by Michelle Plascencia
All school environments in Korea are different but no doubt each will have a supportive team to help you get through the adjustments of your new position as a teacher.
You will surely begin your contract with a team of newbies as well which will help ease the nerves as you embark on this new journey together.
The school is a friendly environment and the management is supportive and always willing to assist with questions regarding class prep, curriculum, and schedules. The foreign teacher works alongside a Korean co teacher for each class. You usually discuss the students, lesson planning and any other concerns regarding the class.
There are about 6-7 foreign teachers in the office and an equal amount of Korean teachers as well as management. No worries if you have minimal teaching experience as the curriculum is straightforward and easy to follow and do not hesitate to ask your fellow co teachers for clarification.
Moreover, working with children can cause stress and can definitely be overwhelming. I encourage constant communication and collaboration with your co teacher. You will learn that patience, playing games and rewarding your students will help ease your job as a teacher and make it fun! And sooner than later you will build a strong bond with each of your students.
Teachers that are ending their contract can definitely give you tips on students favorite games and how to manage classes that you may be taking over. It’s a lively, productive environment and everyone works together to provide successful English classes for the students. Korea is a welcoming country to foreigners and working in an office with other foreign teachers cultivates a smooth transition.
Logistic while living in Korea
Along with the nerves of moving abroad comes the nitty gritty logistics like bank accounts and cell phones. Fortunately, your recruiter and your new management will assist you with everything! You will also get a Korean identification card, which will also be set up by your school and it is just as important as your hometown ID so don’t lose it! They will help you open a new bank account and there is often a bank teller who speaks English with whom you can easily communicate with. You can set up automatic bank transfer to your home bank and they have an app to follow your transactions etc. You will need to provide your home bank information and identification if you want to set up automatic transfer to your home bank. There are fees that apply along with the exchange rate differences. You can also exchange currency at your local bank to prepare for your vacations. As for cell phones, from what I noticed many other teachers purchased a temporary cell phone plan and or used their own unlocked cell phone from home. I personally went my entire 18 months without a Korean cell phone plan and relied on wifi services to connect when I was outside of my apartment. If you have T-mobile services at home it now works internationally without extra costs. A cell phone plan in Korea costs about 40 USD monthly.
Moreover, transportation in Korea, is absolutely wonderful! Of course, there high peak hours, traffic and such but the point is that it is available and can get you from one end of Seoul to the other. There are city buses and a slowly blossoming biking community. I recommend you download the Seoul/Metro Subway app which is in English and Hangul just like the subway station signs. The app will help you find routes and estimated arrival times for your commute. Living in Korea is exciting, challenging, and beautiful. No doubt a local will approach you on the subway, greet you and begin to practice English with your ever so evident foreign features. Enjoy every second of it!