It can seem a little overwhelming for a first-time visa applicant as South Korea requires very precise documents. Working in a foreign country is an experience everyone should have - obtaining a visa is part of the experience. You don't need to master the language before you get there; of course, it is great if you can, but part of the growth that happens working in a new country is learning the language immersed in the culture.
I was hired under EPIK, but my position is outside of EPIK, in a National Institute that serves all of the public schools in the region. I generally work from 9:00 to 6:00, more like regular office hours rather than school hours.
I teach about 23 hours a week and have opportunities to teach classes for extra income.
It is a really interesting position because I get to go to many different schools throughout the region. I get to teach not only students of all ages but native Korean teachers too. In addition to meeting English teachers from all over the world!
On the weekends, I usually head to Seoul or another city to explore Korea's beautiful landscape and to meet friends. I live in a remote area surrounded by mountains, which is such a contrast to the cities I have inhabited all of my life, and I absolutely love it!
I usually move towards fear. It was a really difficult decision to leave my students in New York, but I thought ultimately the experience would benefit my teaching practice and therefore my students.
Deciding to move to Korea was exciting because I really did not think about it; it happened so fast before I could consider what to fear I was standing in Asia for the first time attempting syllables of a language I had zero knowledge of. The only thing I considered before arriving was how was I going to bond with people in the land of soy and soju when I am allergic to soy and I don't drink.
Turns out Korean is not a difficult language to learn; it is actually really fun! And there is an abundance of modern culture to get you engaged in learning and practicing the language. The soy allergy is difficult here, but the entire world makes avoiding soy nearly impossible. I'm learning how to better communicate, and making more Korean friends who help me at restaurants, but more fun is learning to cook Korean food without soy.
I am used to blending in. Living in New York City, no one seems to notice anyone. Adjusting to living in a small Korean town was a bit of a hurdle.
Everyone recognizes you - you could become a bit of a celebrity. Attention is not something I enjoy, so it was strange at first, but humanity is easily desensitized and the initial shock wears off for the locals and they eventually stop noticing you. Or maybe your fashion sense has shifted and the short pants and socks and sandals are helping you blend in. Still, occasionally people will come up to you to practice their English.