Category: Travel

Why I Loved Teaching English In Korea

Applying To Teach On a Whim

My best friend in college is from Seoul, so I decided to visit her the summer before my senior year of College. I was only there for four days, and had no expectations, except to go to a Hello Kitty cafe and to eat a lot of beef. I had close to zero context for Korea, so what I experienced was a sort of reverse Paris Syndrome. Everything took me by surprise, and just felt nice. The crisp cold, the subway jingles, the pace, and the view of a mountain anywhere you looked. 


4 female English teachers posing for a picture in Seoul Korea

When it was time to look for jobs, I saw a posting on the university job board and applied to teach in Korea on a whim. The idea of finding a cushy corporate job in a big city in the states didn’t sound appealing. Moving abroad and starting over felt ideal. So without giving it much thought, I just did it. I moved in August and so many little things made sense. Having my own apartment with a view of the skyline, walking alone at midnight without worrying about safety, trying foods that not even LA Korean food could live up to. It’s so culturally, historically, aesthetically rich, and there’s such an eye to craft and care that you don’t see in the states. 


Moving To Korea

My homesickness dissipated very quickly. Just within training week, I met other teachers who became my best friends. It was surprisingly a lot easier to make friends than I anticipated. I was part of a lot of Facebook groups, but more often I was able to meet people just by being out and about at cafes or at clubs. I also met more and more teachers from other branches, which helped, as we were able to share anecdotes of the hilarious, sweet, and ridiculous things our students would say and do. I’ve maintained these friendships to this day. One just had a baby, another I just had dinner with in Seoul, and one who I video call every month, often to just reminisce about our years together teaching English in Korea. 


English teachers acting silly at a restaurant in Korea

My First Year

Within that first year, I traveled to Mongolia and the Philippines, got lasik eye surgery, tried live octopus, and was tour guide to my family and multiple friends from home. I quickly realized that it was very easy to save money, even with shopping, traveling, and eating out a bunch. Because of severance pay and receiving my pension contributions, I was able to save about 18,000 USD within the year, which let me travel abroad for two years after that. I went through so many places in Asia, Europe, and even lived in South Africa for a while. When I ran out of money, it was a no brainer, so I applied to teach in Korea again.


Round 2!

This time, I got even more from the experience. I taught with CDI, with the older students, which I loved because we were able to really engage with each other. I got asked to be a marketing assistant, which was so fun and easy, sharing details about my experience with prospective candidates. Shortly after, I also got recruited to be a trainer at the Training Center, showing the incoming teachers the ropes. Training was honestly just as fun as teaching, giving me extra income and a chance to meet even more new people. These opportunities came so seamlessly, and the jobs were so easy and enjoyable that I didn’t have to think too much about them. 


Korean middle school students acting silly in their English class at CDI.

Life After Korea

After that year, I felt a little bit antsy to travel elsewhere, so I ended up moving back to South Africa for a while. I had saved a lot that I didn’t have to worry about working, and delved into learning how to tattoo, and pursuing other creative interests. I wouldn’t have been able to do that without all the savings I had from teaching. I’ve since moved to New York, but I’m always fantasizing about what would’ve happened if I stayed. As silly as it sounds, I feel like making that decision to move to Korea really remedied any chances of me having a mid-life crisis. I spent my 20s doing exactly what I wanted, with a low-stress, fulfilling job, safe home environment, and ample time for hobbies. I experienced so many things that I wouldn’t have imagined I’d do throughout a lifetime. I bonded with my students, and still email with them to this day. I visited so many countries, met some of my best friends, and basically let my curiosity lead me wherever. Teaching in Korea allowed me to explore all my desires, and I have no regrets about how I’ve spent my time up to this point. 


When Aclipse reached out to me last fall about becoming a recruiter, it was an even easier decision. It feels like such a full circle moment, being on the opposite end of the process that I started all those years ago. Whenever candidates ask me for my honest opinion, I say just go. You really never know what is out there for you, and it will probably exceed what you can even imagine. 


Nico Salvador is from Los Angeles, California and graduated from Brown University with a degree in English. She planned to stay in Korea for one year after graduation, but ended up teaching on and off for five years. After travelling the world, Nico now lives in New York and works as a Recruiter for Aclipse while pursuing other new ventures. She has held several key roles at Creverse throughout her time teaching in Korea, and we can’t wait to see where her journey takes her next! 

Staying At a Buddhist Temple In Korea

Stepping Into Another World

When I first walked up the steep incline from the bus station to the entrance of Guinsa Temple, I felt a little like I was stepping into another world. A quieter, more tranquil one. Nestled between the mountains, Guinsa Temple’s beauty is both unexpected and awe-inspiring. I knew immediately my weekend at the temple would be unforgettable.

This is one of the many reasons why I love living in South Korea. While I live and work in Seoul, the nation’s capital, it’s easy for me to hop on a bus or train on the weekends and explore different parts of the country. Buddhist temples in South Korea offer temple stays, a unique experience where you can spend the night at a temple and live like a monk. If you choose to move to South Korea, this is an absolute bucket list item. I’m already planning my next temple stay!


