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Country Strong: The Perks of Teaching in a Small Town

Many first-timers to Korea stray away from jobs in the countryside, opting instead for big city-living. The reasons for this are understandable: cities often have an abundance of homely pleasures such as Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks, a greater number of English speakers and other expat libations. However, a teaching job in a Korean village provides unique opportunities that many fail to consider before making their final decision.

The most immediate advantage to living in a small town is how direct your contact will be with Koreans and their way of life. While many expats living in cities make no attempt to learn the language, living in a small town forces you to absorb Korean (and perhaps even their own local dialect!). In no time at all, you will find yourself writing and speaking the language at a high level.

Beyond the language, you’ll get first-hand experience with other aspects of Korean culture, such as its delicious cuisine (Koreans themselves often head out into the country for the freshest beef and kimchi) and traditions.

Being so close to Koreans on a daily basis will not only increase the amount of connections you make with them, but also the depth of those relationships. Koreans are very warm and welcoming people, and they especially love those who familiarize themselves with their culture.

Financially, living in a town is also very sensible, as expats can save much more money than if they lived in a city. Many teachers choose the country life for this very reason, pointing out that local bars and restaurants are much easier on the wallet than high-priced buffets and night clubs. In addition, many public school jobs offer more pay to teachers who make their way into the country.

Lastly, while some people worry about the isolation of being one of a few foreigners in the area, rarely will you be alone. Most public schools will be employing at least one native English teacher. Also, due to Korea’s urbanization, a city is likely never more than a 40 minute bus ride away. Even if you do long for more expat contact, there are plenty of ways to meet others. Adventure Korea and other tour operators organize trips every weekend, a great way to make contacts in other cities.

Ultimately, teachers should choose the location that suits them best, whether that is living in a concrete jungle or out in the heartland. Yet, if you’re looking into truly immersing yourself in all Korea has to offer, consider taking a job in a town or village.

Written by: Bruno Passos Post Credit: Mitch Benvie 

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