Category: Lifestyle

Types of Housing for English Teachers in Korea

Officetel vs. Villa

Teaching English in Korea is an exciting adventure. However, the idea that you will not know exactly where you will be living can be a big source of trepidation. South Korea offers a diverse array of housing styles, but officetels and villas are two of the most popular housing types for English teachers in Korea. While your local branch often handles accommodation arrangements, let’s explore these two popular types of housing for English teachers in Korea.

Officetels: The Modern Living Solution

Officetels, blending “office” and “hotel,” are often compact living spaces in large apartment-style buildings that combine residential and commercial functions. These multifunctional units offer a unique living experience. They are particularly well-suited for urban areas. Officetels offer so much convenience in their close proximity to public transportation, shops, and amenities. In bigger cities, officetels may even come fully furnished (though you should be informed that some teachers might have to furnish apartments themselves). 


Outside picture of an officetel-style apartment in Korea for English teachers

In South Korea, some officetels feature a unique split-level design with added space above the main area, accessible via stairs. This design separates functions like a loft, workspace, or storage area. Modern and efficient, officetels maximize comfort in limited space. Officetels are also typically very modern and efficient, and allow you to maximize the use of limited space without compromising comfort.


Villas: Traditional Comfort

Villas in Korea vary widely in size and style. You might find yourself in a studio apartment, or a larger family-oriented unit. Villas generally come in various layouts and offer more space compared to officetels. This makes them ideal for couples or those who value larger living areas. 


Typically located in residential zones, villas usually provide a quieter, more private living environment. Think of it more as a neighborhood vibe instead of a large apartment complex. Villas are usually in 2-3 floor buildings. You also won’t lose creature comforts as convenient stores, local drycleaners and other services are always within a few blocks.  


Pros and Cons

Depending on your contract type, you may have a choice in where you live. In other contract situations, you will be provided a place to stay by your local branch. Regardless what option you choose, you can be confident that your housing will have pros and cons, just like anything else in life! Regardless, both villas and officetels fulfill modern living needs.   

Tour Of My Place

Here are some pictures of my officetel. I was placed at the Sejong location, where the entire town was built in just the past several years, so it is very unique in that it was built just a year before move-in. That being said, most officetels are built in the last 20 years, so compared to other developed countries, all buldings are very new.

The door lock operates using a pin pad system, which is fantastic because you won’t have to worry about losing your keys. The unit covers 92 square meters and provides generous storage space. You’ll also find built-in appliances like a refrigerator and washing machine for added convenience.

As you step inside the apartment, there’s a spot to remove your shoes and store your indoor slippers – a common practice in South Korea. The apartment is also supplied with a fire extinguisher and plenty of shoe shelves.

The closet space feels a bit compact, but you can optimize it by incorporating inserts and utilizing specific hangers to conserve space and maintain order. Additionally, an interesting discovery: the bottom door on the far left is, in fact, a pullout drying rack for clothes!

The wall incorporates a cleverly designed kitchen with a two-burner electric stovetop, a built-in refrigerator and freezer, and cabinets hosting a dish drying rack underneath. Beneath the sink, a knife holder is in place, while above the sink serves for dishes. The space to the right is perfect for arranging food and spices.


Bathrooms in South Korean officetels and apartments are modern and distinct. They frequently showcase open shower areas, advanced bidet functions, and efficient layouts within limited spaces. Some bathrooms even boast natural light, floor heating, and soundproofing. I really appreciated the presence of a bidet in my bathroom. 


Bidets are a standard fixture in South Korean bathrooms, whether in officetels or villas. Electronic bidet toilet seats, offering adjustable water temperature, pressure, and air drying functions, are common. Properly ventilating bathrooms is crucial, as expats sometimes note mold issues; however, this problem is typically easy to prevent!

Originally, I used this area as desk space, though later decided to turn it into the TV area. Here is a picture of the space used as a study and work zone. Daiso has lots of creative organizers which can allow you to store more of your things without taking up too much of the working area!

I highly recommend getting some plants. They’re an excellent way to liven up any space and create a homely ambiance. Hanging plants, monsteras, and cacti are fantastic choices that require minimal upkeep!


As you dive into your Korean journey, remember that your apartment is more than just a place to stay – it’s your personal haven. Whether you’re in an officetel or a villa, these unique Korean living spaces offer countless ways to find comfort. From optimizing your kitchen, to adding a touch of nature with easy-care plants, to decorating with photos and friends from home, you can truly make your space your own.


내 집만한 곳은 어디에도 없다!

“There is no place like home!”

Alexandra Skouras is from Pennsylvania, USA, and has been living in South Korea since April 2021. She studied Biology and Spanish during college but decided to embrace her love of travel and cultural diversity through teaching English in other countries. After spending one year teaching in Madrid, Spain, she decided to move to South Korea, and since then has been teaching Chungdahm April in Sejong. Her favorite part about teaching is connecting with students and seeing how much growth they can achieve in just a short period of time. Alexandra describes her Korean life as the perfect mix of comfortable and exciting, and is passionate about encouraging other people to take the leap of faith and try something new.

