So I only have about a week left before I leave for South Korea. The paperwork has been filed, and now I’m working on getting everything ready for my big move abroad. Last time I left off by letting you all know that I have chosen a teaching position in the city of Suncheon on the southern coast of the peninsula, but I unfortunately ran out of space to explain my decision. There were many factors that played into my decision, but in the end it was pretty clear to me that Suncheon suited me best. Out of all of the job offers I received the position in Suncheon offered me what I really wanted in regards to location, surrounding area, and the job offer itself.
Suncheon is a smaller sized city, at least by South Korean standards, at around 280,000 people. It is situated along the south coast in the Jeollanam-do province, about two hours away from Busan, the second largest city in Korea. Its position along the south coast provides it with a warmer winter, averaging the high 30’s to mid 40’s in the winter, and a milder summer, averaging between the mid 70’s to mid 80’s. It is considered the ecological capital of South Korea, and boasts some of the better natural parks and coastline. All in all, this added up to being pretty close to exactly what I was looking for.
After a bit of job hunting and research it became pretty clear to me that I was really looking for a location somewhere along the coast. To be entirely honest I am still not really sure why, but that was my wish. I think it might have something to do with being landlocked in western Virginia for the past six years! So I knew that I was looking for a coastal city of some sort. I originally was looking mostly in Busan, but as with most of the other things in my job search I was pretty open as to the exact location. Suncheon’s size actually suits me quite well. It is a big enough city that I will be able to find most of the things that I’m looking for shopping, food, and nightlife wise, but small enough that it won’t feel like I’m being crushed like I would in a place like Seoul. The climate also really appealed to me. Being from Michigan I am no stranger to the cold, and would really like to get out of it if at all possible! I think that this will actually be the perfect change of pace in that it will be no where near as cold as it is here, but I will still get a little bit of a taste of winter during the year.
Suncheon lies in the middle of three cities along a small bay on the south coast. Just to the south is the city of Yeosu, and to the east is the city of Gwangyang. Being in the middle of the three cities, it will be very easy for me to get to either Yeosu or Gwangyang by train or bus, and combined all three cities should provide me with more than enough to keep me entertained for a while. Suncheon itself will provide me with plenty of opportunities to enjoy the nightlife and meet other expat teachers from not only the tri-cities, but from all around the Jeollanam-do province. I have heard from multiple sources that Suncheon is actually on of the favorite places for expat teachers to hang out on the weekends from around the province, and even from the province’s capital of Gwangju. There are several expat bars in town, as well as a few western chain restaurants, and even a Starbucks (which is next door to my apartment no less!).
Outside of Suncheon, Yeosu and Gwangyang both provide me with exciting entertainment opportunities as well. Yeosu and Gwangyang each have an excellent events waiting for me this summer. First off, the city of Yeosu will be playing host to this year’s World Expo! Centering around the theme of “The Living Ocean,” and with sub-themes like “Climate and Environment,” “Marine Industry and Technology,” and “Marine Civilization,” just to name a few, the Expo is going to be right up my alley. Tickets are fairly inexpensive, and will be easy to get to by train, so expect a number of reports from me about the Expo this summer! In addition to the Expo in Yeosu, Gwangyang actually has one of my biggest desires for my teaching location, a K-League soccer team! The stadium for the Chunnam Dragons of the K-League is located in downtown Gwangyang. Unfortunately I already missed out on getting a season card, but single game tickets can still easily be had for between $1 to $10, so it’s not too big of a loss. From what I’ve read they’re not the best K-League side, but they’re also no where near the worst either. So I can now count myself as a supporter of the Chunnam Dragons! Now the whole point of me going to South Korea is to teach so it is worth taking a little bit of space to discuss the job offer itself.
The job offer itself was not anything too remarkable. The salary is about average for a a first year teacher over there. I countered their initial offer, trying to get them to come up a bit on the salary, but they didn’t budge. In the end I like the location enough and some of the other points of the contract that it didn’t really matter to me too much. The hours are really nice, I teach from 3 pm to 8:30 pm, and most importantly for me they are paying for my airline ticket over to Korea up front instead of reimbursing me for the ticket after I get over there. I have been in email contact with the teacher I am replacing, and the apartment sounds nice enough. She is also leaving me a bunch of stuff that she wasn’t planning on bringing home, including her mobile phone! The current teacher assuaged my fears about the hagwon, and assured me that they are fair bosses and always pay on time. So all in all it seemed like a good deal to me, and I am definitely satisfied with how it all worked out.
Well that’s just about it for now. I will of course have more in depth things to say about Suncheon and the surrounding areas once I actually get over there. It is always important to be prepared, but there is only so much you can learn doing research on the internet. Now I just need to get everything in order so that I am ready to leave in a little over a week! You can expect a packing report here as soon as I figure out how to pack a year’s worth of stuff into two suitcases! Until then, I will continue to follow my current montra. Keep calm and carry on!