My first Big Fat Korean Wedding – 나의 첫번째 크고 뚱뚱한 한국 결혼식

One of the most exciting things that is happening on my next trip to South Korea is that I am attending the wedding of one of my oldest friends. 이소윤, who I knew from school as 38223884_10217113886749480_4838639481986744320_nChristina, is getting married (to the very lovely  박정남). We met up in Itaewon for drinks and dessert, chatted a bit and that’s when I was invited. Of course I said yes, and we then met up with Christina’s fiance and went to the Han river to get to know each other and eat pizza looking at the view. I was so excited to meet 정남, and I was happy to tell him a little about what Christina was like at school. I was also honoured to be asked to catch Christina’s wedding bouquet.

This request is what stirred my curiosity  in understanding Korean wedding customs. In the UK, the bouquet is caught through chance, there is no planning or selection involved. It’s also more common for women who are dating or in longer-term relationships to attempt to catch the bouquet. I am almost chronically single, so at first I felt a little odd about being asked to catch it. However after asking Christina why she asked me, and after asking other Korean friends about the significance of being asked, I learned that it is in fact a special request for dear friends. I have also learned that the apparently keen interest that many of my new Korean friends have in setting me up with “a nice man” is a sign that they care for me. It’s something I am just going to have get used to.


In case anyone else is invited to a Korean wedding I thought I would make a handy guide to wedding etiquette in Korea. However, I would say that it is always a good idea to ask either the person who invited you or a fellow guest if there is anything specific you need to know about the wedding. Not all weddings are the same, and its impossible to create an entirely universal guide.

  1. Attire is commonly very formal for western weddings, however you don’t need to stress so much about what to wear to a Korean wedding. You’ll want to look neat and presentable, often the dress code tends more to semi-formal or even business wear. So don’t feel like you need to doll yourself up too much.
  2.  Presents aren’t typically given at Korean weddings, usually cash is given in a crisp, brand new envelope. Try to find new notes as well. If you’re a young person attending a friends wedding, you would typically be expected to shell out 30,000 won. If you’re planning to give 50,000 won (for a particularly close friend), then give one 50,000 bill as opposed to five 10,000 bills.
  3. Commonly weddings take place in  an all-in-one wedding hall. Some couples opt for church weddings but typically it’s all in a wedding hall. The couple will rent the the main, pre-decorated auditorium for 1-2 hours and have their ceremony quickly before the next couple runs in. When you enter the wedding hall they will be a reception where you can hand in your gift and exchange it for a meal ticket. Then, when it comes to finding a seat, there is no bride’s side or groom’s side as there are in western weddings. So you can sit wherever you like, but try to get there early. Wedding invitations in Korea are often spread wide out of politeness, so many people are invited. I-Do's and Donts
  4. After the ceremony, the guests a line and take turns congratulating the couple and will take pictures. First will typically be photos with the couple’s family, then they will do photos with friends. Some couples may choose to have a traditional Korean wedding.  A traditional house or temple may be the backdrop and the couple will wear classic wedding hanbok. These ceremonies tend to be a little more intimate because the venue isn’t shared with another couple. Time is less restricted and you know that everyone there is part of the same wedding party.
  5. Most weddings in the UK have a reception, Korean wedding usually don’t. What happens instead is that there is an eating area, often on a different floor with a large buffet ( but occasionally, venues will have the wedding and eating all in one area). If it’s a large wedding venue with multiple halls going at once, then you may be eating with the guests from several other weddings. The bride and groom will sometimes have a reserved table with their families. The couple will usually make the rounds to greet and thank their guests before they eat their dinner. After eating and congratulating the couple again, you should get out of there quickly in order to make room for the next wedding party.


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My next trip to Seoul – 나의 다음 서울 여행

Most great movies always have a slightly underwhelming sequel. Back To The Future had Back To The Future Part 2. Kill Bill led to Kill Bill Vol. 2. Die Hard had Die Harder. And the soon, I too will have my own sequel, although hopefully in this instance this part 2 will be as good as the first, if not better. If my first trip to Korea had a movie title, I’d probably go with ‘Seoul Survivors’.

Poster Seoul trip 2So get ready for this years most anticipated sequel after The Incredibles 2 (which if you haven’t seen you totally should, just saying)… ‘Seoul Survivors 2: Return of the Wegukin‘. In under 3 weeks time, I will be back in South Korea and I’m VERY excited about it.

