Korea….the land of unexpected surprises!!!

One of the greatest things about Korea is after 4 years of living here on and off I still don’t know what to expect and am surprised on a weekly if not daily basis. The one thing I have learned in Korea with anything you do is to always expect the unexpected!!! Need to shop for groceries on a Wednesday? The supermarket is closed (usually the 2nd or 3rd Wednesday of the month), want to get charge your phone? You have to have your passport or your foreigner card, or you can’t do it at this location and it must be done at another store location, want to get a train ticket for Saturday? You can only buy it on Wednesday of the third day of the 9th year….etc. You get the point, there are random rules that can create very unexpected circumstances. Even when you need to do a fairly normal task, there is usually something that will surprise you.

Over the years, I have really had to adjust my expectations because you just never know what you’re going to get. Now, this can also be in your favour and come as a very unexpected happy surprise.  My Husband-to-be and I finally got internet and with our purchase, we received a bonus of a blanket and pillow set and lunch bag. Very random, but useful! Happy days!

But wait….a good surprise comes my way

Thankfully, yesterday my unexpected surprise was a good one. Korea decided to gift me with some much-needed puppy therapy! Please see below for an awwwwww moment.


A preface to much-needed puppy surprise…

I had a bit of a difficult morning, dealing with a student who just showed up at my office and then refused to speak with me or engage in a conversation in order to figure out why he was there and what he wanted. Instead, he just continued to repeat “lunchtime, lunchtime, okay, okay” and promptly shut the door to my office in my face!! So, to de-stress I decided to go for a walk with the hubster-to-be (just bear with me on the name until we get married, I just can’t bring myself to say fiance) to clear my head and de-stress.

A walk towards unexpected greatness (which makes it even greater)…

As we walked our usual route through the quiet back streets of Ulsan across from our work. I accidentally took a left turn into a gravel parking lot of a small four-level apartment building. Sidenote: looking back on this accidental detour now one could say it was my intuition/soul/inner wisdom leading me towards the puppies, “Thanks girl, you always know what I need”. As we walked through the gravelled, half-empty parking lot that doubled for storage of random rubbish and parts, to search for an exit we headed towards some abandoned looking cars and a small shed. As a rounded the side of one of the cars, a small puppy ran out from the shed area. I squealed with delight and immediately ran towards the puppy (as you do when you see a puppy). As I joyously ran/skipped towards the puppy would you believe SEVEN MORE PUPPIES came running towards me! I bent down to soak in all their puppy cuteness and was overloaded with happiness and delight, like bursting. The whole puppy therapy idea totally makes sense to me now as I feel like this was a valid study to support that theory. They were so adorable (refer to above picture) and just kept jumping up at me, and licking and nibbling at my hands. If they could speak they would have said “Hi Eliza! We looooove you! Please take us home and love and cuddle us. Also, definitely give us a bath because we are dirty AF!” It took every ounce of willpower not to a.) roll around on the ground with them and b.) take all of them home. The hubster-to-be had to convince me that it was definitely a bad idea to take them home……okay fine….. he successfully distracted me with the promise of a mocha latte at our local. Those puppies need all the love and we work 9 hours a day and are never at home. Plus the owner was there and the mom and dad looking like forlorn and tired new parents.

And another bit of randomness…

Can I also just point out how random it is for the owner to just have the 8 puppies and BOTH the parents hanging around like one big happy family? Like what is his job? Where exactly do they live? Is he going to sell them? So many questions!!!!

The life lessons learned from the expect the unexpected philosophy….

The expect the unexpected philosophy worked in my favour yesterday and set the tone for a much more relaxed and productive day. It also reminded me of how amazing and unexpected Korea can be. Which really I need a reminder every day. Of course random and unexpected events like this can happen anywhere, but I’m telling you in Korea it’s just a little bit more random and times like this (when it works in your favour) appreciated. It reminds you to enjoy and soak in the little things and it helps to cope with the day to day difficulties of living in a different culture.

In a nutshell….

  • Korea can be very unpredictable
  • The philosophy of expect the unexpected is central to not going crazy here.
  • Puppies are freaking awesome and make everyone happy (if they don’t make you happy…you should definitely get yourself to a therapist)
  • Enjoy the moments that remind you how good life can be and celebrate them
  • The randomness of Korea is what makes it so exciting!

I hope you enjoyed this post, feel free to share your experiences living abroad or at home that reminded you how awesome the unexpected things in life can be!

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Welcome to the Unconventional Life Blog! I'm Eliza a professional English Langauge teacher living an international life. Find out everything you ever wanted to know about teaching English, working and living abroad.


  1. What a funny and entertaining read! Looking forward to reading more and learning about life in Korea

    • Thanks so much Michelle! I’m hoping to shed some light on what it’s like to live in Korea for other people who may be interested. I’d love to hear your travel experiences too if you have any similar ones. Feel free to comment and share!