If you're moving to Korea to teach English for a year, you'll find plenty of advice on what to bring. Too much, in fact. Let's sift through the outdated information and get a fresh look at what you'll really need in Korea, and what you can leave at home.
10 things you should bring with you to Korea
Your passport. Do I even have to tell you why? Beyond simply traveling to Korea and getting into the country, your passport serves as your identification until you get an ARC (Alien Registration Card). Don't forget about your credit card(s), bank / debit card, and other financial documents. Keep them in a safe place once you arrive.
Money. Until your first paycheck arrives about a month after you start, you'll be living off of whatever you brought with you. While you'll probably have access to your home country's bank in Korea, it's better to convert a bit your money into Korean won and bring it in cash so that you can avoid a bit conversion fee at the airport.
A few pictures and things to remember home. Just because you're moving to a foreign country doesn't mean you cut all ties to your home country. Leave the photo frames at home (glass doesn't travel so well), but pack the photos with your passport for safekeeping.
Backup glasses. There is almost nothing scarier than not being able to see. All it takes is one decent accidental swipe from a stranger on the street or a spill and your glasses are done for. Korea has plenty of places to get glasses, but bring your backup pair just in case.
Your new or newish laptop. If you have one, of course. While Korea will offer plenty of places to buy an even newer one, they'll typically come with a Korean version of Windows. Ask nicely, and they can usually put on an English-language OS.
Some cool threads that fit. Koreans often look stylish because their stuff fits them well – and it's stylish. There's plenty of places to pick up clothes, of course, but your own style from home will fit in just fine. Leave your Goodwill suit and baggy sweatpants at home, though.
Underwear and bras. Korea has underwear, of course, but it doesn't always fit right. You'll probably feel more comfortable bringing some extra from your own country. Women: if you wear a C-cup or higher, bring plenty of bras, as they’re difficult to find.
Games from home. Board games are either not in English, more expensive, or are very hard to find. You may not have many chances to play them with your students, but friends will jump at the chance to play with you.
Any medical paperwork, allergy information, and so on...It's better to get this stuff organized before jumping on the plane, especially if there's a condition you're living with.
An open mind. You're making a commitment to a new country, a new lifestyle, a new job, and a new culture. There's plenty of ways to hang onto home, but you'll need to accept a lot of things about the culture and lifestyle as well.
Stay tuned for part 2 – 10 things you should leave at home – which is just as important as what to bring!
Chris Backe is an ex-pat living in South Korea with a penchant for blogging and travel. Like about 20,000 other foreigners in Korea, he teachs English as a full-time job / source of income. When not teaching, however, he is out exploring the dynamic society that is Korea. Chris makes it a point to visit one new place, event, or festival every week. You can read more about what's going on in the land of the morning calm on his blog Chris Backe - AKA Chris Backe in South Korea!