I’m planning on moving to S Korea towards the end of this year and I’ve done tons of research about working and what to expect but I haven’t really done too much research regarding specific cities to live in yet. So since it’s always nice to hear the opinions from people with personal experiences I thought I’d ask everyone on the boards about the city they have lived in (or currently live in). Is there anything in particular you like about it or dislike about it? Are there any local events/festivals/attractions close by?
I’m pretty interested in living anywhere, not just big cities like Seoul/Daegu/Busan so smaller city reviews are much appreciated too!
I live in Seoul, but have done a bit of traveling around to other cities. I won't go into the working part of living here, since you've probably done a lot of research about it, and know what to expect. I'll just suggest that you be prepared for some unexpected things!
That aside, I really love Seoul. Before living here, I had grown up in suburbia and never lived in a one of the absolutely largest cities in the world. But it has been fun. There is a lot of excitement here, and of course if you dig around enough, there are lots of interesting things to do/get involved with. Transportation is great in Seoul, and really in any big city, but getting around efficiently will take all of your Korean skills you're learning here! If want to take a class of some kind, maybe graduate school..etc, or if you want to do lots of things in English, you'll find most opportunities in Seoul.
Living in a smaller town or (gasp!) even in the country has its benefits too. You will almost certainly improve in your Korean more quickly as you get further and further away from Seoul. That's both good and bad, because sometimes, you'll just really want to have an intelligent conversation in English.
You are never too far away from anything in Korea. Just about everything in Seoul can be found somewhere else... except maybe ethic food from other places in the world. Seoul has some great Indian and middle eastern restaurants! But Korea is small enough that going out of town in search of a festival or park or something is never too hard.
I've also spent a few days in 여수 and 목포 on the south-west coast. They are MUCH smaller than Seoul, and they have far fewer foreigners living there and passing through. In towns like that, you will be much more of an oddity. Again, that might be good and bad. You'll make Korean friends easily (and you can always find foreigners). But you might have to deal with people shouting "HELLO NICE TO MEET YOU" or "I LOVE YOU. SEE YOU AGAIN" as you're walking down the street. That almost never happens in Seoul.
Of course there are even smaller podunk towns, which can be really quiet. So think about what sort of social life you want to have.
Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions! I assume you're coming here and planing to teach English?
Thank you so much, that’s a lot of great information. There’s a part of me that wants to stay in Seoul because I’ve also grown up in suburbia so living in the city would be really exciting, but at the same time I’d like to live in a smaller town to experience that too. Although it’s hard to plan staying longer than a year (since I might end up not liking it) but the current plan is to stay for a few years so I could always start somewhere big like Seoul and once my contract is up I could move. Or I could take your route and stay a few days in different cities when time permits.
What part of Seoul do you live in? The only thing I’ve heard about the different parts of Seoul is that Gangnam is a good area to work in terms of salary (yes, I plan to teach English^^), but I also hear that it’s a really expensive part of the city to live in so it’s probably not worth it.
I must say that the most exciting thing to me would be the transportation. I currently live 40 miles away from where I work and I am constantly driving so I would love to either live super close to work or take the subway instead of driving.
Did you take any classes for teaching before going? I’m majoring in business which isn’t helpful for teaching English but I’m planning on volunteering at a local place here as well as taking classes so I’m prepared. I’m still a little unsure of what kind of classes to take though, I’ve seen both TESOL and TEFL but I’m not really sure what the difference is (if there’s any).
Thanks again for the info, I can’t wait until I’m finally there~!
p.s. if I remember correctly, you’re leaving this year, right?
I'd like to just point out the Galbijim wiki for you. In my opinion, it's the best resource on the net for info about living in Korea as a foreigner. Start off with the section on how to find a good employer, then feel free to check out the articles for any city that you're considering or just other general issues.
I am a certified teacher, with 2 years of experience teaching in the states. I've worked with kids for a long time before that, so it wasn't something I was concerned about...but I understand that you want to be prepared! Some hogwans will put you in the classroom the day after you arrive with no training or orientation or anything, which can certainly be unnerving!
TESOL stands for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. So, I think professionally, it applies to teaching English to students who immigrate into English-speaking countries
TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. So, professionally it applies to learning English while in your home country.
Honestly, I don't really know what the difference is in methodology I am only an Elementary teacher!
Yes, I'm leaving Seoul at the end of August. When are you planning on arriving?