The Boryeong Mud Festival

Boryeong Mud Festival

Looking for a getaway involving water gun fights, obstacle courses, DJ sets, and mud baths in Korea? The annual Boryeong Mud Festival is the way to go! I’ve recently attended the festival in July. To say that it was amazing is an understatement. This event released my inner child, brought laughter, smiles, and great memories.

Worthy Boryeong Mud Knowledge

The Boryeong Mud Festival isn’t all about fun. Mud powder is processed from the mud taken from Daecheon Beach in Boryeong. Mud water is extracted, and then the left-over mud powder is what is used in these skin products. Germanium and bentonite slow skin aging, exfoliate, and rejuvenate. More specifically, germanium improves skin contraction and skin elasticity! In addition, bentonite helps calm irritation/redness, and promotes healthy, glowing skin.

Transportation & Admission

The best way to travel to this beautiful coastal city is by bus. It is about a 2.5 hour ride outside Seoul. You can purchase bus tickets at Seoul Station (prices range from 11,000-18,000 KRW), and you can buy festival tickets on the Boryeong Mud Festival website for only 14,000 KRW.

Special Features

Food stands are lined up all around the Boryeong Mud Festival to satisfy one’s hunger. Mud beauty products and souvenirs are sold as well. Colored mud face paintings, a sea-side mini water park, and family zones are offered to accommodate the younger crowds. Mini Daecheon beach parades happen during the day, and at night the festival hosts a stage that features EDM by professional DJs on the beach. 

The Boryeong Mud Festival offers a variety of programs ranging from mud baths, free mud-powder massages, mudflat games such as wrestling & football, and obstacle marathons. Not to mention, there is a water gun fight that breaks out randomly. This was probably my personal favorite part of the festival because everyone instantly became 12 years old again. It was simply, a blast.

For more information, be sure to visit

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.

Hiking Through Autumn Landscapes

Arriving in Korea in the Fall

As summer ends and autumn arrives in South Korea, the country transforms with colorful beauty. Fall is a special time, especially for hikers, who can explore Korea’s natural splendor. If you’re lucky enough to be arriving during this season to teach English in Korea, you are in luck! From Seoul to Sejong, hiking through autumn landscapes can be a truly magical adventure!

Arriving to South Korea in the Fall feels like entering a painting. The air is cool, carrying the scent of crisp leaves and new adventures. The streets are warm and inviting, covered in red, orange, and yellow leaves, urging you to go outside.

Among Korea’s four seasons, Fall is a fan favorite. The hot summer eases into perfect weather conditions, perfect for outdoor activities. The colorful trees make hiking the perfect activity. The mix of colors on mountains and valleys is breathtaking, making fall a great time for photographers and nature-lovers alike.

Hiking Though Korea's Autumn Glory

Korea has many hiking trails that become stunning in Fall. From the famoulsy popular Bukhansan National Park in Seoul to hidden gems around the country, each trail offers a unique experience. Trees turn into a beautiful mix of red, orange, and yellow as you climb. The rustling leaves and glimpses of wildlife make the journey enchanting.

Enjoying Fall in Sejong City

Sejong City, surrounded by hills and beautiful landscapes, is perfect for a peaceful fall hiking adventure. Trails like Bihak Mountain offer panoramic views of Sejong against autumn colors. The city’s bustling scene transitions to a calm natural setting as ascend up and down the mountain!

A Taste of Culture Along The Way

Fall in Korea isn’t just about nature; it’s also a time for culture and festivities. On the trails, you might see locals in traditional Korean attire, having picnics, or performing folk shows. These encounters show Korea’s rich culture and can make your hiking experiences even more fun and exciting.

Fall in Korea is a season of wonder, where nature displays its beauty through colorful landscapes. Experiencing Korea during this season is like taking a front-row seat to a fall symphony. From bustling city streets to peaceful country trails, each step celebrates Korea’s traditional and modern beauty. Strap on your hiking boots, feel the cool breeze, and let the adventure begin!


Bella Maselana hails from South Africa where she earned a Bachelor’s of Psychology and has served as an English teacher and Lecturer at the University of SA. Bella currently teaches at April English in Sejong, South Korea. 

American Food in Korea

Eating kbbq, kimchi, bulgogi, and samgyeopsal never gets old while living in Korea. Although, from time to time I do miss the occasional cheeseburger, pizza, and street tacos. I can’t help it! I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. Missing food from home is not unusual while living abroad. Thankfully, I’ve run into my fare share of restaurants that serve American food in Korea.

The Cheeseburgers Finds

If you are ever in the mood for a cheeseburger, you’ll be sure to find a McDonald’s or Burger King nearby. Are you worried about not being able to order because of your lack of Korean speaking skills? Not to worry! They have kiosks that you order from with English language settings. The prices are impeccable, as inflation is not a huge issue here in Korea (yet). For instance, you could purchase a whopper meal and spend about 10,000 KRW or $7.50 USD.

