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Moving to Seoul... any advice?

wonderboy416

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Hey guys... After finally save enough to make a splash into the condo market I started thinking about where in the city I wanted to live... and the result was that I could not see myself doing my current job for the rest of my life and that I should go do something a little adventurous while I'm still young'ish (27), so I decided what better way to do that then to see another side of the world for a year or two and get paid to do it. So like many people you probably know I accepted a position teaching english in Seoul (Oksu-Dong area) and providing I can get my Visa in order (just awaiting my sealed transcripts from York...) I will be going October 24.

Has anyone ever been there or anywhere similar and have any advice to offer?
I am aware that I can only bring 240v electrical devices (and a few outlet converters which can be purchased for cheap in China town).
I've also learned that deodorant is hard to come by there and that I should stock up before I go.. I'm just wondering what else there might be...

The agency I dealt with to find the job is Korean so their English isn't particularly good or helpful...

One sidenote is that the Korean Consulate will not process your Visa for teaching unless you have a background check with vulnerable sector screening (to check for sexual offenses against minors etc..). Strangely the Toronto Police DO NOT offer this search to individuals, only to organizations who have registered with them... and then it takes 8+ weeks to do the check! None of the other police stations in the GTA do this check either. I ended up tracking down a paralegal firm in Richmond Hill who are using the police in Nova Scotia to do this for me and it took 3 days to do the check.... I found this incredibly annoying that our own police cannot provide such a basic check, and when they do they cannot do it in a timely fashion!
 
I was planning to do the same thing, though I may have to wait until January.

Are you with a private school or Haegown? I know the pollution in Seoul is really bad, so hopefully you aren't too central.
 
Advice.....wear a Canadian flag pin at all times so you won't be misidentified as an American.
 
My comment may be way off base, but I'll post it anyway. The daughter of a friend of mine has had several years of teaching English in Taiwan and in the Middle East. Be sure that the school is a reputable one and that they pay you on a regular schedule. It is apparently a bit of a scam that some places (not all by any means) are slow paying and end up owing you a considerable amount by the end of your term. Once you leave their country, it is virtually impossible to take any action. Try to check out the specific school (not the agency placing you) in advance as much as possible.

Best wishes!! Post a few pictures if you can.
 
I taught for a few years in Korea. I went when I was 26 and had a great time there. Public transportation is cheap, the cities are very safe and eating out is relatively cheap too. And you can save some money while you're there. I was in Busan at the southern end of the country though I visited Seoul on a number of occasions.

Deodorant used to be hard to come by (I paid over $10 at black market stores for a stick) but I believe the department stores have started to carry it. It's still a good idea to stock up just in case--summer can be humid. A power converter is a must if you need it. Other than that, Korea supplies most modern conveniences. If you don't want to try certain Korean medications you can bring Advil or Immodium and the like but the Korean ones worked fine for me.

The vulnerable screening is a new one--that wasn't done in the past.
 
My comment may be way off base, but I'll post it anyway. The daughter of a friend of mine has had several years of teaching English in Taiwan and in the Middle East. Be sure that the school is a reputable one and that they pay you on a regular schedule. It is apparently a bit of a scam that some places (not all by any means) are slow paying and end up owing you a considerable amount by the end of your term. Once you leave their country, it is virtually impossible to take any action. Try to check out the specific school (not the agency placing you) in advance as much as possible.

Best wishes!! Post a few pictures if you can.

It's not off base at all. You have to be very careful. There is a huge market in Korea (and Asia in general) for English instruction. A lot of places open up, promise great pay and then shut down while ripping off their teachers. Many places are nothing more than cash grabs.
 
Make sure you are White. There is nothing more disappointing to ESL recruiters than finding out that their applicant has Black or "Asian" skin. In their minds, White = American and English-native speaker, Blacks = monkeys, Brown = dirty, Asians = fellow compatriots who couldn't possibly speak English as a first language.
 
Make sure you are White. There is nothing more disappointing to ESL recruiters than finding out that their applicant has Black or "Asian" skin. In their minds, White = American and English-native speaker, Blacks = monkeys, Brown = dirty, Asians = fellow compatriots who couldn't possibly speak English as a first language.

