I was linked to The Arrival Store today, a site which will ship you loads of western-style stuff on arrival in Korea (probably to teach English, as I will be doing). Though there is the usual butter, cheese etc. which are hard/impossible to get over there, there is also a list of “must haves” which, apparently, expats often really really want on arriving. The items on this list are things like bedding, mattress-pads, large bath towels, a water purifier, a cleaning kit. They also do smartphones, to try and ensure one’s Internet access is sorted out before getting the landline connected.

Getting hold of a water purifier probably makes environmental sense since you can’t drink the tap water in most areas of Korea (not sure about my area; should find out!), and hardcore cleaning supplies are something you’re probably going to need thanks to inconsiderate former teachers who don’t have many obligations regarding the place they leave you. However, I think that the purifier could wait, and hardcore cleaning supplies could be packed or you could note down the Korean words for standard stuff and go get it. You’re going to have to go shopping soon after arrival whatever. For bedding I was thinking of taking a sleeping bag, which would be useful for travelling anyway. If things are so totally terrible, there’s always a 찜질방.

It’d only be worth getting the cleaning stuff, then, if you were ordering loads of other stuff from this company. And it seems to me that to do so would to be defeat the whole purpose of trying to integrate (somewhat) into a completely different culture. Sure Korean mattresses are harder. Sure the bedding looks quite different. But unless you have some medical reason why you’ll be made miserable by this (almost certainly not true for the average person going to Korea to teach), I’m sure that everyone will get used to it if they give it a chance. Personally, I think Asian bedding is really cool in how much more compact it is.

Regarding mobiles—live disconnected for a bit while you figure things out. Always good to take an opportunity to do that.