More “sophisticated” American food in Korea, Five Guys is also located in Gangam. Lines are usually out the door, so be sure to plan accordingly. The menu is a bit overpriced, but if you’re looking for a quality burger, this is the way to go. Now, if you’re looking for a burger that is absolutely chef’s kiss, Brooklyn burger joint takes the trophy. I go to the Mokdong location at least once a week. The patty is juicy, and the buns are soft, yet sturdy. The meat/bun/accompaniment ratio is even from the first to last bite. Not to mention, the milkshakes are thick, creamy, and smooth. The quality of the meal makes up for the price. You can expect to pay about 20,000 krw or $15.50 USD for a cheeseburger, milkshake, and fries. Be sure to check out this link for additional information on Brooklyn locations and menu.

"American" Pizza

The great news about American food in Korea: pizza parlors can be found on almost every corner. I was surprised to find Papa Johns my first week arriving here in Seoul. The menu is a bit different out here, as all places accommodate their audience. Garlic pepper steak, grilled bulgogi, and shrimp alfredo pizza are common in most Korean parlors. But, you can definitely still order your plain pepperoni and cheese pizza as well. Prices range depending on the size. The smallest size starts at 20,000 KRW. Be sure to click the link to see the official menu. Also, feel free to check out Foursquare’s top 15 best pizza places in Seoul

American-style Mexican Food

According to google, Mexican food is Americans’ second favorite food. So, it’s only right that I include a section of this blog dedicated to the best kind of food on the planet (I am mexican, call me biased). Crazy enough, Koreans can cook up a decent burrito, taco, and quesadilla. Mexican restaurants are not the easiest finds. But, I have found that Itaewon has a handful of good spots. Some meals (other than the usual burrito/tacos/quesadillas) you’ll be able to order include enchiladas, super nachos, tamales, chilaquiles, and mole. Check the link below to see 10Magazine’s top 10 Mexican restaurants in Seoul for Mexican American Food in Korea.

Additional American Food Spots In Korea

Some other noteworthy American food spots in Korea include Subway, KFC, Starbucks, On The Border, Auntie Anne’s, Pancake House, and TGI Friday’s just to name a few!  Mom’s touch actually originated here in South Korea. They’ve been branching out over the years, and actually have some locations in Los Angeles. If you are looking for a delicious chicken sandwich, be sure to check them out!

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 began to embrace 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. 

15 Must Have Apps for Korea!

If you’re about to embark on an exciting journey to South Korea to teach English, you’ve come to the right place. Before you dive headfirst into the land of K-pop and kimchi, let’s talk about the tools that will make your life much more convenient while you’re living your best expat life. These trusty apps will keep you connected, well-fed, and effortlessly navigating the streets of Seoul and beyond. Grab your phone as you read along so you can start downloading. Get ready to embrace convenience like a pro. Without further adieu, here are the 15 Must Have Apps for Korea!

 (All links go to the Google Play Store, but all apps are also available for iOS)


Kakao Talk

Kakao Talk Icon

Kakao Talk is the one app that runs through the veins of every Korean. it is a must-have for anyone living in or visiting South Korea. From its seamless messaging to its cute sticker features and beyond, KakaoTalk has become an integral part of Korean social life. KakaoTalk is great for connecting with locals and will likely be the primary form of communication between you, your coworkers, and your friends. Pro tip: Make sure to choose a username that you are comfortable with, because the Kakao platform will only allow you to change it once!


Kakao Maps

KAkao Maps Icon

Lost in the streets of Seoul? Don’t expect your standard Google or Apple Maps to guide you well. Kakao Maps is here to save the day! This is the go-to navigation app for Koreans. Kakao Maps is an always reliable navigation tool. From accurate real-time directions to detailed public transportation information, this app is a game-changer. It has intuitive features, including voice-guided navigation and street view. It even recommends nearby attractions and restaurants.

Naver Maps

naver maps Icon

When it comes to map options, Naver Maps is my personal favorite (over Kakao Maps)! I find it to be incredibly intuitive, especially when it comes to providing directions for addresses submitted in English. Naver Maps offers a wealth of features. These include precise directions, real-time traffic updates, and comprehensive information about local attractions and services. It can show bus schedules, public transportation options, and user-generated reviews.


Kakao Taxi

kakao taxi Icon

Kakao Taxi has become an indispensable app for Koreans. Other ride-hailing apps like Uber are NOT available, so if you need a ride quickly or aren’t yet comfortable with public transportation, Kakao Taxi has got you covered. It provides a seamless and efficient way to book a taxi right from your phone. This allows you to conveniently search the address right from your phone to avoid any communication errors with the driver about where to go. Kakao Taxi has real-time tracking, estimated fares, and the ability to choose your preferred vehicle type. (Be aware that you must have a functioning Korean phone number to connect a Korean bank card and pay, but you can always wave down a taxi the old fashioned way and pay with cash or any card!)


