Why Study Abroad Alumni Should Teach in South Korea

Written for & published by Life After Study Abroad (May 2014) 

Link to original article: http://www.lifeafterstudyabroad.com/teach-abroad/study-abroad-alumni-teach-south-korea/

By Melissa Doman

Free roundtrip airfare, free rent, an additional monthly stipend, and saving roughly more than $10,000 in just one year. Unrealistic or odd sounding you say? Well, you’re wrong, because that’s exactly the situation you could be in if you teach English abroad in South Korea.

If you’ve already done the expat life once during college, and have that wanderlust itch again to go overseas, take a look over in East Asia and see if teaching abroad in South Korea would be a good fit for you. As you can tell, they do make it worth your while.

The beauty of teaching English in South Korea, specifically in Seoul, is you have access to a major metropolitan extremely technologically advanced city that sits nestled right in the middle of gorgeous mountain ranges. You can have your city life and outdoorsy adventures too.

P.S. South Korea is known for it’s hiking and rock climbing, so get ready to spider monkey it up!

In Seoul, you can take your pick of working in a public school or private school (also known as a hagwon). Quick word of advice: if you work in a public school you get more time off with less money, and if you work in a private school, you may get more money and less time off. The trade off is ultimately up to you.

As for how you choose to go to teach abroad, there are several avenues to do that. You can go through sponsored programs or the State Department, but if you go those, you may incur some fees that you have to pay on the outbound leg of your trip. If you go through private recruiters, they usually will help to take care of facilitating everything for you so you don’t have to shell out a dime in your travels over to SK (except for potentially having to pay to get a work visa permit).

What’s even better is that, while South Korea is very small, it’s geographic location is pretty prime. If you want to hop over for a weekend in Japan, it’s only a 2-hour flight. If you want to wander off to China it’s a hop skip and a jump away as well. For those of you who are looking for Southeast Asian experiences (i.e. Thailand, Cambodia, etc.), you can make it there in just a few hours by plane. As a major metropolitan city of East Asia, South Korea’s central access really does have its perks.

A great little known fact is that most of the multicultural diversity in South Korea is in fact brought in by expatriate westerner teachers and the local military population. As such, the local tourism industry overflows with tours, adventure activities, and expat groups so you never feel alone.

From a culinary standpoint, the food is totally unreal. So incredibly yummy. And, believe it or not, South Korea is actually known for it’s fried chicken and beer, which is usually most available at a hof(a bar). Also, for those of you who don’t have much of a tolerance for spicy food, you better start conditioning now. Anything that is red in the food is muy caliente. No worries though, you’ll get used to it over time.

The local cuisine is very heavy in rice, beef, fish, veggies, and fried food. If you ever need a break and want a taste of home, you can head to the foreigners district (Itaewon) where you can get everything from Italian to Indian food. Be prepared though that getting food that’s not local is quite pricey.

Culturally, there’s so much rich history to absorb when you go to this country. You can see Buddhist temples, go to very impressive museums, and marvel at the cultural nuances of collectivism. That’s the fancy sociological word of how the people in a culture will put a group’s (i.e. family) needs before their own individual needs.

If any of the aforementioned descriptions sound enticing to you, then get on Google or speak to friends who’ve taught abroad in SK and start checking out some resources on how to start your journey!