Ask Me

Hey everyone,

Take a look at some questions and answers about living and teaching Korea.Β  If you want more information please visit:

Dave’s ESL Cafe

Reach To Teach Recruiting

Say Kimchi Recruiting

—Khadijah

32 responses to “Ask Me

  1. Hi! I found your blog while searching online for EPIK stuff. Looks like I’ll be coming to Korea this August to teach in Gyeongsangbuk-do. Well, it’s not 100% yet but it’s looking good.

    I had a question about international ATMs. Can I assume that I can get money from my US Citibank account at any 7-11 or post-office, or should I just put that thought out of my mind and not plan on using my US account? I know big cities like Daegu and Busan have international Citibank ATMs, I’m just wondering if my (likely) rural town will too.

    Thanks and good luck with the job search.

    -Adam

    • Adam,

      Thanks for asking the first question! I have no idea where Gyeongsangbuk-do is in Korea, but I can tell you this: most ATMs have logos on them. If you see a STAR or VISA logo, your card can be used there. But be careful, each transaction will cost a fee. For me, it’s $5 USD whether I take money out or just check my balance. In short, the $5 will add up in no time. Make sure to look for the logo, it’ll be on the top or side of the ATM machine. Most Mini Marts, Family Marts, GS 25s and 7-11s have ATM machines. I find that Mini Marts and GS 25 allow foreign cards, but the max amount of cash you can get out at a time is 100,000.

      I’d say the best thing to do if you are coming through EPIK is once you get your NH account, find a KEB. If you need to make money transfers home or just want another bank account for savings, KEB is the way to go. People there are specialized with helping foreigners therefore someone will speak English.

      Hope that helped and good luck with getting into EPIK!

  2. Thanks, that was really helpful. Gyeongsangbuk-do is where Daegu and Gyeongju are, BTW. Gyeongju is a really great place if you like Korean history.

  3. Hi, another question for you. Did you get any vaccinations before you left for Korea? The Center for Disease Control recommends a few (Hep A and B, Typhoid, Japanese Encephalitis). Thanks!

    • Awesome, you’re being so thorough! EPIK will test you during orientation, so you don’t have to worry about it. Chances are you could get the same vaccinations at home in Korea, without worrying about the cost. But, I was pretty much up to date on shots before I came.

  4. Thanks again. Yes, I’m a very thorough person. ^_^

  5. Vi

    Hi! I am interested in teaching English in Korea and have a question.
    Are there jobs available throughout the year or is it only in the first 3 months till March? because I was hoping to move around April or May but the latest I see is March. I’m looking to work in Seoul in high schools.

    Thanks

    Vi

    • Vi,

      Yes there are jobs throughout the year. If you apply through a recruiter, they’ll let you know what jobs are available and when based on your criteria. I went with Reach To Teach in 2009. They’re great!

      If anything else, don’t hesitate to comment again!

      -Khadijah

  6. Izy Berry

    Hey there, I am so happy I found your blog!!! I am thinking of going to South Korea to teach English and I also want to get braces while I am there. Thanks so much for posting everything here!!!

    What courses/degrees did you do in order to get the job? Did you go through a program or did you just go over independently! Is there any advice you’d have for someone thinking of going over? Thanks so much! xx

    • I came straight from Ithaca College, after a three-month summer job. My major was writing with a feature writing concentration. I went through recruiter Reach To Teach–and they got me in contact with EPIK. It was pretty simple after that. The job I currently have, I went through Dave’s ESL–found an ad from an English teacher working at my school. I went through an interview process and then was hired. Also during my year in EPIK I got my TEFL certificate online…I plan on getting my CELTA in November or so. It’s good to have qualifications, and even a little experience (for that I volunteered two months at an ESL program for adults-it was a lot of fun).

      Deciding if you want a public or private school should narrow down your choices. Living arrangements are taken care of but also deciding if you want to live in a urban area or not will also do the same as far as choices.

      Advice–that’s a loaded question! There’s a lot to Korea and what it has to offer, as well as what you bring to the table. Could you be more specific?

      Thanks for asking on the Ask page! And I hope this helped!

  7. Izy Berry

    I’m just posting this comment because I forgot to check the notifications box! πŸ™‚

  8. Karen

    Hi Khadijah,

    I’m looking at a school in Gimhae and I just wondered what you thought about the city? I taught in Korea before in a decent sized city, and they keep warning me that Gimhae isn’t as big. So…are their many foreigners there? What about western food options? Is it all farmland or something? My only real concern is how difficult it will be to find food I like, because I’m not fond of Korean fare. Is there a costco or similiar store there?

    Thanks for any info you can provide. I’ll be looking through your blog to see if I can get a feel for the city.