Harsh, but true. According to my Chinese friends, non-emigrated East Asians are incredibly racist.
 
I have heard the same thing. Most places require you to provide a picture with your application, something that is pretty much unheard of here (unless you're in a field which requires it).
 
Japan is not so bad in this regard anymore due to Western influences and such, but China, yes, and Korea, definitely yes. Based on what I've read, Korea just may well be the most racist place on the planet (perhaps tied with parts of China).

I read a blog posting by an African American who was talking over the phone to a friendly man who was interviewing him for an ESL job, and it went very well, and when he finally asked if his race would be an issue, there was a long silence, and then the man hung up on him.

Of course, we shouldn't generalize....

According to my Chinese friends, non-emigrated East Asians are incredibly racist.

According to my Chinese friends, older generation Chinese-Canadians aren't much better in that regard.
 
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Japan is still quite racist. It's not uncommon to find gyms that will not allow whites.
 
Wow that's a lot of responses, thanks guys.

The school I'll be going to has a very good reputation in Seoul. In fact they put me in touch with another teacher there from Ottawa and he has been very honest about his experience and what has went well for him and what he hasn't liked (not getting to choose your vacation weeks.. understandable since it is a school). I have heard deodorant is hard to come by there so I will be stocking up :)

Vicente... Yes I am white! lol... I made sure of that when I read your post.
I understand that they want someone who fits the image of what they think a native English speaker should look like, and as much as I disagree with it... I only get to live once, and this is a great opportunity so I'm jumping all over it. Every time I have sent an application or resume to someone for a job in Seoul my picture has been requested, I'm sure it has helped... which is unfortunate to those who aren't.

I'm waiting for York to process and send me some sealed transcripts... I have always hated dealing with that school's administration and this experience is no different. 10-15 days to process and send this thing out? SERIOUSLY? It's ridiculous, and I have no way of following up to see if they even got my request (fax) and are processing it.. I was just told wait 3 weeks and contact them if I don't receive it. What kind of ancient system are they using that they can't note a file when someone has been received and begun processing? I'd rather spend my day at the DMV then lining up trying to do anything at that place.

Anyway, enough ranting about York, once those stupid transcripts finally arrive I can begin to have my Visa processed.

Thanks your your feedback everyone.
 
Is that legal?

Apparently it is. I know that some hot spring locations have "Japanese only" signs according to a friend of mine.

In the case of examples like that, I think people emphasize the wrong part - it isn't so much that whites aren't allowed, it's moreso that only Japanese are allowed. The Japanese are famously a very close-knit group of people. It's not even so much of a racial thing - East Asian countries hate each other more than anyone else hates them according to worldwide opinion polls. So while the behavior is deplorable, it isn't the same as "No blacks allowed" in the U.S. Segregation in the U.S. was founded on the belief that black people are inferior and shouldn't be allowed to mingle with the noble white population. The case of Japan is more about being distrustful and hesitant towards people outside their culture that they are unfamiliar with (foreigners). I'd say xenophobia describes it better than racism does.

That's just the impression I get. Korea appears to have some similarities and some differences with the racism issue, but with this school thing in particular, it is definitely true. There was a story on NPR interviewing two Korean mothers who were at the playground with their kids. The mother was talking about how black people were scary and she wants a white man teaching her kids, "preferably Canadian" (they hate Americans). I learn most of this through the blog of Michael Hurt, a half-Korean half-black person living in Seoul. His blog can be a bit uncomfortable to read sometimes. Anyways, enough of that. I supposed this discussion is making wonderboy416 rather uncomfortable as well! Like being invited to a party and criticizing the furniture.
 
I admire your sense of adventure, Wonderboy. And if my wander through Koreatown last Saturday evening is any indication, get your eyes ready to feast on some of the most beautiful women this sorry planet has to offer.

That gets me thinking a bit....what's the name of this "good school" you'll be teaching at, if you don't mind me asking?

Life is short and the worst that could happen is you regret your decisions and die unhappy. That's not that bad!
 

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