Many people ask me why I chose to teach English in South Korea or what is my favorite thing, about living and teaching English in this country. It is a question I always find hard to answer, because there are many, many things I love about being here in South Korea; this blog will take a look at the top three.
The food is obviously my top favorite. Without a doubt, South Korea has some of the tastiest dishes I have ever had. From the simple barbeque to the countless verities of spicy soups, this country knows food. I especially love the chicken and noodle dish; jjimdalk.
Jjimdalk comes in several verities. It can be spicy or non-spicy. I like the spicy one. It comes with potatoes, leeks and carrots and some other vegetables. Usually I eat mine with rice. While the meat is usually chicken, sometimes there are other varieties. Last week I tried jjimdalk with crab and it was the best jjimdalk I have ever tried. The flavor was so good.
Barbecue is also hugely popular in South Korea. Many English teachers go to a BBQ place after work or on weekends with friends. They have many varieties, from sea food to beef to chicken and pork. Some BBQ restaurants will cook the meat at your table; others will let you cook it to yourself. You cannot walk down a street in Korea without passing at least one BBQ place. Food is such a big part of Korean culture. Another thing I love about being in South Korea is Anju or the side dish menu. Anju is usually always ordered when with friends. In South Korea when you drink alcohol, you usually always order side-dishes, it is part of the amazing culture here.
One thing I was worried about, when coming to South Korea to teach English was the culture shock. My friends and family all joked with me about how different life was going to be. Well, one year and seven months into this adventure, I can honestly say I am still waiting for this “culture shock”. From the moment I arrived in South Korea I felt at ease. Yes the language was different, and sure the food was not the same, but Korean people are so caring and so nice that I felt right at home here. In fact there are many similarities between Korean and Irish people. Both populations are kind, warm hearted, and both populations like to feed you. My Korean friends are always giving me delicious food. Something that I thought was unique to Ireland, the nation of feeders. Korean people are very polite and gentle, but shy at the same time. Age is really respected here, regardless of social stature, once a person is older than you, they are given the utmost respect.
With the South Korean landscape filled with 75% mountain terrain, it comes as no surprise that hiking and general outdoor activities are also embedded into Korean culture. My students constantly tell me about their weekend camping or hiking trips. Since moving here I have really picked up a passion for Hiking (with scenes like the image below everywhere, it is not hard to see why).
Free stuff & Festivals: 3
One thing South Korea is big on is good service. If you visit a restaurant or bar, odds are you are going to get something free. Whether it is a drink (Or drinks) or a side-dish, the staff like to look after their customers. Also, they reward loyalty. So when you come to South Korea, find a place you like and enjoy the amazing service. Another thing I love about teaching English in South Korea is that there is no shortage of things to do on weekends. With festivals common place here, you are sure to find something that will suit your interests; from the Busan Fireworks Festival, to the Daegu chicken festival, or even the Seoul Lantern festival. Weekend activities in Korea are plentiful, and what’s even better is that they are usually always free to attend.
John May grew up in Dublin, Ireland where he is from & went to Trinity College – one of Irelands best known universities. He graduated from here in November 2012 with a B.A. (Mod) in Geography & Sociology. John has always had a passion for travelling and having been to most of Europe, he decided to explore Asia after Uni. He has always wanted to teach and thought what better way to travel than teaching English on the way. John is currently teaching English for CDI in Daegu, South Korea a position he found through Aclipse; John felt nervous before his departure, but now that he is in Korea he loves every minute of it. For more information follow his blog.