observatory near Ulsan College offers a nice hike and rewards you upon completion with a beautiful view of the ocean and shipyard nearby. If exercising for fun isn’t quite your style then I would recommend visiting the museums (art and history) and art galleries where you can grab some free coffee, have a nice chat with artists and maybe even see a concert or two.
I hope this post provides some ideas for your next adventure!
I will definitely add to this list as I travel more!!