This blog post is largely a spectacularly unsubtle hint to my baby brother (he just turned 20 but he’ll always be a baby to me!) to come to Korea when he graduates next year, but also for anyone else who is considering something like this.
Obviously there are dozens of reasons to come to South Korea, but here are my top ten…
2. The gifts. Whether it’s Teacher’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Pepero Day or just Wednesday, the kids are constantly bringing in presents from their parents. Ice cream, donuts, coffee, cosmetics, fried chicken, a packed lunch for every field trip, the list goes on. In fact, one of my kids just gave me a beautiful Pandora style bracelet from his holiday in Hawaii this week!
3. Having recently graduated from university in a recession struck country, there is something to be said for the financial deal that Korea offers. The demand for native English teachers is very high, and that’s unlikely to change any time soon so there is a reasonable degree of job security here. Most contracts will include a relatively high salary, free rent, 50% of your medical insurance, and a return flight from your home country.
4. You’ll never receive so much unconditional love from kids…unless you have your own that is…and maybe not even then.
5. Everyone spouts the same old line about wanting to ‘experience a new culture and broaden their horizons’, but it’s true. Yes, it’s a challenge. Yes, sometimes it is difficult. However, South Korea takes you out of your comfort zone but without having to give up hot water, constant electricity and white wine. Korea has one of the world’s fastest growing economies along with the world’s fastest internet speeds, so you won’t have to give up many of your home comforts here.
6. It’s a great starting place to explore other parts of Asia during the school holidays. With China and Japan on the doorstep and the delights of South East Asia just a few short hours away on a plane, South Korea is an excellent base to travel from during your time off.
7. Living in Korea you do sometimes feel like a celebrity. Kids wave at you in the street, people give up their seats for you on the subway and you’re forever being given freebies. Take today for example, casually wandering around the Incheon Landing Operation Memorial Hall on a kindergarten field trip. I was looking at the armistice signed between the North and the South when a security guard sidles up to me, leans in, and whispers ‘Can I ask you a question?‘. I laughed nervously, glanced around to see where my co-teachers were, and asked him what the question was. He said ‘your hair looks like silk. Can I touch it?‘
8. Sounds boring I know, but an experience and a commitment like this genuinely does look good on a CV. Apparently.
9. Cheap booze. Well, cheap lifestyle in general really. Granted, it may not be a decision-maker but most waygookin are liars if they say this isn’t a reason to love Korea. Koreans embody the ‘work hard play hard’ mentality, and when in Rome…well, it’d be rude not to.
10. It’s better than working in McDonalds.