ktx Icon

If you are looking to travel long distances in a short period of time, check out the KTX (Korea Train Express) and the KTX App by Korail. Get ready to speed across the country at trains reaching up to 300 kilometers per hour. All while enjoying the view, comfort, and amenities offered on board. With the KTX App by Korail, you can easily search for train schedules, reserve your preferred seats, and purchase e-tickets from your phone. Icon

Navigating through various Korean apps and taking multiple screenshots can be tiring and potentially lead to travel mishaps. When I arrived in Korea, I found solace in using to book my KTX tickets to Seoul and other major cities. While the prices may be slightly higher compared to booking directly through Korean apps or ticket stands, it offers a great alternative for those seeking peace of mind. The app provides a clear understanding of the ticket purchasing process. Embrace the convenience of for hassle-free ticket bookings during your Korean adventures!



papgo icon

Language barriers can be a hassle, but the Papago app revolutionizes communication in South Korea. This powerful translation app, developed by Naver, offers seamless translations between Korean and a multitude of languages. With features like text translation, voice recognition, and even image translation, Papago is a powerful tool for new arrivals and language learners alike.

Google Translate

gogole translate Icon

Say 안녕하세요 (annyeonghaseyo) to Google Translate! Just like Papago, this app is equipped with text input, voice recognition, and offline capabilities to support you even when you’re offline. I think what sets Google Translate apart is its impressive real-time translation feature, which allows you to conveniently translate text on your screen using your phone’s camera.



coupang Icon

Coupang offers an extensive range of products, all just a few taps away. With lightning-fast delivery, this tool is comparable to Amazon. Newcomers often worry about packing, but with the ability to order nearly anything from Coupang, you don’t need to worry so much about packing.


gmarket icon

GMarket is another great Korean e-commerce platform offering both local and international brands. It always has deals and promotions, offering great value for your money. GMarket is a great option for new arrivals, as you will need a Korean bank account in order to set up any Coupang orders. On the other hand, GMarket allows you to pay with international cards.

Kakao Pay

kakao pay Icon

I’m sure you’ve started to notice a recurring theme with the ubiquitous presence of “Kakao” on this list. Enter Kakao Pay, the digital payment revolutionizing how Koreans manage their finances. Whether you’re enjoying an iced americano at your go-to local café or seamlessly splitting bills with friends, this app provides a secure and convenient solution with just a few taps on your phone. With features like mobile payments, money transfers, and even the opportunity to earn rewards, Kakao Pay has it all. Plus, it’s as simple as a tap to make contactless payments straight from your phone using compatible card readers.


CoupangEats, Yogiyo, & Baemin

coupang eats Icon
yogiyo Icon
baemin Icon

Arguably some of the most important apps to download are Yogiyo (요기요), Baemin (배민), and Coupang Eats (쿠팡이츠) South Korea’s top food delivery apps! These apps offer an extensive range of options, from local favorites to international dishes. The apps are equipped with photos and descriptions, and the speed of Korean food delivery service is always impressive.

Help Me Emmo!

help me immo Icon

This option was my saving grace upon arriving to Korea! Ordering from the Korean apps can be tiresome when English descriptions aren’t available. HelpMeEmo (‘Emo’ means ‘Aunt’ in Korean) allows you to chat with a bilingual representative who can assist with placing delivery orders. You can customize your order, ask questions about the menu, and make special requests for just a small fee of around three dollars. And the first order is free! You can also message them on KakaoTalk at ‘HelpMeEmo.’

I hope you’ve found a few helpful apps and services that will make your life in South Korea more convenient and enjoyable! From translation and shopping to navigation and food delivery, these tools are here to simplify your life. Enjoy your adventures in South Korea with these essential apps by your side. Safe travels!

Alexandra Skouras is from Pennsylvania, USA, and has been living in South Korea since April 2021. She studied Biology and Spanish during college but decided to embrace her love of travel and cultural diversity through teaching English in other countries. After spending one year teaching in Madrid, Spain, she decided to move to South Korea, and since then has been teaching Chungdahm April in Sejong. Her favorite part about teaching is connecting with students and seeing how much growth they can achieve in just a short period of time. Alexandra describes her Korean life as the perfect mix of comfortable and exciting, and is passionate about encouraging other people to take the leap of faith and try something new.

Transportation in Korea

Transportation in Korea: Top 8 Ways to Get Around 

One of the best features about living in South Korea is the affordable and accessible transportation. Whether you need to move across town, or travel to the other side of the country, there are so many options.


Short distances:

1. Public Bicycles

It’s not uncommon to find public bicycles available across the country in major cities. Usually, you can download an app onto your smartphone and then link a bank card to pay for the ride.

You’ll have to scan a QR code on the bike, and it will unlock automatically. Many of these public bikes are equipped with baskets attached in case you have something to carry. It’s a great way to move around the city while also getting some exercise. Conveniently, you can also check the app to see where the bikes are located. Depending on your location, you can expect to find some bike lanes, making your ride safer and more comfortable. Here’s a “How To” on renting bikes in Seoul City.

