Category: Lifestyle

Tips For Learning Korean

Tips For Learning Korean

Before I moved to Korea, I didn’t know what to expect with the language barrier. Would I love it? Hate it? Struggle with it? Now six months into living in South Korea, I can honestly say one of my favorite parts of living here is the language. Not only is Korean beautiful but the language barrier has pushed me to try something I never thought I would: learn a second language. While big cities like Seoul are English-friendly, the challenge of reading and speaking in Korean has been one of the most rewarding parts of this whole experience! It’s given me a deeper appreciation for communication and more passion for teaching my own language! Here are all my best tips for learning Korean.

 

English teacher standing in front of a mountain and Han River in South Korea

Learn To Read Hangul

Learning Hangul, the Korean alphabet, has to be your first step. It’s easy to fall into the habit of searching online for the Romanized pronunciation of Korean words, but in the long run, this is only going to hold you back. Korean sounds and English sounds are not one-to-one, so save yourself the trouble and learn Hangul before anything else. I didn’t learn to read Hangul until my second month in Korea, but once I did, I felt so empowered!

Ask Your Students For Help

Of course, don’t ask them to teach you during class time, but I’ve found my Korean students love teaching me Korean before class and during break times! Adults have a tendency to overcomplicate things, but kids usually give the simplest answer. This can really help when it comes to Korean, especially if you’re a beginner! Plus, letting your kids teach you little phrases can go a long way in class. It helps them know you’re approachable and just as passionate about their language as you are about English!

Take A Class

I took a two month Korean class, and I can’t recommend it enough. It gave me structure and helped me develop my confidence speaking the language in a safe space before using it out and about in Korea! Sometimes, the hardest part is starting, and a class is the perfect way to kick-start your Korean journey! Here’s a brief look at a few different options.

  • Hagwons: Hagwons are private learning academies, and Korea has everything from science and math to English and Korean hagwons! This was the option I went with, and I’m so glad I did. It gave me a great foundation for understanding the language. Also, since I teach at a hagwon, it gave me insight into what my students are experiencing when they come to class each day!
  • Free Courses: There are plenty of free resources online as well as community centers in Korea that offer free classes to foreigners. Some of my friends have done this option and have loved it. Free courses tend to have bigger class sizes, but of course, you don’t have to pay for them! Here is an online class on Coursera by one of the top Universities in Korea.
  • Online Tutor: Learn Korean from the comfort of your apartment! I’ve met with an online Korean tutor a few times, and the best part is the one-on-one attention. Just like my students, sometimes it’s hard to ask questions in front of my peers. This option allows you to focus on your own personal shortcomings as a student and specialize your learning based on your interests and needs! But the best part? You can start learning now with an online tutor and not have to wait until you’ve moved to Korea.

Listen To K-Pop & Watch K-Dramas

Everyone I know who has spent time watching k-dramas and listening to k-pop has had a significant advantage when it comes to learning Korean. Immersing yourself in Korean entertainment is a fun way to absorb the language. While you probably won’t become fluent this way, it’ll definitely help you get a sense for the language! Netflix is great because they have English subtitles.

Don’t Get Lazy & Don’t Get Discouraged

In cities like Seoul, it’s easy to get complacent when it comes to learning Korean because Seoul is so English-friendly, but I’ve found locals really appreciate it when foreigners speak Korean. The best way to learn a language is to use it as much as possible, so even when you’d rather just switch to English, challenge yourself to use your Korean! Most importantly, don’t get discouraged! Learning a language doesn’t happen overnight. Making mistakes is all a part of the learning process, so don’t be afraid and don’t beat yourself up over it. Learning Korean has been so much fun for me – and trust me, I don’t have a natural affinity towards language learning – so I know it can be for you too! Hopefully some of these tips for learning Korean will help your own your journey!

 

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. 

Best Experiences For English Teachers In Spring

The Best Experiences for English Teachers In Spring

Springtime in Korea is a magical season with no shortage of cultural events, outdoor excursions and seasonal foods to enjoy. The season showcases a lot of what Korea has to offer and is one of the best times of year to be living and teaching abroad. So, let’s explore some of the best experiences for English teachers in Spring!

