I have been living in South Korea teaching English as a second language for two years now and you should too! Here’s why:
You pay off debt from your degree
One of the biggest burdens our generation faces is student loan debt. This, coupled with the expectation of having had a couple years’ experience to qualify for an entry level position puts us in a bit of a hole. It’s as if we bought a big expensive ladder, were told to dig for four years so we could use it, and then they went and put a wall around the hole called experience that our shiny ladders aren’t nearly long enough to breach. Well, there’s no wall to climb for ESL teaching. And no specifications for the ladder. If you have a degree, and a fluency in English, you’ve got yourself a sure way out.
You get to experience living on your own
Many go from living with family to roommates to sharing a space with a husband or wife. But although families cook for us and roommates are excellent company and that husband or wife might eventually turn into a family of our own, there’s something to be said for having a year or so of solitude. A space to call your own. You become more self-reliant, develop your hobbies and simply learn to enjoy your own company from time to time. Most ESL teaching positons in South Korea not only provide you with a flight, but solo accommodations included in your salary. You have to handle the bills but the cost of living is fairly low in this up and coming country.
South Korea is super cool
Native English college graduates have been flocking to South Korea for years now and it’s not just the job that brings them. South Korea is super cool. With its mountainous terrain, there are endless options for enjoying the outdoors right outside of its many cities. And inside those cities, there’s karaoke rooms called norebongs and seven dollar spas called jimjilbangs and barbeque restaurants that crowd you and your friends around lit grills on tables littered with bottles of soju, a three dollar liquor that will change your idea of a drink with dinner. There is so much to do and the country is small and accessible so there’s time to do it all if you spend your year wisely.
You get to travel
Another big lure that has twenty somethings flocking is the opportunity to be immersed in another culture and pay a visit to the many cultures surrounding it. South Korea is unique to Asia in the sense that it hasn’t been taken by tourism but has had enough of a Western impact for it to be easy for English speakers to get by, but not too easy. And unlike home, there are many other countries close by. It is a wonderful thing to travel, I truly believe it makes us better people. And it’s a great idea to get to it while we still have the time and agility.
You get to have an impact
Teaching ESL in South Korea gives you the opportunity to do many things for yourself, but more than that, it gives you the opportunity to do a service for others. You get to spend a whole year assisting people of another country how to speak an increasingly universal language that will open the door for them in a big way. You will learn patience and compassion and feel pride in your accomplishments and theirs. It will test you and shape you in ways you can’t foresee. I have been here for two years now and though it is time for me to move on, I am taking a lot with me. More than I am leaving behind.