    • Karen,

      Gimhae is not a big city. To be honest, I would not be here if it wasn’t for the job. The town here is okay. The main attraction in my area of Oe-dong (or whey dong in Korean) is the Home Plus and Hue & Rock Mall (with a CGV). I’ve started running more and that has given me a deeper love for mountains here. There are mountains everywhere you look–it’s something I really do love about Gimhae/Korea. I have a small get-me-around-bike and I think Gimhae is great for biking. On the running and biking front–Gimhae’s not bad. Accessibility to Busan will be awesome when the subway starts working.

      There are about 200 plus foreigners in Gimhae. I only know three and they work at my school. Everywhere I go I feel like I’m the only foreigner around. I felt like that in Gwangju too, but knew almost every foreigner in town. I don’t see many of them in Gimhae, but every once in a blue moon I’ll say hello to someone passing on the street. There’s a foreigner bar in my area called T2, you’ll find a majority of people there. As a place for people to do social things other than drinking, Gimhae is pretty quiet.

      Western food-McDonalds, Pizza Hut/Dominoes, Italian and Outback, but those places tend to be expensive and unhealthy if eaten too much. It’s better to just make food yourself. In the states, I’d buy food and make it at home all the time. I do the same in Korea.

      Are you from a big city or small town? I’m from Washington, DC and to be honest, I liked Gwangju (Jeollanamdo) a lot better in terms of foreigner community and things to do. Another option is Busan. They’ve got the beach, food and things to do. I practically live in Busan on the weekends!

      Take care!

  9. Karen

    Great. Thanks for the reply. I lived in Anyang for 2 years, and I still felt like I had to travel to Seoul to really get the food things that I wanted. I don’t eat at too many restaurants, unless it is Indian fare, and I also do most of my eating at home/home cooked meals.
    I’m not looking for too much of a night life, or really too many foreigners, but I know where the foreigners are, there are great things I’ll want. Appropriately sized clothing, American style foods, Indian spices.

    Can you tell me one more thing? How far is Busan and what is the fastest way to get there? I did read about the subway that will be connected soon. How long will it take then?
    And what do you think about Busan?

    • Busan’s 40 minutes away from Gimhae by bus. With the train–I’m not sure–my cell phone doesn’t have the new line programed into it. I’ll have to time it myself when I go.

      Busan is nice. They’ve got the beach which is great , art museums/galleries, hiking, and tons of shopping. Like I said I live there on the weekends–I’m not kidding–I recently went there for a baseball game and shopping–this past Saturday and Sunday. Thinking of going again today, but not sure. Check out Busan Haps–it’s an online magazine about events and things happening in the area.

      • Karen

        ok awesome. I will definitely check out the mag. thanks for the tip.

      • Stephen Williamson

        The Purple line connects Gimhae to Sasang Stn in Busan….it takes about 45 minutes… it runs late…last train back to Gimhae is after 11pm… metered Taxi is 23000 to 25000 won BUT…they won’t do it for less than 30000…first train in the morning is at 530am

  10. Nice blog. I’ll be sure to peruse all the archives. Let me know if you want to exchange links.

    • Thanks I checked out your blog. It’s really awesome. I left a comment on your faking fluency post. You’ve just been added to my blog roll. Thanks for coming, I appreciate it!

  11. Karen

    Hi Khadijah,
    It’s Karen again. Looks like I’m really close to moving to Gimhae. Hmmm…looking at the address it says Eobang-dong but I think that’s just the street..? So not really sure where I’ll be. Anyways, I’m a little nervous because this time I’ll be bringing my son who’s 15 months old and my husband, as I was single last time in Korea.
    Maybe you can tell me, or maybe you haven’t noticed much, but does the area seem to be kid-friendly? Are there parks with jungle gyms and all that? Are there sidewalks in most places?(I know the sidewalks will probably be crappy, but I don’t want my kid walking in the street)
    Here’s another weird question, my husband is from Pakistan, and I was wondering if you’d seen any gangs of Pakistani/Indian looking guys around there or Busan? Or if you know of a mosque there? Also, any really cool buddhist temples?
    ah. I just thought of one more thing, and maybe you could say a word about it. I know there is some racism in Korea, but I am white, so surely I haven’t seen as much of it as maybe you or my husband has. Has this ever been a problem for you? Is racism a more profound problem in Gimhae as it would be in larger cities in Korea?

    Well, if you can answer any of these questions, then that’d be really cool, and I would think you were very well informed πŸ™‚
    Thanks much!

    • Karen,

      There’s an Eobangdong in Gimhae. I can’t really give you any advice on it being kid-friendly since I’m single, but I suggest you sign up for the Korea forum on Dave’s ESL Cafe–I’m sure you’ll find some answers there. There are people with much more experience living in the country with their families.