Picnic at Seoul Forest

Seoul Forest is one of my favorite places in the city to enjoy a picnic and spend time with friends. If you are looking to make the most of the weather, consider bringing some food and enjoying the lakeside area. It’s definitely one of the best spots in Seoul with a lot of shady tree coverage. I recommend ordering delivery chicken right to your picnic blanket!

Women holding a camera having a lakeside picnic at Seoul Forest Park in Seoul Korea

Gyeongju Cherry Blossom Marathon

As a runner, this event is one of my top suggestions for the spring season! This scenic race weaves through the historic and charming streets of Gyeongju which are lined with cherry blossom trees. It is one of the coolest ways to enjoy the dreamy spring flowers, see the city, and get in a good workout! You can participate in 5K and 10K distances, as well as half and full marathon courses. If you are a runner, this is definitely a bucket list experience you don’t want to miss!

Sign up for the race here!

Taean Tulip Festival

Taean Tulip Festival occurs from March to April, and is perhaps the most colorful Spring festival you can find in Korea. It’s famous for its stunning tulips which come in nearly every rainbow color imaginable. Recognized as one of the five World Tulip Summit festivals, it is a world-class event that includes performances from Korean singers and a fireworks display at night!

 

Taean tulip festival field in south Korea

Feast on Seasonal Jjukkumi

Jjukkumi, which literally translates to spicy baby octopuses, are not actually octopi babies but are called this due to their tiny size! Spring is the best season to eat them as they emerge from the deep waters on Korea’s west coast. Additionally, during the Spring their head is filled with eggs which makes this dish taste even more delicious and fresh! There are several ways to eat Jjukkumi, but my favorite way is Jjukkumi Samgyeopsal. It consists of eating baby octopuses with pork belly drizzled with a spicy red sauce. You can even add chewy rice cake to mellow out the heat!

Buddha's Birthday

One of my favorite parts of spring in Korea is experiencing the spiritual and cultural significance of Buddha’s Birthday. Celebrated nationally on May 6th, this holiday is an ideal time to enjoy the beautiful lanterns and relaxing incense at a traditional temple. I also recommend trying out a temple stay to enjoy a traditional Buddhist ceremony and some fresh and healthy vegan temple food. My first temple stay was one of my most memorable experiences in Korea so far.

Dragon lantern at night on Buddha's birthday in Korea
Traditional Buddhist temple food in South Korea

Strawberry Picking

Spring is a peak season for strawberry farming and Korean strawberries are especially big and juicy this time of year! There are many different strawberry fields around the country that can be visited and enjoyed once spring begins but I suggest you check out Seongyeon Strawberry Farm Experience (성연딸기체험농장). It’s accessible via Daehwa Station of Subway Line 3 which takes around an hour from Seoul.

 

English teachers enjoying some freshly picked strawberries in South Korea
English teachers enjoying some freshly picked strawberries in South Korea

Springtime in Korea is full of vibrant experiences for you to enjoy while teaching and living in Korea. I encourage you to embrace the beauty of the season and create unforgettable memories that will last you a lifetime!

Michelle Duquette is from Toronto, Canada and moved to South Korea in 2015. She has a Bachelors in English literature and a Masters in ESL Education. Michelle has taught at Creverse campuses in Gangneung, Songpa, and Mokdong and currently works as a CDI and April Trainer. Michelle never set out to be a teacher but fell in love with Korean culture and the excitement of being in the classroom. Michelle lives in Seoul with her partner and two cats, Cherry and Frost. 

A Gourmet Expedition into Korean BBQ

What Do You Really Know About Korean BBQ?

Fire up the grill! Korea has no shortage of amazing food but Korean BBQ is one of the best culinary experiences you can have. From traditional charcoal grilling to marinated short ribs and bulgogi, KBBQ is a delicious and fun experience that allows you to grill and eat right at your table. Being able to indulge in the many forms of traditional Korean BBQ is just one of the many perks of teaching English in South Korea. Let me take you on a gourmet expedition into Korean BBQ!

