Teach English in Korea! Everything you want to know.
Teach in Korea: Part 33 – Romantic relationships with Koreans
If you start dating Koreans, be very careful. Koreans are not very accepting of Korean/foreigner relationships. It can cause potential problems with your employer.
Also keep in mind that Koreans are less casual about relationships. Koreans date with the intention of getting married.
If your school has adult classes, don’t date any of these students. You could lose your job.
Teach in Korea: Part 34 – Transportation
Public transportation is so cheap in Korea that many Koreans don’t even own cars. For example, a ten minute taxi ride will only cost about $1.50.
Many foreigners use motorcycles or scooters to get around. You can buy one fairly cheaply in Korea, but it is not something I recommend (though I owned a motorcycle) because it is dangerous and many foreigners get into accidents.
You can buy a car in Korea, but they are expensive, and so is insurance. But buying a car might be the right thing to do if you are planning to stay in Korea for a few years. A driver’s licence from home is all you need to obtain a Korean one.
But, for most people, I recommend sticking with public transportation, because it is so cheap and convenient.
Teach in Korea: Part 35 – Fun things to do in Korea
In Korea you will discover one of my favourite things: the singing rooms. They are sound proof rooms with a karaoke machine. They are called “nora bongs” in Korea. “Nora” means singing. “Bong” means room. For $5 an hour, you can rent one of these singing rooms.
They are large enough for you and your friends. They have tons of English songs, and you can buy alcohol there. You will even find a tambourine in the room, if you want shake it and dance.
Going to the singing rooms was one of my favourite things to do in Korea and a great stress reliever. There is nothing better than belting out a few tunes.
Many teachers study Taekwondo, the Korean national sport. I did, and received my black belt during the three years I was there. It was an amazing experience.
Taekwondo lessons are cheap, and sessions are held Monday-Friday, for one hour a night. It’s a great way to stay in shape.
Foreign teachers often form their own sports teams. I played on a touch rugby team when I was there. It was a ball and great exercise.
There was also an ultimate Frisbee team that was created by some teachers.
Teach in Korea: Part 36 – Public baths
Koreans go to public baths to bathe. At the public baths, there are several little pools with different temperatures of water. One may be extremely hot, one warm, one freezing cold, etc.
The idea is that you take turns sitting in the pools. It is a shock to the system going from one to another.
There is even a sauna there. You can buy salt and rub it all over your skin. It opens your pours and cleanses your skin.
Oh, I forgot to mention that everyone at the public baths is completely naked. Also, when a foreigner walks in everyone stops and stares at you. But they are friendly.
Men and women bathe in separate areas. So don’t worry—or get too excited.
Often you see women there with their daughters and mothers. It’s a family event.
The grandmothers even help scrub their daughters and granddaughters.
One day a nice grandmother took pity on me seeing me, because I was alone, and scrubbed my back for me!
You can even get a haircut at the public bathes, if you don’t mind being naked at the time.
You can get a facial/scrubbing/massage service. For $12, you will get cucumber face pack, scrub and massage. The whole procedure lasts about 40 minutes. You will have to be completely naked lying on a bed. First they will do the cucumber face pack. They will spend about 20 minutes scrubbing your body all over with an abrasive cloth and then you will get a 10 minute massage.
It’s not designed to be a soothing experience. The massage will be the most painful experience of your life. And when you react to the pain your masseuse will look at you like you are a wimp.
Teach English Korea: Part 37 – Types of Religion in Korea
Buddhism is the most popular, religion in Korea, and you will see temples everywhere.
But, I was surprised to meet a lot of Koreans who were Christians. Sometimes it seemed like every other person I met was a Christian.
Confucianism is also popular in Korea, but I don’t know much about it.
Teach English Korea: Part 38 – Korean food
Korean food is absolutely delicious. It’s my favourite food in the world. You’ll probably agree.
Kimchi is a staple of every meal. It’s spicy fermented cabbage, and believe it or not, it’s great.
Each meal Koreans eat a main dish, that usually includes rice, and several side dishes.
They often eat their meals at a short table, and they sit on the floor. It takes a while to get used to sitting like this. You may find it uncomfortable at first
Soju is a popular alcoholic beverage and there is even a traditional way to pour it.
Teach English Korea: Part 38- Eating out
Eating out in Korea is very cheap. You will be able to afford to go to a restaurant everyday if you choose, and you should, because the food is so delicious.
Many restaurants will even deliver right to your house. They bring your food to your house in real dishes. When you are done eating, they come back later and pick up their dishes. This is also inexpensive.
Teach English Korea: Part 39 – Grocery Stores
In the grocery stores, you will find fruits, vegetables, milk, bread, eggs, etc, though some things may look different than you are used to.
Sometimes you can find western products, but they will be more expensive.
I found that it was so cheap to eat out, that it didn’t make any sense to cook for myself.
Teach English Korea: Part 40 – Honoring your contract
Honoring your contract is very important. Breaching your agreement with the school destroys any chance you have of teaching in Korean in the future.
I know of someone who was teaching in Korea when he got accepted into law school. He told the school he had a family emergency, and left Korea. After he completed his degree he decided he wanted return to Korea because he had enjoyed teaching and couldn’t get a job back home.
Unfortunately no school wanted to hire him, because he didn’t honour his original contract.
So try your best to stick it out. Remember, you will receive a bonus of one month’s salary when you complete your contract. There’s added incentive.
If you must leave your contract early, you need to give the director a few month notice and refund the cost of your flight. You also need to pay your apartment bills before leaving. This is how adults handle situations.
Someone teachers have done a “midnight run”–packing up and shipping out overnight without giving anyone any notice. I have never understood people who do this. I have heard about it and have even known a few people who have done it. These are the kind of people that have no communication skills so their solution is just to run away.
The irony is that most people who do midnight runs later decide they want to teach in Korea again. Unfortunately they get blacklisted and can’t return to Korea. It doesn’t matter how much they beg, plead or regret their actions.
Teach English Korea: Part 41 – Getting good references
Many teachers assume that once they have finished their contract they can easily get a job at another school. It is not that easy. If you do not have excellent references from your first job, it will be hard to get another job in Korea.
Korean directors keep in touch with each other. They will ask for you past director’s phone number and they will call them directly to ask about your performance. If they feel you did a less than satisfactory job at your previous school, you will not be hired and it will be next to impossible to find another job in Korea.
Okay, I’ve covered everything I think you need to know for now. I don’t want to spoil this adventure for you. Part of the fun is going and discovering on your own. I hope you have a wonderful time in Korea and I am glad that I could be part of your adventure.
Also remember life is what you make it.
Sarah Fauset – BA, B.Ed
Owner of ESL Teacher Recruiter