Category: Teaching

An Inside Look Into Initial Training

The Big Move

Initial training is often the part every English instructor dreads the most. Looking back, this was probably my most stressful experience being here in Korea. Not because of the workload, but because of the nerves that came with moving to a foreign country. I was worried about taking the wrong bus/subway, getting lost, and oversleeping because of jet lag. Thankfully, everything worked out just fine for me & I was able to create some great friendships from this week alone.

Main conference room at CDI training center in Korea

Asking For Help!

My training center was located in Dongjak-Gu, which was about a 30-minute commute from my airbnb. My first day of training I managed to hop on three wrong buses. I think I could’ve prevented this, but I am so stubborn when it comes to asking for help. If there is anything you get from this post, it’s that you should ask for help if you are unsure about anything. I eventually made my way to the training center where I met other fellow trainees and our instructor.



Training was from 10 am to 5 pm. From 10am-12pm, we were given lessons on how to teach the course materials. The lessons consisted of reading comprehension, listening, and student management. All three subjects play a vital role in my current lessons, so shout out to Charles Hong for being a great patient instructor.

Golden Hour

Lunch was from 12pm-1pm. These breaks allowed us trainees to bond, share information, encourage one another, and talk about our new experiences here in South Korea. It was comforting to know that everyone was just as nervous, scared, and excited as me. We instantly clicked with one another and exchanged socials. We were from all different backgrounds, but the fact that we shared the same dreams and goals in that moment made the moment all the more special.

Mock Training

From 1pm-5pm, trainees utilized this time to practice mocks. Mocks are basically practice runs. They allow us to pretend that we are teaching a classroom full of students. We ran through the lessons just as we were taught and gave each other feedback on how we performed. In all honesty, it was a bit intimidating to mock in front of one another. But, with each run it became easier. We would perform our mocks the following day in front of our instructor Charles. He graded our level of confidence, our ability to comprehend instructions, our ability to keep conversations flowing, our student management skills, etc.. Most of us improved day by day.

Ready to Rock and Roll!

The fifth day was our final mock day. This is where we performed our mocks one last time and were given the green or red flag to proceed with our position at Creverse. Everyone in my group, including myself, passed. In a nutshell, training week will be a very overwhelming week. But, if I did it, so can you. Best of luck!

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.

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.   

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.

Why I Like Working at i-Garten

“Imagination is Creativity” 

I’ve been working for Chungdahm Learning schools for nearly 5 years now. While I have a special place in my heart for the April Institute program, I made the switch to the i-Garten program to take on a new endeavor. And I’m happy to say I am so happy with my decision!. Here are the main things I rave about working at i-Garten in the Daechi Branch.

The Work Hours

While this varies by campus, my work hours are from 9am to 6pm. I have an hour break during the day. These hours sound pretty normal  – they are. However, for the hagwon system, schools that cater to elementary students and older tend to have hours that run from 12pm-8pm or 2pm-10pm. While those hours are great for avoiding traffic and sleeping in, I really enjoy getting off from work and seeing it’s still daytime. In the mornings, I just make sure to drink coffee and gain energy for my students. It wakes me up and I’m good to go.


kindergarten Korean students writing on a smart board at the i-garten institute

Strong Phonics Class Curriculum

A real plus of working at i-Garten is that the curriculum is well developed. The books, lessons, and the  flow within the books make perfect sense. There is clear organization and an easy to follow methodology of how to complete the delivery of the material. The phonic books have ample pages to practice and reinforce the phonics rule and vocabulary terms for the day. The sight words needed to understand the story are incorporated in the books. All the stories have engaging and charming videos of the story for students to experience listening, reading and watching the before reading together as a class. The students especially enjoy the story videos! I often hear students asking/demanding “One more time?!” after I introduce a new story video. 

There are also speaking books that correlate to each lesson’s theme. The speaking books don’t follow the phonics exactly, but they share the same characters characters from the reader books to make a connection. The students follow along in their books, and mark the answers that get covered as a class. They take turns participating and interacting with the smartboard. The technology is great, and the kids love it!