 

Is Korean BBQ Always Beef?

Traditionally, KBBQ restaurants serve different cuts of beef. Pork and chicken are other common KBBQ meats but if you are adventurous, why not try:

  • Gopchang (beef or pork intestines)
  • Gyutan (beef tongue)
  • Makchang (beef stomach)

Gopchang is my personal favorite! The rich and flavorful taste of gopchang pairs perfectly with the smoky char from the grill, creating a unique dining experience.

 

Dry-Aged Meat

Dry-aged BBQ is a sophisticated twist to traditional grilling. Cuts of beef like ribeye and sirloin undergo a dry-aging process that can take several weeks or even months before being served. This aging process allows for more complex, umami flavors to develop and gives the beef an intense, flavor-packed taste. The richness and tenderness of aged meat is the best way to elevate your KBBQ experience.

Wet-Aged Meat

Unlike dry-aged BBQ, wet-aged BBQ relies on soaking the meat in a mouth-watering marinade of soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, sugar, and various spices before grilling. Wet-aged BBQ is especially tender and is usually cooked on a flat, table-top grill. I recommend that you enjoy it with Makgeoli, as the sweet, tangy flavor is the perfect pairing! One of my favorite places to eat wet-aged KBBQ is Yeonnamseo Sikdang.

 Address: 189-7 Yeonhui-dong, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul South Korea

 

Hanwoo (Korean Beef)

Hanwoo, or Korean beef, is a breed of cattle native to South Korea and renowned for its deep marbling and premium quality. Hanwoo is often compared to other high-end varieties of beef like Wagyu and Kobe. Hanwoo barbeque is great for special occasions but can be enjoyed anytime. Typically, Hanwoo is cooked over a charcoal flame for flavor. I  recommend pairing with a fruity red wine, such as a Malbec, to compliment the robust flavors. You can even choose the beef at certain restaurants, which they then grill tableside. Or, you can take out Hanwoo to cook at home!

 

Seafood Grill

If red meat isn’t your thing, then why not indulge in seafood BBQ? Switch gears and enjoy succulent oysters, shrimp, calamari, and all sorts of fish. Seafood adds a fresh, coastal twist to the traditional KBBQ experience and can be a more affordable option. My favorite place to enjoy all the different seafood varieties is in Busan.

 

Now you’re ready to enjoy all that KBBQ has to offer when you teach English in Korea! Happy grilling!

Michelle Duquette is from Toronto, Canada and moved to South Korea in 2015. She has a Bachelors in English literature and a Masters in ESL Education. Michelle has taught at Creverse campuses in Gangneung, Songpa, and Mokdong and currently works as a CDI and April Trainer. Michelle never set out to be a teacher but fell in love with Korean culture and the excitement of being in the classroom. Michelle lives in Seoul with her partner and two cats, Cherry and Frost. 

Best Things To Do In Jeonju

The Place To Be

Jeonju is an idyllic city known for its traditional architecture, culture, and cuisine. It is a popular tourist destination, even among Koreans. And, for good reason! If you decide to teach English in Korea, make sure to strongly consider spending a year in this amazing city. Here are the best things to do in Jeonju.

Eat More Bibimbap

In Korean, “bibim” means mixing, and “bap” means cooked rice. This traditional dish often features egg, various vegetables, and sometimes cooked or raw meat! Jeonju is famous for its bibimbap, so don’t pass up the opportunity to try it. While you eat, go ahead and order Jeonju’s variation of makgeolli, a traditional rice wine! I had it when I visited Jeonju, and it was absolutely delicious.

