What’s your name?
My name is Alana and I’m from the United States.
What brought you to South Korea?
I found a teaching opportunity online that would let me move to Korea with a four year university degree. I did a lot of research about this opportunity and saw that it was the best fit for me.
Was it a difficult process getting hired and obtaining your visa?
It was very easy to obtain my paperwork. I just needed to have all of the proper documentation. The process was very easy.
Are there any tips that you can give to anyone reading this who aspires to land a teaching job there?
Find out if a public or private school would fit your personality more. There are benefits to both teaching opportunities but you need to know which kind of working hours would suit you best.
Have you taught English in other countries and if so how would you compare your South Korean experience?
I volunteered teaching English in Taiwan at the Dada School in Chungli. This was a very fulfilling volunteering opportunity to work with other foreigners with the same intentions of truly experiencing Taiwanese culture as well as the needs of the children.
Which parts of the country have you visited?
In South Korea I have been EVERYWHERE! From Seoraksan National Park to Jeju Island to the DMZ to Andong. I really took full advantage of my free time on weekends and national holidays to see as much of Korea as I could.
How are you received as an American outside of the classroom?
Outside of the classroom I was well respected by people in my small town. Koreans were very helpful to assisting me in all different kinds of situations such as in hospitals, filling out paperwork in the post office to getting directions.
What differences have you noticed between Korean and American culture?
In the workplace it is very important for Koreans to go out for meals often during the weekdays. During “team bonding” activities with my colleagues I felt that Koreans were very curious about my life, family, and dreams. I never felt this way in my workplace in the United States.
How easy is it to meet other foreigners?
Very easy! I met many foreigners during my orientation week in Seoul and I kept in contact with many of them and would meet up with them on weekends. In major cities you can meet many foreigners. There are tons of activities around Korea to experience seasonally such as hiking excursions, kimchi making, and mud festivals in Boryeong.
Will someone be able to comfortable move around the country if they are unable to speak Korean?
Not having Korean skills is not a problem when moving to Korean. By the way, learning Hanguel (Korean language) is not very difficult. I taught myself the Korean Alphabet in one week. Trust me, this is going to help you out a ton from reading restaurant menus to bus station signs. This is very basic to learn. It doesn’t hurt to learn some Korean words. Koreans are very kind and helpful. In major cities such as Seoul, Busan, Incheon, and Daegu you will meet many Koreans with strong English speaking skills in the case that you are looking for something specific if your small town placement doesn’t offer it such as a female specialized doctor, English speaking hairdresser, or foreign food shops.
If you had a friend planning to spend only 24 hours in South Korea, what would you suggest he or she see or do?
Rent an Airbnb in Seoul. Spend your time in Insadong where you can enjoy traditional teahouses and Korean meals. You can find beautiful handmade items and see locals in traditional attire. You can easily spend a few hours here. From here you can walk or take the subway to Gyeongbukgung Palace. Get lost in the neon lights in Myeongdong for late hour shopping, street snacks, and delicious food. Lastly, go to Dragon Hill Spag in Yongsan for some jimjilbang entertainment. Jimjilbangs are bathhouses that are separated by sexes. You will come out very clean!
You can see more of Alana on Instagram at @Alanatravels1