Tea Talk 8: Jane Streicher | English Teacher (Seoul, Korea)

Jane and I have known each other pretty much our whole lives, and I love that we both have a passion for traveling. Something I’ve written about before is how homeschooling opens up your mind to being able to do things like live in other cultures, or travel the world, because it encourages that sense of constant curiosity. Jane and I both had that as kids, growing up, and I love seeing her adventures as she lives and works in Korea. I’m so honored to have such amazing women surrounding my life, and being able to share their stories with you all! Without further adieu, here’s Jane:

1. What started your passion for traveling?

I grew up going on family road trips every summer including camping for a week a few hours away on the coast or cross country trips to visit relatives in the midwest. Because of these trips, I learned to love going places and experiencing new things from a young age.

2. What’s one travel tip you think the world should know?

Stay with locals. One of my favorite things to do is to find an Airbnb or hostel run by locals and get their advice on where to go and what to eat. They will usually have secret spots that I could have never found without their insight.

3. What’s your favorite cultural habit you’ve picked up (ex. food dishes, lifestyle changes etc.)

One simple thing I do subconsciously now after living in Asia for four years, is taking my shoes off whenever I am inside a home. I remember in high school and college, I would wear boots inside all day long but now I feel so unsettled if I have my shoes on for more than a few minutes.

Another thing I have learned to appreciate is gift giving. It’s a simple way to show someone you care about them or respect them after taking a trip or visiting their home. Obviously this is done in the US too but I never truly saw its purpose until living in Asia.

4. What would you suggest for other women who are thinking about traveling?

Don’t over think things. Be open and flexible to what can happen. Make plans and be smart but also have an open mind so if/when things go wrong you can still have fun and enjoy yourself.

5. What’s one failure that you learned a lot from, when it comes to travel?

Always check times (especially if its military time). When I was leaving Vietnam last winter, I accidentally missed my flight completely by 12 hours because I thought my flight was in the afternoon when it was actually late at night. Luckily I could buy another flight for $100 but I now make sure to triple check all times.

6. What’s one fear that you overcame, while traveling?

Being alone. When I first moved to Vietnam in 2013, I preferred doing things with other people and felt a little bit intimidated going places alone. Over the years I was there, I learned to navigate going out alone and now I love going to coffee shops alone to read or work. My introverted side as defiantly become much more dominate as I have traveled and lived abroad.

Accepting help. As an American, I think it’s ingrained in me to want to do things without help from other people. Living in Vietnam and South Korea, there have been countless times when I have had to rely on my friends from those places to help me get simple things done like going to the doctor or fixing a flat tire on my motorbike.

7. What is your favorite way to travel (ex. plane, train, automobile?) and why?

Plane. There is always such an excitement I feel when taking a flight. I love the whole process and especially enjoy the meals (?! I know most people think they are gross.)

8. What is one piece of advice that you wish you could give your past self?

Money will come and go. So much of the time when traveling and living abroad, money can be a huge worry. I am still learning how to be smart about it but as an expat I think I have to expect times when money is tighter.

9. What is one place at the top of your bucket list that you’d like to visit?

Japan! I am hoping to take a trip to see the cherry blossoms there next spring.

10. Let’s talk about your current adventure! What was your inspiration?

I was really curious about South Korean culture and learning the language. I had met lots of Koreans in Vietnam and decided it was time for a new challenge. Instead of wondering what life was like there, I wanted to experience it first hand.

11. What has been the best/toughest part?

One of the best parts is my job teaching English to kindergarteners and elementary students. I spend most of my work day with four and five year olds and they are so precious and curious. They make it fun to come to work!

I have also been loving all the food and places to discover here. There are so many tasty things to try and new coffee shops to go to! A tough thing is starting over and everything that comes with it – making new friends, learning a new language and new city.

12. What’s one thing you’ve learned?

Being uncomfortable is okay, especially when going through change.

I came to Seoul after living in Vietnam for three years. I loved my time in Da Nang and by the time I left last winter, I had a comfortable life with so many special friends and connections. I knew the city so well and everything was fairly easy and simple.

One of the main reasons I wanted to come to Seoul of all the cities in South Korea was because it scared me a little bit. It sounded so big and intimidating and I loved that idea. I wanted a new challenge of living in a highly developed city and learning a new language but what that meant didn’t fully sink in until I got here.

The last six months have been exciting and fun but also awkward and challenging. I have been able to study Korean with two amazing teachers and have also made friends and have a good job. But there have also been days where things aren’t perfect and feel uncomfortable.

