My time in Korea so far has been amazing. The school Don placed me in is very nice, it is in a great area and the people here are wonderful! Prior to coming to Korea, I was working full time at a private investigation agency. I decided that coming to Korea would be a great opportunity for me to see the world, make and save a decent amount of money, and most of all have an amazing adventure abroad. I am so happy and grateful to have chosen this route for it has been all of the above so far! Don made things very smooth for us coming here. He set everything up, told us exactly what we needed to do, and is always accessible for us if we have questions. Don came to Korea in April and he met with us, and checked in to make sure everything was going well, and he even was kind enough to take us to dinner! He is a pleasure to work with!
At my school, we have to be to work at 9, and we leave at 5:45 on MWF, and at 5:30 on T/TH. The students arrive at 9:20ish, and then we have them until 2:45. We have afterschool classes on MWF, they are very long days, but we do get paid overtime for teaching them. The apartments we’re in are nice, I live in Bundang which is south of the city, but still connected via subway. We usually only go into Seoul on the weekends, but it is also do-able on the weekdays if you want to go. I love teaching, it is a bit difficult, my students are 6 years old Korean age, which means they are 4-5 US age. And they are 1st year students, so they didn’t know anything when they came here. They’re getting better every day and that is really exciting to see. I fell in love with them already, they are awesome. I have 8 foreign teachers at my school- the Hogwans (private schools) usually have quite a few. The public schools you’re the only foreigner. There are pros and cons to being at a public school. I hear it is more difficult because you have larger classes and the levels of the students vary greatly in each class, so you have to do a lot of planning there. But you do get more vacation with the public schools. We have two full weeks off, and then we get additional time for holidays. That is a nice part about Korea, they give you more vacation if the holiday falls in the middle of the week because they let their workers travel to see their families. For example, this year in September for Chuseok, it falls on a Wednesday, so we have Tuesday thru Friday off! So we get almost an additional week off which is fantastic for the teachers!!
I would definitely advise anyone coming here to be sure that you want to be abroad. There are many things that Korea does right, but there are many things they do quite different as well. Seoul is a huge city and there are people everywhere! One of my co-workers said it right, “You are never alone on the street, there are always people no matter what hour of day or night.” This is very true! Personally I’m not fond of spicy or fishy food, but I am doing well finding food that I enjoy! I have a few vegetarian friends here as well, and they do well finding food too, there is a lot of tofu! If you have any other specific questions, please contact me, I am very willing to address any concerns you may have as a foreigner coming here!
South Korea has a lot of fun activities to enjoy, and many of them are very inexpensive. The public transportation here is fantastic so there are few limitations of where you can get to! My co-workers are awesome, and we have really bonded well. We have gone bungee jumping together, had picnics, and are traveling around Korea and other countries nearby together. Overall, I am very pleased with Korea. At this point, I am considering a second year in South Korea! Again, if you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact me!
By Lindsey Pinska, Spanish and Criminal Justice major, University of St. Thomas, Class of 2008