26/06/2014 10:29 BST | Updated 25/08/2014 06:59 BST

The How to Guide of Teaching, Living, and Dating in South Korea


Living overseas is not just an admirable endeavor, it is a complete lifestyle change. Back in 2008, after my third lay off at the ripe old age of 25, I chose to take a position teaching English in South Korea at Yang Yang Girls' High School.

Now here are some things you should know about teaching in South Korea:

1. Teach with the EPIK (English Program In Korea) list of Public schools.

2. Do not teach at a Private school, teach at a Public school. The Private school teachers have awful hours, almost no vacation and no benefits.

3. Public school teachers should expect 30 days of paid vacation per year, and about $2 million WON salary per month, equating to roughly $2,000 USD. The school will also provide you with an apartment, but you should ask in detail where the apartment is located and the condition of the space.

4. To be eligible to teach in Korea, you must have a Bachelor's degree in any discipline and be a citizen of one of the following countries: Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, UK, or the USA.

5. In the smaller towns outside of Seoul, you can eat lunch for $1-4 USD, so you can save a TON of money teaching in South Korea. I also loved the food, it takes awhile to get used to Kimchi, but once you do, you'll be obsessed.

6. You will not need to buy a car, because they have a great public bus system that runs all throughout the country. You should just get a bike for your town.

7. Drinking alcohol is an extremely important part of Korean culture and relationship building. Most Koreans will not understand if you don't drink.

8. Koreans are extremely honest and blunt. They will tell you if you are skinny, pretty, fat, need to exercise, dressed poorly, or just about anything regarding your appearance. Be prepared for lots of unwarranted advice and criticism.

9. You will address those Superior to you with their title first, ex. Principal Kim.

10. South Koreans eat dog just as any other meat, and don't typically have dogs as pets.

This list should at least help you get going and point you in the right direction. There are over 25,000 foreigners teaching English in South Korea currently, and they are always hiring. Make sure to do your homework for any potential job offer, and know a little bit about your town you're heading into.

As far as living in Korea, the culture is very different than most because they are an isolated country. They don't get along with their two neighboring countries, North Korea or Japan. In fact, most Koreans don't like the Japanese people at all, and will only refer to the Sea of Japan, as the East Sea. They have changed it on all of their maps in Korea. Just think of the opposite way you would do something, and that is usually the Korean way of doing it.

Dating in Korea is mostly fun for the foreign men, because they all date skinny Korean chics that don't speak English. In fact, a few of them end up marrying Korean girls because Korean women are very submissive and appear to be very innocent. For foreign women, it is best to either take a boyfriend with you to their country, or just plan on being single for a year or more. There will be foreign guys to date, but most of them won't be taking on anything too seriously with you in a foreign country. And unlike men, we women don't usually date Korean men because verbal communication is important to women and most Korean men don't speak English. It is what it is.

Overall, you will grow more in one year overseas, than you did in the previous 20 years before it. It is an amazing experience and well worth the journey. I highly recommend it to everyone.