Three people cheering Makgeolli, a traditional Korean rice wine in Keonju South Korea

Rent Hanboks

Hanboks are the traditional style of dress in Korea, but they’ve become more popular in recent years. Even though social media often shows only women wearing them, there are hanboks for men, women, and children! It’s super common in Seoul as well as other cities to see people wearing them for special occasions and around hanok villages and palaces. In Jeonju, we payed about ₩17,000 to wear our hanboks all day. Wearing a hanbok while exploring Jeonju is one of the coolest (and most fashionable!) cultural experiences I’ve had in Korea!

 

Women wearing traditional Korean hanboks walk the streets of Jeonju South Korea

Visit A Traditional Hanok Village

Now that you’ve got your hanbok, there’s no better place to go than Jeonju’s Hanok Village. A hanok is a traditional Korean building that features a wooden framework and often intricate, beautiful designs on the walls. This is the perfect place to soak up Korea’s rich history and feel like you’ve been transported back in time!

Jeonju Hanok Village Shops in South Korea
A traditional accomodation called Laon Hanok Gguliam in Jeonju South Korea

Visit Jeondong Cathedral

Right across the street from Jeonju Hanok Village is Jeondong Cathedral! This beautiful religious building was built in 1908 and is a must see when visiting Jeonju.

Head on shot of Jeonju Cathedral in South Korea
Inside of Jeonju Cathedral in South Korea

Indulge In Street Food

Korea has some of the best street food in the world, and there’s a little something for anything. What’s one you absolutely have to try in Jeonju? Korean coin bread. Imagine a waffle and a grilled cheese on a stick. That’s coin bread. Shaped like a coin, this street food is a perfect sweet and savory snack to end your day in the beautiful Korean city of Jeonju.

 

A steret food stall in South Korea

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. 

5 Reasons Why I Prefer Living In Korea

Here are the top 5 reasons Why I Prefer Living in Korea!

1. Transportation (High Tech Bus Stops)

Korea is often ranked one of the best public transportation systems on the planet. Let’s start with the buses, which can take you anywhere you want in major cities as well as across the country. In the winter, Korea has heated bus stop seats as well as heated waiting room areas at some locations. Not only that but some bus stops provide free phone charging stations, and all buses have public Wi-Fi. The bus system is convenient and affordable for anyone looking to get around quickly and comfortable. This is one of the main reasons I prefer living in Korea over the States.

 

A heated bus stop bench with free wirless charging in Korea
Heated Bench and Wireless Charging
Woman waits for a bus inside a glass-covered bus stop in Seoul, Korea.

The subway is fast, safe, and easy to use. All signs and announcements are made in both Korean as well as English. If you want to leave your city and explore another part of Korea, there are regular trains for the stop-and-smell-the roses type of passenger as well as the KTX bullet trains for those looking to get places fast. All of the options are affordable and give you the opportunity to view the beautiful Korean countryside.

2. Online Banking (Sending Money)

Forget Venmo and PayPal. In Korea, you can make easy and safe bank transfers online with your bank. This means you can pay people and businesses as well as receive funds in seconds. No more waiting 2-3 days to see funds show up in your bank account. In Korea, you can have your money instantly. (By the way, they’ve been doing it this way for almost 20 years! For better context, they never used a paper checking system.)

 

A row of ATMs of the top 5 most popular banks in Korea.
A row of ATMs of the top 4 banks
Smart phone app for a Korean bank to allow instantaneous transfer of money to other bank accounts.
Mobile App for Woori Bank

3. Public Safety (No Theft Or Guns)

With strict gun laws, it’s difficult to gain access to weapons in Korea. Between this and Korea’s CCTV coverage, South Korea is an extremely safe country to live in. When compared with other industrialized countries, South Korea has a very low crime rate, and in 2021, they saw their lowest crime rate in ten years. You may not realize it until you are here, but living in Korea made me realize how much unnecessary stress I frequently dealt with worrying about keeping myself and my belongings safe.  

 

4. Cheap Meals (Delicious & Healthy, too!)

The cost of a delicious, nutritious meal in Korea can be as cheap as ₩7,000, which is roughly $5.50 USD. Not only is eating out affordable, but there are plenty of delicious foods to try from. Korea has everything from bibimbap and tteokbokki to pizza and burgers. Oh, and a huge bonus you probably didn’t think was even a possibility. There is NO TIPPING in Korea! Whether you dine out or take a cab, tipping is not a part of the culture. It is a huge savings and makes life so much easier.   

