Well if you’re going to be an English teacher in Korea for a year, it’s helpful to know what you’re getting. All apartments for teachers will typically come with a bed (twin or full), a refrigerator, a washer, a television and a closet. As part of the welcome from my branch, here in Pohang, I also received two blankets and a pillow. Fortunately, my apartment also came with a desk. I’ve heard and seen where teachers inherit (and appreciate) items left by the last tenant. For example, a fully furnished apartment equipped with desk, mirror, alarm clock, microwave, and a few more goodies she was incredibly grateful for. Most Chungdahm teachers here will tell you that their apartment is small; it is true. However, even with a small apartment, you can still make good use of your space with a few adjustments and maybe some decorating.
I personally value a good space, both at home and at work. I find that I am more comfortable with the essentials, a plant or plants, books, a microwave and of course pots and pans. While I was fortunate to get a microwave with my apartment, this is not the norm.
When I first moved to Pohang, I was a bit bummed out about my apartment; another teacher had just moved out and unfortunately left it in bad condition. I spent several hours cleaning the kitchen and bathroom and the floors. Needless to say, I like a clean living space. After admiring my accomplishment, I decided then and there that I would be doing some decorating to make my apartment more like home. One thing you can look forward to while teaching in Korea is bargaining for necessities from teachers whose contract has ended and are heading back to the states or elsewhere. These teachers will undoubtedly give/sell these items to new teachers for next to nothing prices.
Luckily, one said teacher had just ended his contract and all of his household items were up for grabs, many of which I got for free. These items included the bookshelf, striped chair, and pots and pans. I was able to get a good bargain on the microwave rack, heater and a digital scale.
To complete my quest in making my apartment more like home, I purchased two plants from the I-Dong Market, held on any day containing the number 4 or 9 (4th, 9th, 14th, 19th, etc.) for a reasonable price. This one addition added color and life to my small apartment. Take a look at the before and after pictures.
So here is what I did:
- I bought two new plants; costs 20,000 KRW
- Got the bookshelf/multi-colored chair/microwave rack from a coworker that went back to the states; costs 15,000 KRW
- Comforter from E-Mart; cost 20,000 KRW
- Yoga Mat; 10,000 KRW
- Rearranged everything until it felt right
Since adopting Choco (my 3 year old toy poodle), I decided that we needed a bigger space to accommodate her crate and give me the needed space for working out. Fortunately, after speaking with Korean Staff at the workplace I was able to get a bigger apartment within a week and gladly moved my belongings three flights down to the first floor. Choco and I have been happy there for several weeks now and I don’t intend to move again.
Nailah Rivers was born in Trinidad and Tobago. She moved to the United States with her family at the age of seven. She graduated Rutgers University in 2011 with a degree in psychology. Her sophomore year in college, she knew for sure that she would pursue a teaching career with a focus on elementary school. After a risky move to Miami, Florida in 2011, Nailah decided to take a chance and apply to teach English in South Korea with Chungdahm Learning. She is currently teaching in Pohang, South Korea and is having a good time teaching and learning. Follow her blog to get the inside scoop on teaching abroad.