At KCON2016 this year, we were privileged enough to be able to moderate some pretty informative and fun panels! One such panel was the “I’m Foreign and Live in Korea” panel, which had quite the turnout! If you’re planning on visiting or even living in Korea sometime in the future, preparations can seem daunting, but we were lucky enough to have some very knowledgeable panelist to help guide us! Woojong, Charly, Courtney and Bonnie Tilland gave thoughtful answers to some tough questions about what to do if you find yourself planning to go or are already living in Korea. Here are some of the key points!
There are a few options when trying to arrange a short or long term trip to Korea. Below are some of the ways in which our panelists made their way:
-College students wishing to go to Korea can apply for the Korea America Student Conference (KASC) program, a month long conference geared toward fostering cultural exchange between American and Korean students. Pricing ranges from $1,195-$2,150 and covers room and board, ground transportation, airfare and programs for the full month stay.
–EPIK is a popular choice for those wishing to teach English in Korea. It’s a government run teaching program, where teachers are recruited to teach English at Korean schools! Check the website for requirements and application procedures. Also, the application process for Spring 2017 is now open!
Charly was actually kind enough to mention that teachers who are accepted into the Korean education system get their flights and housing paid for so…there’s that!
-Summer Programs are also a great way to get to Korea since students would be able to totally immerse themselves in the Korean culture while learning Korean or any other subject pertaining to Korea. Your classroom would literally be right outside your doorstep everyday! We know that Korean universities like Ewha Womans University, Yonsei University, Korea University, Hanyang University all offer some sort of program. Check out their websites or your school’s Study Abroad office for more info and options!
We also discussed some of the things that they learned while being Korea and tips they have for first time travelers:
-Learn as much as you can about the culture and study a little bit of the language before heading over. Talk to me in Korean is a good resource for getting started!
-Getting around in Korea is not as hard as you think! You can get by without knowing Korean, it just helps!
-Don’t go over with really high expectations or preconceptions….everyday life in Korea does NOT resemble a K-drama in the slightest.
-Respect public spaces, like when you ride on public transportation. Don’t be loud and obnoxious and ladies, be sure to cover your chests!
What To Look Out For:
There was cautionary advice as well, such as:
-Learning to say no politely. Expectations, like drinking a lot after work with colleagues, or being the guinea pig for spontaneous English practice sessions with your co-workers, might not be something you’re comfortable with, but don’t reject coldly. Instead, learn how to decline without hurting anyones feelings.
-Beware of cults. This was an interesting one! All the panelists mentioned some sort of encounter with people who would randomly approach and start conversations while trying to get them to attend their meetings. Trippy!
-Be vigilant! Korea is safe so to speak, but stuff can still happen. Always be wary and keep your eyes open! Don’t think you’re immune to misfortune just because you’re visiting.
Charly filmed a good chunk of our panel with her answers (which were quite informative) so we’ll leave that here so you can listen to her insights!
Woojong graced us with a Youtube VLOG about his KCON experience as well. Our panel pops up at about the 3:40 mark!
We hope this was somewhat helpful! Have you lived in Korea? What tips would you add?
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