      Yes, there are sidewalks here. I’ve seen three Indian guys shopping at Home Plus, but that was it. There’s a really cool temple in Nopodong, Busan called Beompsa (not sure of spelling!). They have free events for foreigners every month (kite making, tie-dyeing, tea making and a temple stay). I’ve been fortunate enough to not have experienced racism here. While on my morning runs most people show their support–saying hello, waving and giving encouragement. Korean people are so kind and that’s another reason why I’ve decided to do a third year.

      I’m from D.C. and prefer cities, but Gimhae is not one of them. Sure, I love seeing it’s mountains everywhere, the Home Plus, movie theater and riding my bike around town, but that’s it in terms of fun. Busan is forty minutes away by bus and I pretty much go there every weekend. If you’re looking for a quiet, calm, small town place, Gimhae might be for you. But if you’re looking for a variety of food, beaches, museums, music, art, culture and fun, I’d suggest considering Busan.

      Hope this helped and make sure to sign up on Dave’s ESL Cafe! Take care!

      • Karen,

        Sorry to butt in Khadijah, my name is Randy and I’ve been living in Busan for over 2 years now as an English teacher. There is a small middle eastern community in Sasang-gu which is in the East side of Busan. Actually once the Gimhae subway line opens, it’ll transfer to Sasang station. There is a Buddhist temple in Beomeosa (which Khadijah pointed out). It’s actually at the beomeosa stop on the orange subway line, near the end. There are also a few other temples, but another popular one is further north of Haeundae called Hae-dong Yong-guk sa (Temple of the Sea). As far as mosques are concerned, I’m not really sure of any in Busan though it’s quite possible that around Sasang, Nampo-dong, you might run into one. The Indian/middle eastern community seems to be thriving very recently as Indian restaurants are starting to slowly crop up in Busan. Perhaps, you can check your husband’s country embassy or the US embassy for that matter.

        As far as racism is concerned, from the experiences from my friends, I’ve yet to see any blatant racism or any harm directed at any foreigners. The most you will get is stares or curious looks and maybe some indecipherable comments from an older woman or man.

        I hope this serves you well.

        Randy

  12. Randy! It was great seeing you yesterday! I’m really glad you could give Karen another view point! Thanks for helping out!

    • Karen

      Thanks for the comments guys. I happened onto a video on youtube of a mosque being built in gimhae, and I checked out that busan haps magazine that you suggest previously. It lists several great looking indian restaurants, so that’s a start. I’m signed up on Dave’s and they do give pretty good advice about having children there.
      Thanks again.
      Karen

  13. Edwina

    Hi! I chanced upon your blog! Anyway, i am currently learning Korean and always want to make a living in Korea by being a english teacher! Just want to ask, do we have to be VERY fluent in Korean before establishing one as a english teacher?

    Thanks!

    • Edwina,

      No, you don’t. But I think it’s great you’re learning Korean now! That’s one of the first things I’d advise for anyone wanting to work abroad. Learning even a little of the language of where you want to live and work can go a long way.

      Thanks for commenting!

      • Edwina

        Thanks for the reply! And also, so you communicate fully in english to the students? If they do not understand, would you ever need to explain it to them in Korean? πŸ™‚

        Also! Is the pay wise good for english teachers in Korea? Sorry for the many questions!!

  14. Edwina!

    Sorry for the long wait–I’ve been on vacation. Yes, always communicate to your students in English. If they don’t understand it’s your job as a teacher to figure out how to expalin it–sometimes it helps to draw, show a picture or have the the real item in front of them [so they can look and touch] for further understanding.

    In terms of other countries I’ve looked into, Korea is the best place to save money–if that’s what you want to do.

  15. Faith

    In your blog you said you want move to Seoul for your thrid contract. Do you think you will ever come back to the United States? I’ve read on Dave’s that the longer you said away the harder it is to come back. I am not saying you are missing out on anything over here ( more widespread panic since the Dow Jones dropped 512 points on Aug 4 with some economists saying that recovery was a false one because of the stimulus).

    Also do you plan to make teaching a career ( not neccessary in Korea or in the field of TEFLing)

    • Faith,

      I”ve thought about coming back to the states, but I can’t imagine living there long term right now. I’m happy for those who are making it there, but when I think about the lack of opportunity that awaits, the more I think living aborad is the best option. Living abroad has been the best thing that has happened to me and I want to keep it that way as long as I can, even if my job changes. It’s been close to two years teaching has been my career and since I very much want to continue doing it, the answer is yes. But for how long, I’m not sure.

      Thanks for asking!