Singing & Dancing

My students are 7 years old ( in Korean age). Since they’re so young, they have very short attention spans, and learn best through entertainment. There are lots of songs! Some songs even have dance routines to follow, and require some choreography. I actually really enjoy making the choreography to the i-Spring phonics songs with my students. We clap, we jump, and we flap our arms like wings to portray vocabulary terms like fly, hen, and bird. My students love it! I hear their adorable voices singing or humming the songs learned in class during break time and recess. 


nine Korean kindergarten students holding fake instruments and posing on a small stage in front of a library at i-garten institute

Snacks & Lunch

A perk of working at i-Garten is that they the school provides two snacks and lunch. Guess who else gets 2 snacks and lunch? Having snacks and lunch provided at a fixed time is pretty nice actually-  it’s a good way to save some cash! You just have to like Korean food – yum. I have no qualms with that at all. That means rice, kimchi, a soup of the day, protein meat, and various side dishes. I was often lazy to meal prep when working at my prior campus, so this setup is a real life saver. Korean food is so healthy!


6 example Korean dishes served at lunch time for i-garten students and teachers

Birthday Events & Field Trips

We have monthly birthday events to celebrate students. The library area gets decorated with balloons, banners and there is a cake or birthday cupcake plate laid out. All the students come out to sing happy birthday to their classmates, and take class pictures with the birthday boys and girls. The school even provides a present for each birthday student. Birthday students also receive handmade cards made by teachers, and signed by all their classmates. Everyone has a blast!


Korean kindergarten students posting for a picture for a birthday party at i-garten institute
Korean kindergarten birthday cake for a student at i-garten institute

There are many months when field trips are scheduled, and students come dressed in their i-Garten shirts and hats. The school provided these to students as Children’s Day gifts. As teachers we get the full-experience of wearing matching outfits with our students, riding on a school bus with them and enjoying experiencing new places and activities. All very picture worthy moments!


a English teacher and a group of Korean kindergarten students posing outside in front of a bed of red flowers

The Gifts of Children

As fun as working at i-Garten sounds, I always feel that I should stress that being a teacher (especially a Kindergarten teacher ) takes a lot of energy, silliness, patience, understanding, and real heart. Children are a gift, and deserve amazing teachers. Being a great teacher is not always easy, but it is as rewarding as it is challenging. With all the resources and support, I really can’t imagine being able to focus on the kids in another environment and so super happy to be teaching at i-Garten!


an English teacher and group of Korean kindergarten students posing outside with trees in the background in front of i-garten institute


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.

Teaching in South Korea vs Teaching Back Home: What’s the Difference?

Pros and Cons

In comparing one job to another, there is a lot to consider. Obviously, there are pros and cons and it can be difficult to sift through them objectively. There’s also a lot of personal subjectivity. I’ve loved every teaching job I’ve had, but I hope to shed some light on some the cons you can eliminate by teaching in Korea, specifically with Chungdahm Learning and the Aclipse program. I’ve boiled this down to a set of key points: the students, the environment, salary/livability, and Requirements/Expectations of the Job. 

girl sitting on temple steps in Korea

The Students

In my experience, Korean students feel a deep desire to learn and are always putting forth their very best efforts. Of course, there is the occasional student that wants to try your patience more than others! But the difference is that is is not the norm, but the exception. I have never seen such a large number of children so well behaved and dedicated in all my life. Rarely, if ever, do I need to repeat myself more than once. Students work hard and go above and beyond in every task given to them, and at every age. This blows me away. 

On the other hand, American students are often not as motivated or passionate about learning. Motivating them is often more than half the battle. Again, this is not every situation. That would be a gross overgeneralization and would not be fair or accurate. However, a majority of students I’ve personally worked with in the States are not driven in the same way, which I attribute to the difference in parenting styles and culture. We tend to ensure more gradual development in America, whereas Korean students are trying to be the best from day 1.

colorful lanterns in korea during buggha's birthday

The Environment

An obvious appeal of teaching in Korea is that you are in Korea. It is such a beautiful country with so much to offer in regards to food, sights, and culture. There seems to be no end to all of the old temples, cafes, and amazing art to be found around the corner of every street! On top of all of these incentives, my commute to work is no more than a 5 minute walk. The people in the school are kind with great dispositions and students are very respectful as well. 

ALL teaching materials ARE PROVIDED FOR YOU, by the way. I just felt the need to say that, and to say it loudly. The United States is a beautiful place to live, of course, with a a lot of creature comforts. However, it is very large and everything is miles apart. Everything is extremely expensive to even get to. I’ve always wanted to see new places and try new things, but that just wasn’t on the table for me. 

a bridge over a stream in korea

The Pay

While I won’t go into too much detail of my salary, of course, I can say it is enough to cover my expenses and more. This is especially true since rent, utilities and other bills are very cheap and housing is often provided by the school. I’ve been paying off school loans and saving up money while being able to take trips around South Korea on the weekends. Teacher salaries are pretty low in the States, which is makes it difficult with the high cost of living. Between rent, utilities, phone bills, car insurance, health insurance, and groceries, gas,  there just isn’t enough left over to really do much of anything. Eating out, traveling, or saving just isn’t a reality on a teacher salary in America. 


