Brace explains what its like to go from South Korea to the United States.
Brace explains what its like to go from South Korea to the United States.
Photo Credit: Kierstyn Moseley

Teacher Shares Life In South Korea

When it comes to understanding life in another country, new English teacher Jennifer Brace knows it firsthand. She has been a military brat her entire life.

Brace was not born in Korea but that’s where she grew up. She lived in Korea from when she was a baby till her senior year of high school. Though she grew up in Korea her first language is English. 

“I am conversational in Korean. I have not formally learned Korean, but I have picked up enough from my family and environment to be able to make my way around” Brace said.

She is ethnically Korean but her nationality is American. Her father worked as a linguist for the military and was stationed in Korea. That is how her parents met. She picked up Korean living with her Mother’s Korean family. 

“I went on base for school, to shop at the commissary, BX and whatnot, but most of my time was spent off-base,” Brace said.

The school populous was small, meaning everyone was very close-knit. There were also many opportunities for the students. Like if you were in a club you could go to Japan to compete with other military/international schools. 

“Everyone is somehow connected to each other or knows each other from their previous station,” Brace said. “So, even if you had to say goodbye to a friend, chances were high that you would run into them again”.

In Brace’s final year of high school she decided to become a teacher. She left her friends and family behind in Korea.

“I knew I wanted to become a teacher when I was a senior in high school. I realized that a lot of people I looked up to in my life and thought of as role models were my teachers,” Brace said. “I also love English as a content area and literature so being an English teacher felt like the perfect fit for me”.

She attended college at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Moving to the States has been an adjustment for Brace. For one, the culture of the States greatly differs from Korea’s.

“Korea has more of a ‘foodie’ culture where lots of plans involve going to popular restaurants,” Brace said.

In Korea, food is medicine. Since coming to the States, Brace enjoys trying new restaurants, coffee shops and spicy food.

“If you’ve ever tried the ‘Fire Noodle Challenge’ that is one of my comfort meals to eat on a day I want to relieve stress” Brace said.

Her first experiences in the States shows the societal differences. Some of the biggest differences are in food. 

I was shocked at how large food and drink portions were at restaurants and surprised that sales tax wasn’t already included in the item price,” Brace said.

Cafes are another thing that makes Korea interesting. In the US there aren’t many themed cafes, just chains and small businesses. However, in Korea there are many more types of cafes: cat, dog, raccoon, sheep and many more. There are also PC cafes which cost a dollar an hour.

“PC cafes are filled with the newest technology and fast wifi for people to play games, order food, and order drinks,” Brace said. 

Although the United States isn’t like Korea where she grew up. It has its charms. For one its states have a very specific culture. 

“I remember calling my mom amazed, telling her that I saw a Texan man who was wearing a cowboy hat and cowboy boots,” Brace said.

Brace came to the States only a couple of years back. She is now building her life here in the States.

“Now, I feel like I have adjusted well and although when I think of “home”, I think of my home in Korea, Alabama also has a special place in my heart” Brace said.

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