Teachers Share their Experiences While Living Abroad!

What to Expect in Korea - Your First Months

Posted on Wed, Sep 25, 2013 @ 08:50 PM

If you recall, my last blog post was for those of you who want to move to Korea and teach and are in the application process. In this post I will go over a few other questions you may have and I will include how to get to Korea and what happens during your first month or so here, especially how to plan for it all.


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  1. You have to pay upfront for your flight, but you will be reimbursed up to 1 million Korean won when you get to your branch after passing training. How quickly you are reimbursed depends on your branch because some may pay you a month later or some may pay you two weeks later when they pay the rest of their employees for work. Each branch is different.
  2. You have to save up a bit of money. Because there is no way to determine when you will be reimbursed for your flight, you should plan accordingly and have money ready to spend when you get here. Depending on what your lifestyle is, you can easily find food for about $5 a meal, but if you’re looking to go out and enjoy your time in Korea, you will probably spend a bit more.
  3. It takes about two weeks to get your ARC card, which is your Korean identification card. This card helps you to actually get situated and apply for everything else you need to get. You do have to have a handful of paperwork ready and your branch will assist you in this process. You take this paperwork to the immigration office. There can be quite a line at this office, so it is suggested to get there early to get in the front of the line of all the foreigners who are getting paperwork as well. And yes, there are other people who are not teachers getting paperwork done as well.
  4. It is easier to open a bank account here in Korea after receiving your ARC card because you can sign up for direct deposit as soon as you open it. If you do plan on opening a bank account in America before coming here, go with the Korean Shinhan (if it is available) because this is the one branch you will be able to find all over Korea.
  5. Getting a phone in Korea requires you to have your ARC card, so keep in mind all of the paperwork time that you need to do so. You may be going a month without a phone, which honestly isn’t too bad after you get used to the first week of training with no cell phone and have to rely on the traditional way of life. For those of you who are worried about going without a phone, you can always turn to The Arrival Store. They can have a phone sent to the hotel the day you arrive in Seoul.
  6. What to pack? What not to pack? These are always the important questions. I’ve previously blogged about it here, but things are always changing in Korea. There are a ton of websites that are popping up and they offer foreign goodies, except there is a price to pay with that because it is more difficult to get these items. Nonetheless, my ultimate go-to is iHerb.com because they offer a handful of natural organic products as well as workout stuff that Korea does not offer. Another lucky bonus is to use the code FEJ438 for $5-10 off your first purchase. They’re pretty awesome and quick with deliveries!
  7. Every branch differs. I’ve had so many people ask me whether or not I like my branch because they've heard mixed reviews from other experiences. Yes, every branch is different. This question is like asking someone who works in America if they like their job. Those who love their co-workers will say yes, no matter how difficult the job may be, and some may have an easy job and hate it. The theory is still the same here, so be ready to go in with the notion of work is work and it's all about the attitude you bring into the experience.
  8. Teaching is not babysitting, although somestimes it can feel like it. Depending on your class, you have to be ready to adapt to the different students. Some will be amazing rock-stars that make you love what you do and make you want to do more for them, but you're human and you will have your bad days. Be ready for all this and remember that you are working with children. It is your job to adapt and figure out how to make every day amazing with them.

For any other questions that were not addressed here, feel free to email me or any of the bloggers. We all welcome you to Korea with open arms and we want to make this process as easy and enjoyable as possible. We all have been through the nerve-racking times and we understand the challenges. Don’t let these little things stop you from making the big move that will change your life forever.

Teach in Korea!

Graduating with a double major in Communications and Chinese from Rutgers University, it wasn’t long after working in the Big Apple that Cindy Ung decided to take a break from the cliché 9-5 lifestyle and move to Korea to teach English for CDI. Making the bold step to leave her comfortable, mapped out life in the States, she has fallen more in love with the Korean culture as each day passes.  With weekly mountain hikes, weekend road trips, discovering great foods and beauty products, constantly meeting new people, her life in Korea has been everything but mapped out.

Check out Cindy’s blog to get a glimpse of what Korea has to offer

Tags: a year in Korea, English teacher in Korea, tips, teaching at Chungdahm, application

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