Roofline of a Buddhist temple in Korea

Food For Thought

The first thing I did upon arrival was change into the clothes the temple provided for me, a simple set of pants and a vest that I wore over my own shirt. Next, I went over to the cafeteria for lunch before the experience officially began. Guinsa has a public cafeteria, where they loaded me up with delicious vegetarian food. Rice, soup, green beans, tofu, cantaloupe, and, of course, kimchi were just a few of the things I ate while there.


A traditional Buddhist meal at a temple in Korea

Next, I went over to the meeting hall to make mala beads with the rest of the temple stay participants (about 15 people from all over the world). Afterwards, we went to have afternoon tea with a monk. This by far was one of the most rewarding aspects of the entire experience for me. Guinsa Temple actually has more female monks than male monks, and we got the chance to speak with a female one. Although she spoke Korean and I only know English, our guide for the temple stay was a wonderful interpreter, so I never felt like I was missing out!


Buddhist beads that were made by a visitor on a temple stay in Korea

Witnessing The Ceremony

After a tour of the entire temple grounds, we attended an early evening ceremony. It was fascinating to participate in a religious tradition so different from the one I was raised in. I thought I might feel uncomfortable or out of place, but I never did. While I have no plans to convert to Buddhism any time soon, having this experience at all has challenged and expanded my worldview for the better.


Finally, after dinner in the monks’ private dining hall, I went back to my room for bedtime. I shared the room with strangers, three women from around the world. I’d like to say we all went to bed early, but that’s not what happened. We spent hours, in typical sleepover fashion, oversharing everything on our minds: Travel, dreams, politics, inside jokes created just a few hours earlier.


This Is Why I Did This!

One of my favorite parts of living abroad is all the opportunities I’ve had to meet people with different experiences and nationalities from my own. These are the types of memories I know I’ll cherish for the rest of my life, whether it’s connecting with a 72-year-old Buddhist monk or laughing until midnight with a fellow American who grew up on the other side of the country from me. 


People taking a walk inside the grounds at a Buddhist temple in Kora
A view of the Guinsa Temples nestled in the mountains in Korea

Life-long Memories

Eventually, we went to sleep but not for long. My alarm went off at 3 a.m. I rolled out of my bed—a sleeping pad on the floor—and made the trek back up to the main temple. Huddled in the cold, we waited outside for the 3:30 a.m. ceremony to start. This time, it involved meandering the grounds with the monks before making our way back to the temple, where the ceremony continued. The mountains in the middle of the night are quiet, reverent things. I won’t forget the chill in the air, the sound of the monks singing, or the feeling that I was a part of something special any time soon.


Check out to check out all the different temples and locations you can visit!

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

Visiting Japan While Teaching English In Korea

Teach English And Travel!

Perhaps my favorite thing about teaching English in Korea is how easily accessible travel is. In just six  months of living in South Korea, I’ve traveled to 4 bucket list cities in the country and spent countless weekends exploring Seoul itself. From Jeju Island and its clear blue water to Jeonju and its beautiful architecture, South Korea truly has so many epic places to explore. Join me on my latest excursion visiting Japan!


Native English Language teacher taking a picture in front of cherry blossoms in Japan

Popular East Asian Destinations

When I decided to take my first international trip (yes, it’s financially and logistically possible to travel internationally while teaching English in Korea), I wasn’t sure what to expect. However, I was so delighted to realize that traveling internationally from Korea is just as easy as traveling domestically. Some popular international destinations from Korea include Japan, Vietnam, China, and Thailand.


Tokyo Travel Costs

For my first trip, I flew to Tokyo, Japan for a week.  Gimpo Airport and the flight (2 hours and 20 minutes) were a breeze. When I lived in the United States and would travel internationally, I always suffered from horrible jet lag. This time, I got to have a once-in-a-lifetime vacation while never switching time zones from Korea or dealing with the fatigue and brain fog that accompanies jet lag. I ended up staying in a hostel for my week in Tokyo, which only cost me about $160 USD in total. Plus, I got to meet people from all over the world!  Airfare from Seoul to Tokyo is extremely affordable in my opinion. Depending on when you decide to go, it can cost as little as $170 USD! 


The first time I set foot in Asia was when I moved to Korea to teach English. The most rewarding part of vacationing in Japan was getting to see a different side of Asia than what I’ve been exposed to in Korea. It gave me a deeper appreciation for Korean culture, particularly the food and the language. A few of the highlights were learning to make gyoza and visiting Sensoji Temple. It brought back memories of visiting Guinsa Temple in Korea last fall, and it inspired me to sign up for a kimchi making class here in Seoul!


Residency Pays Off!

When I returned to the airport in Korea, I got the best surprise. Because I am an ARC holder (the residency card you receive while teaching English in Korea), I got to go through the line with Korean passport holders and skip customs with the other citizens. Not only did this feel a little like having a super power because the line was faster, but it also made me feel like I belong in Korea in a way I’ve never experienced before! It was the perfect homecoming after a week of international travel visiting Japan!

