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Benefits of Choosing South Korea to Teach English
Trying to decide which foreign country to teach English in can be tough. There are many options available to you and each country has something to offer. If you've already narrowed it down to Asia, that's great. If you haven't, maybe this blog can help you a little. Either way, I would like to explain why I think South Korea is the best choice for teaching English abroad for at least your first year.
First of all, the package South Korea offers its English teachers cannot be beaten. I have yet to find another country that offers a package quite as good. When coming to South Korea to teach, the first benefit you receive is your flight being paid for. Depending on the package offered to you, you will either lay out the money for the flight and receive a reimbursement within your first month in Korea, or the school will pay for the flight directly.
Second, the only requirement for becoming a teacher in South Korea is that you have a bachelor's degree (in any subject area). If you apply through the TaLK program, all you need is an associate's degree. There are other things such as passing the application process and having a clean FBI level background check, but as far as what qualifications you need, a bachelor's degree is all that is required.
Third, you get a free apartment. Now, yes, I have seen other countries offer paid housing or a home-stay, but the only option in South Korea is a free studio apartment of your own. In your contract it states that within the apartment there must be a bed, a refrigerator, a stove, a washer machine, a table and chair, and a closet. The quality of the apartment varies from person to person, but it's still a free place to live for an entire year. You do have to cover your own electrical, gas, and cable expenses, though. Mine totals around 60,000 won - 100,000 won (~$50-$90) each month, depending on the time of year and how much I used the heater in the apartment. Still, not a bad deal at all.
Fourth, you get a free flight back home. Again, you will most likely have to lay the money out and get reimbursed, but in the end it's still a free flight back home. You only receive this if you've completed the entire year, though.
Fifth, you get plenty of vacation time (if you teach in a public school). During summer you get 8 calendar days and during winter you get 10 calendar days. Both of which do not include the weekends, so once you add those in the time off is actually longer. This past summer I had 13 days off consecutively and spent my time traveling China. This coming winter I have booked a trip to Thailand and Cambodia and I have a total of 17 days off.
Sixth, you get an additional one month's salary at the completion of your contract as a bonus. For me, it comes to around $1,561 (according to the current conversion rate). That's free money just for completing the year with them. You will receive that money every time you complete a year in Korea.
Seventh, you can SAVE while being here! Right now the economy is so bad back in the U.S. that some people are barely making enough means to survive let alone SAVE their money! Most people that I know here are able to save at least 1,000,000 won per month (roughly $800). That's $9,600 for 12 months, and if we add in the extra $1,560 for completing the year, that equals $11,160 in one year. It could be more if the exchange rate changes a little bit (right now the Korean won is pretty low). If you are great with your money then you can probably save even more each month. Of course if you do a lot of traveling then that amount will change a little bit. Sure, China is a cheap place to live, but you don't make as much each month as you do in South Korea and you don't get as many vacation days. Japan is a very expensive place to live and a lot of the jobs there require past experience teaching English.
Eighth, transportation is very cheap here. Back home you're probably paying a ton of money for gas every week. Here, you wouldn't have to worry about putting gas in your car. You have the options of taxis, buses, and subways, all around the city (of course that's if you choose one of South Korea's metropolitan cities to work in). Each ride on the subway or bus costs around 1,000 - 1,500 won which is less than $1.50 each way! That's a whole lot more than $1.50 in gas will get you. Taxis are very cheap as well. I took a taxi yesterday for about a 30 minute ride and it only cost me 14,000 won (less than $14).
Ninth, if you re-sign for another year, you get a 2,000,000 won bonus and an extra 14 days vacation! These 14 days include the weekend, but it's still a great bonus! The 2,000,000 won, right now, equals $1,733! That's even more extra pocket money, just because! Another great part about re-signing is that if you hate your school, you can choose to move to another part of the same city and you will still get the bonuses!
And finally, you will have an amazing experience here in Korea. There are plenty of other foreigners to meet and there's plenty to do. Koreans (for the most part) are very friendly. Of course you will come across some rude people, but that's the way it is everywhere. If you want to hear about some things that you can do for entertainment here in Korea, you can take a look at my other blog Fun Times in Korea.