Why did you decide to be a teacher in South Korea?
I had been planning to work abroad for a year since I started University. I participated in a few different student exchange programs (to France, Germany and Mexico) and I was eager to keep travelling and experiencing other cultures. Also, I knew I was going to have student debt after I graduated, and thought that teaching ESL overseas would be a great way to balance my desire for travel with my need to pay off my student loans.
Were there other opportunities you thought about before you made your decision? Like fx Au Pair, Work and Holiday etc?
I also considered doing a Working Holiday in Australia. I settled on Korea because I thought it would be easier to save money with a stable job.
Did you interview with many schools?
I interviewed a few times before I found the right job. Originally, I was hired by an agency that was going to place me in a private school. However, one month before I planned to fly to Korea, they informed me that they had ‘over-hired’ so my job would be post-poned for another three months. I didn’t want to be in limbo for three months, so I quickly started looking for a another job. I was then offered one at a school where they were planning to fire a teacher, and wanted to secure an alternate candidate before the termination. I didn’t feel comfortable accepting a job someone was about to get fired from, so I kept looking. And that was when I finally found the job I was going to stick with.
Was the accommodation arranged by the school or did u have to organise it yourself?
The accommodation was arranged by the school, and it was a very short walk from the school. The rent was paid for by the school, but we were responsible for our gas bill (heating.)
What was challenging during the process of finding the job?
It was a little stressful, because there were hundreds of jobs, some of which sounded a little bit sketchy if you read the job description carefully and consider the facts. I always asked if I could speak to the school’s current or past teachers to make sure it was a positive work environment.
Are there websites/agencies you can recommend to find a job? What is the pay like?
What are the differences between the school system in Canada and Korea?
Quite a few; for one, students tend to spend longer hours in school in Korea. Many attend a hagwon (private school) after their regular school day. There were hagwons for many different subjects people would want their children to specialize in; science, math, tae-kwon-do, art, and English. The school I worked at was an English hagwon. Sometimes I would go for walks at night, and see older children leaving their hagwons at 10pm in their school uniforms.
What were your challenges as a teacher?
Did you travel a lot?
I went to Japan over Christmas break with a friend, and visited Beijing over Lunar New Year. I also travelled quite a bit around Korea, seeing places I never knew existed. One of the most interesting places we saw was the DMZ, which is the militarized boarder between North Korea and South Korea.
Was it easy to make friends?
Very easy! There were so many English teachers living in Busan from all English-speaking countries. There were Meetup and Couchsurfing events, and even tour companies that ran organized trips especially for foreigners in Korea. There were several bars, a lively nightlife and foreigner hang-outs. Making connections was easy, because everyone was in the same boat already, being new to Korea and working similar jobs.