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Author Topic: Why stay in Korea? Favorite things about Korea.  (Read 15746 times)

Offline teacher_del

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Re: Why stay in Korea? Favorite things about Korea.
« Reply #40 on: March 03, 2011, 09:21:57 AM »
  • I love that there are vegetables served with every meal.  They aren't prepared in my favorite way, but they are THERE and I don't have to pay extra for them. 
  • I love certain Korean foods, especially kimbap and bibimbap.
  • My students are AMAZING. They can get so excited sometimes!  I love figuring out ways to spark that bright-eyed eagerness to experience things and (sneakily) learn.
  • At my school, I get to work with competent English teachers who really care about the quality of our English program.  (I know some people here sadly don't have that, so I appreciate it all the more.)
  • I'm paid a reasonable living wage and can afford to pay extra on my husband's ridiculous American student loans.
  • I don't have to pay attention to everything!  I have problems with processing tons of incoming information (everyone talking at once), so it's restful to know what's addressed especially at me and ignore 90% of everything else when I want to.
  • I get to study Korean!  I love studying languages.  Although I'm dutifully doing my best to keep up my French, having to encounter the language I'm learning every day is very motivating.  And I get to impress people back home with being able to read a non-Latin alphabet.  :)
  • With a little luck, I should be able to save up enough money so I can afford to only work part-time when I have to go back to school (sadness!) in order to work in my chosen field.  It will be a relief to only have one job on the side!

Offline letunstall@gmail.com

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Re: Why stay in Korea? Favorite things about Korea.
« Reply #41 on: March 03, 2011, 11:53:32 AM »
I will start a new thread on food. Healthy eating boils down to individual choices, regardless of country. My western style grilled fish and broccoli with red potatoes isn't any less healthy than starchy white rice and pickled vegetables and fatty pork (swine) sam gyp sal or fried Korean street food. And McDonalds isn't as healthy as a light bean sprout soup...every ethnic food as good and bad menu choices. No?

I digress...Here's what I like about Korea:
1. Nice people
2. Low crime
3. no tipping
4. cute kids
5. outstanding public transportation, especially airport limosines.
6. plenty of resources for teaching English (eg waygook.org)
7. blue skies in the winter instead of gloomy clouds.

Happiness is the lens we choose to view our situation through. Those of us who are stuck here and want to make it work gloss over some things and sensationalize what can be perceived as positive. We ignore the spit on the street and brag to our friends back home how cheap health care/medicine is (even if it's drive-thru service).

Everyone is here for one of these reasons. At first everyone says it's about the culture and gives a brochure version of why they work here, but eventually the truth surfaces. Most people who make six figure salaries in their home countries and are content with their lives do not consider coming here. So here are the types.

1. Right out of college/university. No previous work experience.
2. Someone who had a good career, but got fired or sabotaged it.
3.No job offers in previous country or lack of lucrative ones/bad econmy.
4. Someone who is escaping something, (e.g. divorce, debt, family, toxic people)
5. Someone experiencing a mid-life crisis or major life change
6. Someone who wants time off and to travel (proximity to cool places like Cambodia and Philippines).
7. Someone wishing to gain teaching experience due to lack of jobs in home country (most entry teaching jobs in US pay more than Korea if you look at salary on employment sites).

People stay because there's something here they are not getting back home, usually money or decent job offers. It's cushy here for most of it and once settled, easier to stay to and make the best of it than leave, especially if we've acquired new relationships and attachments. To teach in countries that pay really well and give you a two bedroom apartment or villa, you need to be a certified teacher. Most people here are not certified teachers. Some are, and those are the ones who could not find a job back home or did not like teaching there for whatever reason. So, it's good for psychology/liberal arts majors who are saving up for grad school.

A lot of people also like their "offictels." I agree it's convenient to be close to shopping and dining. But, if you're use to a 3 bedroom house and yard, living in a shoebox studio apartment is not glamorous or chic, even if Starbucks is right downstairs.

I had a better life in America in terms of salary and living conditions and had to downgrade a lot when I came here. If I came straigh out of college or didn't know what it was like to make $80,000 a year, I wouldn't know any different and would think this was amazing. But, I've gained a lot in terms of travel experience and a time out to regroup from some personal things.
 