There are many things I’m looking forward to on my return to ‘the land of morning calm’ but I think most of all I’m looking forward to preparing for my move there. I will be there for 6 weeks this time, so much longer than my initial visit. Among the list of activities that I’d like to get up to, which are pictured bellow, I am hoping to interview for some jobs and spend time getting my footing as a citizen of Seoul. Of course I’m also so excited to see some of the friends I made again, and of course make some new ones.

Seoul List

I will also be making some videos about my journeys to and from Korea, as well as my adventures in Seoul and Daejon. This will be the first time I’ve made videos of this sort, so I hope you enjoy them.

If you think of anything you think I should do whilst in Korea, please do let me know and I will try to do it.

Tweet me, follow me on Facebook or find me on Instagram at @ConnieunKiga, and let me know what I should try out. I will be writing posts while I am away, so please look forward to my blog posts.

The reason why I don’t have a best friend and why that’s okay – 내가 가장 친한 친구가 없고 그것에 대해 행복한 이유는

“So who’s your best friend Connie”

38209711_10217111446128466_2149874402890612736_nWhen I was in Primary school I dreaded this question. I hated it when I saw pairs of friends walking around, whispering secrets, playing games or speaking languages that only they knew cause they were ‘best fwends’. I thought that something was wrong with me because I didn’t have anyone who I called my best friend.

To be quite honest, I really didn’t have the best time in primary school. I shan’t go into too much detail but it made me very insecure, I constantly tried to get people to like me and made up stories to impress them, or have something in common with them. I felt like who I was wasn’t good enough. This feeling continued into my older years, through high school, through sixth form and still exists, to some extent, in my adult life. I don’t feel the need to make up stories now, and I’m far better at cutting out harmful people from my life, but I still sometimes worry about whether people like me or not.

38235159_10217111446008463_3847281139383271424_nMy worry about not having a best friend lasted through high school and sixth form too. I craved someone to be my best friend and for me to be theirs. But I didn’t have one. It wasn’t that I didn’t have friends, I had great friends, friends I really trusted and who made me happy. Many of whom I am still friends with now, almost a decade later. But they weren’t my best friend… and I wasn’t theirs. I often heard the phrase “you are one of my best friends”, which sometimes felt like a bit of a slap in the face. Why ‘one of’? Why not the only? What was wrong with me? Why didn’t anyone want me to be their BFF?

Another thing I feel I should mention is that there have been… patterns I guess, in my life, of people letting me down, hurting me or using me. This often too the form of someone who I might have thought of as my best friend doing something that completely broke my trust and hurt me. I absolutely don’t want this to be a pity-party post. I am not looking to write a poor-me-narrative, because I know that people can be cruel and unkind as well as people being kind and supportive. It’s part of life. That unkindness can be deliberate or accidental, but it happens to everyone. Everyone experiences it. And sometimes, well a lot of times, I was a bit of a doormat and I didn’t stick up for myself. I don’t think I deserved to be treated unkindly, but I sometimes didn’t help myself. I thought that being a friend to someone, or being a nice person, meant just forgiving and forgetting everything. I thought that the way to get people to like me was to not complain. I also doubt that I was never unkind myself, but I hope I always tried to show kindness. I didn’t want my hurt and pain to make me someone who hurt others.

37997467_10217111432848134_5983963112137555968_nIt took a lot of being mistreated and hurt for me to finally learn how to stick up for myself in an effective way. It took a lot of feeling sad and upset to learn how to surround myself with people who made me happy and challenged me in a productive and positive way. I learned that I can’t make everyone like me, and I don’t need to be friends with everyone. I can be kind, while still being kind to myself. I learned to be my own best-friend. It took a long time to get to that point, and sometimes I’m a bit of a rotten friend to myself, but I now have friends who can be a good friend to me when I can’t.

I’m actually happier without searching for that one person to be my best friend. Now I have friends who I can call on in certain situations, or for particular advice. I think if I limited myself to one person who I invested in totally, I’d end up unhappy again. I think that when I desperately sought to have a best friend, I was actually seeking for a sense of identity. I wanted a best friend because I didn’t know where I fitted in. But I wasn’t able to find it in other people, and as I tried to shape myself and my personality around what I thought others wanted, I lost sense of who I was myself. And people sensed that. They saw that I wasn’t sure of myself. Some people saw that as an opportunity to make me an easy target, and others just thought it meant they could get away with more. The friends who have lasted the longest, lasted the longest because I was myself with them, and who I was was enough. Rather than having one partner who is like my second half, who I rely on entirely and who relies on me, I have a network of support. I think nowadays the idea of having one best friend terrifies me a little bit. Because what if I’m hurt again? Or what if I hurt them? Then I’d be alone, or at least I’d feel alone.