2. Electric Scooters

Similarly to bike rentals, you can also opt to travel by electric scooter. Some of the more popular choices are GCooter, Beam, and Swing. The scooters can travel up to 25 kilometers per hour. Typically, if you don’t link a valid Korean driver’s license to your account, the recommended speed limit is 17 kph. I think this is a great option for days when the weather is nice, because you can ride with friends and it’s so much fun! You can find some general regulations for e-scooters here.


3. The Bus

The bus network in South Korea operates in all cities and even in smaller villages and towns. The bus system is fairly easy to navigate, but can become difficult if your Korean is limited. Still, downloading navigation apps such as KakaoMaps or NaverMaps will help you get from point A to point B with ease. Just scan your T-money travel card (which can be purchased and reloaded at any convenience store) and you’ll be on your way!


4. Subway

The Korean subway system is praised for its efficiency worldwide. Subways are available in the five major cities consisting of the Seoul Metropolitan Area. This includes Seoul, Gyeonggi-do, and Incheon; Busan, Daegu, Gwangju, and Daejeon. It’s possible to buy a single journey ticket with cash, but you can actually save money by loading up a T-money card, and use it for taxis and buses as well. Subways operate from 5:30am to 1am the next day. Try to remember basic subway etiquette like waiting for passengers to exit before loading the car, not sitting in seats designated for the elderly or pregnant women, and not eating inside of the train cars.

5. Kakao T

Similarly to Uber and other ride services, South Korea uses Kakao Taxi for its private transportation services. If you are in a rush and don’t have time for public transportation, this could be a great option. You can download the Kakao Taxi app which has English services and an intuitive interface, making it easy to navigate directions. Using the app can also provide peace of mind to foreigners as then you can track the taxi route and make sure you have an estimate of the fare before taking the trip.

Kakao T Taxi Cab

Long distances:

6. Airport “Limousine”

The airport limousine bus is a lifesaver for people traveling to Korea with loads of luggage. These buses are spacious and comfortable, and will take you closer to your final destination if traveling outside of Seoul. If you are leaving from the airport, you can purchase a ticket at the stands outside of the terminals. If you are headed to the airport, you can download an app to reserve a ticket in advance. The bus application to reserve tickets doesn’t operate in English yet, but it’s quite simple to screenshot the app and translate using Google Translate or Papago in order to purchase your ticket.


7. Express Bus and “Intercity” Buses

These buses are cheap, reliable, and operate in all cities and towns. These buses can take passengers from one city to another, which is the best option for weekend trips to take part in amazing activities like paragliding, bungee jumping, ATV, or botanical gardens!  


8. KTX Bullet Train

KTX, Korea Train Express, is one of the best ways to travel between cities. You can expect a quiet and smooth ride while taking in the beautiful landscape of the country. The high speed train travels at an astounding 305 kilometers per hour and interconnects popular travel destinations. You can download the Korail app to purchase tickets. If you don’t feel comfortable booking on the Korean app, you can always use a service like Korean Train to book your ticket. You should expect to pay a bit extra in this case, but it does make it easier to book or later change your ticket if need be.


With so many affordable options to travel these days, seeing different regions of South Korea has never been easier!


Alexandra Skouras is from Pennsylvania, USA, and has been living in South Korea since April 2021. She studied Biology and Spanish during college but decided to embrace her love of travel and cultural diversity through teaching English in other countries. After spending one year teaching in Madrid, Spain, she decided to move to South Korea, and since then has been teaching Chungdahm April in Sejong. Her favorite part about teaching is connecting with students and seeing how much growth they can achieve in just a short period of time. Alexandra describes her Korean life as the perfect mix of comfortable and exciting, and is passionate about encouraging other people to take the leap of faith and try something new.

A Day In the Life of a Hagwon Teacher

3 Years and Counting!

Before moving to Korea, I really had no idea what my daily schedule would look like. Of course your schedule will depend on your unique school, but most elementary school hagwons operate similarly. So, if you are curious about what a day in the life of a hagwon teacher teacher looks like, this blog post is for you!

When I first arrived in Korea in at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, I only expected to stay for one year. I met so many hagwon teachers, most of whom had been living in Korea for several years. I would tell them I only planned to stay for one year, and their response was always the same: “That’s what you say now, but just wait…” 

I didn’t believe them.

Here I am two years later, just about to renew my contract for a third year. They were right.

computer screen, keyboard and mouse with files neatly stacked on either side of the monitor


After School Hours

I work from 12pm – 8pm, Monday through Friday, since hagwons are after school programs. This schedule is great because I have enough time to be productive in the morning and finish work early enough meet friends afterward. I think it’s really important to carve out a part of the day dedicated to yourself. If not, you’re just living to work and can’t fully enjoy the experience of living in Korea!

Sacred Mornings

The first part of my morning ritual is a combination of journaling, reading, and meditation. This quiet time sets the tone for my whole day. I’ve filled several journals with my experiences, and know I’ll reflect on how much my experience here shaped me as a person. I’m fortunate enough that my gym is right next door, so morning workouts are easy. It’s also convenient to complete all the errands I need to do during the day.

