Wednesday, January 4, 2012



A bad-boy English teacher reflects on six years in South Korea.


This is the story of a typical globe-trotting English teacher: a man who lacks direction at home and is lured to the East by the prospects of employment and adventures. Tharp, who still lives in Korea, describes the greatest adventures of his six years living in Busan. From the wild children at a Korean kindergarten to the cute, texting Korean girlfriends, Tharp describes the people he meets in his new life with a vivid, irreverent voice.

Tharp explores common expat experiences: visa troubles, cultural differences, adjustments to food, mistrust of foreigners, alcohol-fueled expat bubbles, etc. The most powerful theme in this story is the failing health of Tharp's parents. Expatriates leave behind loved ones who may get married, have babies, or die while they are far out of reach. Tharp must come to terms with his decision to live far from his parents as they go into a painful decline. Despite his love for Korea, he experiences guilt and grief from abroad.

This is an authentic story that will resonate with ESL teachers and expats everywhere. Although my job as a teacher in Hong Kong is quite different from Tharp's situation in Korean, I could identify with his experiences. This is a fun tale that paints an honest picture of life abroad with healthy doses of laughter and insight. It would be a great read for anyone who is thinking about starting a new life abroad.



I received a copy of this e-book from the publisher.


When you think of the "typical" expat experience, what comes to mind?


  1. Wow, this sounds great. I haven't seen any expat books about South Korea. He sounds really funny and a good storyteller. South Korea was actually the first Asian country I visited. When I think of the 'typical' expat experience, it's lavish living spaces and a staff of servants. But in fact most of the expats I've known have lived quite the opposite, including me!

  2. I think South Korea is the new Japan: the place to go for aspiring ESL teachers. I visited my sister there last year. It's a lot harder to live in Korea than in HK if you are a Westerner.

    I think for most of us lavish living spaces are definitely a thing of the past, though it's still pretty standard for expats with kids to have a helper here.

  3. We don't have a helper here in HK nor on our last posting in South Africa. We had lavish space there, a lovely big house and garden, but it wasn' safe to walk around the streets. Here in HK, we have a much smaller apartment,no garden, not even a balcony, but we feel very safe. The first question most folks back home ask is, "Is it safe there?" ( Followed by "Can you drink the water?")

  4. Shannon, the first two posts on the author's blog contained the f-word. Is his book profanity-laden? Is that what you meant by "irreverent," lol? It sounds interesting but I'll skip it if it's full of swear words. Thanks for any info.

  5. Thanks for the nice review, Shannon. You seem to understand what I was going for in the book.

    @Anonymous: If profanity is a deal breaker for you, than I'd give it a skip. I don't use it for effect, but I like to write with the full arsenal of the English language at my disposal. I guess my stuff isn't for everyone. Fair enough.

  6. Thank you for stopping by Chris!

    @Anonymous (since I'm pretty sure I know who this is) I didn't notice a lot of profanity in the book, but that doesn't usually stand out to me. However, I agree with Homely Planet that you can probably skip this one because I don't think you would like it as much as C & F would.

  7. Thanks, Chris (and Shannon) for the additional info about the language. I'm from a different generation so am admittedly more sensitive to profanity than a lot of people today. But I wish you the very best in your endeavors!

  8. Recently I bought a Expat book Being stripped naked. I read about this book yesterday on another blog and it sounds really appealing. The blog was about Initial weeks as an expat living in Hong Kong


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