Starting off our "Who's Who in Cheongju" series, which spotlights members of the foreigner/expat community here, is the woman behind this website, and a core member of the Cheongju foreigner community. She is the creator of the recently expanded and redesigned Cheongju Guide website (formerly Weebly), the go-to information center for restaurants, social groups, and transportation. She also moderates the “What’s Going On in Cheongju” Facebook group, welcoming newcomers to the city and helping lost souls find what they need. This is Amanda!
How long have you been in Cheongju, and what brought you here?
I moved here in September of 2007, so it's been 8 years now! And I've lived in Cheongju this whole time.
When I was in college, I had this professor who had taught English in Korea, and she had such wonderful anecdotes from her time here. This one time, she was doing a lesson about facial features and descriptions. The students were making a dialogue, and one said to the other, "Explain your face." That was my favorite, and became sort of an inside joke among our friends. Funny stories like that made teaching in Korea sound like a great thing to try.
What do you do here?
For the first 4 1/2 years I was here, I worked in a hagwon in Gagyeong-dong. I found out I was actually quite suited to teaching ESL, so I eventually stepped it up and applied to work at Daeseong Elementary. That's where I've been working for the last 4 years, teaching 1st graders English in an immersion program. Now I'm the head teacher!
What do you do for fun?
I like to try new restaurants, explore new places in and out of the city, hang out with friends on our rooftop or out in Chungdae, read, and watch a lot of Netflix! I also like helping out with the monthly pub quiz and going to Brunch Club.
-Cheongju Guide Website-
We know you for creating the Cheongju Guide website (Weebly). How did that happen?
When I first arrived in Cheongju, there was almost nothing on the Internet in English about it. If there was something you wanted to know, you had to ask around and find people who had been here longer. After I had been here a few years, and knew I would be staying for a while, I thought it would be good to start compiling a database of useful information for foreigners as a reference guide.
I noticed the same questions coming up a lot on the "What's Going on in Cheongju" Facebook group. People were always looking for English-speaking doctors and dentists, or restaurant recommendations, or places like post offices and immigration. I started with those and spent about 5 months compiling information, researching, and writing content. After I announced its launch, I got lots of feedback about what to add or change, so that has really helped me keep it accurate and up-to-date.
What were your first impressions of the foreigner network in Cheongju, or in Korea?
I can't really speak for other cities, because I've only ever lived here, but the Cheongju foreigner community is awesome. I've always felt welcome and included at bars, events, and clubs. All you have to do is put yourself out there with a good attitude, and it's easy to meet people and make connections. The foreigner community is a lot bigger now than it was when I first came, but I think it's still got that tight-knit small community feel.
What are your hopes for the website in the future?
I am currently working on expanding and upgrading the Cheongju Guide website, with the help of Matthew Anderson and Dan Korklan. We want to give the site a new look and add some features like videos, slide shows, and a search function, and have a regular blog about various things of interest to Cheongju foreigners. I hope to get even more people involved in writing for the site and helping update it.
What's your favorite time and place in Cheongju?
There are so many places in Cheongju that I like! Walking through the shopping street in Shinae on a weekend, sitting next to Mushim-cheon and watching the skaters and bike riders, walking through streets in Sannam-dong that have a European feel.... If I had to pick one, I would say that my favorite place is sitting up on Uam Mountain at one of the cafes overlooking the city. The view, both day and night, is beautiful. It's a lovely place to spend the day.
What's something in Cheongju that everyone should do at least once?
Everyone should try out Cheongju Oncheon at least once. It's a great experience to go to a Korean bathhouse, and this one is particularly good. I recommend paying extra to get scrubbed down-- they do a very thorough job, and your skin feels baby-new afterwards!
Any advice for Cheongju-ers?
Try as many things as you can-- food, experiences, trips, whatever. The more you are open to, the more you get out of being here. We all like hanging out in Chungdae, but there's so much more than that!