Travel, Teach, Live in Korea
Here is 'the' list of the most thought-provoking things you will want to bring with you to Korea. In South Korea (also referred to as Korea) you will need a few vital things in your first week that make it possible for you to adapt to the all-new Korean lifestyle you are now co-existing with. This list applies to anywhere you're going to live in Korea including all the major cities like Seoul, Busan, Jeju City or Daegu and everywhere else.
There is one condition that makes this list almost useless, and that's if you're moving in with a buddy or a friend who can help you out. When I first arrived in Korea I landed at Incheon and went on to Chuncheon for 2 weeks. I didn't need any of things I listed below since my friend had everything. However, when I finally made the trip to my apartment provided to me by the public school I am working at there were no power converters nor was there any toilet paper which made things awkward and difficult at first.
Now, this isn't just some crappy list slapped together by an article writing firm in India. The information here was personally experienced by me, Dan, and I have a story to go with each one.
A Towel: Doesn't this sound like a basic thing to bring? When I first arrived in Korea, I had a long pink towel I brought from home. What a good decision. In Korea, the only towels you can find anywhere are almost the size of an oversized napkin. You might be able to find out what's the size of two placemats for about 75,000 won.
All Koreans throughout South Korea use very small towels. When they dry themselves it gets very wet. The plus side however is that it dries quickly too. If you don't like chiverrig when you get out of the shower I highly recommend bringing a towel that's the size of a large desk so you have it ready to use when you step out of the shower/bathroom.
More Than One Plug converter: Remember that in Korea, the plug holes are of a different voltage than the ones in your country. In every major city there is a store like Home Plus or Lotte Mart where you can buy plug converters, but what do you do when you just arrived last night and need to shave right now? Most people only bring one or none. If you only bring one with you, where will you plug it? Will you plug your laptop, iPod charger and battery charger all using the one small black converter? Of course not; make sure you make life easy on yourself so you can focus on more important things upon your arrival.
A power converter will work anywhere in Korea and sets you back a grand total of $2 at Walmart.
A Laptop: Most of us have one. But if you don't, you'll find it very annoying to use the one at your school or harp around looking for a PC-Internet cafe. Even though they're everywhere in Seoul, Busan, Daegu, Daejon or anywhere else. However you won't feel like embarassing yourself in front of 20-year old computer game addicts who only speak the language of a role playing game.
Besides, can you imagine having to go out every time you want to connect with your family or friends? When just arrive in Korea it's a challenge and the more connections you can make back home to help you through it, the better.
Underwear: Who would have thought, right? Buying underwear in an Asian country is much different that it is in North America and possibly Europe for two reasons. First, it's difficult to find a "6-pack" of underwear. Keep in mind that I'm speaking about this from a man's perspective. Koreans buy the under-garments one at a time. Second, each pair costs about 10,000 won. So 6 pairs sets you back 60,000 won.
Does that make any sense? Sizes are a problem too, so keep in mind that in Asia, the sizes are all on the smaller side. Don't frustrate yourself by bringing just a few expecting to find more within your first 2 months. It will take you a full month just getting used to being stared at by Koreans for no particular reason. They do it in Seoul and they do it in Jeju, even though these cities are the biggest tourist destinations and metropolitan areas in South Korea.
Now if you're currently in Korea and reading this, take a couple of hours to do a full research on underwear, where you can find it, test out a few pairs on one of your evenings off (or mornings if you work at a private school) and make your decesion. And no, I don't mean test a pair and then return it. But it and wear it for a few days to see if you like it and find its style comfortable.
Toilet Paper: Now don't get any funny ideas, but keep in mind that depending on where you will be staying upon arriving you might want to be sure certain vital furnishings are there. If you land at the airport and are immediately taken to training, you won't get a chance to buy toilet paper. Say from training (if you get any) you are then escorted to your apartment. What makes you think the former co-teacher is going to have left a big package of toilet paper there waiting for you? Typically, in Korea, the former tenant doesn't clean up the apartment because Korean culture frowns upon it.
Now upon landing, if you are starved for food, at least you won't end up stranded on the toilet with nothing but a shower head to wipe yourself. How do I know? It happened to me. The result wasn't pretty.
Be prepared to enjoy Korea by hoping for the best and planning for the worst.
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, 07:06 PM]