Arriving at Work

Every morning my coworkers and I arrive at noon. (Although usually we bump into each other at the neighboring cafes while picking up our morning Americanos). The first hour is dedicated to class preparation. We grade students’ online speaking homework, review lesson material for the day, and make any necessary printouts. Working at April English means I don’t have to do much lesson planning myself. I simply review the classes online and always feel prepared. 


Our lunch break is from 1pm-2pm. I usually go home for since I live within walking distance, but sometimes we visit a nearby restaurant. We return at 2pm, and the teaching day officially begins at 2:40pm! Students sometimes arrive early, so those 40 minutes can be used for extra prep. Or you can just relax and engage with students. (Though quite honestly, they often prefer watching English television on Netflix before class!) Before classes start, I always try to spend a quick minute alone in the break room. I remind myself of the influence I have on my students’ lives. Each day is an opportunity to make a huge impact, so I always make an effort to be the very best version of myself as a hagwon teacher..


Korean hagwon students working in a group project in classroom
female Korean hagwon student typing on a portable keyboard attached to a tablet in class

Block Schedule

The class schedule is broken up into 6 blocks of time. There are six, 40-minute classes with a 5 minute break in between. We have a few breaks throughout the week to to finish all of our grading, and just to reset. Working with kids all day is incredibly rewarding, but it can also be challenging at times since they are so high energy! Here’s a great read of what classes are like in Korea vs. America.

Time to Unwind!

The teaching day ends at 7:05pm. We use the last hour to submit grades and tie up any loose ends. Getting accustomed to the April English curriculum can be a bit overwhelming at first, but once you get used to it weeks go by quickly! Now when the last bell rings at 7:05pm, I almost always find myself wondering where the day went. After classes end, I go home for dinner. I do some meal prep at the beginning of the week. But, admittedly, I often resort to using delivery services since it’s so affordable, accessible, and fast here! Sometimes I’ll have dinner with friends or coworkers after work, and it’s really common to have some beers to unwind and relax after a long day. The life of a hagwon instructor ain’t so bad!


a group of smiling English teachers sitting at a large table at a restaurant in Korea

Alexandra Skouras is from Pennsylvania, USA, and has been living in South Korea since April 2021. She studied Biology and Spanish during college but decided to embrace her love of travel and cultural diversity through teaching English in other countries. After spending one year teaching in Madrid, Spain, she decided to move to South Korea, and since then has been teaching Chungdahm April in Sejong. Her favorite part about teaching is connecting with students and seeing how much growth they can achieve in just a short period of time. Alexandra describes her Korean life as the perfect mix of comfortable and exciting, and is passionate about encouraging other people to take the leap of faith and try something new.

Top 5 Korean Dishes

“We” Culture

Korean food has become popular all over the world in recent years. The growing trend of K-pop has led to even more interest in Korean culture. 

Food has an important role in Korean history as a result of social and political changes throughout the centuries. Every province has its own dishes and ingredients that are unique to their own region. If you travel around Korea, you will be become accustomed to the various meals you should indulge in. For example, Jeonju is famous for Bibimbap and Jeju is famous for Black Pork. 

Korean meals predominantly include rice, vegetables and meat. Each meal includes side dishes known as banchan and toppings such as gotchujang, sesame oil, kimchi, doenjang and gotchukaru

Korean food is an important part of Korean culture and is usually consumed in large groups to promote ‘we’ culture. It’s common to share food from various dishes and order meals for the table to share. Koreans enjoy eating together, and it is popular to see restaurants buzzing every night with plenty of customers.

Korean pork samgyeopsal grilled tableside


Samgyeopsal barbecue is probably one of the first dishes you will try when attending your first school Hweshik (company dinner). It is a very popular dish in Korea, and there is an abundance of restaurants selling it across the country. 

You usually grill unmarinated, raw slices of pork belly (essentially uncured bacon) is grilled tableside, until all the fat drips off the pan. It is typically wrapped with lettuce or perilla leaf, spicy soybean sauce, grilled garlic, and fried kimchi. 

Be prepared to drink soju while eating Samgyeopsal! Soju is a clear alcohol is made from rice, wheat and barley. It is customary to drink shots of soju while eating out samgyeopsal as it’s considered a way to cut the fatty taste and have a good time! 


a bowl of traditional Korean bibimbap served on a yellow table with kimchi on the side


Bibimbap is a really popular dish among foreigners, and is usually a meal a Korean would recommend you to try when first getting accustomed to Korean food. Most Korean food is spicy, so when eating bibimbap you can add as much, or as little, gotchujang (red pepper sauce) as you like. 

You can order it in a dolsot (a hot stone bowl) or a regular bowl. The traditional dolsot bowl is fired up hot, and sizzles food as you mix the ingredients together. It creates crusty rice at the bottom of the bowl while you indulge, creating a nice crispy treat at the end!