13. What’s one thing you’ve learned about yourself from this trip?

I truly love to learn. I have always know this but over the last few years, it’s really hit me that I am a life long learner. In Vietnam, I was a part of a Christmas choir and also took a dance class. I had never done those things well but decided if I was interested I could do it.

14. Anything else you’d like to add?!

The experience of traveling and doing new things is always worth it, even if you have to budget or rearrange things!

Tea Talk is a monthly series featuring extraordinary women who travel around the world! If you know someone who should be featured, or would like to be featured yourself, shoot me an email at morehouseemilee@gmail.com or post a message on this blog post! Join me again in November for the next feature! 

5 Reasons Being Homeschooled Makes Me Better At Traveling

“What the hell does homeschooling have to do with travel!?”

I’m glad you asked. I know you probably have your doubts…but you’d be surprised how often I pull out my homeschooling skills in order to successfully navigate the world. I was homeschooled from 3rd grade to high school graduation, and it really shaped who I am, as a person. No, I don’t play Dungeons and Dragons, but there are some stereotypes that are true…

NOT THOSE. Sheesh, guys, when was the last time you met an actual homeschooler!? Trick question, because when would you meet someone who never leaves home? Hahahaha — just me? Okay, moving on. Here are five reasons I think that being homeschooled makes me better at traveling.

1. Alone Time:

Okay, so when I was homeschooled I went to a resource center a few times a week. And it was great. Basically it was structured like a regular school, except most of us had parents hanging out in the halls or library, while we went to classes. All the teachers were certified through the state (except for special workshops) and it’s very important for my homeschool cred to note that our parents weren’t the teachers. This was not a co-op. Got it? Good. Moving on.Having a place to spend 2-3 days a week was great, but it still meant that there were entire days where I saw only my siblings/mom. This meant I had to be okay with rollin’ solo. I’m an introvert, so it’s a little bit easier for me, but the reality of travel (especially solo travel, which I do) is that you spend a lot of time alone. Whether it’s transportation from one place to another, or just walking around a city, there are a lot of times when you’re going to feel like one very out of place person in a sea of faces. Luckily, a homeschooler knows how to capitalize on that time. And an introvert knows it’s great for books, journaling, blogging or just thinking about life.

2. Making Random Friends:

On the flip-side, you probably should talk to people when you’re traveling alone. Because otherwise a) Why are you even there?

b) You’ll probably start to go slightly mad.That being said, you know the Homeschool mantra, “Say hi now, because you might not see another soul for days!” It’s on our flag. Moving on.

In all seriousness, it’s really important to connect with people. Hang out with people in hostels, talk to people on tours and really get to know the strangers around you. This is easy for me to do, because I’ve had to choose to make friends pretty much my whole life. There was no luxury of “assigned seating” or “class periods together.” It was talk to this person right now, or forever hold your peace.

3. Self Motivation:

Not to brag, but I basically put myself through the entire educational system from 3rd grade on. Yeah, I had my mom there to give me piles of books, but I think anyone can pretty much vouch that I made myself actually get things d-o-n-e. I’ve always been pretty self-motivated, which is really good, because I work remotely and it’s really important for me to make sure deadlines and projects get done on time. Yes, I have a boss. But luckily I know how to kick myself into action.That being said, I constantly make deadlines for myself when I’m planning to travel, traveling or working on the road. I make it happen because when you’re on the road, as a solo traveler, you either get yourself there, or you don’t get there. There’s nobody to tell you where to go, or wake you up if you sleep through your alarm clock. It’s all about you. Just the way I like it.

4. A Love of Learning:

If I won the lottery, I would become a professional student at Oxford. I love learning more than anything in the world. Which is why I have tutors “for fun,” subscribe to PBS instead of Netflix and have accounts with every online learning site. I love history and science and geography and art and writing and languages. That’s just me (and Hermione, who I share a birthday with – fun fact).This comes in handy when I’m traveling because it makes me infinitely curious about the places I go. It also makes the places hold a lot of value for me, and when other people see that, I think it’s a lot easier to make friends with the locals (unless you’re in Paris, where they hate everyone – jk…sort of). This also has helped me to learn the “secrets” about places, because when you make friends with locals you get taken places tourists never get told about.

5. Trying New Things: 

There is a disclaimer on this one, because I’m not a huge fan of trying new food. That has more to do with me being allergic to everything on the planet, though, and less to do with a lack of interest or willingness to try.What I do love to do is weird things that nobody else will do. I travel with a pretty open “yes” policy for trying new things (safety first, of course) and that’s led me to have some pretty interesting stories. I’d share them now, but where would the fun be in that? You’ll have to keep reading along on the blog to find out.


