Is moving to South Korea to teach english right for me?

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The closest I've been to Asia is Israel and Russia and since I think it would be rare for me to want to settle in an Asian country for an extended amount of time, Asia took #1 spot on places I would like to teach english & travel to first.

When I started playing with the idea of moving out of the U.S. there were a lot of factors effecting where I would go, why and for how long. As certain aspects have resolved themselves its likely that I will be leaving with little money for traveling saved up, however I am thrilled to say that I have my savings account for bills & student loans while I am away in great shape! As my last few months pass I am aggressively paying hospital bills and dental bills, which will be paid off before I leave which leaves little money left to save for traveling.

So I need to plan a way to make & save money to travel. In 2005 I volunteered to teach English in Russia and found it extremely challenging and even more rewarding and would love to take another opportunity to teach, and this time I’ll be making money too!

Through a bit of research and talking to friends who have taught outside of the US recently it turns out that Asia is one of the best places to teach right now with building economies and the desire for a good hold on the English language, the real question is which country to teach in.

In September 2011 I posted about where I would like to travel next saying that South Korea was at the top of my list and the best fit for me to teach & save money. I've heard mixed reviews about using a recruiting company and have decided I would like to use one and so far have decided to go with http://morganrecruiters.com/ although that could change if I find someone who can convince me otherwise. (I’d love any insight you can provide!)

 South Korea Map

I don't want to live in a huge city like Seoul, I'd like a more rural experience. I've got my eye on a more southwest location, better climate there too!

 

So why is South Korea appealing to me?

1) It's a gorgeous country and has a coastline, I get butterflies just thinking of being able to visit the beach without having to travel over 700+ miles!

2) There is a large buddhist influence there and I'd love the opportunity to learn more about it while I am there and to visit several Buddhist temples.

3) It is a quick boat trip or flight to China and Japan and only a little further to several other Asian countries. How great it will be to take my vacations to other Asian countries!

4) North Korea and the de-militarized zone (DMZ). To most this would be a very negative aspect of moving to South Korea but I am seriously excited to research it more while I am there. It will make a great research topic for me.

5) Money. This is a large factor that originally drew me to South Korea with great salaries, low cost of living, incentives, bonuses, insurance and flight reimbursement just to name a few examples.                                                       

South Korea Flag

What do you think? Have you ever taught English in another country? Any tips or advice?

Here is some basic information from Morgan Recruiters website about teaching in South Korea:

Working Conditions

All standard contracts in Korea will contain provisions for the conditions detailed below. If you have any questions regarding any of these conditions, please ask one of our recruiters or the director of your school.

