It’s crunch time, and you’re preparing to actually GO ABROAD! It probably feels like everything is happening way too fast… and truth be told, it probably is. With that in mind, here’s the ultimate checklist to help ensure that you have everything covered…
Adventure Teaching Presents the Ultimate Checklist
Some important items you don’t want to forget:
- Passport (duh)
- Copies of your passport – bring with you when you travel, too, in case you lose your actual passport
- A photocopy of your immunization record – if you travel to an area where certain immunizations are recommended/required, this is helpful to have on hand
- Contact info for your friends/family – once you get a cell phone set up, you’ll want all of those phone numbers!
2. What to pack
How do you pack a year’s worth of stuff, when your airplane allowance is 23kg / 50lb?
- A must: Photos and other small souvenirs from home, and a few of your favorite snacks. DVDs and TV Shows.
- Items connected to your hobbies. Small instruments. Basketball shoes. Knitting needles. Your Xbox or other gaming console.
- Extra passport photos – you’ll need 4-8 more after you arrive. They’re handy to have for traveling, too, as some countries will need photos for tourist visas.
- Gifts for your co-workers – not mandatory or expected of you, but a nice gesture. A small trinket or souvenior from your home town/state/province/country.
- For everything else: What to pack
3. What you don’t need to pack: get it from The Arrival Store
- Bedding: a comforter, a pillow, a sheet
- A mattress pad
- Full size bath towels
- Water filter
- A cleaning kit
- A transformer: are you from the States or Canada? Check the voltage of your electronics. Make sure that they will be able to handle 220V. Double check specific appliances, such as your hair straightener, blow dryer, electric toothbrush and gaming systems. For these appliances, you will most likely need a transformer.
- Find out what you will need to be able to wire money back home. Bring proof of your bank account. You’ll be able to link your Korean account with your account at home.
- Make someone at home your power of attorney, so they can have access to your accounts on your behalf.
- Understand the currency conversion for USD / ZAR / GBP…. to Korean Won
- Bring enough money to last you until your first paycheck (which you’ll receive about a month after you arrive)
- Consider buying or renting a phone in Korea
- Speak with your current carrier about getting your phone unlocked so that it works in Korea (and then set up a phone plan with a Korean carrier after you arrive)
Hopefully some of these tips are helpful. Don’t miss checking out what we wish we had realized before going to Korea.
Did we miss anything? Comment below!
What I knew of the world changed during my first few days, weeks, and months in Korea. I did my research, but there were a few things that I missed. This is what I wish I knew before arriving in Korea:
Saying that Korea “gets hot” in the summer is like saying that Antarctica can be chilly sometimes. The humidity can be so strong sometimes that it feels like you’re swimming through the air. It’s thick, muggy, still air, and it is VERY hot.
And then, there’s the winter. Korea has 4 seasons, people. Spring and Autumn are AMAZING… but they are short lived. The summer is muggy and humid, and the winter is nail-biting cold. Make sure you bring enough clothing to last throughout the year!
This list should help with what to pack and what to leave behind before your move to South Korea.
2. The “tidiness” of your apartment
Have you heard about this yet? If not, then read carefully: tenants are not required to clean the apartment before they move out.
Even if you’re replacing another foreign teacher, it’s likely that they won’t clean up much for you. Hard to believe? Just wait – you’ll probably leave without cleaning it either! We’ve heard stories about kimchi mold growing in refrigerators, spiderwebs in the window sills, and almost everyone has a horror story about bathrooms. Suffice it to say: mentally prepare yourself. You will likely spend your first 48 hours cleaning. DEEP cleaning. This can be an easier endeavor if you have a cleaning kit ready. The Arrival Store can help you with that. Or you can go shopping for cleaning supplies when you first arrive.
If you would like to have an idea of some of the apartments available in Korea, head over Accomodation in Korea. Keep in mind that every apartment is different!
3. Your boss
Checking out the curriculum ahead of time? Meeting your coworkers? Shadowing some classes before you start teaching? Yeah… probably not going to happen… teaching in Korea can best be summed up in the phrase “rolling with the punches”…
To start off with a good teaching relationship with your boss, we would advise you to bring a little something for them. It can be something from your home country or even a snack with a cup of coffee. This will mean more than you can imagine.
4. Your class schedule
You might receive that the day before you start teaching, if you’re lucky. Most of us receive it THE DAY we start teaching. Make peace with the fact that Korea is a place where people do things differently, and you are the one who need to fit in with their culture. Be flexible, be adaptable. Roll with the punches.
5. Cell phone
If you have a cell phone that you want to bring along, you need to make sure that it is compatible (2100mHz WCDMIA) and unlocked (check with your service provider). To get a contract in Korea directly through their service providers (Olleh / SK Telecom), you’ll need to have your ARC (Alien Residence Card). This will take 3 – 6 weeks to get from immigration.
Alternatively, you can get a cell phone set up and waiting for you from The Arrival Store.
6. Restaurant Etiquette
You will probably sit on the floor. When you arrive, wait to be told where to sit. Don’t start eating until your boss has taken their first bite. Don’t tip in a Korean restaurant. The waiter might just run after you with the change. Don’t pour your own drink in the company of an older Korean. It is the responsibility of the senior person at the table. Hold out your cup with both hands as they pour for you. And dear god, don’t blow your nose at the table.
7. Public Transportation
Seoul has one of the most extensive public transportation systems in the world. The subway is clean, it will take you almost anywhere, and every subway station is right underneath a city bus station. There are also taxi’s available, and they are not nearly as expensive as they are at home.
When you arrive at the airport, you can connect to WiFi while you wait for your next move (someone picking you up, or a bus). If you’re lucky, internet in your apartment will still be running from the teacher before you. Most will have to wait to get internet set up at home.
Don’t worry though, most coffee shops (they are everywhere) will have WiFi available. This is usually the easiest way to Skype with family/friends, check your email, etc until you can get internet set up at home.
9. Alcohol consumption
Drinking in public is legal. Weird, right? And AWESOME.
10. Learning Korean
Being able to speak Korean might take you a while. There are a variety of Korean courses available, as well as language exchange programs where you teach someone English and they teach you Korean in return. Learning to read Korean is a lot easier than learning to speak it. You can do it in less than an hour! Seriously!
It’s unavoidable. Moving to Korea and adjusting to the life here is adventurous and exciting, but you’ll have your fair share of shocking experiences. Homesickness comes and goes. Make sure you establish effective communication with those at home, whether through Skype, or a cell phone. Be sure to plan an adventure (in Korea) quickly – within your first 8 weeks if you can! Korea is filled with quick weekend getaways, and the extensive bus/train system makes it easy to leave on a Saturday morning and come home on a Sunday night. Hikes, 4D movie theaters, festivals, beaches, temple stays… the list goes on. You can meet people on Facebook groups in your area, or you go to Meetup.com to find people with similar interests as you.
12. Showers… and your bathroom in general
It’s most probably not going to be the way you expect it to be. Your shower is basically your whole bathroom. Traditionally, the shower head is right over your toilet. It takes some time getting used to, but hey, it’s an adventure!
13. Your age
Koreans are 1 when they are born, so when you arrive in Korea, you are instantly 1 year older in age. Yay!
For everything else, here’s Adventure Teaching’s Comprehensive guide on South Korea!
Let us know what we’ve missed!
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