Category: Relocation

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.

Visa Application Process in the U.K

From Manchester to Guri

Hello everyone! My name is Sam, and I’m moving to Korea in August 2023 to teach English at the CREVERSE Guri Dasan April Institute. There are so many things I’m looking forward to! I can’t wait to explore Gyeongbok Palace in Seoul, and taking yacht cruise underneath the Gwanganri bridge in Busan at night. All whilst enjoying the extremely rewarding job of teaching English! Here are a couple of pics that are getting me more excited. But let me get back to the topic at hand! To teach in Korea, you need an E-2 teaching visa, and here are the step by step directions on the visa application process in the UK, after you receive your visa code.

Gyeongbokgung, also known as Gyeongbokgung Palace or Gyeongbok Palace, was the main royal palace of the Joseon dynasty. Built in 1395.

Luxury yacht tours have become popular in Busan over the last few years, where you can view waterfront landmarks such as Gwangan Bridge and Marine City. 

A Quick Disclaimer

Everything I explain in this blog is a step-by-step guide on how I got through the visa application process in the U.K. I am only suggesting that you take a similar approach and hope to give you a clearer understanding through key websites, phone numbers, emails etc. that I used to tackle this process.

Also, everything I explain in this post is for people who are waiting for or have received their VISA code from CREVERSE.

Visa & KVAC Important Links

The first thing I did was visit Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs website which is a site you can use to find updates and guides on applying for Visas in Korea. You can use the website to find key contact information for KVAC, whom I decided to call. I wanted to ask to check what documents were needed and they directed me to the Korean Visa Application Center website.

They helped me through the website to find their guide

It’s a good idea for you to call them to make sure that you don’t need any additional documents—based on your nationality, or any other personal circumstances.

I was still confused though, as this guide didn’t include the documents needed or other important details. So, you can find this information here, and if you scroll down to the E2-1 visa you can see all of the required documents. When you go through this link, make sure to also download the forms they ask you to fill out as they will be important for your application.

Finally, you can see another link on the picture above, where it says “Please check your visa fee here.”

If you click this you can see the fees for your visa according to your nationality. So please check this link and you will know exactly what you owe when you pay for your visa.


Step-by-Step Guide Part 1

KVAC London Guide 

  • Make sure you have followed my important links section and filled out all the required documents so you’re ready for the visa process.
    KVAC also ask for an extra piece of paper with your address and contact details in Korea. I personally contacted my recruiter who then provided me with the relevant details. On this extra paper I also wrote them a note saying what I have attached inside the envelope and that I look forward to their response. It gives your application a professional touch.
  • Calculate your visa fees. If you’re British that should be 60+180+15 (255 Euros). I recommend adding the 15 Euro Courier fee so that they will send your passport and visa back to you.
    (It is in Euros because they deal with their embassy in Germany. All your documents therefore initially go to London and then to Germany.)
  • Follow the instructions to send your money to their international account. Most Banks allow for international transactions for a small fee (Natwest charged me only 15p.)
  • Then you should email them at making sure your email subject reads like this: Your full name/ E2-1 / Proof of Payment.
  • Then send this email with the following details:
  • Name of nationality
  • Visa type (E2-1)
  • Write your payment details broken down – visa service fee 60 / Visa fee 180 / Courier Fee 15.
  • Attach a receipt of your payment transaction.

Step-by-Step Guide Part 2

After you send this email, then you should send your documents to the KVAC London address that is provided in the guide.  You don’t have to wait for their confirmation but send it two to three days after your email. Make sure you send your real passport too. I recommend getting the most secure first class tracking you can get from your local post office – mine offers good compensation if my documents were to be lost, plus I could track my delivery.

  • Make sure to add your return details on the outside of the parcel, Your Name, Address and visa category.
  • After you have done all of this, wait until KVAC contact you to say your documents are all okay. They will then promptly forward them to Germany. After that you can track the process on the link they provide in their guide:
  • If you paid for their return courier service, they will then send back your printed off visa + passport. The whole process from sending your documents to London should take around 2 weeks, but this is subject to change.
  • Note that if you don’t pay the courier service, you can organise to collect your documents in London. See the guide from earlier to see how this is possible.
  • Please be sure to read the ENTIRE guide and thoroughly check every link and your documents so you are sure what you are doing.


