Five Reasons to Teach in Korea
Reasons to Teach in Korea
People will soon be asking you, “Why did you come to Korea?” This is a question I’ve always hated because the honest answer was ‘money’. Korea offers one of the most comprehensive teaching packages for those looking to mix up their life and move abroad for a year (2..3..or more). I felt sorry answering with such a blunt response, so I often tried to mix it up a bit; “I wanted to learn more about the culture,” or “My friends recommended I come here.” While those were both true, the real answer was still money. Things got easier when I decided to stay for a second year, though, now instead of their initial question I could instead answer the question of “Why did I chose to stay” because, you see, after one year in this country I began to discover the magic that exists. Here are five reasons to teach in Korea:
Initially placed at a High School, I had some doubts about how the year would unfold. I was 23 at the time, giving me only a few years of seniority over my students and not many inches either. I soon came to learn, though, that Korean students respect and admire their teachers (or are good at hiding it if they don’t). Here it’s possible to befriend your students, meet them outside of classroom during the lunch hour or break times, and sometimes even outside of school. The students serve as a lifeline providing funny stories, entertainment, and friendship; especially helpful as you adjust to a new life. I’ve always believed age to be ‘just a number’ and the bonds I made with some of these kids did well to improve this belief. Of course there will be students who show up late to class, refuse to participate, or come unprepared, but that’s just part of the gig. Even these kids, you will learn, have an interest in you, so try to understand school’s just their thing. Utilize your students when you come here, they are a window to the [new] world you’ll be living in and a pool of new friends waiting to be made.
This may not be in everyones list of reasons to teach in Korea, but the food here was a major pull in my decision to stay. I knew little to nothing about Korean food before my initial departure from burger and hot dog land, but our love affair grew fast and hard. Korean food is amazing: cheap, delicious, healthy, and never-ending. There’s something for everyone (honestly), even those that can’t eat meat or handle spice. The trick is to be adventurous, make a few friends and have them introduce you to new foods—trust me you won’t be disappointed. I’m not sure what I’ll do when I move to a city lacking kimbap shops on every corner.
3. Travel opportunities
While teaching in Korea, even with a busy school schedule, you’ll have ample time to travel and explore the country. Every weekend is an opportunity to pick a new destination, jump on a bus or train and explore. Transportation in Korea is cheap and efficient so take advantage of this—I promise you there’s lots to see!
Students were not the only people that encouraged me to stay in Korea. If you let them, you’ll quickly find that Koreans want to learn more about you; despite being a bit tough on the outside, these people are amazing. While the language barrier can be a huge speed bump in building relationships, take time to notice and appreciate the inquisitive stares and warm smiles that may come your way. In many cultures staring is considered rude or invasive, but here I quickly came to realize it’s a form of curiosity. Especially in smaller towns, Koreans aren’t accustomed to seeing foreigners so give them a break if they stare a little longer; they’re just wondering what brought this stranger to their neck of the woods.
Okay back to basics, despite the four reasons to teach in Korea above, money is still an underlying factor in the decision to teach in Korea. Many people come here to pay off student loans or save up for the future. Korea offers a comfortable pay scale, provides housing, and a return flight. While money is a driving force of our lives, don’t let it be your only motivation for coming—take time to think about what else this country has to offer you.
Reasons to Teach in Korea By Stephanie
Stephanie is a storyteller, yoga enthusiast, and wandering soul who recently settled in for her second round of teaching English in Korea. After her first stay in Korea, teaching in the EPIK program in Korea, Stephanie spent nearly two years traveling, exploring the world, making new friends, and becoming a certified yoga instructor. If you want to read about her travels, teaching tales or just learn more, check her out here: www.yogifootprints.weebly.com
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