  1. Contract length: One year (12 months). Contracts are renewable if agreed upon by both the teacher and the school.
  2. Working hours: Standard contracts call for 25-30 hours per week, averaging 100-120 hours per month from Monday to Friday. A few schools have Saturday classes and some schools, particularly those with adult classes, have split shifts. In your online application you should specify if you are willing to take Saturday classes.
  3. Salary: Salaries normally fall between 2 million and 2.5 million won/month depending on experience and qualifications.
  4. Class size: Most class sizes are quite small, usually between 7-12 students.
  5. Student ages: Most schools have a variety of ages. Most have some kindergarten, elementary, middle and high school classes.
  6. Housing: Housing is provided free of charge either in a single studio apartment or in shared housing with other teachers. You should specify on your application which type of housing you desire. Shared housing is more common in the big cities (Seoul, Busan) where housing prices are higher. In the case of shared housing, each teacher will have their own bedroom and the living room/kitchen area will be shared. The apartment will be fully furnished for the teacher and furnishings provided include bed, TV, microwave, wardrobe, table and chairs, kitchenware, gas range and washing machine. While the apartment is provided free of charge, the teacher is responsible for utilities (gas, cable) and phone charges.
  7. Cost of living: In general about 500,000-700,000 won/month will cover a teacher’s entire living expenses for one month including utilities.
  8. Airfare: The school agrees to purchase a one-way ticket for teachers from the closest international airport in their home country to their location in Korea. After completing the one-year contract, the teacher will be provided a return ticket back to their point of origin or a ticket of similar value so that they can travel elsewhere. In the event that the teacher quits before completing their contract, the teacher agrees to reimburse the employer the cost of the paid airfare. Your airline ticket will be reserved by Morgan Recruiting once you submit your paperwork for your teaching visa to the Korean consulate in your home country. The airline ticket will be sent to you either as an electronic ticket to your email or as a paper ticket to your home address.
    Note: Many schools prepay the teacher’s airfare to Korea in advance but some schools will request that the teacher purchase their own airline ticket and then be reimbursed for the airfare upon arrival to Korea. In the event that schools ask teachers to purchase the ticket themselves and be reimbursed upon arrival, Morgan Recruiting Services will purchase the ticket for the teacher on their behalf and will be reimbursed by the school instead of the teacher.
  9. Paid vacations and holidays: Most schools offer 10 days paid vacation. This is usually one week vacation in the summer and one week in the winter. In addition, the teacher will receive off all Korean national holidays, usually between 9-14 days per year.
  10. Overtime: Overtime varies from school to school but usually falls between 18,000-25,000 won per hour ($18-25).
  11. Severance Pay: Upon completion of the contract teachers will receive a one month severance bonus (one month extra pay). This one-month bonus, paid in the last month, is standard with all contracts and is legally required from all schools under Korean law. The school is not required to pay this bonus if the teacher terminates their contract prematurely.
  12. Tax rates: Income tax rates are extremely low in Korea. For many teachers the rate is around 3%. To check out the amount of income tax you would pay, visit the National Tax Service website in English at: http://www.nts.go.kr/eng/
  13. Health insurance: Korean employers are obligated to provide their teachers with health care insurance and most schools choose to go with the National Health Insurance Plan. The cost of the medical insurance will be split 50-50 between the school and the teacher. The amount that the teacher would pay amounts to 2.59% of their monthly salary. This insurance is not effective until your residency in Korea has been provided (when you receive your Alien Registration Card), which is usually around 2-4 weeks after arrival to Korea. It is advised that all teachers buy travel insurance with medical coverage for 30-45 days following arrival in Korea. To get more information about the Health Plan, please visit the National Health Insurance website at: http://www.nhic.or.kr/eng
  14. Sick leave: Most contracts do have provisions for 3-4 sick days with a doctor’s note. However, it is important that teachers use these sparingly as other teachers will be the recipient of your classes in case you need to miss. Emergency leave of up to one week can normally be provided in the case of serious family emergency.
  15. Pension Plan: Teachers pay 4.5% of their monthly salary which is fully matched by the employer who also pays 4.5% (so a total of 9% is stored in the national pension). Paying into this pension is legally required in Korea. The teacher will receive their full pension refund (both their contribution and their employer’s contribution) when they leave Korea. This can add up to almost an extra month’s pay for the teacher at the end of the year. This full refund only applies to teachers from Canada, the U.S. or Australia. Currently, teachers from other countries are unable to get this refund as their government has no reciprocal agreement with the Korean government. For more information about the National Pension Plan, please visit their homepage in English at: http://www.nps.or.kr/jsppage/english/main.jsp

Why Teach in Korea

Why Korea? It’s a question that I’ve been asked again and again. Quite simply Korea offers some great teaching opportunities with terrific benefits. With benefits that include free housing, free airfare, good starting salaries, a one-month salary bonus at the end of your contract, medical insurance, low taxes and two-weeks paid vacation, the rewards to come and teach in Korea are very high. If you are a university graduate looking for an opportunity to experience a new culture while saving money, teaching English in Korea may be a good fit for you.

The benefits of coming to teach in Korea include:

Experiencing a new culture: Korea offers some great opportunities to immerse yourself in a new culture. With its beautiful beaches, breathtaking mountains, historical temples, bustling cities and delicious food, Korea has something to offer everyone.

Saving money: Many teachers who come to Korea are able to save two-thirds of their salary while still living well. This is mainly due to the fact that most of your major expenses are paid as the housing is provided free and taxes in Korea are very low (around 3%). Furthermore, the low cost of living in Korea with food and transportation being quite inexpensive makes for great savings potential. This gives you the opportunity to save money for the future, pay off student loans, invest or travel.

Great compensation packages: All teaching positions in Korea come with excellent compensation packages which include:

  • free return airfare from your country to your location in Korea
  • free housing in a single or shared apartment
  • one month’s bonus salary at the end of the contract
  • medical insurance, half paid by the school
  • renewable 12 month contracts with the school
  • two weeks paid vacation in addition to all Korean holidays

Gaining valuable experience: Teaching overseas not only provides opportunities to save for the future, but it also provides valuable overseas experience that looks good on your resume to prospective employers. Furthermore, some teachers discover that they love teaching and end up making a career out of it.

