I read so many of these lists before we made the move to Korea, so I thought I would add to the collection online. Also, this is a bit more of an Australian-ised version.
What you most definitely should bring with you unless you have it sent here after you get here because you realise it’s nonexistent here and you really should have just bought it with you:
- more and more Maltesers.
How I’ve solved the Malteasers problem so far: getting them sent from home, all visitors are required to bring with them (Matt, you were lucky you were already away when you told us about your visit) and also going to Taipei to pick some up.
Here is the list of things I bought with me that I’m glad I did:
- Deodorant (both roll on and spray). You can find deodorant here, especially easy if you live near an Easy mart or something similar. Also, Watsons is here as well (basically an Asian version of Priceline) where you can get Nivea products. I personally don’t use Nivea so I’m glad I packed a lot! And you will need a decent supply for summer as it’s so damn sweaty and humid.
- Tampons- nonexistent here.
- Asthma inhaler. This requires a script from a doctor here- which isn’t hard to do here, it’s just time-consuming, and often requires a trip to a hospital.
- Fluoride toothpaste. From what we can tell, there doesn’t seem to be fluoride in either the water or the toothpaste here. So if it’s important to you, definitely bring some for up front. You can buy brands like Colgate on Gmarket.
Here is a list of random things:
Food that we have had either sent or bought over for us:
Maltesers (obviously, if you’ve read the above and didn’t randomly start reading from here). Easy mac. Weetbix. Milo. Vegemite. Fantails. Chocolate freckles. Cadbury blocks. So mainly chocolate!
Why aren’t Tim Tams on the above list you may ask? We actually had a small sweets store in our small town that sold ACTUAL Aussie Tim Tams – sometimes. Most of the time they had the Malaysian knock-offs, but twice we happened to stumble across the real deal. The saddest part about this random fact is that this store for some awful reason closed and now we get neither types of Tim Tams in our little town.
PS. Sending parcels home is so much cheaper from Korea than parcels being sent from Australia for some crazy reason.
Here is a list of probably don’t bother and wait until you get here (unless you are specific about brands and worry unnecessarily about the evils of generic medication).
- Over the counter medication. Paracetamol =$2, Ibuprofen = $2, Cold and flu = $2.50. I believe the pill is over the counter here and is about $5. Added bonus: the ibuprofen is double the strength of Nurofen plus in Australia. Bonus!
- Body moisturiser, wash etc. SO cheap and abundant here; and places like Watsons even have a few of the sensitive skin ranges. I would only bring this kind of stuff if you have a specific brand you have to use. If you’re after a fruity fresh one, I recommend the range at Nature Republic.
- Makeup. There is so much choice here it’s insane. And the Koreans seem to be so far in front of the game, you might as well try it here first before home figures it out 2 years later. There are hundreds of Korean makeup stores like Tony Moly (personal fave due to all the freebies), Etude house, The face shop, Skinfood, and Missha. You can also get world known brands like Maybelline and Loreal at places like Watsons. And if you’re into more of the higher up brands, you can find them at places like Shinsegae (MAC, Benefit, YSL etc). And to top it off, Sephora (America) ships here.
- Hairdryer- I got one from the supermarket for about $15 which hasn’t died on me yet! You can buy actual decent ones here too if you care more.
If you want to see if it is available in Korea before you go, best to check out Gmarket online. It’s Korea’s version of eBay. There is also http://www.11st.co.kr/ which is pretty much same same.
Things I will be likely to be stocking up on to bring home with me:
- Batteries. Super cheap here.
- Face masks. Suuuuuuper cheap and soooooo many to try.
ESL teacher specific list of things that I bought with me that have been super handy:
- Blu-tac (practically non-existent here).
- Picture books (my school library has pretty much nada when it comes to English books- this will depend on your school).
- A small gift for the Principal, Vice Principal and your co-teacher/s. You definitely don’t have to do this, all we bought was some Tim Tams, Caramello Koalas, and Freddo Frogs and they went down a treat! We ended up waiting a week or two so everything at school settled down before distributing them out. I ended up with 2 schools, so I just ended up having enough for everyone.
- Stickers and stamps- the kids extra love them because they’re Australian, haha
- Foreign coins. I ended up playing a lot of coin games over the year and most of my kids haven’t travelled out of Korea so loved them.
- Chocolates and lollies- again Australian. Also warheads- so much delight giving them to the devil kids 😉
- Specifically for Australians: I had my Dad visit a couple of my classes and we did an Aussie lesson with the kids- he bought a footy, money, and chocolates. If I was more prepared, I would have had him bring a boomerang. or a koala.