Thank you for reading my blog on the visa application process in the U.K. with KVAC. I hope it was helpful. I wish you all the best of luck with your visa, and most importantly, I hope your experience in Korea will be as special as mine has been for me so far! 감사드립니다!!!

Sam Pearce is from Manchester, United Kingdom and graduated from Liverpool Hope University in 2019 with an undergraduate degree in History. However, since graduating he has become interested in the education industry! This has taken him to Sri Lanka, Italy and South Korea. Now he is planning to return to South Korea as a Creverse instructor in Dasan, Gyeonggi-do. Teaching English was a great decision for Sam, who not only loves benefiting children’s lives around the world positively, he can now also experience new cultures and learn about history in places that really interest him. Sam’s other interests include Karate (which he is a black belt in); playing football (he plays for a team in South Korea) and even going to the Norebang to do karaoke; amongst many other things. 

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

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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.

From Tanzania to Korea: My Experience as a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer

 My Experience as a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer

Before getting caught up in the daily grind of the working world, I decided it was the perfect time to become a Peace Corps volunteer. After graduating university with a degree in engineering, I was placed in Tanzania as a Math and Physics teacher. I loved teaching more than I ever thought I would. I felt such a strong connection with the students, and extended an extra year and a half to see my first students graduate from high school.

At the end of my service, I decided it was time to learn a new language and experience another new country. I packed up and moved to Korea. Fast forward a few years, and I found out about CREVERSE.

It was much easier being in the country and knowing the language. In addition, the recruiter and staff at the branch I worked with were very supportive with the housing and visa process. I feel like there was much less hand-holding than when I applied to the Peace Corps. That being said, it was also a much simpler process to apply for CREVERSE.

The Curriculum

I’ve been very impressed with the materials we use in the classroom, and they are continuously making improvements and updates. This is the first time I’ve used a smart textbook. The students and teacher all use electronic tablets to more personally experience classes and interact with each other and the material. It feels like a great way to escape the rote learning that seems to pervade so many facets of education. There is a set curriculum for each module, so the teacher’s task is made easy. Steps and guidelines are all set out.

The Students

Obviously, the best part of teaching is the students. CREVERSE is no exception. Of course, just like any job or position anywhere, there will be not-so-good days where things don’t go the way you hoped or expected. But coming to work every day and seeing the smiles and hearing the greetings of students who are genuinely happy to see you is one of the best feelings in the world.

The Life

If you’ve discovered a love for teaching as a Peace Corps volunteer and are looking for a change of pace in a new country, Korea is an amazing place. There are countless opportunities to get out and explore this beautiful and historic country. CREVERSE’s teaching hours make it easy to get out before or after work. Try taking Korean lessons, join a dance class, or adventure on your own. Weekends are great for bus trips around the country or hiking trips up the many mountains. Many of the mountains are right in the middle of cities. Or, spend some down time picnicking by the Han River. The possibilities are endless!

Nick Allen Taylor is an RPCV (Returned Peace Corps Volunteer) who spent 3.5 years in Tanzania. He has a BS in
Mechanical Engineering and a BA in International Relations from Oregon State University. He has lived in Korea for over 7 years, 3 of which he’s spent as an English Instructor at CREVERSE.   

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.

Teaching as a Couple in Korea

Setting the Stage

About 6 months after my boyfriend Colin and I started dating I asked him if he’d be interested in teaching abroad. I’d always wanted to live abroad and I knew he wanted to travel as well – I was so excited when he said he was open to the idea of teaching in Korea! Almost a year later we moved to Busan. I’m so thankful to Aclipse for making this all possible and finding a school where we could both teach and work the same hours. Moving overseas as a couple has a lot of perks, and I have been so thankful for this experience! Having lived in Busan for over a year, I’ve met lots of single people, people who started new relationships while abroad, and other couples who moved abroad together. Regardless of your relationship status, living abroad is an unforgettable experience. I’m especially grateful I was able to share these memories with Colin. Let me show you what it’s like getting recruited and teaching as a couple in Korea!

(Below – a picture of us when we visited the colorful Gamcheon Culture Village in Busan)


Partner In Crime

Life overseas has been emotional at times, and I was sad to say goodbye to friends and family knowing that I wouldn’t see them for at least a year or even longer. But having a built in support system is amazing – despite everything else changing it was nice to have someone from back home who was going through the exact same experiences. We navigated the language barrier, culture shock, trying new foods, and starting new jobs together. Neither of us had been teachers before and it’s been really nice working together and sharing ideas for our classes! 

