Packing Tips and Advice
Contrary to what many people assume, Korean stores and shops carry many western products and brands. The best way to explain it: You can find almost everything in Korea that’s available in the West, there’s just less selection to choose from.
Cash – You will need to bring enough currency to keep you going until your first pay day. ESL Job Link strongly advises all teachers to bring $500-$700USD minimum to get started, but closer to $1,000 USD is best if you can manage it. You will not be receiving any payment from your hiring school until roughly 4-6 weeks after you arrive so having a cash flow is mandatory.
Suitable Clothes – There are 4 distinct seasons in Korea, so you’ll need to bring suitable clothes to accommodate for weather changes. Additionally, you will need to bring work clothes that are acceptable with your school. Please remember that imported products including brand name clothes are very expensive in Korea. If you have your favorite brands, please bring them with you. Don’t try to buy them in Korea. Refer to our School Dress Codes page for details.
Prescription Medications – Most Korean pharmacies carry drugs and medications that are similar to western medications. If you require prescriptions that may not be available in Korea then make sure to speak with your family doctor before departing.
Photocopies – It’s always wise to make photocopies of all the documents you plan on bringing overseas. Before you depart, make sure to photocopy any and all documents that you’ll be bringing with you. Leave the photocopies with someone you can trust. The photocopies will be helpful if you should happen to lose your wallet, backpack, etc. at some point while abroad.
International driver’s license – If you want to drive in Korea, you can easily get your international driver’s license at your local department of transportation.
Banking Details – If you plan on sending money home then you will need to bring all of your bank details with you. Korean banks will require the following information in order to wire money to your home country: passport, alien registration card, bank name, bank address, branch number, account number, transit/routing number & a swift code if applicable to your nationality. Note: If you have a checking account then we advise bringing a blank check to Korea. The Korean banks can usually use the information from the blank check to coordinate the wire transfer.
Formal Outfit – Many westerners end up at a few formal events each year and having the appropriate attire is advised. ESL Job Link recommends bringing at least a couple of formal outfits to Korea.
Stickers, Pencils & Erasers – We suggest loading up on stickers, pencils and erasers that have logos and symbols of things specific to your country and/or home town. These items make great prizes for your students and you can give them away after tests, quizzes, games, etc. You can purchase hundreds of small items from most western dollar stores.. Stock up on items that have your favorite sports team logo on it, your countries flag, your university emblem, etc….the kids will love them!
Vitamins – Bringing some multi-vitamins with you is advised. It will likely take your body a month or two to adjust and taking a multi-vitamin daily will help.
Power Converters & Adaptors – The standard voltage in Korea is 220 volts (60 Hz). The outlet has two round holes and looks similar to those used in many European countries, where electricity is 230 volts. Some people tend to use adapters, but it sometimes doesn’t work as you expect. It would be better to bring a converter instead.
There’s a difference between an adaptor and a converter. Adaptors are small prong like objects that you place on the end or your electric device in order to make it fit into the foreign electrical socket – adaptors don’t alter the wattage going into your devices. If you plan on bringing small objects that don’t require specific power amounts than using an adaptor will suffice. If you plan on bringing larger electronic devices that will need specific wattages (i.e. laptops and gaming systems) then you will need to invest in a power converter. Failing to use a converter for larger devices may permanently damage your electronics. You can find adaptors and converters at most major electronic stores in Korea. Adaptors are quite cheap, only $1 – 5$ USD and converters are substantially more. How much the converter will cost usually depends on the size. The more compact the converter is the more expensive they become.
Clothing for Big and Tall – If you are a large or tall person then you may have some problems finding suitable clothing in Korea. Korean’s are noticeably smaller than westerners therefore many of their stores don’t carry larger sizes. You can usually find clothes in Korea that fit, although it can take a while to locate stores that sell the sizes you require in the styles you prefer. Make sure to consider these factors before arriving.
Shoes and Shoe Sizes in Korea – If you have larger than average feet, you make sure to bring enough shoes with you. On average Koreans tend to have smaller feet and their shoe stores will have limited selections of oversize shoes and boots available. Anything larger than a US size 11 for males and US size 8 for females will be hard to find in Korea.
Deodorant in Korea – You can find deodorant in Korea but the selection will be limited and very expensive. If you have a preference for a specific brand then you will need to stock up before arriving.
Toothpaste in Korea Myth – Korean toothpaste is perfectly fine. There seems to be this myth that Koreans don’t put fluoride in their toothpaste which is not true. Finding toothpaste in Korea with fluoride is rather easy, additionally many stores also sell American brands such as Crest and Colgate.
Cosmetics in Korea Myth – Most of the major cosmetic companies have stores and boutiques in Korea. Finding brands such as Cover Girl, Avon, Clinique, Sephora, Chanel, Estee Lauder, etc. is quite easy. Again, those imported cosmetics are very expensive in Korea.
Airline Weight Restrictions – Most international flights allow passengers to bring 50 pounds (24 kilos) of luggage on the plane, some allow slightly more and some slightly less. If you’re luggage exceeds the weight restriction then you will need to pay extra money (by the kilo or pound) when you check your bags at the airport. Please Note: The airlines can only accommodate so much extra weight and if you check in late then the airline may deny your additional luggage and ask you to reduce the weight of your bags to the maximum amount. If you arrive early then this shouldn’t be a problem so make sure to weigh your bags in advance and arrive at the airport early if needed.