Ingredients in bibimbap include rice, beef, assorted marinated vegetables, gotchujang and a fried egg on top. There are numerous local variations of bibimbap throughout Korea, be found in Jeonju, Tongyeong and Jinju to name a few.


close up of a piece of Korean scallion pancake held in chopsticks

Savory Pancakes

Jeon is a flat-like pancake made from kimchi, potatoes, onions, seaweed, meat and seafood. There are plenty of kinds of Jeon, such as Pacheon (scallion), Kimchi Jeon, and Gamja-jeon (potato)

It’s customary to eat it after hiking a mountain trail, and is offered at many mountainside restaurants. Jeon is usually paired with Magkeolli (Korean rice liquor), and is highly recommend to enjoy on a hot summers day. Magkeolli is served in a chilled kettle and is sipped out of a small drinking bowl. 


closeup of Korean bulgogi dish with chopsticks holding a piece


Bulgogi is simply delicious, and my personal favorite Korean dish. It is a a dish of thinly sliced sirloin marinated in a mix of soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic and black pepper. Bulgogi is usually cooked tableside on the grill or sauteed and served.    

Bulgogi is usually prepared with thinly sliced onions, carrots, mushrooms and scallions. It is popular to wrap it up lettuce and top it off with some ssamjang (a thick red spicy paste), and served with rice and grilled garlic.  

Over the years, bulgogi has been the star in some more variations such as bulgogi burgers and even bulgogi cheesesteaks. 


a black bowl of spicy Korean sundubu jjigae

Sundubu Jiggae

Sundubu Jiggae is one of the most flavorful Korean soups you could eat. It has the perfect balance between spicy and sweet, and the silken tofu melts in your mouth. It is customary to choose the type of Sundubu Jiggae you want, ranging from seafood, beef, pork, dumpling, soy bean, or even mixed variations! 

The stew is also commonly topped off with a raw egg, that you crack tableside. Once mixed into the soup, the hot pot cooks and scrambles it, almost like an egg drop soup. This adds flavor to the dish, however you can do it however you like!

HUNGRY YET?! There are so many other amazing dishes to sample in Korea- this is just the top 5 dishes! Check out some of the seafood Giselle ate on her weekend trip to Taean!


Tijana Huysamen, a South African born Capetownian, avid traveler and travel journalist, fell in love with South Korea and its people. After Tijana arrived in South Korea in 2010, she had the opportunity to live in the heart of the Korean countryside. During her time spent in Chungnam province she learned to speak Korean, prepare Korean food and experience the humble nature of the countryside people.  After a year break in New York, Tijana jumped at the opportunity to return to Korea again, and is currently working at the CDI Jamsil Branch, in Jamsil, Seoul. Read Tijana’s Aclipse blog to gain a unique perspective on Korea and her shared experiences and adventures both in a major city and in the countryside. Follow Tijana on Twitter @TeeAnni or email to request more information on teaching in Korea!

Top 5 Experiences I’ve Had in Korea!

Starting a New Role

It’s been two full years since I began living and teaching in Seoul, and I owe it all to Aclipse. While I’m so grateful for my teaching role, I’m especially grateful for the additional opportunities I’ve had here in Korea. A month after I moved here, I interviewed to become a Marketing Assistant and got the job! My job has been to blog, post photos and answer emails from potential candidates. Being able to show others the beauty and adventure of living in Korea has been extremely rewarding. Surprisingly enough, one of the candidates I helped would become my co-worker at the same branch!  This post is dedicated to the top 5 experiences in Korea I’ve had with links to previous blogs to follow.


woman in Korean traditional hanbok in front of a pagoda

Top 5 Experiences in Korea

Thanks to my new role, I made sure I was not a home-body! I’ve had all the incentive I needed to get out, meet locals, and try to assimilate as quickly as I could. It’s been my goal to try at least two new things every month, and if I got a chance to get outside of Seoul, even better!

1. Here is my blog post on paragliding in Danyang!


two women sitting watching paragliders with their hands in a heart pose


2. Click here to learn about my Yeosu Weekend Trip.


night arial viewof yeosu river
hyangiram hermitage in yeosu
woman holding a firework sparkler by the river


3. Do you have any interest in bungee Jumping in Gapyeong?


someone bunjee jumping


4. My ATV Adventure in Taean is not just all vroom vroom.


woman posing while on ATV
woman posing at a restaurant table with an ocean view in background


5. My favorite trip of all is my peaceful Day Trip to Semiwon Garden!


fountains made of korean traditional pots
woman posing with cotton candy
pond with water lillies

Become a Marketing Assistant!

The greatest part of all is that there is way more things I’d love to add to this list, but its been so hard to choose! And I’m not done- I just extended my contract for the second time!  If sharing your story and your experiences is something you’d like to do, let your recruiter know! The team is always on the lookout for people who want to share their experiences. 

 Oh, and if you’re interested in zip lining, check out this blog here!

woman posing with traditional korean hanbok

Giselle Moreno is from California, USA where she attended the University of California, Riverside. While a student, she always worked with international students and she decided to teach English abroad upon graduating during her third year of university. It was through the experiences of being an English tutor for international students that she felt really fulfilled. She found it particularly easy to get along with Korean students which is why she decided to pursue a teaching opportunity in Korea. She even attended Yonsei University in Seoul for a semester as a study abroad student and fell in love with the city. She is currently working at ChungDahm Learning’s April Daechi branch located in Gangnam, Seoul.