The Requirements

Lastly, the teaching requirements are both very similar and so very different at the same time. Lesson planning for Chungdahm Learning consists of looking over the provided materials and making sure you are familiar with the topics to be discussed for the day. I often plan games, classroom procedures, behavioral incentives, and extra activities as well. This doesn’t take more than an hour or two a day the way that the curriculum is set up. 

Grading is mostly done automatically for you, except for the occasional writing or speaking assignment. A portion of the grading may even be shared with the Korean staff depending on your branch. You don’t get a ton of time off, but the time that you do have is actually off! Its not being used to grade or lesson plan or play catch up or take courses for extra certifications. 

In America, lesson planning used to take up most of my days, weekends, and nights. Of course after a while you get the hang of it, but I’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist. On top of this, the grading seemed endless. Considering how large each class is, and the amount of feedback, grading, and filing required seemed endless. 

close up point of view of ginko leaves on a sidewalk

Love for Teaching

At the end of the day, I love to teach in any capacity that I can. Every job will have its ups and its downs. That being said teaching in Korea at Chungdahm Learning has been the best teaching experience I’ve had so far. It is much more freeing, while providing you opportunities for growth at the same time. I am able to earn a living AND enjoy my life. I am surrounded by students that love learning and by people that are helpful, kind and always strive for excellence. As much as I loved my previous positions, it’s going to be tempting to never leave Korea at all. 

Alecia Alford is a secondary English education major with a taste for traveling, languages and ‘eating all the foods.’ She graduated from Northwestern State University and spent some time abroad in South America where she learned Spanish and discovered her true love: seeing and tasting all that the world has to offer. Alecia has dreamt of teaching all her life, but was surprised at how inexplicably inhospitable the living conditions were for a teacher in the states. Things weren’t necessarily impossible, but they certainly were not exactly easy, nor were they travel friendly back home. Looking into ways to teach abroad, she was pleasantly surprised at the number of options and opportunities out there that combined her two great passions. She now teaches with Chungdahm Learning in Pohang, South Korea and intends to continue the pursuit of traveling and teaching for as long as she can. 

Classroom Management Tips

Not Your Average Kindergarten

When I started teaching over a year ago, I didn’t know very much about the work and educational culture in Korea. When I first started at iGarten, I was really surprised by the amount of workbooks and worksheets kindergarten students had to complete every month. In my experience, Kindergarten in Korea is very different than kindergarten in America. I remember having naptime, lots of toys and games in the classroom, and many days where we had extra recess time. In Korea, there are high expectations from a very young age. The school I teach at has no naps (we teach kids international age 3-8), no toys, and has a very structured schedule There are pros and cons to any educational culture, but I’ve been really impressed with how quickly my students learn and how motivated they are to do well! That being said, there are some days when students are tired, don’t feel well, or just have a hard time focusing. Here are some classroom management tips for working at a private Kindergarten in Korea!

Green, Yellow, Red

This is a really simple system which is easy to make and use – kids understand it even if they don’t know much English. If a student isn’t listening well or isn’t following directions, I first give them a warning and a chance to stop what they are doing. If this doesn’t work I’ll change them from green to yellow (I use velcro stickers on the back of the faces). If the behavior persists, I’ll change them from yellow to red, and give a final warning. When they are on yellow or red, I encourage them to do well for the rest of the class so I can change them back to green. This method works well especially in the first few months I taught my class. Now students know expectations, and it’s very rare for a student to change from green! 

(Pictured below – you can see examples of my green smiley faces and brag tags!)

Brag Tags

My kids really love these! On one wall in my classroom I have a list of my students names with a Velcro sticker. I have brag tags for several different things – you can find lots of printables online! For my class I use 5 different brag tags: Best Handwriting, Super Speller, Super Reader, Kind to Others, and I’m Responsible. If theres a lesson where the kids are struggling to focus or listen I pull out the brag tags and draw attention to the students that are doing well. This motivates the whole class because everyone wants something positive next to their name! This has especially helped my kids improve their handwriting and listening skills! 