(Below, us visiting Beomeosa Temple with some coworkers/friends and some cute cookies we got at school!)

Couple posing in front of a mountain in Korea

Making Connections

Aside from the cultural differences and adjusting to working a new job, we also had to furnish an apartment. Having two people to share the cost of bills, groceries, and household necessities has allowed us to save more money than we would have if we came here alone! Also our apartment is bigger than a single person’s apartment, which has made it easy for us to host holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving – holidays away from family are difficult but much better when you can celebrate friends! (see below – some of our friends joined us to celebrate American Thanksgiving!)


Group of friends and a couple posting at a get together in Korea

Yin and Yang

Another great thing about moving abroad with Colin is that we both have different strengths. He’s amazing at navigating public transit (I have no sense of direction and had barely used public transit before living abroad). He’s also a great cook and has found lots of yummy restaurants for us to try in Busan. I’m good at budgeting, organizing, and planning. Together we’ve made a great team! We’ve been able to visit some amazing places together while teaching in Korea! 

(Below – we love hiking together, there’s lots of great places to hike in Busan and we live at the base of Jangsan Mountain.)


a couple looking off into the view on top of a mountain trail in korea
Couple posing with a view off a cliff in the background in Korea


Support System

Lastly, life as an expat can be lonely at first. It’s easy to meet foreigners in Korea – they stick out in a crowd! But for the first few weeks after we arrived I was jet lagged and spending most of my time adjusting to a new job and unpacking. From my experience, it seems like the most stressful time is the first month after you move abroad. Many of my friends agree with this as well – it can feel a little overwhelming moving your whole life abroad and starting a new job at the same time, all while feeling homesick. Luckily for me, Colin was always there for me and I never felt lonely!


Couple posing in front of a lit heart in Korea


Just Do It!

I would highly encourage anyone who has the chance to move abroad to do it! You’ll learn so much about yourself and other cultures, and have more appreciation for simple things lots of us take for granted. If you are lucky enough to be teaching as a couple in Korea, you’ll be even more lucky – I know I am! 


Couple posing in front of a neon sign with a hand making the heart gesture 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. Moving abroad hasn’t always been easy, but it has always been worth it and Monica loves living in Busan, South Korea. She loves new experiences, hiking, exploring other cities and helping others any way that she can. Her philosophy with her students is work hard, play hard! 

Discovering My Heritage

The Question

“Where are you from?” the nail salon owner asks. She tilts her head when I say, “America.” “Oh, but you look Korean,” she says confused. “I am,” I try to clarify. “I’m here teaching English.” It’s a conversation I’ve had a few times since I arrived in Korea five months ago, armed with little more than a few Korean words and phrases and scared absolutely stiff. I was born in Busan but adopted to the United States by an American family when I was a baby. I’ve had very little experience with Korean culture, and I was very anxious about it. Little did I know, just how much I would be discovering my heritage om this journey as an English teacher. 

Getting Adjusted

In fact, for the first week before teaching training, I said almost nothing to anyone. Looking into so many faces that looked like my own, I was overcome with an odd sense of guilt and nerves. Feeling disappointed in myself for not speaking the language, I was panicked inside that I didn’t learn more about my culture before coming here. Thankfully, a lot of those worries gradually dissipated over time. One step at a time, I achieved some small goals. Ordering at a restaurant — pointing at the menu and all — purchasing something by myself (without the helpful presence of my non-Asian husband), and practicing the little Korean I do know in daily life. 

Taking the Plunge

It’s scary to come to a new country certainly — I almost talked myself out of it so many times. But every day, I’m so grateful I took the plunge. For the first time, I fully pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I’ve made new friends, some of whom I feel like I could have for the rest of my life. I’ve traveled. I’ve confronted my social anxiety. I’m learning little bits about where I come from and practicing a language that was actually the first sound I heard after birth. Discovering my heritage has been extraordinary.


College To Korea

I first decided to teach English in Korea during my senior year of college, many years ago. It was just a pipe dream then. When my mom got sick, I put things off indefinitely. It was a good decision, since I was home when she eventually passed away. Life got in the way then, and I struggled to put that dream to rest. I tried to shake it off — and failed. It remained, a cloying reminder of things I lost and dreams unrealized.