Traveling: Korea is perfectly located for inexpensive travel to many great places in Asia including China, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia. Many teachers choose to travel during their paid vacation. Other teachers take extended vacations at the end of their contract when they receive their one-month bonus.

Basic Qualifications to Teach in Korea

In order to obtain an E-2 teaching visa for Korea, you must satisfy the following requirements:

  1. You must be a native English speaker. Teaching experience is not necessary, although it is an asset.
  2. You must be a citizen of one of these seven countries: Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and South Africa. Under Korean law only citizens of these countries are eligible for the E-2 teaching visa.
  3. You must hold a valid passport from one of the above-mentioned countries with at least six months validity remaining on it from the time of your departure. We recommend having at least 12 months however, as it can be difficult to renew your passport in Korea.
  4. You must have a 3-4 year Bachelor’s degree in any major from an accredited university. 2 year associate degree holders are not eligible to obtain an E-2 teaching visa even if they hold a TESOL certificate.
  5. You must not have a criminal record.

snapshot saturday: The Grand Canyon of the Pacific

I was fortunate enough to be invited to tag along with one of my college friends on vacation in Kauai, Hawaii. This was my first time ever visiting Hawaii and I had an idea of what to expect but Kauai was nothing like I could have dreamed, the island is adventurous and untamed with a somewhat clandestine history.

Among the many unique attractions this island has to offer is Waimea Canyon on the west side of the island. Being from Utah I have been fortunate to see the Grand Canyon in all its glory and was excited to see its sister formation in the Pacific Ocean. The canyon measures 10 miles long, 1 mile wide and more than 3,500-feet deep while the island itself is only 26 miles across and 21 miles north to south. It was carved by rivers and floods from Mount Wai’ale’ale, “One of the Wettest Spots on Earth” receiving an average of 466 inches of rain each year, Mount Wai’ale’ale also happens to be one of my absolute favorite places to hike in the world!

WaimeaCanyon3

Standing in the midst the beauty of Waimea Canyon reminds you how magnificent life is and makes for a perfect get away from the beach/island scene, you'll nearly forget you're in Hawaii until you turn around and see the coastline in the same panoramic view as 'The Grand Canyon of the Pacific."  HeatherWaimeaCanyon

We opted to drive along the canyon road and pulled over at several lookouts as well as hiking a few trail heads so there is an option for everyone in your group depending on the amount of physical activity they enjoy.

I wore my Keen shoes most of my time in Hawaii. Sure they look a little ridiculous but I would recommend them hands down! They are great for when your plans are going to involve water and dry land. I never once got a blister, they dried quickly, I wasn't slipping in my shoes and they've got great traction when you're in water. A bit expensive but I plan on having them for a long time and they were perfect for kayaking, hiking, swimming, snorkeling, zip lining and walking all in the same day!

 Waimea Canyon

The 15 Day International Travel Challenge: Day 14

Day 14 – What did you learn from traveling abroad?

Geeze! How do I answer that question? I'd have to tell you to read my blog, all the content has been influenced by what I’ve learned from my travels.

 

However I will tell you this. You never really know someone until you travel with them.  

When was the last time you were in a completely foreign place? Language? Transportation? Food? Schedule? Culture? Food? People?

In my experience, those are the moments when you’re completely yourself. I believe we are all a product of our environment, but who are you when you’re no longer in your environment?

When contemplating on what made me happiest in this world, most my memories were while I was traveling, that’s not to say traveling doesn’t come with its own set of challenges but I thrive in those circumstances. I didn’t know that until I traveled.

In my Buddhism class we discussed harmony, the way we live when we find something we are passionate about and it promotes a beautiful harmony between what you’re feeling and what you’re doing. Well, when I travel I am my favorite version of myself.

I’ve been sitting here staring at my computer screen contemplating how to best explain what I am trying to say and then it occurred to me I am just trying to explain passion, and that is like trying to explain a color or a flavor and all you have are adjectives cause experiencing food or sight isn’t translatable, its an experience, and experience is too personal to share exactly like it is.

So instead I will tell you what traveling taught me, it taught me what passion is, and passion drives my life. Without knowing that passion I can’t tell you what my life would become.

Travel teaches me to live.

WildJunket's: 8 Things I’ve Learnt While Living Abroad

BootsnAll: 10 Important Life Lessons You Learn From Living Abroad

D Travels Round: Travel lessons from the Merchant Marines

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Day 01 – Favorite place(s) you’ve been to?

Day 02 – Where you’d like to travel next?