Assorted fish, kimchi stew, and side dishes at a traditional restaurant in Korea

5. Skin Care (The Mecca for All Your Needs)

Koreans love skin care. With a huge market for it, you can find the exact right combination of products for your skin type. Due to its popularity, there’s a wide variety of options, and they are relatively affordable in comparison to American brands. In addition, Korea has many great spa options if pampering is your favorite method of self-care.  And it’s not just for us girls! Men all across the world are starting to take better care of their skin, and Korea has all the products you can think of.  

 

 

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.

Top 4 Travel Destinations from South Korea

A Hop, Skip, and a Jump Away!

Many people don’t know that Incheon Airport is considered one of the greatest airports in the world. While living in South Korea, make sure to take advantage of the cheap flights and book your next trip. There are plenty of places to travel to within just a few hours! Here are the top 4 travel destinations from South Korea. 

 

JAPAN

Japan is about a 2-hour flight. Round trip tickets typically range between $210 – $360 USD. The cheapest flights are usually sold around June, while the most expensive flights are sold during the month of March which is peak travel. Korean Air, Peach Aviation, Jeju Air, Jin Air, Asiana, T’Way Air, Air Seoul, EASTAR JET, Air Busan, Air Premia, Ethiopian, JAL and ANA fly directly from Seoul to Tokyo. Check out Diana’s trip to Tokyo here!

Picture at night of the crowded streets of Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo, Japan
A pagoda on a cliff in Okinawa, Japan.
Okinawa, Japan

VIETNAM

Halong Bay, the number one tourist spot in Vietnam, is about a 5-hour and 25-minute flight from Incheon. A round trip ticket typically sells for $254 USD. Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam and Hội An, a well preserved ancient town are other places well worth a visit. Both are about a 4-hour and 30-minute flight from Incheon with flight tickets starting at $254 USD as well.

A boat in the waters of Halong Bay in Vietnam.
Halong Bay, Vietnam
Night image of lantern festival at Hoi An, Vietnam.
Hoi An, Vietnam

CHINA

China’s capital Beijing and other cities like Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Chengdu are also about 2 hours away from South Korea by airplane. The lowest round trip tickets start at $175 USD. The highest round trip tickets end at $350 USD. Great Wall, anyone?

 

Korean City
Shanghai, China
Great Wall of China with a purple sunset.
Beijing, China

THAILAND

Popular tourist destinations in Thailand include Phuket, Chiang Mai, Phi Phi and Koh Samui to name just a few! The flight from Seoul to Bangkok is about 5 hours and 30 minutes, with plane tickets starting at $229 USD.

 

Cityscape of Bankok, Thailand.
Bankok, Thailand
Temple in Chang Mai, Thailand.
Chiang Mai, Thailand

These countries are just four of your many options you can travel to on the cheap in just a few hours. You should also consider the Philippines, Laos, Cambodia, or even Taiwan. If you have a love for adventure, this is your time to shine!

 

Amber Ochoa is from Los Angeles, USA, and just recently moved to South Korea in May. She studied Biochemistry as an undergraduate. After graduation, she began venturing out and embracing her love for adventure. She finds that “nothing holds greater power in our life than the unknown.” One night while applying to random jobs on Indeed, she came across an English teaching position in Seoul, Korea. Flash forward, she is now teaching at CDI, Mokdong branch. She claims that Creverse found her and ended up becoming a blessing in disguise. Amber says giving knowledge to students & inspiring them for higher achievements in life is one of the greatest feelings in the world.

3 Must Hike Trails In South Korea

Three Peaks

With three popular mountain peaks, hiking is a big deal in South Korea. There is no shortage of good hiking trails, but it can be challenging to know how and where to start. Don’t worry though. Whether you’re a complete hiking novice or a life-long hiker, Korea has the perfect trail for you. Here are the 3 must hike trails in South Korea! 