Life After Korea

Goodbye Korea

When I was living abroad I wasn’t sure what life would be like when I finished my contract and moved home. The plan was to live in South Korea for a year, but I ended up extending my contract and living in Busan for almost two years. I knew there would be some reverse culture shock when I moved home but was really surprised by what life after Korea was like.  

My boyfriend, Colin, and I packed up our apartment in Busan, had a goodbye party with all our friends, said some tearful goodbyes, and boarded the plane to leave Korea. It didn’t really dawn on me until the plane was in the air that I wouldn’t see those friends or live in Korea again for a long time, if ever. Although I was very sad to say goodbye to friends and to a city I absolutely loved living in. I was very excited to go home and see friends and family I hadn’t seen in almost 2 years! 

two women holding a drink on the beach in busan highlighting life in korea


Before returning home, Colin and I stopped in Hawaii for a week to relax and enjoy having some time off work. Honestly, taking a vacation in Hawaii was one of the best decisions we made! Although it was expensive, it was worth it and definitely helped with the reverse culture shock. It was nice to be in an English speaking country again, but still be on vacation. We got to go to restaurants, grocery stores, bars, gas stations, etc. and enjoy the simple pleasure of talking to people in English 24-7! We did feel a little overwhelmed hearing everyone else’s conversation (it was sort of nice not knowing what other people were saying in Korea sometimes). Not to mention we got to enjoy all the gorgeous sights and beautiful beaches that Hawaii has to offer. 


arial view of the ocean in hawaii

REVERSE Culture Shock

Once we returned home reverse culture shock hit with full swing. Shortly after we got off the plane in St. Louis, I started having wheezing and a tight feeling in my chest – something that has never happened to me before. I had to go to urgent care and was abruptly reintroduced to American healthcare and how expensive it is – Korean healthcare was fast and extremely cheap (with or without insurance). Luckily it wasn’t serious. It turns out my body just was shocked from all the allergens that I was suddenly being exposed to! 

It was great to see family and friends that I hadn’t seen in a long time, but also overwhelming trying to find time to see everyone. I felt a little guilty trying to juggle time with family and friends, and was very glad we’d been on vacation- because it really helped with the jet lag. Honestly if I could do it over again I’d say ask a friend or family member to host a “welcome-back” party for you when you return. That way you can see everyone at once, and won’t feel guilty if you need a few days to rest/recharge later on. 

(See below – a friend from Cinncinati drove down to see me after we got home!) 


two women posing in front of a fountain

Home Sweet Home

Some of the great things about life after Korea are that I realized how easy and convenient it was to do so many things in America. Signing up for a phone plan was pain free, and going car shopping wasn’t bad either. I’m big into rewards programs and coupons, and never really got to take advantage of that in Korea since I didn’t learn much Korean! I also really enjoy going to the gym, and gyms are much cheaper in the US. 

(See below – a Friendsgiving party with some friends we hadn’t seen in a long time!) 


family photo in a living room

Missing the Kids

One challenging part about life after Korea was the education culture in America, in Korea it’s very rigorous from an early age. Going from teaching Kindergarten in Korea to teaching Pre-School in America was a hard transition for me. Education culture for kids below 5 years old is much more laid back in America and focused on play and social skills. This was so different than what I experienced in Korea. I had a hard time adjusting at first but now I believe there is a happy medium between the two educational cultures. Kids should be able to play and have fun, but structure and high expectations aren’t a bad thing! 

Speaking of education, some of my old students from Korea wrote me really wonderful letters which I’m incredibly thankful for. It’s nice to hear from them and know that they are doing well, and I’m definitely excited to write back!  

(See below – an adorable letter from one of my past students.)

student letter to her English teacher from Korean student

Life After Korea

Moving abroad has changed my perspective on a lot of things. I now have a tremendous amount of respect for immigrants and refugees because it isn’t easy to move to another country, especially when you can’t speak the language or have no family to help you. I’m passionate about helping those that are less fortunate, and can understand a small part of the struggle that immigrants face. 

Moving abroad opened up many opportunities for me. I was able to save money, pay off all of my debt, and travel to four different countries! I am so thankful for all the amazing memories I have. Transitioning to life after Korea wasn’t easy, but now that I’m settled I’m very happy and love that I have so many stories to share with friends and family. I also can’t wait until I can see my friends from South Korea again! 

3 backpackers enjoying the view on top of a hill overlooking Busan beach highlighting life in korea
couple posing in front of a fountain in Korea


Monica Russo graduated from Texas A&M University with a Bachelors in Psychology and is from St. Louis, Missouri. After spending a couple years in social work she decided to move abroad to learn more about other cultures and to challenge herself to live outside her comfort zone. Monica lived in Busan, South Korea for a year and a half and loved her time there.  She loves new experiences, hiking, exploring other cities and helping others any way that she can. Her philosophy is work hard, play hard!