Not taking ‘no’ for an answer:

I wasn’t ever shut down by teachers growing up. There weren’t “dumb questions,” because the only person I could ask was myself, or my mom (who is, in fact, a certified teacher).  I love proving people wrong, and I love finding ways to do things that people say can’t be done. I think a lot of this has to do with the way I was raised… and it probably also has something to do with the hotheaded Scottish blood in my veins.

12 Signs You Were Definitely Homeschooled – Written By An Actual Homeschooler

12 Signs You Were Definitely Homeschooled
Photo credit: Emma Morem Photography

In light of the recent Relevant Magazine online article “12 Signs You Were Definitely Homeschooled,” which did nothing to relay what it’s like (AT ALL) to be actually homeschooled (seriously, guys – did a homeschooler even write that!?), I decided to write a list about ways to actually tell that someone was homeschooled (since, apparently it’s important). Oh, and this one (RELEVANT) is written BY someone who was actually homeschooled. So here they are, 12 REAL signs that you were homeschooled.

  1. You have some really crazy stories to tell: You had more experiences in your short little elementary life than a lot of people can say for their whole existence. Roadtrips, museums, concerts you name it – you’ve done it. You can connect with people from all kinds of walks of life because your experiences aren’t limited to the cookie cutter lifestyle the rest of the world was experiencing.
  1. You’re really gifted: Maybe you’re really smart, maybe you’re really artistic, maybe you’re really good at science or math or a musical instrument – whatever it is, you’re GOOD at it. You know why? Because you were allowed time to hone your skills and invest in becoming your best.
  1. You research a lot: Whether it’s reading up on things, experimenting with things or pushing life to the limit, you’ve really upped the notch when it comes to the way you view the world. You ask questions, you find answers – basically you’re your own Mythbusters show.
  1. You take more risks and chances: You naturally think outside the box. In fact, what even IS the box? You don’t know – you never learned that in school. Whether it’s traveling more, starting adult clubs and groups, starting your own business or writing and publishing a book – you know how to risk big and get things done.
  2.  You are more tolerant of people: You learned to be friends with people because they were human beings, not because they fit into a certain socioeconomic, racial or religious clique groups. Homeschooling was kinda lonely sometimes, and you learned to adapt by becoming friends with anyone who looked like they might be cool. Because let’s be real, if someone shared your interest, they were your new best friend. Done.
  1. You ask questions: There were no sniveling idiots to pound your questions into the ground growing up, and you’re not afraid to question why things are the way they are, now. Maybe they aren’t questions you scream from the mountaintops (although, maybe you do!) maybe they’re just questions that allow you to move push past what’s expected of you and ask one of the most powerful questions in the world: Why?
  1. You’re super tech savvy: And let’s be real, your friends know it. You’re the one who people call on the phone when they’re having computer problems and you might even have a tech related job, now. The reality of technology was a power that appeared to you a lot earlier than everyone else because technology meant bringing you closer to people and things that you were passionate about! Oh, and we’ll just keep all the hacking on the DL.
  1. You’re super close with your family: Or maybe you aren’t. Spending a lot of time with one’s family can have lasting effects on both sides of the spectrum. Maybe your family became your best friends, or maybe the exact opposite happened. Let’s face it. It’s okay (after 15 YEARS) to take some steps back and keep it casual. These people know a LOT about you, after having spent every day with you – they may just know too much.
  1. You’re self-motivated: There were no late assignments to be excused, waved or curves to be graded on. You either passed or you failed. And it really was all about YOU. You know how to make things happen, and it’s not so hard to push yourself toward goals, since you’ve been running this race, as its solo champion, for years.
  1. You crashed your friend’s proms and loved every minute: We all crashed our “normal” friends events. Whether it was prom, going to sports events or just hanging out in general. We weren’t stuck to barriers about who our dates were or who would be there. WE WERE THE PARTY. And it didn’t matter what we did – ‘cause it’s not like we were gonna ever see those people, again.
  1. Your fashion game is off the charts: Because amidst that (actually not as abundant as outsiders thought) free time, you had time to check up on what people in the fashion capitals were wearing. You were able to experiment with the latest trends from Milan and Paris, and you loved every minute. You spent hours pouring over fashion magazines, vintage movies and style blogs and you knew just how to start a trend, no matter where you were.
  1. You’re uniquely you: You are a homeschooler. That doesn’t mean you are a clone. Some of you wore denim skirts, some of you didn’t. Some of you lived at church, some of you worshiped in nature. Some of you had parents who made your clothes, others of you MADE YOUR OWN CLOTHES. You were allowed to form and become your very best self because there was no one to tell you that you couldn’t. Congratulations on being the very best version of Y-O-U. Take a bow.