One day, I decided I’d had enough. It was time to make it happen. And I did. I talked to some friends, one of whom had a friend who’d worked for Chungdahm, and she put me in touch with Aclipse. She gave me the real talk of the things that were great and the things that could be difficult. Pay was good, but they were strict, she explained. The curriculum was set, and there was CCTV at all times in the classroom. It protects you, she said. But it can also make you feel nervous. Thankfully, I’ve never had an issue with it, and I mostly forget about it during class.


Finding the Groove

All in all, I’m really lucky that I found such a good home with my school. I was placed in Daejeon, roughly the middle of the country, in a kindergarten program called i-Garten. Every day, I come to school smiling. Partially for the kids and partially because I’m proud of myself for taking the leap. I get to make a difference in the kids’ lives every day and get to know a part of myself I never got to. At 30, I’m having the time of my life, meeting new people, traveling the world, and learning more about myself. Everyone’s experience is different, but I wouldn’t trade mine for the world.


Three women overlooking a traditional Korean village

Rebekah Alcalde: Born in Busan, South Korea, Rebekah was adopted to the United States when she was five months old. She was an avid reader and writer, pursuing a degree in English from the Catholic University of America. Originally interested in teaching secondary education English literature, she served as a private tutor and substitute teacher before switching careers. She served as an assistant editor for a local newspaper and as a freelance marketing, communications and social media associate for several years before realizing her dream of teaching English abroad in South Korea. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, spending time with her husband and new friends, exploring Korea, and saying “yes” to everything in Korea she can.

Small City Living in Korea

A New Beginning

Coming to Korea was the best decision to learn about who I am and what I like. Not only has Korea allowed me to travel to a new country but it has allowed me to live a life I never knew I would have let alone enjoy. I have always had a dream to travel the world, especially experiencing the sensations of Asian countries. Korea has allowed me to start that dream by starting a new life doing something I wasn’t sure I would enjoy – but being pleasantly surprised to enjoy it thoroughly.

Couple posing in front of a mountain in Korea

Bright Lights, Big City

I arrived in Korea with my boyfriend holding my hand to brave this new adventure we sought out together. Back home in South Africa, we lived in one of the biggest cities, Johannesburg, but arriving in Seoul we felt completely overwhelmed by the tall buildings and bustling roads. Seoul was so big and bright when we arrived in the night that we weren’t quite sure where to look or what to do with ourselves at first. Don’t get me wrong, Seoul is a beautiful city now that I’ve had the chance to explore it in a less stressful setting now that I have a phone that works with Korean networks. In addition, I feel a little more comfortable hearing a language that I can pick up and understand the odd word here and there. Having a group of friends wanting to explore Seoul on the odd occasion when the chance permits has also helped to feel a little less overwhelmed too. But after one of these weekends of enjoying a shopping spree, the nightlife or a simple coffee, it is always terrific to journey home to our city in the countryside, according to the locals.


Finding Your Center

Traveling from our quaint residence is one of the best things about our new life. We came to Korea searching for excitement and adventure. Having the opportunity to travel and experience Korean culture was a main contender in our efforts to move to Korea and find a perfect fit for a home. Gumi has provided us with a central position in the country where it is easy for us to travel to different areas and be able to party at festivals, let off fireworks on the beach and make and drink traditional green tea. Being in a city that doesn’t have the wide range of activities that other cities do has provided us with enough reason for us to travel as often as time permits. It is a wonder that we can spend between two and four hours to reach the east coast – and the same goes for the west coast. We have had the opportunity to see and experience far more than was planned for our initial pleasure while still being able to enjoy some of the commonalities we became accustomed to back home.


Bigger Ain’t Always Better

We live in a small suburb of Gumi that requires us to travel in order to engage in various activities downtown. Catching a taxi is only a 15-minute drive to wherever it is that we desire to go. This is one of the wonders of living in a small city. Not only is the driving time short lived but the ease of catching up with friends is well lived. Gumi may not be able to brag the various assortment of restaurants that larger cities can, but the restaurants Gumi has on offer satisfies the need to fulfill hunger and quench thirst. Don’t worry if you ever come to Gumi you will definitely be able to eat traditional Kimbap, Bulgogi and my personal favorite Korean barbeque. The arrangement of restaurants we do have to enjoy allow for time for friends and colleagues to become well acquainted and catch up on the days gone by. Making friends in Gumi is incredibly easy as we have one of the best foreigner bars in my opinion, albeit a biased one at that. Meeting people at Corona is an odd delight. Exchanging different stories of our history and background  and where in Gumi we are based allows us to make connections that are easy to keep intact. Living in a smaller city has allowed us to meet a good majority of the other foreigners also situated in Gumi. It is incredibly interesting to be able to chat with a teacher who teaches your students in their public school classroom compared to that of your academy classroom.


