Previously I have written a lot about various things to do in Seoul, vacation tips and tricks and etiquette and vocabulary. This week, we’re going down a different path, talking about ways in which you could get yourself to Seoul without actually going on vacation. Take a look!
While a lot of kpop fans go on vacation to Korea, experiencing the tourist view of the country, many of us are dreaming about more. If you are like me, you would like to get as up close and personal to the culture and people of Seoul as possible. As a tourist, you spend a lot of money, you are on vacation, you party till late and get up early to go out and explore. However, this isn’t really a lifestyle to last over an extended period of time.
There are plenty of opportunities for those who have had enough of sightseeing and floating in the vacation bubble in Seoul or Korea. If you want to try out more of a natural lifestyle, working and living in Seoul, check out a few of the options below.
There are plenty of universities and schools in Korea which offer language courses throughout the year. Some of the most popular ones include Korea University, Yonsei University and Ewha Women’s University, which are all high levelled schools and are considered elite universities among Korean students.
While I don’t personally have experience with any of these courses or universities, I have spent days and weeks researching them in my earlier days before becoming a poor student myself. I wanted desperately to go to Korea and learn the language. It wasn’t to be for me, but I have known several friends of mine who has taken courses at any of the three universities mentioned above, who have all recommended the experience.
Most of these courses are levelled, and once you have graduated from Level 1, you are allowed to move up to the next level, and so on. Yonsei University courses last up to 10 weeks each level, and they have starting dates 4 times a year. This way, if you are lucky, you would be able to attend a course during summer vacation.
From what I know, these courses are a great way to get to know Seoul, and also make a lot of friends which are hard to come by as a tourist. Plus point is that you get to learn the language and also practise it in everyday situations, as you will be living as a local, grocery shopping and cooking for yourself. Another plus is that you will have official university councillors and teachers to help you with finding a place to live, and whichever problems you might face during your stay. A very safe and educational trip no doubt!
While I was not lucky enough to fulfil my dream of a language course in Seoul, I have not given up! As a journalism student, I have been lucky enough to be accepted to do work experience at a magazine in Seoul this summer. It is entirely possible, depending on your education and field of study, that you could do the same! Let me talk you through how I became so lucky….
I am at an advantage. Journalism itself is a very versatile major, and can easily be done internationally. However, this also goes for plenty other fields, such as media, business and other. The challenge about getting work placement in Seoul lies in the language barrier. Unless you speak and write Korean fluently, it instantly becomes much more difficult to find a business that might want to hire you. But it’s not impossible.
Research is key. Find English language based companies, international offices based in Seoul. The magazine I will be with are an English written one, whose target audience are expats and foreigners in Korea. Therefore, I am not necessarily at a disadvantage, seeing as I will be writing in English. My employer is also American, and started at a similar point to me, which I suspect is part of the reason he gave me a shot.
The main point of getting a work placement or internship, is to try. If you don’t try and don’t apply to all the various and possible places you could ever want to work, then you will never get anything. Sure, it’s not a given that any employer will think you are right for the job, but he might also find you perfect! Email and follow up on you application, ask questions and show that you are invested in this. It is the only way to stand out.
Now, these are the opportunities I have personal experience or hold some knowledge about. However, there are certainly more options. I will mention some that might be worth looking into below, and if they sound like something worth trying, give it a go!
– Au Pair –
Working for a family, being provided with housing and food while usually taking care of the house and children. This is very popular in European countries, and I don’t know how this works in Korea, but I do know that some Au Pair companies have South Korea listed as a possible country to apply to.
– English Teacher –
Probably the most normal way of becoming something other than a tourist in Korea. Working as an English teacher for students and children at schools around Korea, you get to know a lot about the country and the educational system. But be aware, a lot of these teachers end up grouping together with other foreigners and it affects their ability to pick up the Korean language, being surrounded with English through the day.
– Exchange students –
A lot of universities have exchange programs with various universities in South Korea, offering the chance to go abroad for either a semester or a year. Check with your university!
I hope this has been helpful and provided some advice in how one might get to Seoul in other ways that just being a tourist. While that is great, it is nice to learn more about the little ways that Korea works through a more on hand experience.