Teaching Jobs Overseas

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Need more info? Here are some "snippets" of entries copied from forums of which Jess and I were actively participating during our teaching period in Korea:

Topic #1: EPIK (English Program in Korea) Teachers:

"Hey future EPIKers !

I know how much stuff is racing through all of your minds at this point in the game, so I thought I'd post up a few links from our blog that may help you out.

There are TONS of blogs all over the web, and it can be overwhelming to find the one with information best suited for you. Before my girlfriend and I came to Korea, we spent hours upon hours reading about people's experiences living/working abroad, and we thought we had a pretty good idea of what to expect. We quickly discovered that all of our blog reading amounted to, well, not very much at all. We had been reading through most of the famous blogs we could find on Google, which focused primarily on the lives of foreign English teachers living in Korean cities. They were interesting, but not applicable to our situation...

As it turns out, we ended up in a village. It's 300m long, and has a population of a little less than 200 people. We don't have a clubs, we don't have a grocery store, and we certainly don't have any entertainment of any sort. Boy, was that ever a shock.

Hopefully you guys will find out where you'll be before you head over (we only found out on our last day of orientation) so you can prepare accordingly.

Here are some links that may help you out:

A travel map of the places we've been to thus far. Why am I posting this? Well first of all, it can help orient you to the locations of some of the primary cities. Secondly, to show you that no matter how isolated you think you are, the entire country is yours to explore. Thirdly, and most importantly, I'm hoping that some of you will end up near us so we can meet you :)


What about your initial orientation? Hopefully this one will shed some light on what to expect:


So what if you end up in a rural community like us? Well, it may be a little something like this:


The next link is to solve some questions about the food in Korea. Yes, we eat a lot of kimchi. Yes, we eat a lot of rice. But what is a "typical" school lunch like? Well, I brought my camera to school and recorded my lunch each day for one week to give you an idea of a typical school lunch. Keep in mind, the lunches do vary from place to place, and this is only 5 meals out of the hundreds of different ones that I've had, but it's still a failry good representation of what you can expect:


And what about school life? While your experiences may be very, very different from ours, here are some videos I made from my schools:



English Camps:


Bringing some humour to your village:


An example of a lesson demonstration:


One of my favourite types of classes:


Some highlights:






Some low-lights:




Your time in Korea is what you make of it. If you leave your expectations back at home, you won't have anything to be disappointed about (or "in which to be disappointed"... We are here to teach English right?)...

Jess and I made this site for the sake of recording our memories, and to help out new teachers (hey, that's YOU!).

If any of this helps, even a little bit, my job here is done.

Feel free to send us over any questions/concerns/venting about your upcoming journey. You're not going through this alone...

Happy travels,

Ken & Jess"

Topic #2: What to Pack?:

"I definitely agree with the "pack light" mentality.

Almost everything you want, you can buy over here.

Please remember that shipping is ridiculously expensive, so don't rely on that (it cost me $9 US to send out a thin envelope of Penpal letters to Canada, and $43 US for the teacher in Canada to send it back).

I think games are a great idea, but if you are going to work in an "English Lab" (most schools have them now), they will more than likely have a ton of games at hand (my English Lab has games like "Taboo", "Scrabble", "Life" etc...). Travel-sized games are defiitely a good option, but remember that you may have a class of up 30 students (so you have to consider how they will all be able to play the games that you bring).

As for deodorant, you can buy tonnes of different kinds in any city in Korea. But there's no guarantee that you will find the specific kind that you want.

If you have room in your luggage, there's no harm in bringing your own sheets. But quite honestly, there's so much selection over here that it's not a neccessity. I bought a think furry (yes, furry hahahaha) blanket a market for $40 US and it's honestly the most comfortable blanket I've ever had. And if your apartment (or house) gets cold in the winter, you can easily buy an electric blanket for around $20 US.

Adapters/converters etc.. You can find plug adapters everywhere. Our village has a population of 200 people, and at our local "mart" there's a bin of them for like $1 US a piece. As long as you don't get posted in North Korea, you'll be able to find them anywhere. We didn't have the converters in our little mart, but a quick trip to the nearest city proved successful in finding it.

