From the desk of Shaun
People (especially westerners) have pre-conceived notions about Korea. 95% of the time they’re wrong.
There’s good and bad to everything in the world.
South Korea has its own faults, mainly due to cultural aspects. The way things are should NOT be a reason to travel or live here.
If you have a college degree and you’re not working in your field, chances are you’re not happy with what you’re doing.
I talked about how being over here with a college degree is more beneficial than in the United States. That’s reason enough to come.
I’m often asked about non-issues so i’d like to get this out of the way. If you’re living in Korea and you’d like to add to this, by all means leave a comment.
Don’t worry about the alcohol culture
Public drinking is legal here. Don’t let that keep you from coming. Depending on where you work at, there will be times where you might be asked to go to a dinner gathering. It’s often by choice so it doesn’t really matter. If you do go, don’t be surprised if people offer you a drink.
If you drink, then that’s good for you! You’ll have something in common with your co-workers! If you don’t, like me, then you’ll be fine too. If you stick to your guns and just say no, most Koreans and foreigners will understand. If they judge you behind your back, that’s okay too cause it reflects on how uninteresting they are without beer and/or soju.
Don’t worry about the attention
This is especially true if you are teaching in a rural area. Most Koreans see foreigners as a nice change of scenery so they will be bound to stare. I get stared at ALL the time (I get what my dad called “The Eye”, meaning I know when people are looking at me) and I love it. When people stare at me, I stare right back with a smile. The title picture happened because some Japanese business men saw me walking. They said “Hey, it’s Usain Bolt” and in return I said “Oh snaps, it’s Yu Darvish!”.
Don’t worry about money (unless you’re a spendthrift)
You can make a LOT of money here if you’re smart about it. The cost of living is inexpensive and there is no rent due (unless you work at a school with a housing allowance). Korea is a eating out culture so meals are usually cheap. I’m blessed to work in a place where meals are free on the weekdays and the only money I need to spend on food is for breakfast and weekends.
“But Shaun, I don’t have the money to fly to Korea!”
They fly you out here. Some schools may require you to buy your own ticket but most likely, they’ll pay you back. Some schools will have you buy your own ticket to be sure you’re serious about wanting work there.
Many people teach here to pay student loans or save up for other business ventures. It’s really easy (if you work at a good school).
Don’t worry about North Korea
The mantra we have here is to NEVER worry about North Korea unless South Korean worry.
They know North Korea better than the rest of the world. The only reason anyone should worry about North Korea is if they go TO the north and go full blown social justice retard and do something they feel is “right”.
I LIVED 30 minutes from the border at one point. There’s nothing to worry about.
Don’t worry about the racism
Many will disagree with this. I hope they do so we can have a discussion about it. Racism is a power struggle. Racism here, and in any other country, is used as a means to keep people of a certain skin color or nationality from doing something.
If anyone dislikes you because you’re a foreigner or not Korean, they’re not being racist. They being a bigot (or are xenophobic which is common amongst the older crowd). A run in the mill individual has no power over you because of their words. If they want to say hateful things to you, let them. Unless they put their hands on you, let them get that out of their system.
Here’s one such example of racism.
This was during the ebola scare in 2014. The bar has since removed the signs and apologized.
Outside of that, most racism and bigotry rarely happens out in the open. I’ve had people come up to me and say “hello” and actually want to practice their English. Kids will have questions about who you are and why you are the way you are. As “ambassadors”, we must do our part and answer with kindness and dignity.
Don’t worry about the bluntness
When it comes to personal issues, Koreans are blunt about them. You’ll hear things like “You should eat more” or “You should eat less”. They may or may not call you fat or ultra skinny but everything that is said is said out of concern.
You’ll hear a lot of bluntness from little kids and the elderly. Take no offense because it isn’t THAT serious (unless you want to do something about it).
Don’t worry period
Alfred E. Neuman, mascot for American humor magazine MAD, has a saying: What- Me worry?
Take care of yourself and I hope to see you here!
Peace and love!