Recently, I’ve had a lot of messages in relation to coming to Korea teaching. Add that to my own experience and my observations of the citizens in Paju and here are my top things to consider before you come here to teach.
1. Where do you want to be? Even if this is your first time to teach in Korea, do your research on areas that you would like to go. The last thing you need is to be stuck in the middle of nowhere, miles from any other foreigner. Some people prefer to go to Seoul. Lovely. My personal recommendation is to go somewhere within easy reach of Seoul but not quite in Seoul itself. Sounds stupid but in Seoul, you’re just another foreigner and believe it or not, it’s harder to get to know other foreigners. In an area outside Seoul, foreigners tend to stick together more and so it’s a ready-made community. Of course, maybe you like the beach, in which case Busan is the place for you. Whatever, your preference, do your research before you even apply for a job.
2. Where to teach? This is always the big question, public school or private school? I found this interesting article recently on this exact issue http://koreabridge.net/post/teach-english-korea-public-school-or-private-hagwon-tgates209?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter
As I said in another post though, DONT TAKE THE FIRST OFFER! If you don’t like what you hear from the current foreign teacher or if you just didn’t get a good feel for the school, then don’t take it. Remember, you’ll be there for a year, so you might as well enjoy it.
3. It’s not going to be easy; I meet new people, who whine and complain that things are difficult and it’s hard to settle in. What can I say????? You’re starting a new life in a new continent, it was hardly going to be the same as the life you left. Unless you speak, read and write perfect Korean, know the transport system inside out, know the culture and know the foreigners in your community, then it’s going to be difficult. But it’s all part of the experience. Having no phone, internet in your apartment, no bank account, no friends is all part of coming here and experiencing life in Korea. And it doesn’t last long. After a week or two, you find your legs and after that there’s no looking back. So, don’t come here with the idea that it’s all going to be plain sailing, because it isn’t.
4. Be careful what you pack; I could honestly do an entire blog post on the importance of packing properly. Don’t believe a word that other posts on the internet tell you about not being able to find things in Korea, cause you can. So don’t bother bringing a years supply of anything. Remember summer is super hot and winter is super cold. So unless you want to freeze to death, prepare thermal clothes and a proper hat, scarf and gloves. I live in my down jacket in winter (which you can buy here) but if you already have one then it’d be the first thing I pack. Also pack converters. And if you have abnormal anything account for that. For example , I have size 7UK feet which are considered abnormal here. So I find it hard (not impossible) to find shoes here.
5. Your picture is the most important thing; I tell people this time in time out. I know of soooooo many cases where a person got a job solely on their picture. I even know of one school where 3 people went for a job. The foreign teacher chose the one she thought best suited the position based on the C.V. ‘s. They then told this to the principal, who spoke no English, looked at the photos and chose the best looking person. So there you have it folks. Spend some money on a bit of makeup and get proper passport pictures taken. Don’t ever consider sending them a cropped picture of you from a party. I don’t think I even need to explain why…..
I’ll add to this if I remember anything else. If you want to know anything else, leave a comment or send me a message.