Achieving Work-Life Balance While Teaching In Korea

Tips For Work-Life Balance In Korea

Many people struggle to keep a work-life balance. This is especially true for people who are newer to the teaching field than more experienced teachers. Add on top of that experiencing a new country for the first time, and it can be easy to get overwhelmed. Here are some tips I’ve learned for how to create a peaceful work-life balance, so you can enjoy your time in Korea to the fullest! 

Ask For Help

Initially, my move to Korea was challenging because I didn’t have the same support system I had back home in the States. I knew it would be really important that I made friends and bonded with my coworkers early into my time here. I’m so glad I did because now I have an amazing community to lean on. When I feel overwhelmed with work or in my personal life, asking for help from one of my friends here in Seoul always helps lift the burden. It’s just as rewarding as when I get to return the favor. As someone who is new to teaching, this has been especially true when it comes to asking for help at work.


A group of native English teachers posing at Chungdahm Learning in South Korea

Set Boundaries

I have really strict boundaries for myself when it comes to work. For example, even if there are still papers to be graded, I never stay late. I also consciously try not to worry about my students or how well I’m teaching them when I’m off the clock. It’s really easy in such a people-oriented job to dwell on these things, but I’ve found having a work-life balance has made me a better teacher. When I’m away from work, I focus on enjoying Korea. When I’m at work, I am focused on my students.


Build A Routine

Without a doubt, the best thing I’ve done for my work-life balance is build a routine. When you live abroad, you experience something new and different nearly every day. Even eight months into living abroad, this holds true. Building healthy, easy habits into my daily life has eliminated a lot of stress and has made it possible for me to enjoy Korea and teaching even more. During the day before work, I always take a walk around my neighborhood and stop into my local coffee shop. The lady working knows my order and starts making it before I’ve even reached the counter. 


Whether it’s hitting the gym or becoming a regular at a late night food stall, familiar faces, places, and healthy habits will make it so much easier for you to feel connected to Korea and ready for work.


Set Priorities

As someone who wants to be doing everything all at once, this tip hurts a little bit, which probably means it’s the most important one. Everyone decides to teach in Korea for slightly different reasons. For me, I really wanted to experience a new culture and travel the world, so in my spare time, I’ve prioritized taking language classes and taking day trips from Seoul. Others might move to Korea because they’re passionate about teaching and K-pop. For those people, they might prioritize concerts and take extra work opportunities when they arise to build up their teaching skills. Once you figure out what’s important to you, balancing life in Korea becomes so much easier.


English teachers in Korea laughing in front of a pagoda
K-pop music festival in Korea

Remember This Is A Once In A Lifetime Opportunity

Another way of saying this is simple: Don’t stress it! It’s hard to explain just how surreal it feels to live and teach in Korea after years of dreading going to work at my desk jobs and secretly dreaming of living abroad. I know one day I’ll likely move on from Korea, but in the meantime, I try to make every second count. That doesn’t always mean going out on an adventure. More often than not, it involves sitting back and feeling grateful for the life I’ve built for myself here in Korea with close friends. If you can manage to do that every once in a while, I promise everything else with work-life balance will fall into place with time!


Diana Richtman is a writer and ESL teacher living in Seoul, South Korea. Originally from Savannah, Georgia in the United States, Diana holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia in English & Women’s Studies. After receiving her TEFL certification, Diana moved to South Korea where she works at one of Creverse’s April Institutes. When Diana isn’t working, she loves exploring Korea, drinking warm cups of tea, and scaring away her friends with her karaoke performances.