TESL in Korea

I applied to teach English in Korea through Dan and Aggie.  They connected me to EPIK.

I recommend going through a recruiting agency for the following reasons:
1) it’s a complicated process, and even though you can figure out the process on your own…
2) recruiting agencies connect you with other teachers, and give you personal advice

Dan and Aggie are great because they are so personal with you. I heard complaints from teachers who had used other recruiting agencies whose recruiters were less-than-helpful.

At the end of the day, whatever you decide to do, just follow through with it and make sure you have all your bases covered.

Public Schools vs. Hagwons

Public Schools

  • Standard 9-5ish hours
  • More stable contract
  • More vacation time
  • Sometimes less pay–varies
  • Will more-than-likely be the only native-English-speaker at your school


  • Sometimes pay more
  • Make sure you sign with a reputable one that’s been around for at least a couple years.  If it’s a chain with multiple location sites, so much the better.  Cuts down on your chances of being a part of the horror stories along the lines of “my hagwon folded and didn’t pay my last month’s salary or my severance allowance and they changed my contract multiple times so I was working major amounts of unpaid-overtime.”  You really don’t want that.  It’s statistically rare, but it happens.  Just Google the thing, for crying out loud.
  • Limited vacation time
  • Can save more money (see above–spend less on travel, save more for grad school)
  • Usually with a handful of other Westerners/Australians/New Zealanders
  • Usually later hours–start late morning/early afternoon, end early/late evening


Q: How hard will it be to find deodorant/shampoo/toothpaste/etc. in Korea?

A: Not very.  While it’s true that deodorant is a bit pricier, don’t get your panties all in a bunch.  And while we’re on the subject, you won’t have a problem finding those, either.  When I was prepping for my Korean arrival, I read anything and everything I could find on the subject.  Many of the things I read made Korea sound like a developing country.  And you know what?  A couple of decades ago it was.  So just be aware that when you do your research and your reading, if it’s more than a year old, it’s probably different now.  There are plans in the works to connect the entire country by subway.  Seoul’s subway system extends two hours into the country, almost reaching the norther border–just as an example of the rapid pace of change and development.

Oh, and the comforts of home?  Most things you can find, although they may come at a price.  Expensive cheeses are more expensive.  Luxury brands are more expensive.  Electronics are (surprisingly) more expensive for the most part.  Remember that the SK is essentially an island, so shipping costs are factored into a lot.

Oh, and I haven’t found Reeses’ here, although Snickers and Twix are in abundance.

But then again, you can buy 11 pounds of strawberries for $10 when they’re in season.

It’s all about give-and-take!

How to Pack

1) Pack all the clothes you think you’ll need, then get rid of half of them. I’m serious.  Replace those clothes with things like honey, humus, and other foods that are rare/expensive here. Also, add in some “home” things–maybe a poster for the wall or little things you can use to make your new pad here feel more comfy.  Because you WILL buy things here. If half your luggage is food, then you’ll have built-in space to pack the things you collect for the return trip. See the logic?


2 responses

  1. OK, now you’re really making my day Rachel! Thank you VERY much for sharing our info on your blog. I promise to take good care of anyone who comes our way. Korea seems to be greatly exceeding the expectations of our new teachers these days, and I love helping people with such a life-changing experience.

    Have a great week!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s