Your time in Korea has come to an end...checks on the bucket list, memories made. You are filled with emotions, one of them is stress. Just as much as packing up your life and moving abroad was intimidating, so too, is moving back home. Living and teaching in Korea has become a second home. Teachers who return to their home country often experience culture shock and struggle to adjust to the lifestyle they had before.
For the past few years, Korea has had you hand-gesturing and bowing your way through grocery stores, while Google translating everything. You have become accustomed to your Korean beauty products and K-pop songs. How will you ever purchase your favorite items back home?
You wish to talk to anyone about Korea. But they just don't get it because Korea is a unique experience that only people who have lived in Korea can relate too.
Packing up your life in Korea can be overwhelming and emotional, so you need to be prepared and know what to expect. Follow the 4 guidelines below for a smooth and hassle-free transition.
The most important items you would like to prepare in your calendar are pension, banking and severance documents.
Pension is handled by the Korean pension office and is easily allocated anywhere in Korea. Pension is only reserved for certain foreigners so you need to make sure that you qualify. The US and Canada are covered under Korea's National Pension Service.
Around one month before you leave Korea, you need to visit your nearest NPS office and apply for your pension refund, which should be deposited into your bank account one month after exiting the country. You need to bring your passport, bank book, banking details, ARC card and flight ticket.
Banking is really easy, you need to make sure to keep your Korean bank account open until one month after exiting the country so that you can receive all payments.
It is possible to cancel your bank account from abroad once you have transferred all the funds. Make sure to have internet banking set up so that there are no issues with the transfer online in your home bank via a foreigner easy-one account at KEB Hana bank.
Also, CDL will email you around Week 11 with documents they require in order for you to get your severance on the 10th of the following month. They need your flight ticket, ARC card, bank book, passport and exit interview.
If there's one lesson I have learned from travelling - it's to travel light and think like a minimalist. After countless times of moving and through trial and error, I realised that sending boxes home of things I never use or wear is a waste of money.
From my own experience, used items always get renewed, so for a general rule of thumb, make sure to measure the item according to how valuable it is to you. Does it have sentimental value? Is it something you will wear again? If not... let it go.
When you are ready to trash some furniture be aware that in Korea, you need to pay a small fee to leave furniture items outside of your building. For example, a chair is 6,000 KRW and a bed with frame is 15,000 KRW. This is so the building can pay the recycling van to pick up all the leftover furniture.
Once you have finished spring cleaning your apartment and decided which items of furniture, technology and clothing you want to get rid of, you can sort through the items to sell.
From my experience, Craigslist Seoul, is the best website for selling used items. It has a quick turn around and the clients are generally Koreans. Koreans tend to barter less for items, so this is great if you are trying to stick to the selling price.
Other popular places to sell are on Facebook groups called Seoul Garage Sale and Buy and Sell Seoul.
Packing and Sending Boxes
Once you have sold everything and you are ready to pack, make sure to check your flight details to see how much luggage you can take on your flight. Usually flights to the US allows for 2x 23kgs bags and 1x 5kg carry on luggage.
Then take a walk to your nearest post office and purchase some boxes. Carry the boxes to your apartment and once you have packed and realised your luggage is too heavy to carry, start to pack all valuable items, books and winter/summer clothes into the boxes. Carry the boxes back to the post office and choose a shipping option.
Shipping via sea is the most affordable and takes about 1 month to arrive in the US (although they tell you 3 months). For example, an 11kg box cost 46,000W to ship to New York as opposed to EMS and Airmail which cost 176,000W. Make sure to to choose shipping, to keep your expenses to a minimum.
It is no surprise that Tijana Huysamen, a South African born Capetownian, avid traveler and travel journalist, fell in love with South Korea and its people. After Tijana arrived in South Korea in 2010, she had the opportunity to live in the heart of the Korean countryside. During her time spent in Chungnam province she learned to speak Korean, prepare Korean food and experience the humble nature of the countryside people. After a year break in New York, Tijana jumped at the opportunity to return to Korea again, and is currently working at the CDI Jamsil Branch, in Jamsil, Seoul. Read Tijana’s Aclipse blog to gain a unique perspective on Korea and her shared experiences and adventures both in a major city and in the countryside. Follow Tijana on Twitter @TeeAnni or email firstname.lastname@example.org to request more information on teaching in Korea!