One of the most surprising perks to teaching English in Korea is how much free time I have. A huge advantage for choosing to work for Chungdahm is that they follow a strict set of curriculum. That means that while all of my public school friends are scrambling on a Sunday night to figure out what their lesson plan will be for Monday morning, I know that as long as I am at work by 3 pm, I will be more than ready for a full day of classes. As a result of my abundance of free time, here are my top 5 work week activities.
Going to the movies
While Korea may not always get every movie that you want to see, they do a good job of getting most major English films. In addition, they frequently get most blockbuster films EARLIER than the states. For example, I was able to see the Dark Knight Rises over a day before any of my friends in the States were able to see it.
Finally summertime in Korea can get pretty uncomfortable. Coming from a dry state, like Colorado, anytime I am in a place that mixes humidity with heat, I feel like I am going to die. Therefore, going to a mid week movie is a great way for me to unwind as well as to get out of the heat.
Since coming to Korea, the time that I spend on leisurely reading has vastly increased. Finding hard copies of English novels is not always that easy, but I have managed to find a few stores that carry the basics. One store in Gwangju is called YP books. They are located in the bus terminal and have a fairly basic selection of English books. If I ever want to find something more specific though, then I go to What the Book in Itaewon. They have a pretty good selection of both new and used books and are priced pretty reasonably.
The easiest way for me to read English books in Korea is on my Kindle. Because I bought the 3g version, I am able to access the Kindle store anywhere and download anything that I want to read. If you are a big reader, then I suggest purchasing some kind of E reader before moving to Korea. It is so much more convenient to carry in your suitcase than heavy novels you may only read one time.
Hanging out at a coffee shop
Coffee shops are HUGE in Korea. They are typically open 24 hours and are rarely empty. I am always amazed at just how many there are. In fact, there are 3 different chains of them in my building! Coffee shops are not just for getting your caffeine fix on the way to work. In Korea, they are typical locations for social gatherings and a place to take a significant other.
Online classes and Korean lessons
OK so this one is a little more practical than fun, but it can be a good way of enhancing your time here in Korea. Being a teacher by day, student by night is an easy way to make your time abroad even more worthwhile. I know a lot of teachers who use their free time to try to help broaden their skill set by working on TEFL Certifications as well as take online classes from various institutions.
Another popular weeknight activity is to study Korean. One of my regrets is that I never was able to spend enough time learning the language. Sure I know the basics and how to read, but it would have added even more to my experience abroad.
Board game cafes
I never really played board games before coming to Korea. My family back home is not really the sit down for a family night activity kind of group. Since coming to Korea however, I have become a big fan of board games. Board game cafes are like enhanced coffee shops. They are pretty inexpensive (typically free if you buy a drink) and have a vast selection of familiar English games. Overall, they are a great way to break up a typical work week.