Michelle Cloete: Born and raised in Johannessburg, South Africa. Michelle followed her love of history from high school in pursuing a degree in Archaeology at the University of the Witwatersrand. Once she completed her Honors degree in Bioarchaeology, Michelle furthered her education by completing a Masters of Science in Medicine with a focus in Forensic Anthropology. While Michelle was completing her degrees she was fortunate enough to be able to work with children through outreach projects in Archaeology and through her own pursuits too. Michelle realised her enjoyment of working with children and so she pursued completing a Postgraduate Certificate of Education. Michelle ended up teaching for 6 months at a school as apart time teacher in History and Geography before pursuing a teaching career in South Korea. Michelle has tried to immerse herself in all that Gumi, her now residence, has to offer by engaging with other foreigners and locals, trying out new experiences and enjoying all that South Korea has to offer.

Arriving in Korea: What to Expect

Big Move

Moving to Korea can be really intimidating. There are plenty of questions racing through your head, such as “Where am I going to live? How am I going to get to school? Will people understand me? Will my students like me?” We all worry about things we cannot control, so to lessen the nerves, at Chungdahm Learning you will receive a lot of guidance and help that will make your life easier and more comfortable. 



In my experience, CDL offered a lot of support once arriving in Korea. The company is organized and knows exactly where each candidate will be placed. There is never a point when you cannot ask someone for advice or information about your new city and job. The HR department is really helpful and if they are not sure about a specific question you are asking, they will go out of their way to try and accommodate a response or a solution. Of course, not all situations are ideal, but as long as you accept this and embrace the environment, you will be more than surprised how helpful and caring employees at the company are. 


The minute you arrive in Korea, CDL takes care of you. Pre-flight documentations and travel arrangements will be sent to each applicant, explaining in detail exactly how to get from Incheon Airport to Gangnam, Seoul. Once arriving in Gangnam, you will be met by a driver who will escort you to the Coatel Hotel. At the Coatel you will check-in to a room, where you will stay for the duration of the week. Most candidates will have one or two roommates, which allows for the opportunity to make friends with your fellow-trainees.  


Chungdahm provides adequate training for all of its employees, which is above and beyond what other academies offer in Korea. You will be assigned an experienced trainer who will help you throughout training week. They are on-call for any questions you may have, and most candidates can email any questions about the training material and homework to their trainer daily.


You’re Not Alone

Since you are rooming with other candidates, you can also work together to complete the training homework and mock teach to one another at training centre or in your hotel room. 

Training centre is open late so candidates can have the opportunity to make use of the facilities in preparation of the mock teaching. Here you can utilize the smart screens and mock teach in a live environment. 


Team Manager

During training week, you will be contacted by the Team Manager of the location you will work at. During your first week of teaching you will receive assistance from your TM. They will be your direct line of communication for classroom and personal issues. Your TM will also help with communication between the Korean staff and any housing/banking issues you may be experiencing.  


The branch will host an Orientation workshop where you will get to meet the other employees. There might also be a Hweshik – a company dinner – that you should attend. Here you will be welcomed to the branch and get to know the Korean staff, faculty and management. 

Korean Staff

A Korean staff will be assigned the responsibility of housing and  ARC card registration. They will meet you during training week to set up available time slots for housing. You will join them and other candidates who are moving to your branch to see all the possible options.  


The assigned Korean staff will also arrange your ARC card appointment and make sure that all your documents are ready for your registration with the Office of Immigration. They will give you a list of things you need, so make sure to have your passport available during the first week of working at your academy. 

Also, they will help with any communication issues you are having with your landlord or if you do not know how to set up a bank account and phone account. 

Faculty Human Resources

Finally, CDL’s FHR department is readily availble for any enquiries you have about work and life in Korea. You can email anytime during your contract and they will be happy to assist in resolving any issues you are having. 

There is also Chungdahm TM that deals with classroom and material issues. They are also available anytime for enquiries, 


Tijana Huysamen is 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!