“South Korea is pretty far away, speaks another language that’s made up of symbols and the people there always do those weird peace signs in all of their pictures.”
So why do nearly 25,000 people teach in South Korea every year? Turns out there are a lot of good reasons to make the trek to this particular Asian peninsula and embark on a teaching adventure. Here are five pretty darn good ones.
I’m not the kind of girl who thinks that money is everything, nor goes chasing after the dollar signs regardless of other aspects. But there is something to be said about peace of mind; knowing you can afford to pay your bills and your student loans without being stuck eating rice and peanut butter at the end of the month. South Korea is where people go to save $10,000+ a year, find eating out to be equally as economical as a night in and don’t worry about rent, because your employer has it covered. By no means should anyone come to Korea only for the money, but if you’re even a little excited about the thought of teaching English, then South Korea is a country which will reward you greatly for your work.
There’s nothing worse than graduating university with a kick-butt GPA, but hearing back from none of your job applications. The market is bad, that’s no secret, and companies are afraid to hire fresh out of college graduates. By working in South Korea, you’re giving yourself a leg up in the job market when you come back. Not only will you have work experience, but you’ll have work experience that required flexibility, communication skills and an open mind. But don’t forget that the actual experience doesn’t just look good on paper, it’ll be a blast. What’s more fun than playing charades with your coworker, trying to figure out what that one word is?
I don’t even like babysitting, but working with kids is pretty awesome. Sure, they are loud and weird and don’t always pay attention. But they’re also hilarious, say the strangest things and bounce around like they’ve been sneaking caffeine shots after breakfast every day. And for those bad days, once your 45 minutes is up, they’re off to the next room and you’ve got a break. You’re not responsible for their well-being or bedtimes, simply for making sure they have blast while learning some English in your class. Simply put, working with kids is great, no matter how you feel about taking care of them.
If the only thing you know about Korean culture is PSY and Gangnam Style, boy are you missing out. Koreans are the masters of cute: phone cases,socks, shoes, hairstyles, pens, t-shirts and cafes are all frequently decked out to be as adorable as physically possible.
Korean food culture is another highlight; large plates are heaped with food, shared among many people and come with tons of little dishes alongside. Coming to Korea to teach means you’ll get an inside look into daily life and the fascinating, often wonderful, sometimes strange aspects of Korean culture. Perhaps they’ll even be a few things you’d like to bring home with you, too.
Ability to Travel
Jobs in much of the Western world have little vacation time, but coming to teach English in a public Korean school is a great way to score up to 23 paid vacation days per year, not including the odd long weekend here and there. Add in the close proximity to countries like Japan, China, Vietnam, Thailand and the rest of Southeast Asia and it’s a traveler’s dream. Plus, you’ve got plenty of funds to cover the costs. There aren’t many other jobs that give you the time off and the money to spend, but teaching in South Korea gives you access to both. Some teachers also travel at the end of their contract, putting those saved up Won to use with a multi-month trip through Southeast Asia. Those who don’t travel while doing TEFL in South Korea are those who didn’t want to travel.
Asia may be completely different from where you call home and living in Korea isn’t always a piece of cake, but every year nearly 25,000 people decide to call it their temporary home. Teaching English can be a rewarding experience no matter where you do it, yet teaching Korea gives you the opportunity to reap not only personal and professional benefits, but significant monetary benefits as well. And that, my friends, sounds like icing on the cake to me. Pass me my plane ticket, I’m headed to Korea!
Sally is a writer, blogger and passionate go-live-abroad advocate. She currently teaches ESL in South Korea and previously studied abroad in Argentina and Austria. She likes photography, puppy cuddles and learning foreign languages. Check out her blog here: http://www.