Offline DevilMogun

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Re: Why stay in Korea? Favorite things about Korea.
« Reply #42 on: March 04, 2011, 12:25:53 PM »

4) I like not being able to understand everything that is being said around me by strangers.  It brings a personal calmness to my surroundings.  I don't care what the two women in front of me at the check out line are talking about.  In Korea, I can't understand, so problem solved.  Peace and quiet in a noisy environment, I guess....


At last - someone else who feels the same!
"She lacks the indefinable charm of weakness" Oscar Wilde

Offline KingKrang

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Re: Why stay in Korea? Favorite things about Korea.
« Reply #43 on: March 04, 2011, 12:33:56 PM »
Letunstall, you nailed it.

Offline travelinpantsgirl

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Re: Why stay in Korea? Favorite things about Korea.
« Reply #44 on: March 04, 2011, 01:52:15 PM »
Awesome response! I totally agree!

My family asks me to explain this all the time. I have been in Korea for 6 months now and love it. Though there are many challenging days and things are sometimes stressful when it comes to not being able to do a lot of things without assistance yet.
My answer to them is always the same. When I was back home in Kansas, I knew what my days would be like. Here in Korea, I can count on having new experiences daily. I can also count on meeting many new people that I would never had the chance to meet otherwise. Also, because Korea is such a small country, it is so easy to travel to a new place with very little effort. The scenery in Korea is quite beautiful. There are many places to enjoy the outdoors ans experience exercise that is not done on a machine in a gym.
Also, overall the people in Korea are eager to help me and love to spend time to learn about my country and language. I feel the same way. Currently I am trying to learn the language and really trying to learn about Korean culture. After all what is the point of living in a new country and not at least trying to change how you live?
Ignoranţa este adesea o boală fatal şi cretin nu poate fi vindecata.

Offline travelinpantsgirl

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Re: Why stay in Korea? Favorite things about Korea.
« Reply #45 on: March 04, 2011, 01:59:50 PM »
Seriously! Where are you and how did you manage to pick the long straw??? I love my life in Seoul but that sounds awesome, esp since I am from NJ where I am used to seeing the beach and the ocean whenever I want.

I live on an island just off the south coast, in a house on the beach with nothing but ocean between me and Japan.  I wake up to the sound of the waves, with my little dog, two cats and Korean boyfriend, drive half an hour through national park to an easier job than I ever experienced in a British school, eat wonderful Korean food, go home, walk on the beach..... and for almost 9 months of the year the weather is great.

The question is, why leave?

With a situation like that, it's a no-brainer. Lucky you... ;)
Ignoranţa este adesea o boală fatal şi cretin nu poate fi vindecata.

Offline travelinpantsgirl

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Re: Why stay in Korea? Favorite things about Korea.
« Reply #46 on: March 04, 2011, 02:34:00 PM »
I came to Korea with no expectations other than that I will teach and have paid housing and I have been paid ten times over in happiness. I had a really good job with a large corporation in 2007, I hated it, I hated the corporate world and I was burnt out. I didn't know the US was going into an economic slump and I quit to join the Peace Corps. That did not work out (I was TEFL and my school couldn't find me adequate housing in my village). I came back and spent the next two years slaving at two really low paying jobs trying to make it work until the economy righted itself. I worked 12-14 hr days. Never saw my friends, had to skip paying some bills sometimes...
So...
I love Korea every single day I wake up.
I am adequately paid for little work.
6 1/2 weeks paid vacation (collectively)...this is something that would never happen in the US!
I love teaching here, it's okay to be supportive and affectionate to my students without it being something sinister.
I love my students.
I love my school (we have our days, but nothing to cry over)
Love, Love, love my co-teachers
I love how 90 % of the time I am treated really nice because I am a foreigner.
Travel is easy from Korea and cheap within in it.
Public transporation, how can you beat the equivalent of .90 US cents for a bus ride almost hour away (within Seoul) and free transfers!
I never worry about my next meal or rent.
bills are cheap
I can afford to actually see my friends and eat out.
The food! especially Galbi! OMG, the Galbi!
liquor is so cheap when I choose to drink.
I love my area of Seoul, its so easy for me to get everywhere.
I never run out of things to do in Seoul, everyday is a different day for me.
Been here 6 mos and still haven't seen 1/3 of Seoul, it's so huge.
The friends I have made are awesome.
Someone said the Korean guys and how they fall in love 10 times a day...I am with you there, girlfriend!
oh, I could go on and on...
Anyhow, I plan on staying for as long as Korea will have me.
Ignoranţa este adesea o boală fatal şi cretin nu poate fi vindecata.

