My name is Sobia, and I am from Mississauga, Canada. After graduating, I decided to travel and work abroad for a year while I figure out what to do with rest of my life. I was introduced to the recruitment company Aclipse who took me through the entire placement process step by step until I arrived in Seoul, South Korea. I accepted a year long teaching contract with Chungdahm Learning Institute. It was a great company to work with. Their one-week training was
very thorough, and the entire process of relocation to my new home for the year and of work at the Dongdaemun location was very smooth. I loved working for Chungdahm so much and just living in Korea that I extended my contract for another semester. The work was easy peasy, hours were ideal, people were amazing, pay was excellent, living cost was relatively low, traveling within the country was cheap, and saving opportunities were great.
A huge student loan is tricky and can trigger people to push their limits. Like a million others, I was not sure where I was going with my degree and had to find a job right away to start paying off my loan. But I also wanted to take a break and travel. That’s when I filled out an application with Aclipse and got the interview within days. A few months later, I was in Seoul.
After a week long training, I was relocated to my branch in Dongdaemun with a few other teachers. The housing was pre-arranged, and it was at a walking distance to the school, hence no transportation cost and more savings. I was on the hourly contract and made additional money when I picked up a few extra classes in the morning. Money was good and cost of living was cheap. In Seoul, the cafe and restaurant culture is huge. There is literally a restaurant beside another restaurant and right across from another restaurant that is under another restaurant, so the food is dirt cheap and yummy.
Travel within the country is also cost-effective. I would hop on an overnight train to go see the sunrise over the Sea of Japan (cost ~$15 CAD), or rent a bike for an entire day (cost ~$5 CAD) to roam around the city. Seoul itself has one of the best and most integrated metro system to get you anywhere in the city.
Bottom line, Chungdahm pays you really well and you get to live, eat, and travel for little money while saving the rest to pay off that huge student loan or maybe a down-payment on your first house.
Holidays are Ttricky
Koreans invest a lot on their children education, so they don’t mind sending them to school on a holiday. So, I got to spend a few holidays like Christmas or Thanksgiving in school with those kids as well.
But the tricky part about these holidays is living so far away from home. I yearned to go home and be with my family and loved ones. Instead, I spent Christmas eve in school teaching kids. On the other hand, we would get Korean holidays off (Chuseok or Buddha's BDay) and get holiday offerings (mula or other goodies) from the school Directors. So, I guess it all worked out fine at the end and my family didn’t mind the postcards I sent instead.
Time is in Your Favour
I worked from 4-10pm everyday except for Wednesdays, which was a half working day (3 hours only). So, there was always time to do day trips. Weekends were off. Sometimes Korean holidays fell on the weekend so we would get Friday and/or Monday off as well. That gave a lot of time for adventures and exploring the Korean Peninsula. I explored almost the entire country from coast to coast over the course of my contract with all this time in my favour.
People Couldn’t be More Gracious
Everywhere I went, I was always treated nicely. I am not sure if it was my petite built (not even 5 feet tall) or the exotic look with big eyes and naturally curly hair (Indian decent) that made me appear less harmful or rather approachable. My students would always call me a rock star.
People at train or bus stations would readily approach me if I looked a bit lost. I once even got a ride from this remote hiking location to the train station from this friendly couple with whom I could not communicate with. This was the general Korean population. In addition, people I worked with were also very friendly. Our school Directors would take us all out for a grand dinner once every semester. They would host a slumber party for all the staff at their house once a year. All our birthdays were celebrated. We would get lots of holiday offerings. Kids would bring in treats / gifts for the teachers. Koreans are just amazing people and the Chungdahm students’ and staff were the best.
Life Back in the Homeland
While in Korea, my mind was at such an ease, and I had a lot of time to think about what I wanted to do when I returned. Living in Korea turned out to be the best experience I had. It helped create further growth opportunities for me. When I came back to Canada, I got further education and found work in my field of study. The international experience did look good on my resume. I had recruiters express more interest about my international work experience and wanting to learn more on how it helped me grow. I also loved the mountains in Korea so much that I moved to Alberta, Canada (The Home of the Rockies).
I would tell everyone reading this blog to not have second thoughts. Click the button below now and be on your way to Korea. It will be an experience of a lifetime, hands down.
Sobia hails from Toronto, Canada and graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in Biology. However, she had no plans of being stuck in a lab for the rest of her life. After this realization she decided to go abroad and teach in Korea while figuring out what career path she would embark on. While in Korea, she had the opportunity to meet like-minded people from all over the world, opening her mind further. She decided to pursue a career in the environmental field. Upon returning to Canada, Sobia completed her post-graduation and is now employed with the University of Alberta as their Zero Waste Program Coordinator. Sobia loves the path she took after graduation and now continues to inspire others who wish to have a lifetime experience to do the same.