You might just think that my unwillingness to have one singular best friend reflects my38204200_10217111433088140_7448592826029309952_n issues with trusting others, but I feel I trust people a lot more now that I’ve stopped seeking a BFF. Because now, I accept that relationships and friendships can last, or end, and that that’s okay. I accept that I’m not able to befriend everyone, that not everyone will want to be my friend, and that honestly there are people I don’t want to be friends with. I accept that people are flawed, but that doesn’t mean I can’t trust people. But most of all, I accept that that best friend I can ever have, is myself.





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I’m not doing so good – 나는 잘 하고 있지 않다

Just warning you now, this post isn’t cheery. It’s honest and it’s real, but it isn’t all that happy. As you can probably deduce from the title, I’m not doing very well.

My mental health has really knocked the wind out of me recently. As you can also probably tell, this has effected my productivity and my ability to motivate myself. Since coming back from Seoul (which was like… wow almost 2 months ago) I’ve had depressive symptoms and varying levels of anxiety.  This has made me feel exhausted all the time, has given me insomnia, has made me loose the will and energy to do, well, anything and has basically meant that I stayed in my room all day alone, unless my very kind and very patient and supportive family got me to do something with them. But the scary thing is, I didn’t even notice it was happening until my family told me.

I just thought I was tired and stressed. I’m in the process of writing my dissertation, and I’m wanting to write and produce content more regularly, so my brain sometimes feels pretty busy. I’m also still trying  to improve my Korean and I’m also working my hardest to earn money any way I can. I thought I was okay. But I wasn’t. And I’m not.

Nowadays, living with my particular mental health issues is… weird. It’s like I have a permanent internal dialogue happening all the time. I simultaneously feel crap, stupid, worthless and/or unattractive while also knowing that actually I’m not those things. That in itself is a big step forward from how I used to be, cause there was a time where I wasn’t able to tell myself that I wasn’t crap. Now I can catch myself, usually, when I’m feeling depressed or anxious and I can explain why I am acting/feeling that way. “Oh, that’s why I’m so short tempered.” “Oh, that explains why I felt like crying and hiding all day.

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But recently, I clearly didn’t catch it.

To be honest, I’m a bit embarrassed that it’s gone this far and it took this long for me to clock on. My family noticed ages ago, but didn’t want to push me or make me feel worse. I think they thought I might get out of this particular funk I was in like I normally do. But I’ve had to ask for their help.

There are somethings that I always find really difficult. I’ve always found maths difficult. My brain just can’t do it. Times-tables are still a struggle for me. Telling my left from my right, again I struggle. I have to make an ‘L’ shape with my fingers to figure it out. Learning new languages, another thing I find difficult. But the thing I find most difficult is having to admit that I’m not doing good and that I need help. I hate seeming weak or un-able to look after myself, and I hate feeling like I have let others down. My mum also thinks I’m overly hopeful and try to make the best of situations too much. I don’t look at what is happening now, only what I hope will happen in the future. Maybe that’s why I didn’t notice how bad I had got.

But I don’t think that having hope is a bad thing. I think sticking my head in the sand and ignoring whats happening around me is a bit daft and I’m making changes to get better at being more self aware (which I will get into later) but I’m always going to be hopeful. Because if you feel like it can’t get any worse, doesn’t that mean it can only get better?

So yeah, sorry guys,not the most cheerful post. But I wanted to keep you guys in the loop and I wanted to be completely honest. I also wanted to tell you about the changes I am making in order to feel and live better. So here we go, here are the changes:

  1. I am reducing the number of Blog posts to minimum of 1 a week. This is opposed to the 3 a week I have been attempting. This gives me more time to write, to plan and to do other things other than stare at a computer screen which I’m doing a lot of anyway because of my dissertation.
  2. I am being more honest on my social media. Some of you may not know but I am a recovering bulimic. I have always had a rough relationship with my own body and recently my self-esteem has been taking a hit. I am slowly and surly trying to loose the weight I put on after I initially stopped my unhealthy habits, but I still find myself hating how I look in photos. I’m admitting on here and on my social media that for the past year I have edited my photos. I shouldn’t have because it projects and contributes to the unhealthy ideals and standards of beauty that society tells people that they have to meet. I think it has added to my own thoughts of self-loathing and body shame and I’m not going to do it any more! I need to practice what I preach and be open and content with who and how I am. Spots, split-ends, double chins and all.
  3. I am limiting my tech time. I find myself hiding from the world and from myself behind the screen of my phone. I fall down endless YouTube rabbit holes, get lost in my Netflix binges and become worryingly invested in the profiles and pictures and tweets of the people I follow. So much so that I miss the real world. I’m not doing my hobbies as much and I’m not talking with people as much as I want to. And I miss people. I miss interaction. So I turn off my phone when I need to work, and I have made my bedroom a completely tech free zone (except for playing music). At night, I charge my phone elsewhere and shut out all screens. It’s actually helping already.
  4. I’m exercising more. This will not only help me loose weight healthily, but also just makes me feel better almost instantly. I feel I have achieved something after I exercise, the endorphins make me feel happier, I can release all my tension and stress by pummeling whatever equipment it is that I’m using and then I can shower the day off me afterwards. It’s cathartic. I’ve also started doing yoga in the mornings with my mum to help me start the day relaxed, balanced and calm. The other added benefit of exercising more is that I’m so tired that I can’t help but sleep better.
  5. I’m taking more time to count my Little Victories. Again, this is a practicing what you preach thing. I’d lost sight of the things that make me happy, and I wasn’t appreciating or celebrating anything. I just didn’t care. I’m working really hard now to notice, appreciate and enjoy things everyday now. Whether it’s getting work done or tidying up or even enjoying a nice cup of tea; I’m taking the time to celebrate it and to remind myself that the effort behind it is worth it. I am worth it.

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I guess this post was about holding myself accountable to you guys. I really want to help others and I want to make and see changes happen when it comes to how we talk, act and respond to mental well-being. But in order to do that, I need to help and challenge myself. Some of my changes will be harder to stick to than others, but I’m hoping that with your encouragement and your continued support, I will be able to feel better soon.


How are you doing? no, how are you really doing? Please take the time to post a comment or email me if you need to chat. I hope you are well. 어떻게 지내세요? 아니, 정말이야, 어떻게 지내? 채팅이 필요하시면 시간을 내어 댓글을 올리거나 이메일을 보내 주세요. 나는 네가 잘 지내길 바라.

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Korean Conversation – 한국어 회화

I’ve been learning Korean for just under a year now.I can read and write Hangul, and I can recognise certain words and phrases, and according to my teacher and my friends I can speak what I know quite well. I’m still learning new vocab as I go, so what is next in my learning journey.

Well… its conversation. It’s learning how to actually communicate with people in Korean and not only understand what they’re saying, but have them understand me as well. And let me tell you, I’m finding it bloody difficult.

I think learning a new language when you’re an adult is hard already. But I think I would find things easier if I were learning say French or German, because my family would be able to help me because they know basic phrases in those languages, and could read things I had written on flashcards. They can’t really help me with Korean, cause they know almost nothing about the language. What little they do know is because I taught it to them. So how on earth am I going to practice conversational Korean, when I have very few people to speak Korean with?

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My Korean teacher, a man from my Church who I meet with once a week, has said I should try imagining conversations in Korean. That I should try to have conversations, with myself about what I am doing. For example, if I am trying to tie up my hair, and I can’t find a hair band I could say to my self 헤어밴드는 어디에 있니?어디 있습니까?”

I think I will struggle with that because there are still so many phrases I don’t know how to say. So what I am going to do is re-distribute post it notes all over the house (sorry mum and dad, you’re just gonna have to deal with it) with questions and phrases that are related to the thing they are stuck on. So in the kitchen, on the cupboard with the mugs in I will write  하시겠습니까아니면 커피?” with responses like , 녹차 주세요.” or “아빠와엄마를위해차를만들고있어요.”

But even this I think will be a struggle for me, because everyone speaks differently. Conversational Korean is going to sound very different to what I say to myself. No two people sound exactly the same, and there’s only so much I can do while still in the UK. I’ve been reassured by many people that once I move I will pick up far more Korean, because I’ll have to in order to get by. I’ll be immersed in it. I think in my head, I still think English. I cheat myself by still thinking about Korean speaking and phrases in an English way.

But I’m going to keep trying. As a break from dissertation writing I learn Korean through reading, watching and listening and practice speaking as well as writing on here. My poor brain is going to be exhausted by September, but hopefully I will think a little bit more Korean and be able to communicate and speak with people a lot more. 2016-08-04 01.39.24_preview

…But please don’t even get me started on Korean grammar…

…it might just kill me…

How do you find learning new languages? What helps you learn to speak another language well?새로운 언어를 배우는 것에 대해 어떻게 생각하십니까무엇이 당신이 다른 언어를  말하는 것을 배우도록 도와 주는가?

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