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I was recruited back in 2009 during what some consider a ‘golden age’ of teaching English; the joke was: if you had a pulse and a college degree you could land a teaching job in Korea. While I hope that this was a bit of an exaggeration, sometimes it seemed true.

A fellow foreign teacher I had just met at my new school in South Korea told me a story of his first night in Korea. After getting off the plane in Seoul, taking a bus for over five hours, he met a few of his new male Korean colleagues for the first time and in two hours time found himself more drunk than he’d ever been in his life.

“Don't eat anything incapable of rotting.” – Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food

One of the best things about living in a foreign country is eating the traditional food and really embracing the culture. I consider myself a ‘foodie,’ and was delighted to try a new cuisine when I first moved to South Korea in 2009. Back in Oregon, I loved eating spicy Mexican food and often found myself eating hot pepper jellies at a local café in my hometown.

Picture this: You’re a first time English teacher in South Korea. Maybe it’s the first time you’ve lived abroad, maybe not. Either way, it’s a huge leap of faith to get a teaching job at an unknown school in an unknown place and leave your friends, family and everything you know to become an ESL teacher in South Korea.

One of the frequent questions I get regarding teaching and living in South Korea is about food choices. I wasn’t super familiar with Korean cuisine before I moved to Korea and I was very pleasantly surprised to find that when I came home, I missed it terribly, and still do. There are so many lovely dishes and they just don’t taste quite the same out of their country of origin.

I get approached a lot by friends and acquaintances to help their friends or relatives move to South Korea to teach. I would say that about 50% are actually serious and an even smaller percentage of that 50% actually take the leap.

When traveling, you are always bound to encounter cultural differences—it’s part of the fun of travel! For instance, I listened wide-eyed to my friend who spoke of eating pig brains while living in Samoa during his stint in the Peace Corps.

Ever since I moved to South Korea in 2009 to teach English, I usually get a handful of inquiries every year from new teachers wanting to talk about moving overseas to teach. It’s fun for me—I love re-living my international adventure with prospective ESL teachers, and getting excited vicariously.


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