Day 03 – An adventure/challenge you had while traveling or living abroad.

Day 04 – A picture of you in another country.

Day 05 – What do you bring with you when you travel?

Day 06 – What does “home” mean to you?

Day 07 – Besides people, what did/do you miss from home?

Day 08 – A favorite food from another country/culture.

Day 09 – A favorite foreign movie.

Day 10 - A song you like from another country/language.

Day 11 – Did you have any milestones or “firsts” while traveling or living abroad?

Day 12- Someone who influenced you to travel abroad. 

Day 13- A favorite travel quote.

Day 14- What did you learn from traveling abroad?

Day 15- Advice to someone who’s thinking about traveling to another country? 

Guest Post: Traveling through Time with Thomas DiLorenzo

Editors Note: The following is a guest post by Jeremy Furbish. For more information about writing a guest post for Heathers Harmony Download Writing a Guest Post

The following is a guest post book review of The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War, by Thomas J. DiLorenzo.  This book was selected by people participating in  their Book of the Month for December 2011. FURB is managing editor of that website.  

 Furb

(Furb with 2 of his daughters at a local hockey game)

Firstly, thank you Heather, for allowing me to be a contributor to your blog.  To the reader, I want you to know that I have travelled.  Some of the places I have travelled are Quebec and the maritime provinces of Canada, England, Bermuda, and all over the United States.  Due to familial constraints (willingly entered into by me), I now rarely travel physically.  Mentally and spiritually, I am still travelling through the world of ideas, and I want to tell you about a journey I just finished.

 “There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man.  It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition. And, it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.” ~ Rod Serling, creator of The Twilight Zone

On my most recent journey I hired a guide.  His name is Tom.  He lives and works in Baltimore, Maryland.  But there is one unusual thing about Tom; he is a time traveler.  This isn’t the first time that I have hired Tom to take me on a journey.  On my previous journey with Tom he showed me some pretty amazing things, but nothing had prepared me for this trip into the past.  The last journey was a journey where I experienced many wonderful and happy things.  Tom showed me how capitalism saved America.

This time, Tom has shown me a scene altogether scary and sometimes gruesome.  On this trip Tom has taken me from Illinois circa 1840, to New England at the end of 1814, to South Carolina in April 1861, and to various physical points in time and space in the United States and the deep south.

The main point of this trip was to visit with… to really get to know that mythic figure of history, Abraham Lincoln.  Having been keenly interested in history my whole life, I was eager to learn more about Father Abraham, the Great Emancipator, and preserver of the Union.  What really drove Abraham Lincoln to enter into politics in the first place?  Tom has visited with Father Abraham, his friends, and lots and lots of Lincoln’s friends and protégés, and with his detractors, where they could be found, in an attempt to introduce him as a real man. 

 

Thereallincoln

Tom introduces me to Lincoln as a young trial lawyer first, filled with a frothy political ambition.  Young Abe, infatuated with Henry Clay and his “American System,” seemingly had one motive: to become a wealthy merchant, a peddler man, a peddler of political favors and influence through the consolidation of power, implemented through an all powerful central government.  Tom shows us how Father Abraham, as a young state legislator in Illinois became known as Leaping Lincoln for jumping out of the legislative chamber’s window to avoid having to cast a vote on a bill.

Tom shows how Lincoln matured into a United States Representative, who openly expressed white supremacist sentiments, pushed legislation to consolidate power in the hands of the few and ladle out pork chop after pork chop to his political patrons.  But the worst was yet to come.

Tom shows how Lincoln used his mastery of doublespeak to perpetrate an inhumane war against the secessionist south while portraying it as a fight against slavery (while freeing no slaves).  Lincoln is shown to be a mostly an inhumane individual who destroyed the United States system of voluntary association between the states, and went on to break international law by tacitly allowing the burning, looting, and raping of the South and it’s women, especially the people of African origin.

On this journey, I was awakened to harsh reality of a brutal man, who is raised up in alabaster white in his memorial, but whose garments are stained with the blood of many.  Particularly shocking to me was Father Abraham’s total crackdown on dissent, which included the suppression of free speech, indefinite detention of his detractors (including newspapers and their editors).  Eventually Lincoln’s policies lead to the imprisonment and deportation of a sitting member of the United States House of Representatives, which the following passage documents:

“At 2:30 AM on the morning of May 4, 1863, armed Federal soldiers under the command of General Ambrose Burnside knocked down the doors of the Dayton, Ohio, home of Congressman Clement L. Vallandigham and arrested him without a civil warrant; they then threw him into a military prison in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Congressman Vallandigham was subsequently deported by Lincoln to the Southern states, and he then moved to Canada.