 

Remember, Safety First!

If you’re new to hiking, remember to take it slow. Choose an easy hike to get acclimated. Always pack water and a snack, consult trail maps, and bring a buddy. If the hike feels too strenuous or it’s starting to get dark, turn around and try another day.

 

1. Namsan Seoul Tower

If you are new to hiking, this is a perfect place to start. Located in the center of Seoul, the hike up to Namsan Seoul Tower takes about 30-40 minutes. Once you’re at the top, you can take in the panoramic views of Seoul, add a love lock to the fence overlooking the city, and even go up to the top of Namsan Seoul Tower. I recommend starting near Hyatt Hotel, so your hike takes you through the Botanical Garden.

 

2. Umyeonsan Mountain

Located in the Seocho neighborhood of Seoul, Umyeonsan Mountain is a moderate hike. It’s perfect if you’re looking to level up your hiking experience and still stay in Seoul. This hike is roughly 4.3 kilometers long point-to-point, and it starts near the Seocho Arts Center.  Here’s a video clip to see it live. 

 

3. Bukhansan National Park

The views from Bukhansan National Park are epic. With jutting mountains and steep inclines, this hike isn’t for the faint of heart but is well worth the climb. The hike to the top of Bukhansan is roughly 7 kilometers or about 4-6 hours round trip. I highly recommend bringing trekking poles to help with this rocky trail, and a friend to share the views with is always a good idea.

 

 

Hopefully these 3 must hike trails in South Korea are a good start to your mountain hiking journey in Korea! 

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. 

A Night Out in Korea

A Night Out

The nightlife in Seoul is such a site to see. The lights, music, and overall ambience accentuates this liveliness like no other. A night out is all about cutting loose and being spontaneous, but I am here to give you some pointers on how to do a night out in Korea right.

Transportation

First things first, you’ve gotta figure out how you’re going to appear at your destination. The subway can always get you to the location of your choice, but keep in mind they normally stop running at midnight. If you are a party animal like me, you can dance until the sun rises, and catch the subway back home at 5:30am when they start operating again. Buses usually run until around midnight. Depending on your location, there are some late night buses but they tend to take about an hour + to arrive at stops (so I wouldn’t rely on this!). There is no “last call” in Korea. Nightlife goes until everyone decides to leave!

 

Alternatively, you can always order a taxi using the kakaoT mobile application. Yes, it is an English friendly app. There will be tons of taxi options to choose from when ordering, but be sure to click “General Request.” This is the most reasonably priced option. The cost depends on the amount of kilometers traveled. For some perspective, a 20-minute ride would cost me around 15,000 KRW or $11.48 USD ($1=1,306 KRW).

 

I wouldn’t recommend biking and drinking, but a one-way trip to your destination could be a good option to save money and get some “steps in!” Seoul has public bikes that are accessible to anyone and can be found almost everywhere. All you have to do is download the Seoul Bike application, authenticate your identity (it takes about 2 minutes), and purchase a pass. Be sure to check out more information about Seoul Bikes.

 

Hot Party Spots

Seoul is enormous, and its nightlife is expansive. You are bound to find some place intriguing and acclimate to. If you didn’t already know where the major party spots are, Itaewon and Hongdae are your answers. Both places are filled with tons of bars/clubs, and foreigners of all ages. The countless memories and friends I’ve made in these places are incredible.

A big perk about going out are the drink prices. My first night out with the gals, I thought I spent my entire paycheck with the amount of drinks I ordered. When in reality, I only spent about $60 USD. In Korea, cocktails are about 10,000 KRW or $7.65 ($1=1,306 KRW), beer’s are sold at 7,000 KRW or $5.36 ($1=1,306 KRW), and shots can range anywhere between 8,000-15,000 KRW or $6.12 – $11.48 ($1=1,306 KRW). After finding out this information, it’s no wonder why alcohol is so popular. I took the liberty of attaching this article on drinking in South Korea that goes into depth with the culture. Check it out! 

