Packing up your life and moving to another country is never going to be straightforward. However, you can guarantee it will be exciting as TEFL opens so many doors for you to start living and working all over the world and with different countries, of course, come some different norms and ways of life. You may remember TEFL teacher Mary-Ann who loves her new life teaching in South Korea; and today she’s here to tell you about 5 things you will discover about South Korea if you start TEFLing over there.
5 things you will discover about South Korea
1. Fashion – Boys will be boys like in every country and whilst you’ll see them messing about in class and having scraps, they’ll also be wearing the famous Korean socks, which will likely be pink with teddy bears! Colour doesn’t seem to have gender relevance here like it does in other countries, which in a way is very refreshing. Also, on a weird fashion note, it’s totally normal for girls to use glue to open their eyes more if they haven’t had plastic surgery… yet!
2. Relationships – People behave differently towards each other here than in the West. Grown men will happily walk down the street holding each other’s hands because they are friends; and iff they have had their fill of soju (best described as Korean vodka) they will definitely be holding hands going down the street. Also, boys in class will hold hands, sit on each other’s lap’s etc.
Romantic couples…. where do we start here?! Boyfriends and girlfriends like to dress in matching outfits, and by this I mean identical trainers, jeans, t-shirts and jumpers/jackets. Men carry their girlfriend’s handbags (as well as their own) and hold her hand if she has to do something exhausting like descend the stairs. A friend of mine saw one boyfriend holding his girlfriend’s hair up to keep her neck cool when it was really hot during the summer. A girl’s main priority here is to get a boyfriend and get married, and she can make other plans once this is done.
3. Technology – Every Korean has a mobile phone, it would be very strange if you didn’t have one. I TEFL to seven year old kids who have the latest Samsung Galaxy Note. It’s crazy! They can hardly write in Korean or English yet they have phones which they can use perfectly. The sat-navs in taxis are like TVs and the taxi driver takes no notice of you as he’s too busy watching a movie or baseball game while driving you to your destination – a little scary! That said; taxis are so incredibly cheap here.
4. Pets – Most Koreans seem to own a dog; usually tiny dogs always wearing clothes. When my director took me to the hospital for my medical exam (after arriving here) I saw a white dog with its hair cut to make it look like a lion – and if that wasn’t enough its mane and tail tip had been dyed blue! We’ve seen dogs wearing all sorts of dresses, shoes and hair dyes and even one with blush.
5. Celebrities – This is us. Koreans love foreigners. “Waygooks” are completely fascinating to Koreans even though there are loads of us here – hey will take pictures of you, tell you how beautiful you are and if you are pale or have blue eyes they will fall in love with you! Some of my students told me they wanted to have plastic surgery to have a nose like me which swelled my head beyond measure.
TEFLing in South Korea will most definitely open your eyes to a completely different way of life. Six months in and Mary-Ann says she is completely used to all of this now so it might be strange for her when she returns home! South Korea is a very popular destination to teach abroad and we’ve had so many happy TEFLers from over there. What are you waiting for? Go, go, go!!