Cell phones: Last year, all EPIKers had the chance to sign up for cell phones DURING orientation. A cell phone company came to the orientation, and we could pick from a small selection of phone models. I pointed at the phone I wanted, signed a piece of paper, and just like that I was up and rolling with a new phone, no contract, and no hassle. We didn't have a choice of plans, but it's really really cheap so I'm not complaining. At the end of your teaching contract (assuming that you only stay one year) you just call in, cancel the plan, and keep your phone.

Other packing recommendations you don't normally hear about:

- A time-waster: You never hear about this but I think it's a must. No matter what anyone says, you're going to have quite a bit of down-time. I'm by no means a "gamer", but I bought a little Nintendo DS for $100 before I came over here, and it's been a nice little comfort to have.

- Spices: In our little mart we have the following spices at our disposal: _____
(nothing)..... In the cities, they have basics like Coriander, Garlic, Pepper, etc... But holy geeze have I been craving Montreal Steak Spice...

- Thermal Underwear: I'm a Montrealer. I'm very, very used to the cold (like -40C cold). But back home, it's really easy to stay warm. All of the buildings are heated, and we have amazing winter gear to keep us nice and comfy during the worst snowstorms. But here, NOTHING is heated, and building have little or no insulation. It's -5C out there right now, and the school doors/windows are constantly kept open. I've talked to many, many teachers about this, and it's not an uncommon practice (apparently it's to "circulate" the air). I always teach in dress pants and a polo, so it's nice to have a bit of extra warmth.

- Winter jacket: Remember, you can buy ALL of your clothes here, but I'll take my Canadian gear over their Korean windbreakers anyday...

- Souveneirs from your home country: I had about 5lbs to spare in one of my bags, so I packed almost 4 Liters of Maple Syrup. On the last day of school, I made Maple Taffy with my kids (on crushed ice since there was no snow), and it was one of the best days of my life. I also brought over packs and packs of pencils with Canadian flags on them (purchased at the Dollar store), and 2 giant flags that are now hung in each of my schools.


PACK AN OPEN MIND! Seriously, there are a lot of things that will grind your gears when you get over here. Take it in stride. It's not wrong, it's just different.

Have a safe and happy trip! If you have any questions at all, feel free to send over a message!"

Topic #3: Gifts to Bring:

"This question came up A LOT during orientation, and people were really panicking about it. I can give you a few good ideas, but first I have to point out something very important...

I teach at 3 schools. Jess teaches at 4. I have 2 principals, 2 vice principals, 2 primary co-teachers, and lots and lots of other co-workers (some may also consider as co-teachers). Jess has 3 principals, 3 vice principals, and 3 primary co-teachers. If we were going to bring gifts for all of them, we'd need an extra suitcase...

Here's what we did for our schools.

- I brought 2 flags to put up in each of my English labs. The walls were pretty bare, and now there's some nice colour ! :)

- Jugs of Maple Syrup. I spent the last day of school making maple taffy and maple candy with my kids / co-teachers and yes, even the Principal. Imagine a 90 year old Korean trying to chew on sticky taffy. Priceless...

- Every month or so, Jess and I bake for our schools. We don't have an oven, but there are tons of sites out there for microwave recipes. Our favourite is the microwavable banana bread:


- 1/2cup of butter
- 1 3/4 cups of flour
- 2 tsb baking powder
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp of corn syrup
- 3 bananas

Pour into a microwave-safe dish, and swirl in some chocolate.

Microwave: 12 minutes

ENJOY! It's that easy :)


Another thing that we do for our schools is to bring home local specialty foods from all of the places we travel to on the weekends. When we went to Namhae, we brought back boxes of sardines for our schools. When we went to Gyeongju, we brought back boxes of their famous bread. When we went to Seoul, we brought back boxes of chocolates. You don't have to buy anything expensive to show them your appreciation.

So please don't panic! They won't expect you to bring anything from home (honestly). If you really want to bring something from home, make sure it won't break during the trip, you have enough for ALL of your teachers, and that it won't empty your wallet. You'll have PLENTY of time once you're over here to give your principals/vice principals/ and teachers gifts.

I hope this helped!"