Travel, Teach, Live in Korea
Living in South Korea is different that Europe or North America. These tips were written by someone who came to Korea from North America and learned that the information he was reading online from forums wasn't coming from reliable sources. Here is a reliable source of information.
If I only knew how useless most of the things I brought to Korea were, I would have packed only one suitcase instead of two. What did I bring with me? All the stuff I read about online. Unfortunately the articles I read were written by people Native Teachers who were planning on going to Korea or teachers who'd been living in Korea for so long they couldn't be bothered advising others.
Here are some of the things you should not bring to Korea and why.
Pants: Don't bring more than one pair of jeans. I brought a rain trenchcoat, a winter coat, a rain coat and 2 pairs of jeans among other articles of clothing, which was too much, for reasons you'll find out.
Every year Native English teachers go to Korea to teach and bring a whole pile of stuff. It doesn't matter whether you're going to Busan, Seoul, Suwon or Chuncheon. The fact is, food in South Korea is very healthy, full of vitamin rich vegetables. If you're American or Canadian or from Europe, this food is likely healthier than what you've been eating which mean that eating it all the time will make you lose weight.
In my first 3 months in Korea I lost almost 20 pounds. Most of that fat was on my gut or around my thighs, which means a comfortable size 38 pair of jeans I bought in Canada was now rippling around my waste under the strain of an oversized belt. My belt was also too big. After 5 months I had to stop wearing all my coats because they didn't fit anymore. I felt as though I was wearing grandpa's clothing.
Be prepared to lose weight unless you eat at McDonald's every day. Who does anyway?
Your Cell Phone: I admit many people would disagree with this one. Why bring a cell phone when you might need to call home? Keep in mind that if you bring your phone, you must bring the charger, a converter for the charger to plug into the wall and you must have a phone service that supports roaming charges. Roaming costs vary from one provider to another. One thing we know for sure about them: They're expensive.
Upon arriving in Korea you want to spend your free time getting your Alien Registration Card (ARC) so you can then get a cell phone in Korea (preferably an iPhone). There is no sense using your home phone, incurring heavy charges back home and then having to wire money and move it around in your home bank accounts from Korea.
Anyone living in Seoul, Suwon, Gyongju or anywhere else will need to get an ARC card anyway, so you might as well wait and connect a Korean cell phone with it so you pay your bills in won, not dollars.
A Suit: Unless you're planning on becoming the chairman of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce within a few months of arriving, you want to make sure you leave your suits, ties, dress shoes and shoe shine home. You'll feel a lot more comfortable walking up and down the halls of your school in a pair of comfortable sold-in-Korea pants than in an oversized baggy-like suite. You'll also look younger. Remember that throughout the peninsula, Korean men particularly always dress up to look as good as possible. This is all fine, but if you do too much of it you'll look like a middle aged man-wanna-be. If that's what you want, go for it. Your students, principal and school will appreciate you looking younger and adding some flare to the school's Native English speaker classes.
I cannot stress this enough. Most English teachers think that they have to wear a suit to teach. This really isn't the case. While Koreans appreciate someone who is trying to 'look' good and make a good outward impression, they also frown upon a foreigner wearing a double-breasted Hugo Boss suit that teaching kids. Focus on making less "waves" at your workplace and worry less about what you look like and you'll do well.
That doesn't mean that you should come to school unshaven with messy hair. It just means that you should be known as the teacher who connects with the kids and is liked by the kids.
Dan teachers Native English Teachers how to survive in Korea by cooking, giving and being loving at their schools. Join his free newsletter: http://www.survivalinkorea.com.
[Edited by Administrator (admin) Wed, 06 Jul 2011, 06:56 PM]