Offline Gyopo_Josh

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Re: Why stay in Korea? Favorite things about Korea.
« Reply #47 on: March 04, 2011, 02:56:55 PM »

Quote
4) I like not being able to understand everything that is being said around me by strangers.  It brings a personal calmness to my surroundings.  I don't care what the two women in front of me at the check out line are talking about.  In Korea, I can't understand, so problem solved.  Peace and quiet in a noisy environment, I guess....

As a gyopo (Korean-American) it sucks to understand what people are saying. I would love to unlearn the language, unfortunately my parents drilled it in my head since I was a kid. I've felt that Koreans can be so negative sometimes and it brings me down.

Hehe.. sounds kinda dramatic I guess. Knowing Korean has its ups and downs.

Being here for 6 months, I had a hard time adjusting. I thought of giving up but after reading the reasons, I feel hopeful. Thanks!

Offline letunstall@gmail.com

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Re: Why stay in Korea? Favorite things about Korea.
« Reply #48 on: March 05, 2011, 12:51:16 PM »
Mr. Gyopo is right on. Ignorance is bliss. I don't understand much Korean, but I can tell that collectively it is not a happy culture, so I know a lot of the conversation is negative.  I think the older generations who have seen rougher days are much more pleasant. I've noticed older Koreans (even the ajummas who push a little) are more polite than the younger ones. You can freeze the younger Koreans mid-step by putting a mirror in front of them. And that surgery that makes the calf muscle not develop as well as the eyelid surgeries....the general message is "you're not good enough, you'll never be good enough, but keep trying." Yes, I know other cultures do plastic surgery, but they are really self critical here.  My point is....not knowing the language is an advantage, in my opinion because you're spared the nit-picking, negativity, and self destructive gossip. It just sounds like white noise and you can keep your internal dialogue happy.

Okay, this was suppose to be a positive discussion and I feel I've tainted it with some negativity with my comments about food and people who are here by default.  I have six months left, so I need to put on the rose colored goggles as well. Here are some more things I have found to like recently.

1. "I'm Real" smoothie beverages. Available at Kim's Club. They come in plastic bottles. These are delightful and you can actually taste the fruit!
2. My doorman is really awesome and helpful. He speaks limited English, but always helps me carry packages and pets my dog.
3. Animal Rescue Korea - this is an amazing organization run by people who are genuinely trying to promote animal welfare. It is even affiliated with a pet sitting network.
5. The sandwich stands, such as "Issacs." Good smoothies too. Kiwi smoothies, which I had never tried prior to my arrival.
6.Waygook.org. The people who contribute regularly are so helpful. There's no excuse for not being able to prepare lesson plans here. Trust me, teaching in America is way more complicated with so much more red tape and nobody tells you to "take a rest."
7. I can find just about anything I need here. If I can't, there's a US Military presence and I can have someone buy it on base.
8. The winters are cold, but the sun is always out unlike gloomy and cloudy midwest America.

Offline travish65742

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Re: Why stay in Korea? Favorite things about Korea.
« Reply #49 on: March 07, 2011, 08:03:21 AM »
I have a couple of friends that are Korean Canadians and I think they are better teachers because they know the language. Koreans could be downers sometimes, but being able to explain English in their native language is effective. The students that have teachers that can speak Korean will learn a lot faster.

Offline ThulsaDoom

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Re: Why stay in Korea? Favorite things about Korea.
« Reply #50 on: March 07, 2011, 08:32:36 AM »
I have a couple of friends that are Korean Canadians and I think they are better teachers because they know the language. Koreans could be downers sometimes, but being able to explain English in their native language is effective. The students that have teachers that can speak Korean will learn a lot faster.

