Why did you choose this program?
I've known for a few years now that I wanted to be a teacher, but I've also had this urge to travel and have adventures. I chose this programme because it allowed me to do both!
From doing a lot of research, I found out that Korea was a very safe country, the job opportunities and salary were very desirable and so I decided to apply.
What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
My programme provider helped me with collecting the right documents, ensuring that all my documents were not only filled out but were able to highlight my best qualities too.
They helped and supported me alongside the whole process, including my move and continue to do so. The fact they've helped me so much is really reassuring as I know I can rely on them come what may.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
Ask them every single question you have, it is better to ask and have the answers than to be filled with unnecessary anxieties. Please, when coming to Korea, do your research, both on the culture and customs, but also the weather. The weather in Korea goes quickly from one extreme to the other and you really do need appropriate clothing for a very, very hot and humid summer and an incredibly cold winter.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
Every school is different here in Korea. But for me, I work Mon-Wed-Fri 1:30 pm-10 pm and Tue-Thur 1:30 pm-9 pm. I teach ages 7-16 English. I generally work from textbooks so I don't have to plan a full lesson, although honestly, I would prefer to do my own lessons.
I get a 50-minute break halfway through my day. My school does not provide lunches for me, although we do sometimes go out for meals and get deliveries together.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
My biggest fear was just being able to survive here in Korea, like know where the supermarkets were, finding friends and getting around. But I've been very lucky in that Gongju has a small but wonderful ex-pat community who are so willing to help you and also have drinks with you after work.
Another fear, however, was how I'd be perceived here. I am a plus-sized girl with piercings and tattoos. Koreans are generally very slim and petite and they are all very uniformed in how they dress and present themselves; tattoos and fatness are things that have a bad stigma attached to them. Although I have had some comments and I do struggle to find clothes, my experience has overall been ok.
What other tips can you give to potential travelers?
Here are some helpful tips for coming to Korea.
1. Please bring clothing for all weathers; the summers are horribly humid and hot, but the winters are freezing.
2. Set up a bank account ASAP; having a card makes life easier.
3. Daiso is a shop that will sell all the home things you will ever need and it's cheap.
4. Learn the language, even if it's just the basics.
5. Learn the culture and history of Korea; it's incredibly important when addressing people and going into buildings.
6. If you are plus-sized, bring your own clothes; you will struggle to buy clothes especially if you are over a UK size 14.
7. That also goes to shoes; if you are over a UK size 5, you will struggle buying shoes.
8. You might find it nice to have some food you're familiar with, so bring packets of herbs/spices, etc., as you'll struggle to find it, especially if you're in a smaller city.