 

Dive bar ambiance of a bar in Korea
Mike's Cabin in Hongdae
Picture on the inside of Lit Lounge in Itaewon, Korea
Hookah Bar in Itaewon
An aerial view of Fountain Bar in Itaewon, Korea
Fountain Bar in Itaewon
Picture inside a club in Hongdae, Korea
Club Madholic in Hongdae

In a Nutshell

A night out in Korea is such a fun experience. You’re going to see some crazy things, become that social butterfly from within, and meet some really cool/interesting humans. Have fun, be safe, and don’t forget to follow my tips. I hope your first drink in Seoul is the best one yet!

 

Amber Ochoa is from Los Angeles, USA, and just recently moved to South Korea in May. She studied Biochemistry as an undergraduate. After graduation, she began venturing out and embracing her love for adventure. She finds that “nothing holds greater power in our life than the unknown.” One night while applying to random jobs on Indeed, she came across an English teaching position in Seoul, Korea. Flash forward, she is now teaching at CDI, Mokdong branch. She claims that Creverse found her and ended up becoming a blessing in disguise. Amber says giving knowledge to students & inspiring them for higher achievements in life is one of the greatest feelings in the world.

Cell Phones In Korea

Cell Phones In Korea

When traveling abroad it seems like it’s just you and your cell phone against the world. You need it for navigation, transportation, translation, and so much more. It is essential to have a phone plan upon your arrival to Korea. There are a couple of options to consider and I am here to tell you all about cell phones in Korea!

 

Get a SIM Card

Before arriving in South Korea, it is best to switch from your current mobile provider to the South Korea SIM card provider. A SIM card allows you to utilize your mobile device to receive calls, send messages, or connect to mobile internet services. SIM cards are relatively cheap. The cost depends on how many days you would like the card to be activated. You can purchase these cards almost anywhere, including upon arrival at the Incheon airport in Korea. Just remember to have your passport on hand as it will be necessary to purchase a SIM card as a foreigner in Korea.

 

eSIM

There are two main types of Korean SIM cards you will encounter, the traditional SIM card and the eSIM. The eSIM functions as a regular SIM, but you are not actually inserting anything into your phone. Because you don’t have to physically pick it up, the eSIM is extremely convenient. All you have to do is sign up online, scan a QR code, then BAM! You’re connected to the world. Be sure to click this link to read more on how to access an eSIM.

Do not worry about how well a SIM card will work. According to GSMarena, Korea’s LTE coverage is the highest in the world. Some of the top rated Korean SIM cards include eSIM Korea, Trazy, Klook, EG, and Woori Mobile. These cards are only meant to keep you afloat until you receive your Alien Registration Card, or ARC. Once you receive your ARC, you will be able to register for a permanent Korean number and phone plan.

Setting Up a Phone Plan

There are several phone companies to consider when applying for a phone plan. A few major ones include KT, SKT, and LG U+. It is best to stick with these big phone companies as a foreigner, because you are less likely to get scammed.

I was able to acquire a Korean phone number with LG U+ and paid about 30,000 KRW a month for a basic phone plan. The entire process was painless. The LG U+ employee and I both used Papago to communicate. I simply chose the plan I wanted, displayed my passport and ARC, paid the man, and was on my way out within 20 minutes.

 

International Plans

Most US phone companies allow you to purchase an international service while you travel abroad. For an additional $50.00 USD a month, I was able to use my normal cellular data plan of 15 GB. Upon arrival, I was on a T-Mobile family plan with a displeasing phone balance. Because of this, I was unable to discontinue my payments.

 

Take it from me, pay your remaining phone balance & get off the family plan before arriving. I was paying for two phones, which felt very unnecessary when the only person in the world who ever tried contacting me, was my mother. Now, you might be asking yourself “Why did she continue to pay for both phones when you only need one?” The answer is, Korean bank accounts. In order to access direct deposit, receive/transfer money, you will need your own Korean number on file.