Just going by my own experience, there's a positive and a negative to that.  Especially with younger students, as soon as they know I can communicate, not perfectly but enough to get the point across, in Korean that's all they want to hear.  I just play dumb nowadays with an occasional joke in Korean thrown out here and there but I never, ever explain anything.  That's my co-teacher's job.

Back on topic, pretty much what everyone said.  For me, it's refreshing to walk around anywhere in a city of 3-4 million people at any time of the night and not look over my shoulder.  The food is great.  When you have good Korean food, it stands toe to toe with any other cuisine around the world.  I'm determined to master this language if it kills me.  Not much beats when you bust out something in another language to a local and they show their appreciation for your effort.   I can't tell if it's the difficulty or this being my second language as to why I find it so difficult sometimes.

The things I miss most about the States is the plethora of bands touring and cheap shows to see in larger cities. 

Offline eveliens

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Re: Why stay in Korea? Favorite things about Korea.
« Reply #51 on: March 07, 2011, 10:26:39 AM »
While I'm not a huge fan of the food, its not nearly as bad as I was afraid it was going to be  :) And as time goes on I don't even comment on how spicy things are anymore because I don't notice!

I really like being in Korea because:

1. My students. Even when I'm frustrated with them, they are awesome. They are always willing to talk to me and frequently invite me to play/hang out with them. Plus, they have wicked senses of humor.
2. Financial security. I like not living pay check to pay check. While I basically traded stresses, I worry a lot less about mucking up in the classroom than being evicted or having no food money.
3. ARK. Ah, there's nothing like sending an emergency plea out for some random cat your student gives you and finding a new home within the week. And then having many curious, helpful Koreans comment/coo/grin over said [angry] cat while taking public transportation.
4. Public transportation. Let someone else do the driving for once... even if I'm uneasy every so often by the sharp turns and lack of traffic law observation.
5. Older Koreans and their random gifts and thank yous or conversations. And how amazingly dedicated they are to exercise and hiking...

Offline Dinkymoo

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Re: Why stay in Korea? Favorite things about Korea.
« Reply #52 on: March 07, 2011, 10:56:51 AM »
I have never felt this safe. The people are friendly and they generally have such an admirable demeanor. The country has some beautiful mountains and temples, which are all well conserved and doesn't cost you anything.

Offline travelinpantsgirl

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Re: Why stay in Korea? Favorite things about Korea.
« Reply #53 on: March 07, 2011, 11:37:47 AM »
I can completely relate to this post. Great response. Not having to live hand to mouth and loving what you do at the same time, it doesn't get any better, does it?

While I'm not a huge fan of the food, its not nearly as bad as I was afraid it was going to be  :) And as time goes on I don't even comment on how spicy things are anymore because I don't notice!

I really like being in Korea because:

1. My students. Even when I'm frustrated with them, they are awesome. They are always willing to talk to me and frequently invite me to play/hang out with them. Plus, they have wicked senses of humor.
2. Financial security. I like not living pay check to pay check. While I basically traded stresses, I worry a lot less about mucking up in the classroom than being evicted or having no food money.
3. ARK. Ah, there's nothing like sending an emergency plea out for some random cat your student gives you and finding a new home within the week. And then having many curious, helpful Koreans comment/coo/grin over said [angry] cat while taking public transportation.
4. Public transportation. Let someone else do the driving for once... even if I'm uneasy every so often by the sharp turns and lack of traffic law observation.
5. Older Koreans and their random gifts and thank yous or conversations. And how amazingly dedicated they are to exercise and hiking...
Ignoranţa este adesea o boală fatal şi cretin nu poate fi vindecata.

Offline travish65742

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Re: Why stay in Korea? Favorite things about Korea.
« Reply #54 on: March 08, 2011, 09:42:43 AM »
This has been a good discussion. Thanks for all the posts.

Offline Canonite

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Re: Why stay in Korea? Favorite things about Korea.
« Reply #55 on: March 10, 2011, 07:36:22 AM »
for someone who is about to leave for Korea, this has been an awesome read...thanks!
*click*