When you hear about Korea, a few things may come to mind: The bustling sprawling capital city of Seoul; the mountains providing the backdrop for cities such as Daegu; or perhaps Buddhist Temples of Tongdosa. Wherever your mind wanders when you think about what you will see and experience in your journey teaching English in Korea, you may be surprised as to the other many fascinating sights and scenes available to you.
As you are preparing for your trip to become an ESL teacher in Korea, you are most likely concerned with things like getting your documents all prepared for your working visa or making last minute plans to see your friends and family one last time before you go on your way for a year or more. You are probably also thinking about what you will do in your first day of class or what your co-teachers will be like or are possibly scrambling to finish up the remaining hours of your TEFL certification course.
When all is said and done, and you are as prepared as you can be, stop for a minute and think about what’s ahead. You are on your way to a whole new world, one that most travelers of South east Asia do not bother to stop and check out. Korea will now be your home, and one that you will soon get adapted to. Whether you come from Canada, or the US, you will be entering a world that boasts some of the most beautiful scenes and ancient treasures that Asia has to offer. And the best part is, that all of these are just a few hours away from you.
People tend to forget that there is more to life in Korea than having a good time with your friends at the bars on the weekends, or exploring the crazy all night shopping malls in Dongdaemun Seoul. While there is nothing wrong with making friends and getting a little bit crazy on the weekends, do consider coming home from the bar early on a Friday night so that you can get up and make that train to the ancient tombs in Gyeongju or to the Jinju Castle. It will be well worth it.
Transportation in Korea is very inexpensive and also very convenient. If your apartment is not close to a train station for example, there will surely be a bus close to you that will get you there; if you arrive at your destination but are not sure where to go from there, ask a local taxi driver who will either take you there or show you the way. If you get lost anywhere in Korea, just ask someone if they speak English and are able to help you. You might get lucky and find someone who has confidence in their English, or you might find someone that is a little bit shy, but even they will have some knowledge of English and should be able to assist you. In either case, Koreans are very friendly people and are more than willing to help foreigners when they can. They are also a very proud people, so as long as you make an attempt to first speak in Korean to them (a simple anyounghasayo!), then you will get the reception that you are looking for.
Are you excited yet??