 

The Big Picture

I hope my personal experience and information have brought you a sense of clarity. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a phone when living abroad. Be sure to plan accordingly, but most importantly, enjoy the adventure. Safe travels!  

 

Amber Ochoa is from Los Angeles, USA, and just recently moved to South Korea in May. She studied Biochemistry as an undergraduate. After graduation, she began venturing out and embracing her love for adventure. She finds that “nothing holds greater power in our life than the unknown.” One night while applying to random jobs on Indeed, she came across an English teaching position in Seoul, Korea. Flash forward, she is now teaching at CDI, Mokdong branch. She claims that Creverse found her and ended up becoming a blessing in disguise. Amber says giving knowledge to students & inspiring them for higher achievements in life is one of the greatest feelings in the world.

Making Friends In Korea

An Introvert Making Friends

Being an introvert, moving halfway across the world was extremely terrifying. I came to Korea not knowing a single person or the native language. Making friends in Korea to share all of these new experiences with was something I longed for. I was worried that this wouldn’t happen because of my tendency to become shy around people I don’t know. Thankfully, everyone I have crossed paths with has been extremely welcoming.

 

Workplace

Everyone employed at Creverse has been in the same boat. We all started from the very bottom and created lives of our own here in Korea. Because everyone here took this huge leap & faced all the odds, there is this inherent respect from one another. All of my fellow co-workers have been extremely kind and supportive since I’ve arrived.

I have spent countless weekends with colleagues doing touristy things. If I ever have a rough day, I can always count on a coworker to meet me for a drink after class. These are some of the many perks of my great work environment. 

 

Apps!

I haven’t personally dabbled in meet up apps while being here in Korea. Although, I have met many people who found their wives/husbands and lifelong friends on apps such as Meeff, Meetup, Hellotalk, Bumble, Hinge, etc.. These apps are great ways to meet natives that can show you around, introduce you to some good restaurants, and maybe even help you learn the language.

I actually had the privilege of befriending my hairstylist 2 months into being here. We met up with each other on several occasions. I taught her some English phrases in exchange for some Korean words & knowledge on hair treatments. Shout out to Jin from Moioui, she is great at hairstyling & her English is very promising!

A college of meet-up and dating apps used in Korea including Hinge, Hello Talk, MEEFF and Meetup

Night Life

The amount of people I have met from bars & clubs is astounding. Itaewon is filled with foreigners from all over the globe who are so open and friendly. Hongdae is so vibrant, everyone is there to have a good time. I usually go out with a group of friends, but I think it’s worthy to note that my girl friends go out alone here in Korea. The fact that females feel comfortable enough to go out by themselves, have fun, and meet others is truly amazing. Of course, like anywhere else in the world, you have to take the standard precautions. But, that’s besides the point.

Activities

I go to the gym quite often and have made friends with staff and other members. I have friends in hip-hop dance classes that have met plenty of new people. There are so many sports activities & hobbies to partake in. Pilates studios, clubs such as boxing, tennis, basketball, baseball, soccer, running, etc., are all open to foreigners. There are numerous other programs I didn’t list. Fact remains, there is something for everyone. Finding an outlet when you arrive in Korea is something I highly encourage everyone to do. It is a great way to stay in shape, teaches you how to organize your time, and boosts friendships.

 

I hope this has helped you feel a little more confident about making friends in Korea. It’s probably one of the biggest benefits about teaching English in Korea!

Amber Ochoa is from Los Angeles, USA, and just recently moved to South Korea in May. She studied Biochemistry as an undergraduate. After graduation, she began venturing out and embracing her love for adventure. She finds that “nothing holds greater power in our life than the unknown.” One night while applying to random jobs on Indeed, she came across an English teaching position in Seoul, Korea. Flash forward, she is now teaching at CDI, Mokdong branch. She claims that Creverse found her and ended up becoming a blessing in disguise. Amber says giving knowledge to students & inspiring them for higher achievements in life is one of the greatest feelings in the world.