Five Compelling Reasons to Teach English in Korea

I could (and do) prattle on about experiencing Korean culture, loving my students, or the low cost of rural life. I could tell you that the pay in Korea is among the highest for foreign English teachers, and that you get cash bonuses for flights, re-signing, and completing your contract. I could even talk about how I’m learning to snowboard for only 170,000 won a season or how LASIK surgery in Korea fixed my astigmatism without eviscerating my bank account.

Gohan Lauren
'Learning' is the key phrase here.

All of those things are true, but they aren’t the reason I signed on to teach English for a second year.

The five most compelling reasons why I am still in Korea can be summed up by my travel plans for 2012:

Seven weeks of paid vacation followed by four months of travel, all financed by my teacher’s salary.

Oh, and did I mention that I’ve nearly paid off my grad school student loans?

Teaching in Korea is the way forward.

Here are the destinations that you’ll read about in Lateral Movements in 2012, and my five reasons why you should consider teaching English in Korea.

1. India

Taj Mahal
Image Credit: Flickr, particlem

On December 31st, Jared and I fly to Shanghai. Certain foreign visitors, including Australians and Americans, can spend up to 48 hours in Shanghai without a visa. (Note: there are some conditions on transit visas, so please check out the details before taking my word for it!) After a whirlwind 23 hours of New Year’s Eve celebrations, we’ll continue on to Delhi.

We’re in India from Jan. 1st – 22nd. We’re focusing on Rajasthan, with a few days in Varanasi and a tiger safari in Madhya Pradesh thrown in. All of our train tickets and hostels are booked – with a limited amount of time, we wanted to take care of all that in advance. It’ll be sleeper class all the way, whether the journey is 14 hours long or 2 hours. According to India Mike, sleeper class presents an ‘interesting challenge’ and is a ‘great way to meet the locals.’

I hope ‘interesting challenge’ doesn’t mean ‘you will regret this decision, idiot.’


2. Hawaii

Oahu Turtle
Image Credit: Flickr, puuikibeach

Less than three weeks after we return from India, we fly into Honolulu.

This is when the vacation part of our winter holiday begins.

On arrival, we’ll meet up with Jared’s parents, my parents, my two sisters, and Alex, my sister’s boyfriend.

Yeah, I called that a ‘vacation.’ The planning part was a nightmare, but luckily we found a 7 bedroom holiday house in Hau’ula for a great price. 7 days there, then 4 days in Lahaina, Maui. Now that the flights, cars and hotels are booked, I am really excited about this trip.

Have you ever noticed that when you start thinking about going somewhere, that place suddenly jumps out at you everywhere you turn? It was like that with Hawaii. Suddenly, I kept stumbling across travel blogs full of information and photos about Oahu and Maui. Must be the universe’s way of telling me that I made the right decision.

Whatever it is, bring on February.


3. Japan

Japanese Cherry blossoms
Image Credit: Flickr, strandell

I cannot, in good faith, miss out on visiting Japan. It would be like growing up in Connecticut and never making it to New York City.

Our summer holiday is likely to fall a few weeks before we finish our contract in Korea. We didn’t want to go somewhere extravagant, because there’s a much bigger trip right around the corner (see #4!). That’s why it seems like a perfect time to take the two-hour flight to Japan. I don’t know where we’ll go – at the moment we’re thinking Tokyo and Okinawa.

I have to admit, Japan sort of feels like it’s on the to-do list, but I’m looking forward to doing it.


Map of South America
Image Credit: Flickr, thejourney1972

4. South America

August 26th, 2012 is the day we start our four-month backpacking adventure around South America.

Well, probably.

I haven’t booked flights, but I can’t stop stealing guilty clicks on Kayak, ‘just pricing’ flights to Rio or Buenos Aires. My mind wanders about possible stopovers: Johannesburg? Oman? Frankfurt? Depends on prices and routes, but a girl can always dream. I’ve abandoned my Korean studies and am blatantly studying Spanish online at work. Sometimes I forget that this trip isn’t just around the corner – it’s 9 months away.

But it’s been three years since I’ve been backpacking for more than 3 weeks, and the anticipation is growing. We may have to stop and look for work along the way, but that’s all part of the fun. At this point, another job can only enhance my resume. What’s 36 jobs when you’ve already had 35, right?

Don’t answer that.


5. Indiana

Walleye at the Indiana State Fair
This is why Jared comes to Indiana.

You read that right. It says ‘Indiana.’

I was last in Indiana in August of 2010. It’s my home town. It’s where my parents live and where my oldest girlfriends are. It’s where I can walk less than 1 mile to reach a SuperTarget, McDonald’s, Starbucks, KFC, Wendy’s, Subway, or Dairy Queen.

I won’t walk, though. I’ll drive.

Because I can do that, there, too.

But most of all, I’m ready to be home for Christmas. I am so sick of missing the holidays, and it’s time to do something about that.

After that – who knows?

There are a few ideas brewing, but that’s a plan for later. What I do know is that none of these trips would be possible if I wasn’t a public school teacher in Korea.

Out of all the jobs I’ve had, this one definitely has the most perks.

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    1. It hasn’t fully hit me yet, but I’m sure it will! Sometimes I wonder why I’m leaving this job.
      I keep reading your blog posts about Hawaii – great tips!

  1. Sounds very exciting!

    Re: South America, if you are coming from Korea, I wouldn’t be surprised if the cheapest ticket was via the US. I met someone in Australia who had flown from South America via LAX to Sydney because it was way cheaper then flying directly from South America to Australia.

    1. We’re trying to avoid going through the US because we aren’t sure how things work with the visa waiver program – if Jared’s visa starts ticking when we transit through, it will create problems when we come back in December. Ugh. Red tape. Must look into that, especially if the flights are going to work out cheaper. So far, they’re all going through Europe, but that could change.

    1. Your comment makes me wanna punch you in the nose. Next time we have an adult family vacation, you can plan it all from a foreign country.

      Can’t wait to see you guys!

  2. You’re good at that stuff anyway. Can’t wait to see what dinners you have planned for us every night for two weeks!

  3. Nice to see you. Actually we met each otherin my office, NH Bank 영월 branch.Your writings always inspire me challenge new experiences. Anyway I hope you have a great time in 영월 and make 영월 well known to people around the world. Thanks.

    1. Hi Gerald! Nice to hear from you. I remember you helped me so much at the bank! Glad you are enjoying the blog. I still love living in 영월 and am very happy to be here.

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