I’m Moving To Korea!

Visa

I have some pretty exciting news to share today: I’m moving to Busan, Korea!

As I’ve begun to tell friends and family about this big move, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about the decision and the details, and I’ll answer them Q-and-A style below.

What! That’s crazy. What will you be doing there?

I know, it’s pretty surreal. I’m going to be teaching English at a private language school to young Korean children.

When are you going? How long will you be there for? 

I’m flying out later this week. My contract is for 1 year, but I plan to go travelling around South East Asia for at least a few months afterwards!

Why Korea? Aren’t you worried about your Northern neighbours?

Korea has one of the best systems set up for foreign teachers to come and teach English. The pay is excellent, and the industry standard currently is to offer great benefits to foreign teachers, including health insurance, your airfare to Korea, and a furnished apartment. Also, my friend Dylan is currently teaching in Korea, approximately 5 minutes from where I will be teaching (!), so knowing someone there was a big part of my choice of where to go.

I’m actually not worried about North Korea at all. For the most part, the articles I read on the subject said something along the lines of this: “South Koreans are used to the shenanigans of the North, and they appear quite indifferent when it comes to anything relating to it. The only time you’ll hear about North Korea is when you talk to anyone from home.”

How did you get this awesome gig!?

I’m going to write a more in-depth post about the process of getting from point A, deciding to go, to point Z, actually arriving in Korea, so stay tuned for more details in the near future.

Updated: Here is my post on getting an ESL teaching job in Korea!

Why do you want to go halfway around the world for a whole year to teach English to children?

There are a lot of reasons.

  • I’m not ready to settle down and start building my life in one place just yet. I have the adventure bug, and this job seems like a great compromise.
  • I still want to travel and explore! While I’ll be working a regular job during this year away and I’ll have just 2 weeks of vacation (same as most entry-level jobs), the difference is I’ll be somewhere exotic and I can travel to awesome places on weekends like Tokyo or Shanghai!
  • I want to save up as much money as possible to fund the education and experiences I want to have over the next few years. It’s possible to realistically save $17,000 teaching in Korea, which means a lot more freedom for when I return to Canada.
  • I hope to gain a lot more skills. I’m going to use the time in Korea to learn how to teach and relate to groups of people (including adorable children!), get more leadership and educational experience, pursue other passions like photography and writing, and take steps towards launching a business.
  • I’m especially excited about this opportunity to immerse myself in a completely foreign country with its own language, customs and traditions I still know relatively little about. It’s a whole new world, and it’s going to be hilarious and inspiring and frustrating.
  • I absolutely don’t want to regret not doing this later.

Where exactly will you be living?

I’m going to be living about 10 minutes from Haeundae beach, which is the biggest beach in Korea, and pretty beautiful too.

Do you speak Korean?

No, but I’m learning. Surprisingly, knowing Korean is not a pre-requisite for being an ESL teacher in Korea, but I’ve learned how to say hello (annyeong-haseyo!) and thank you (kamsahamnida!) as well as a couple other phrases, and I’m learning how to read Hangul, the Korean alphabet.

Are you a trained teacher?

Equally surprising, being a teacher is not a prerequisite for being an ESL teacher in Korea either! They’re mainly interested in attracting native speakers of English, so the pre-requisites are to be from a country whose official language is English and to have earned an undergraduate degree in English – the language, not the subject. It’s also an asset if you have experience working with children, or as a tutor – I’ve done both, which helped during my interviews. But many of the schools provide their own curriculum and lesson plans, so teaching experience isn’t mandatory.

What are you most nervous about?

Being gone for a whole year! A year feels like a long time. I’m also nervous about the realities of teaching children, navigating a culture so different from my own, not speaking enough of the language, whether I’ll be able to eat vegetarian/vegan, and offending a Korean accidentally!

What are you most excited about?

So many things! The chance to live in a completely new culture. Spaland. Living ten minutes from the beach. Interacting with adorable kids every day. Cheap bibimbap. Being a relatively short trip away from Japan, China, Thailand and other beautiful exotic locales. Living on my own again. Getting to be a goofy teacher. Exploring all of the awesome things that Korea has to offer.

Will you be blogging about your adventures?

Of course! It’ll all be right here on the blog.

***

Did I miss any of your questions? Feel free to ask in the comments below! I’m truly thrilled about this next great safe adventure in my life, thanks for following along.

  • Ashleigh

    Wow! How exciting! I have some friends that have done this as well and they LOVED it. You will have an amazing time. Congrats!

    • stephaniepellett

      Hi Ashleigh,

      I’m so glad to hear your friends loved the experience, because I’m definitely nervous! :) Thanks for the encouragement, I really appreciate it.

  • Wow! That’s unbelievable news! I had a friend who taught in Korea for a year as well. This definitely seemed very sudden to see but I’m really excited for you and looking forward to hearing more updates!

    • stephaniepellett

      Haha, I was definitely keeping the decision under wraps until everything was confirmed but it’s been underway for a few months behind-the-scenes, so to speak! :) I’m pretty excited. Thanks for the support Starr!

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  • I’m excited to hear how it goes for you! We’ve done a little bit of teaching ESL, and it’s really interesting and rewarding. Good luck!

    • stephaniepellett

      So far, so good! In what part of the world did you guys teach ESL? I’m so glad you found it rewarding and interesting. So far I do too! :)

      • We taught briefly in northern Thailand:)

  • Krissy Estrada

    Hi Steph! I found your blog while looking for info on packing one bag for Europe (though I’m planning a trip to Japan :)). I love your blog and your adventurous spirit. I’ve finally made travel a priority in my life and it’s so amazing to see all you’ve seen & done so young. I also have been considering looking into Teaching Abroad programs and was curious to know which you went with and why (There are so many!).

    Thanks again for writing such great posts.

    -Krissy

    P.S. Love the blog layout. Super easy to navigate.

    • stephaniepellett

      Hi Krissy! Thanks so much for your comment, I really appreciate it. I often don’t feel like I have an adventurous spirit, but I find that the more I do brave things, the braver I feel. Kind of a paradox but I’m sure you understand!! :) I actually ended up just getting a job for myself in Korea by looking at postings on KoreaBridge and finding one that looked good. You can find more information about how I got my job in Korea here: http://www.lifeinlimbo.org/2014/05/22/qa-faqs-about-how-to-get-a-job-teaching-english-in-korea/. Thanks again for writing! Also thanks so much for your compliment about my layout! It’s great to get feedback, so thank you. :)

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  • Great article! A lot of really good information. I also like this interview with a journalist, Alexandria Taberski, who spent a year teaching English in South Korea for some first hand experience: http://www.olympicmovers.net/moving-korea-interview-alexandria-taberski/

    Keep up the awesome blogging!