Moving to another country is a big decision and can be scary–but also very exciting! If you’ve already gotten a teaching job and are getting ready to leave, here are some of our practical tips for moving to Korea.
Before The Big Move:
1.) Find out what your school will provide for you and plan accordingly–for instance, most apartments are furnished, but they probably won’t have things like towels and bedding. Decide beforehand if you want to purchase these items in Korea or bring some from home. Personally we find the quality of the towels and bedding here to be low for the price–so it might be nice to bring some softer sheets and towels from home.
If you don’t feel like packing heavy or bulky things from home (like sheets, towels, chargers, etc.), another great option is The Arrival Store. The Arrival Store was founded by former ESL teachers in Korea and they have everything you might need or want to make your life in Korea more comfortable, for much less than you’d pay for Western-style items in Korean shops. They’ll ship the items to your home (either to your home country or to your home in Korea), your school, or even to the airport so you can collect them upon arrival. Just don’t be like us and forget your items at the airport…but even if you do, they’ll simply re-ship the package!
2.) Do your research about the voltage and power differences between Korea and your home country. The standard voltage in Korea is 220 volts and the outlet has two round holes. If this is different from your home country, plan on buying and/or bringing voltage converters that will work with your electronics (such as laptops, xbox’s, power toothbrushes and ipod chargers). Even with voltage converters things like hairdryers and straighteners tend to burn out quickly, so personally, we think it’s better to just buy those items once in Korea.
3.) Get an international drivers license. This isn’t a must-do, but it is nice to have the ability to rent a car in Korea if needed. Simply visit AAA, show your current drivers license, pay $10, and be legally licensed to drive in over 150 countries for one year!
4.) Pack a variety of clothing suitable for all seasons. The winters in Korea are very cold, and the summers are very hot. Make sure you have a few items for each season! Also, if you are a larger size (height or weight wise) or have larger feet, make sure to bring plenty of shoes, socks, pants, underwear and bras, as many of those items run a bit on the smaller side in Korea.
5.) Bring items from home that are hard to find in Korea. Some items that are harder to find that you might want to bring from home include:
- Over-the-counter and prescription medications: the brands here may be different from what you are used to or like to use, so if you are attached to a certain brand of medication stock up before you get to Korea!
- Cosmetics and toiletries (if you are attached to specific brands): Korea is the land of cosmetics, but if you love certain brands, do some research beforehand to see if you can get it once in Korea. If not, stock up beforehand! Many cosmetics (face washes, lotions) are oil-based here rather than water-based, so if that is going to be a problem for you, you may want to bring your own.
- Spices and sauces: You can find just about any spice or sauce in Korea, but many of the imported items are quite expensive. If you love to cook, you may want to bring a few bottles of your own favorite spices, or stock up on a few things from The Arrival Store once in Korea.
6.) Learn the Korean alphabet! This sounds a lot harder than it really is–Korean only uses 24 characters and is a phonetic language, so once you memorize the characters, you’ll be able to read and sound out signs and menus, which is extremely helpful when adjusting to life in Korea. Check out this website to help you get started.
7.) Learn some simple Korean phrases. Learning to say hello, goodbye, thank-you, bathroom, yes and no will make your life much easier. Most guidebooks will include these and other simple phrases. Check out this website to help you get started.
We hope this helps you feel more prepared for your move to Korea. Feel free to contact us if you have any more questions or comments. We’d love to hear from you!
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