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

Korea’s Cherry Blossom Season

Full Bloom

If you’re teaching in Korea this spring you won’t want to miss out on the Cherry Blossom season. Cherry Blossoms typically bloom in late March to early April, and cover the country in beautiful pink and white flowers. Keep in mind that the exact timing can vary each year due to factors like rainfall and  cold weather. This year, you can expect the season to be in full bloom by the beginning of April. I will share with you some of my favorite parts of the Cherry Blossom season!


Cherry Blossom Hotspots

Lotte Tower seen through Cherry Blossom tree branches and Seokchon Lake in South Korea

Cherry Blossom trees can be found across Korea but there are some really magical spots that you should definitely check out.

  • Seokcheon Lake: This is my all time favorite place to enjoy the Cherry Blossoms. Smack dab in the middle of the lake is Lotte World- a famous indoor/outdoor amusement park. And just a block away is Korea’s largest building – Lotte Tower! I recommend taking a walk around the lake to enjoy hundreds of trees that have transformed into cotton candy clouds! Here’s a sneak peak:
  • Gyeonghwa Station: The atmosphere here is super romantic and is the perfect place to take Instagram pictures. You can find this train station in Jinhae City which features a Cherry Blossom tunnel that looks like it’s from a fairy tale. Jinhae is a 29-minute taxi ride from Busan.
Cherry blossom trees in full bloom at Gyeonghwa Station in South Korea
  • The Garden of Morning Calm: This park is located in Gapyeong which is an easy day trip from Seoul and honestly feels like the set of a Disney movie. I recommend going there during the evening because the garden and pond are lit up with colorful lights at night.

Themed Desserts & Drinks

Another thing I love about Cherry Blossom season is all the themed desserts and drinks. Cupcakes, macarons, and ice cream are some of my favorite seasonal treats that feature the bright, delicious sakura flavors and color palette.


Cafes also offer lattes and teas that you can enjoy. I recommend the Cherry Blossom White Chocolate Latte at Starbucks that can be found at locations across Korea starting in March. I also like to order Cherry Blossom tea in local cafes which is super fragrant and delicious!


Cherry-blossomed themed tumblers from Starbucks in Korea

When you’re teaching English in Korea, each season brings something new to enjoy and the Cherry Blossom season is definitely a highlight of the year! I hope you check out some of these beautiful blossoms and enjoy them while they last.

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

Exploring Jeju Island In Winter

Exploring Jeju: The Hawaii Of Korea

Jeju Island is also known as “the Hawaii of Korea.” When I visited Jeju in February, I was worried the island would be a little boring because it was wintertime. However, my Korean friends pushed me to visit, telling me Jeju is beautiful during the winter, and I’m so glad I listened! From Seoul, Jeju Island is an hour long plane ride. So it is a perfect getaway when you are on your days off from teaching English! With its palm trees, clear blue water, and laid-back atmosphere, it really did feel like I was in Hawaii! Here’s some amazing ways of  exploring Jeju Island in the winter. 


Walk the Beaches

We only spent a few short days on Jeju, but we ended up exploring three different beaches on Jeju. While it’s a little too cool to go swimming, we admired the clear blue water, people-watched fishermen sorting through their catch for the day, and collected seashells. Honestly, a part of me wished I could move to Jeju, so I could take a walk along the beach everyday after work. I recommend Hyeopjae Beach!

View of the Hyeopjae Beach on Jeju Island

Visit Art Museums

Maybe you’re not much of an outdoorsy person. That’s okay! Jeju Island has plenty to offer for folks who would rather spend their time inside. We spontaneously decided to check out Arte Museum Jeju, and I’m so glad we did! Each room featured a different light installation. It was like stepping into a museum from the future! If that doesn’t sound like your thing, Jeju has plenty of other museums for you to explore!


An English teacher checking out an Art installation at Arte Museum Jeju

Cafe Hopping

If Korea does one thing well, it’s cafes. Jeju Island is no exception to this rule. We stopped into multiple cafes while visiting the island, but my favorite was Fluffy Cafe. We completely stumbled upon this place and ended up eating the fluffiest, most delicious pancakes. The staff was friendly, and my friend was able to grab some souvenirs for her family back home too! Anywhere you move in Korea, you’ll be able to find cute cafes to spend your weekends hanging out in, but I was really impressed with what Jeju had to offer.


Hike Hallasan National Park

Smack dab in the middle of the island, Hallasan National Park is perfect for anyone who loves hiking! Because of Jeju’s mild climate, I love that I can visit any time of year to hike in Hallasan National Park, even winter! While our trip was just a little too short to check out Hallasan National Park, it’s my motivation to visit the island again ASAP!

An English teacher holding a freshly picked Hallabong orange on Jeju Island

There are so many things to do on your days off from teaching English in Korea. Exploring Jeju Island is one you definitely don’t want to leave of your bucket list! When I got back to Seoul, the city had a good covering of a snow, so it was nice to see some sun!

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