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2 posts categorized "*Pre-departure tips"

What to Expect Your First Week in Korea

Your hagwon bought the plane ticket and now you are sweating with anticipation. While each experience is different, there is some universal sage advice that every new teacher can use their first week in Korea. 

 1. You will hit the ground running

Like, there is a 50/50 chance you will start working when you land. If not, you will work the next morning.

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 2. Your apartment will need some deep-cleaning

Tenants do not face fees for leaving a mess when they move out. Therefore, unless the previous tenant was a saint your apartment will probably be gross. I found rotten vegetables in my fridge and dusty tissues scattered around my apartment. Consider it your initiation!

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3. Dress to Impress

Appearance is everything in Korea. Although most Koreans know Westerners are generally under-dressed, you will be taken much more seriously by your new students and colleagues if you put in the extra effort. I even went the extra mile and changed my clothes in the bathroom when I landed in Incheon. My boss took us out to dinner as soon as we got out of the taxi so it was a smart move.

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4.Get ready to Perform

Your first week you will probably be asked to teach a class in front of your superiors and coworkers. If you are loud, extroverted, and smile a lot you will be fine.   

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5. The children will probably be scared of you (the parents might be too)

This may be the first time they have seen a foreigner. Don’t be surprised if the sight of your foreign face makes them start crying.  

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6.Do not touch the opposite sex

Yes, even handshakes, Confucius will be angry.

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7. If needed, re-negotiate your contract          

If anything is not up to expectation, address it, immediately. The accommodation for me and my girlfriend was literally a hallway. We were persistent and got upgraded to a shoe box.

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8. You will probably hold a cup of your pee next to one of your co-workers

Not the fancy fastened pee-cups you find in America. I’m talking a Dixie-cup. And whichever co-worker took you to the hospital for your medical exam will be just as horrified as you are.

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9.Ask about your ARC semi-constantly until you get it.

Your life will be in limbo until you can get wi-fi, a cell phone, health insurance, and a bank account.

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10.Remember to Take a Deep Breath

Transitioning to life in another country is never easy, especially when it is South Korea’s hurry-hurry culture. Know that you will eventually learn the ropes and be schoolin’ the rookies in no time!  

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How to Survive the 13+ Hour Plane Ride to South Korea

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For those of you getting ready to leave for South Korea (or wherever you happen to be flying to), you probably have a million and one different things going through your head: “Do I have everything packed? Do I have my passport? My plane ticket? When do I have to be at the airport? What do I do when I arrive?” But one thing you’re probably not thinking about is, “What am I going to do on this 13+ hour plane ride?” Well, fear not reader because lucky for you this is isn’t my first time flying across the world on a long-duration flight, and here are some of my suggestions on how to survive it.


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With nowhere to walk to when you’re bored and no ability to stare at your phone except at a very specific instant in time (the airplane WIFI is not the best), there are limited options to what you can and can’t do while you’re awake. If you’re lucky like I was, my last flight had mini personal screens in the back of every seat filled with new TV shows and movies, so I spent a good few hours watching those. But if you get bored then bring some other things on your carry-on to keep you occupied: bring that book you’ve been meaning to read, a notebook to write in, your DS and your favorite Pokémon game, one of those adult coloring books, maybe a phrase book to catch up on your Korean, and even though most of the time they are provided, bring your own headphones. You’ll thank me later.


Sleep Sleep on plane

Sleeping has to be one of the hardest aspects of a long plane ride; it almost comes down to a science. First, know that you WILL sleep but knowing when to sleep is essential. Be aware of when you’re arriving at your destination. As I mentioned in my previous article sleep is important to not only adjust your body to the time difference, but also to protect your mind from being too strained from the effects of culture shock. So, knowing when you arrive in (my case) Korea because if you arrive at night then you want to be tired enough so that you fall asleep at an appropriate time or if you arrive during the morning or the day you want to be awake enough to make it through the day so you can, again, go to bed a reasonable time. For the love of all that is decent, Do NOT take a nap! Your sleep schedule will not be kind and you will regret it. So, sleep close to before you arrive if you arrive during the day or sleep further from when you arrive if you arrive at night. It will be impossible to get a full 8 hours (unless you just so happen to be flying first-class) but sleeping even just a little will make a world of difference.


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What’s the deal with airline food? No, but, really amateur comedians don’t have it completely wrong. The food is … well food. It’s not good and it’s not bad; one thing it does have going for it is that the meals are varied and you do get enough per meal.  My suggestion is even though the food is not super appetizing it’s best to still eat even a little each meal. Even though it may not seem like it, flying can be a very tiring venture and food is the best way fuel your body for the long road ahead.  My other suggestion is do NOT eat the fish especially if it is sushi; yes they do serve that and yes it probably as bad, if worse, than gas station sushi.


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I know reader, you probably read this and thought, “Do we really need to talk about this?” and to that I say yes, dear reader, yes, we do. Take bathroom breaks! Take bathroom breaks as often as you can. Flight attendants everywhere might hate me for this, but I’m going to say it. The fastens-your-seat-belt symbol comes on more often than you think and when that light is on there is no way you are able to go to the bathroom. When the light is off don’t hesitate to go especially if you have just finished a meal. Trust me you don’t want to have to go when the plane is flying through some slight yet unexpected turbulence and while staring impatiently at the fasten-your-seat-belt light. If you think red lights take a long time to change then you have another thing coming.


Hope that was helpful dear readers. All of this advice I accrued from my first trip across the world. Let me know if I left something out or if you have advice of your own. Until next time, see ya!

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