Vallandigham’s “crime” was making a speech in response to Lincoln’s State of the Union Address in which he criticized the president for his unconstitutional usurpation of power.  For this he was declared a “traitor” by Lincoln and imprisoned without trial.  The Democrats in Ohio (a loyal Union state and home to Generals Grant and Sherman) were so outraged that they nominated Vallandigham for the office of governor even though he had been deported.

In his speech Vallandigham expressed his principled devotion to both the Union and the Constitution, which is why he was so critical of Lincoln.  He made the point that Congress alone had the power to borrow money, and yet Lincoln had usurped that power… [by] the suppression of the press, the suspension of habeas corpus, the blockade of Southern ports, and other dictatorial acts.”

I recommend Tom as an excellent guide. He is a guide that will bring you back to the time of The Real Lincoln.  When you return, you will better understand today’s world and what is happening in it.  He may even inspire you to take another journey by sidestepping the perils of the Age of Lincoln, many of which are eerie parallels in the Age of Peace under Obama.

 

 

My Compass Tattoo

I am thrilled to announce that I finally got my compass tattoo, I’ve been waiting for a long time to get a travel related tatto and things kept falling through but I knew when it was meant to happen it would, and sure enough in the past year my simple idea evolved into exactly what I wanted!

Tattoo

North- It’s in Russian, which is really just an ‘H’. “Mother Russia”

It resembles my mother, who without fail is my greatest example, quick to be my listening ear, shoulder to cry on & always always always supports me, even when she doesn’t always appreciate my endeavors. North also resembles Russia because it was the first country I visited other than my own. It was the catalyst to my passion for travel and will always be cherished in my heart.

East- This resembles my brother Robby, he is truly a diamond in the rough, marvelously intelligent with a brazen personality but at the end of the day he’s really just a big teddy bear!

South- Represents my sister Sarah, who chose the & symbol for her cardinal direction. My sister is genuine and down to earth, she is fabulously intuitive and seems to always know just what I’m looking for whether it be an inspirational movie, meaningful conversation or a thoughtful gift.

West- The Chinese character for West chosen by my eldest brother KC. He is a brilliantly talented writer who is ready at the drop of a hat to provide witty commentary, quotes and movie lines to provide guidance for any situation you find yourself in.

What is it like to get a tattoo? For starters, yes, it does hurt. BUT it isn’t the kind of pain that you can’t stand. I will say though, my body can be weaker than my brain sometimes, I can’t control getting sea sick just like I couldn’t stop myself from going into shock. My tattoo artist and old friend from high school brought me a coke & some chocolate as we waited for me to recover and then we pressed on. If you want a tattoo I hope that doesn’t dissuade you, I can be quite the baby, but the endearing fact is that being a baby doesn’t stop me from doing tough things!

How do you know what you’re going to want on your body forever?  To be honest, tattoos are a personal preference, most people either love them or hate them and if you love them it usually means you’ll get one and find something you’ll want forever. I wanted my first tattoo since I was a freshmen in high school (the outline of a star on my foot) real no sentiment there although by the time I got it 8 years later the timing was significant in my life.

Both of the shapes are from a designer whom I love and while the star is pretty generic the heart has more character, although I will be adding to it in the near future.

My compass tattoo is significantly more meaningful and I have no reason to believe I won’t love it as much as I do now, as I will love it 50 years from now when its been aged through life & experience. ruin is a gift.

Tattoostarheart

Where did you get your tattoo?  I explained to my friend Jose what I wanted and he incorporated my ideas into a beautiful drawing, from there my idea evolved to add my immediate family as the cardinal directions. I knew I wanted my old friend from high school, Mitch Anderson to do the tattoo himself, Mitch has been tattooing for over 5 years now and gave my drawing life.

Mitch is located at Old Town Tattoo Gallery, while I’d never been to this shop previously I loved the urban feel but more than anything it isn’t just brimming with talented tattoo artists, they are spectacularly talented artists in several mediums, their work is displayed not only as decoration but is also for sale in the shop. I’m a fan of keeping it local and enjoy supporting independent artists, so if you’re ever in the market its worth checking out!  

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Tattoo’s aren’t for everyone, I know that. So if this post doesn’t inspire you to say something kind, please keep it to yourself. Thank you!