Useful Information for living in Korea
Koreans are quite friendly to visitors and will generally show interest in your well-being. Koreans especially welcome those who smile and make genuine efforts to understand and appreciate Korean language and culture. Patience is a virtue, and the more open you are to experiencing Korea, the fuller and more enriching your visit will be.
Some tend to view Koreans as rushed and always in a hurry. While this may be an over-generalization, people in larger cities do tend to be more in a hurry when seen on subways and busy streets. People in smaller cities and neighborhoods tend to be more relaxed and leisurely in their daily activities. We recommend that you take the time to get familiar with your new surroundings and to appreciate the different cultures within the country.
Punctuality is important to Koreans and to CHUNGDAHM. Making that extra effort to arrive at an appointment a little early will leave a positive lasting impression on your host country. Although taxis are quite inexpensive and abundant in most Korean cities, the subway and bus systems are the most reliable as they are less subjected to traffic congestions and will usually get you to where you want to be on time.
Lastly, don't let yourself be limited as to the range of activities and experiences you can have in Korea! For more information on Korea and the activities you can participate in, visit the Useful Links here or search the web for an inexhaustible amount of information at your fingertips. Welcome to Korea, the land of the morning calm!
As an instructor at CHUNGDAHM, you will be living in a typical studio apartment/bachelor suite that caters to the busy life of a single person. These apartments tend to be smaller than typical Western-style apartments, but are spacious enough to live comfortably. Fortunately, these apartments are in good condition and are very clean. If you are expecting a big fancy loft, you will find yourself disappointed, but if you have a positive and realistic attitude about housing in a large Asian city, you will be pleasantly surprised. All of these apartments have modern, western-style bathroom facilities with a toilet, sink and shower. Bathtubs however are generally rare in single housing accommodation in Korea.
Most CHUNGDAHM instructors find housing in a "Villa" or an "Officetel." Villas and Officetels range in price anywhere from approximately $500 per month up to $1200 per month on average. Keep in mind that the lower end of the range is for apartments outside of Seoul, while the higher end of the range is for apartments in downtown, Seoul. Villas and Officetels come either with furnishings or without. Of course, furnished apartments tend to be more expensive.
Four to five-story buildings that offer accommodation are referred to as "Villas" in Korea. Most of these buildings are located in the residential areas of the city and are more affordable due to the low maintenance costs. These buildings typically have an owner that resides in the building who plays the role of a superintendent.
Tall buildings that offer unit accommodation (alongside business or commercial space) are called "Officetels." Officetels are fairly new, which means they all come with modern features. Most of the suites in Officetels have keyless entry and other neat conveniences, depending on the location. The costs however may be higher than those of a villa due to the building maintenance costs (approximately $50~$150 per month). One of the advantages of living in an Officetel is the close proximity to shops and services, which may sometimes be situated in the building itself.
If you choose the monthly remuneration option where apartment rent is included as part of your salary and benefits, you will receive a furnished apartment within 10-15 minutes from your school location. Furnishings will include a bed, gas stove range, refrigerator, washer, A/C.
We highly recommend you acquire a cellular phone when you arrive in Korea. Almost everyone in the country owns a cell phone, and it is the preferred means of communication at CHUNGDAHM. Instructors will first need to get their Alien Registration Card from the immigration office before being able to register for cellular phone service. An average monthly bill can range between $35 to $70 US dollars, and brand new cellular phones cost between $100 to $1000 US dollars depending on its capabilities.
Many instructors send money home for a variety of reasons- saving, taking advantage of the great exchange rate, or to pay bills. The most common method of sending money to your home country is using bank wire transfers. There is, however, a limit to how much you can send at one time and the fee will depend on the amount that is sent. Instructors on a typical one-year contract with a work visa are permitted to send home approximately 60%-70% of earnings or up to $10,000 US, whichever is greater. Keep in mind that the person receiving the funds will also be charged a small fee. This is a simple procedure that can be done at the bank.
Korea boasts the world's fastest and easiest access to the internet. Teachers can usually get connected without a service charge, if agreeing to a one year contract. The average cost for internet service costs about $30 to $40 US dollars a month. "PC bahngs" are Korea's version of an Internet Cafe and are also known as 'game rooms.' They offer easy access to the internet for those who are not connected at home and are found in all residential areas. They are very affordable with services costing about $1 to $3 US dollars per hour.
Many instructors desire to study the Korean language during their time in Korea. While some courses are available at established adult language institutes, there are ways of learning Korean at no cost from local community centers, language exchange groups and through private tutors. For individuals who are looking for more intensive studies, there are a number of Korean universities that offer both short-term and long-term courses working towards a language proficiency certificate.
Fitness and Sports
Fitness clubs are numerous, easily accessible and typically offer aerobic workouts and free-weight training. Some clubs also offer yoga, Pilates, and other fitness programs to help you keep in shape. Some locations will have saunas too. Most gyms have monthly and/or yearly packages. Monthly fees typically range from $50 to $150 US dollars.
Outdoor sports such as soccer and basketball are also popular. While tennis courts are few and far between and usually require a reservation and fees, basketball courts and soccer pitches can be readily found in schoolyards and in local neighborhoods for public use. While golf in Korea is quite expensive ranging up to $200 US dollars for 18 holes and a caddy, driving ranges cost about $10 to $20 dollars per hour, and may be a more manageable way to practice your swing.
Skiing and snowboarding are also very popular winter sports in Korea. Slopes are just an hour or two away from most major cities. Equipment and ski clothing can be rented at most locations with the cost ranging from about $100 to $150 dollars for lift tickets, rental equipment and lunch. If you plan to do a lot of snowboarding or skiing, it might be wise to invest in used equipment, which is commonly available at very reasonable prices.
For quickly getting around the city and avoiding the increasingly heavy road traffic, taking the subway can be the best way to go. Subway lines go to most of the popular areas, with stops near the major train stations and bus terminals. Station signs are written in English and Korean, as well as Chinese characters at some stops. Announcements about the upcoming stop are made in Korean, although most lines have also added English announcements.
Because of the infrastructure requirements and expenses related to airplane and train travel, bus service continues to provide the bulk of public transportation in Korea. The country has three major types of bus services: intra-city, long distance, and charter. Although bus travel is generally safe, bus drivers want to get where they are going in a hurry. Most drivers drive within reasonable limits, but some tend to ignore most traffic laws. Fortunately, the transportation gods smile favorably on Korea, and the accident rate is lower than it could be. The weak of heart may want to close their eyes for the duration of the trip. When seat belts are available, use them!
Korea has two major types of taxis: regular and mobeom (deluxe), although generally only larger cities have mobeom taxis. You can hail these taxis on the street or find them at taxis stands. (Major transportation hubs such as airports and bus and train stations often have several dozen taxis lined up waiting for passengers.) Many areas also have call taxis that will come and pick you up when you call them, for an added charge. Metered fares are based on taxi type, distance traveled, and various surcharges for time of day or heavy traffic. Passengers are also responsible for any tolls incurred. In the countryside, you will often have to negotiate the price before you start, but within city limits the meter should always be used. Tipping is not a normal custom, unless the driver performs some extra duty like handling your bags
Follow the masses to the platform and wait for the next train. Direction signs are in Korean as well as English. On the platform, station signs contain the name of the station, as well as the previous and next stations (in English, Korea, and sometimes Chinese characters). The Korea National Railroad site lists timetables and fares in English.