Reward Boards & Sticker Charts

I know many teachers use sticker charts, and I used to but I found it to be time consuming handing out stickers to each individual kid, and usually it only motivated students that were already doing well. Sticker charts work well with some students but I prefer to use a reward board that represents the whole class – instead of each individual child. That way the kids help motivate each other and are accountable for each other. The kids in my class all have expressed how much they love ice cream, so I created a reward board with the end goal of an ice cream party! My kids have to earn 50 rainbow stars for us to have an ice cream party. There isn’t a limit on how many stars they can earn in a day, but the stars are given sparingly – only when they are on their best behavior. Stars are given when they all participate, listen well, and work well together! My kids constantly talk about how many stars we have and how many we need. It’s a great visual reminder for them that hard work pays off and something for them to look forward to! 

(Pictured below – the chart is quite big so that it is easy for the kids to see and be reminded of.)

Classroom Jobs

Another way I motivate my kids is by assigning classroom “jobs” each day. Jobs such as line up leader and paper passer (for worksheets) are coveted positions in my class. Sometimes if we play a game, the winner will get to pick their job for the next day. Sometimes, if we have a tricky vocab word (one time it was protruding – a pretty difficult word for 6 year olds!) whoever can read it/sound it out correctly gets to pick their job. Other times, I’ll assign the jobs based on who was ready for class first thing in the morning. I make sure each kid gets to participate every week and my kids enjoy any added responsibility that sets them apart from their classmates. 

(See below – a couple of examples of classroom jobs.) 



Countdown From Ten

The last thing I use, which may not work with every class, is writing the numbers 1-10 on the board. If my kids won’t calm down, or are wasting classtime, I’ll slowly start to erase numbers on the board. This works well to get their attention and the kids will usually say things like, “Oh no! Now we only have eight numbers!” To tell their friends to pay attention. There’s no reward if no numbers are erased and no consequence if all the numbers are erased… but for some reason my kids really respond to this method and it’s a point of pride for them – we’ve never had a day where all ten numbers were erased!

I hope these classroom management methods work for you and your students! It’s so important to have reward systems in place other than instant gratification like candy. From teaching, I’ve learned that kids thrive in structured environments where they know what to expect. It’s always good to have things handy to motivate your students and show them you appreciate their hard work! I hope these classroom management tips have been helpful!


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! 

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! 

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.

Why I Recommended Aclipse to My Friend

Crazy Idea

I lived and taught in Seoul, South Korea for a year from August 2016-September 2017 and it is definitely the best decision I’ve ever made. My first thought when I first had the crazy idea to move abroad was to, of course, talk to friends and family for advice! In these conversations, I actually learned that a friend of a friend had lived in Korea and loved it so much that he stayed for 3 years. Obviously, my next move was to talk to this person. He had the same goals as me: teach, travel and explore! He had enjoyed his time in Seoul and found it to be a very fun, interesting and safe place to live. Little did I know this is exactly why I would be recommending Aclipse to MY friend!

English language teachers posing in front at their school with Christmas hats

The Reference

He let me know that he had worked with Colette at Aclipse and how easy she made the whole process. In my first conversation with Colette, she told me about her experience living and working in Japan and how that led to her career path in recruiting for English teachers. She made it a very easy, step by step process and it never felt overwhelming. I interviewed with her, created my “intro” video, got steps on how to apply for my visa and everything else I could possibly need. Within weeks, I was placed at ChungDahm April in Jamsil, Seoul which was exactly what I wanted since I wanted to teach younger kids.


A group or Chungdahm learning English students posing at their school
A foreign English language teacher posing with selfie stick with her students in a Chungdahm Learning classroom in Korea


All in all, it was a great experience and I have Aclipse and CDI to thank! I will always look back at that time on my life positively and really appreciate the opportunity that I was given. I recently had a friend reach out to me because she is wanting to teach abroad and I recommended Aclipse and CDI for her to teach through. It not only allowed me to fund my travels (which included Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand), but I really enjoyed my job and the students that I taught.


Two foreign English language teachers posing at a baseball game in Korea
Two English language teachers in a canoe on a river in Korea
Foreign English language teacher posing with a Korean staff member at a Chungdahm Learning institute in Korea
Two native English language teachers posing on a mountain in Korea
A few native English language teachers posing in Halloween costumes at a Chungdahm Learning location in Korea


Emily is from Chicago, IL and attended the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana for her undergrad degree. After finishing college, she spent 5 years working in student advising for a university and while she enjoyed and felt fulfilled in this role, she craved an opportunity to live, teach and travel abroad. She had never been to Asia, and after much research decided that the lifestyle and culture in South Korea would be the best fit. Coming from Chicago, she knew she’d want the big city feel of Seoul and taught at ChungDahm Learning’s April Jamsil branch located in Jamsil, Seoul.

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 [email protected] 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, [email protected] 


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 tijanahuysamen1[email protected] to request more information on teaching in Korea!