If you are reading this because you are preparing to come to South Korea to teach English through EPIK…Congratulations! You are making an awesome life decision!!!
It’s normal to be a little nervous
I will give you tips and tidbits on subjects in this order:
ARRIVING IN KOREA
THE DREADED MEDICAL EXAM
ORIENTATION DAILY SCHEDULE
Your first two or three days in Korea will feel like one super long, weird day. I highly recommend that you arrive in Korea at least one day before EPIK shuttles you to the orientation site. Firstly, because you will feel much more rested and ready to meet people. (Would you want to meet hundreds of other people right after stepping off of a fourteen to
I arrived in Korea a day early, in the late afternoon and I stayed at the Kozy Korea Guesthouse in Incheon. It was a very nice place, but
When you get off the plane just follow all the other people through emigration to luggage claim. You’ll find that some people who work at the airport don’t speak much English, while others are fluent. If you need help you’ll be able to find someone…or someone who can find someone.
*Taxis are pretty cheap in Korea and it’s not like some countries where you have to worry about getting in a legit taxi, you will be fine here.
EPIK will tell you to bring the equivalent to $1,000 USD in CASH. If you are coming from the U.S. you totally do not need to do that. (This will most likely be true for the other English speaking countries but make sure to do your research first and check with your bank.)
If you belong to a major bank such as PNC, Chase, Citi etc, and or have a major credit card like Visa…any business here that accepts cards will accept your card and ATMs will let you withdraw cash for a small fee, which will still be better than the airport’s exchange rate as long as you withdraw bigger amounts at once rather than frequent smaller amounts.
Yes, it’s good to bring some cash with you from home, maybe $300 or $400 USD at the very most, for things such as the $50 medical exam, taxis and the occasional bar/ restaurant/ street-food vendor that only excepts cash.
And obviously, let your bank know that you are jumping ship and moving to Korea! It can be a good idea to add a parent on to your bank account so that they can handle a problem for you, should one arise while you are
*Important Note: once you get your Korean bank/debit card, you actually can NOT use it to do any online shopping! That includes Korean companies such as Gmarket. That includes
It’s not as scary as it seems and they are not that invasive, they test for the bare minimum. I have some auto-immune problems and I was afraid the medical staff would notice calcium deposit bumps in my hands and deem me unfit to teach English! But no, they have
If you are afraid of blood tests, the one I had during orientation was the most painless one I’ve ever had. FACT: Korean nurses are infinitely better and quicker at administering blood tests than American ones, it was almost over before it started!This is exactly what was tested, straight from my
I only heard about a couple of people getting sent home from my intake for medical reasons. One because of a problem discovered during the chest
You will be staying at a campus in Daejeon which seems to be used for business retreats, seminars and such. There are markets and coffee shops scattered around near the campus and it’s around a
You will share a room with one random person who probably won’t be placed in the same city as you. You’ll each get a twin bed that will most likely be the hardest bed you have ever slept on. Get used to it, because that is every bed in Korea. I remember the pillows being quite interesting as well…I looked inside and the filling material resembled little pieces of cut up plastic drinking straws. (You will be able to find normal pillows at E-mart though, don’t worry!) Your room will come complete with Air conditioning, (during the evening/night/early morning), Wifi and a nice TV offering you hundreds of shows you will not be able to understand. There are some common rooms in the dorms with wifi and there is a campus store that sells useful items such as umbrellas.
You will get your first taste of Korean showers. You can think of them as an annoying experience where your whole bathroom gets wet…or as an awesome giant shower/steam room that just happens to have a toilet for your convenience.
You will also get your first taste of Korean toilets, which can’t handle as much toilet paper, (they are really not supposed to handle any…but if throwing all your towel paper in the garbage after using it is just beyond you, you’ll be able to get away with flushing in increments…just don’t be like me and clog your toilet during orientation! THEY DO NOT HAVE PLUNGERS AND SOME GUY HAS TO
Bring a light-weight bath towel! (Orientation only provides you with a mini hand towel…as do most accommodations in Asia…you will soon come to find).
You may get the e-mail with the daily schedule and think, “Damn, that’s a lot!”, but really it’s not bad and it flies by. (The first month in Korea honestly flies by!) You get 3
The last thing I will say is
There are many words that are the same in Korean as they are in English…but obviously they are going to be written out in Korean letters. Once you can sound out Korean words; congratulations you can officially order coffee in Korea!