How To Move To The UK

“Adventurer Stacey’s in the London, that’s awesome for her! How do I do that?” is what I hear behind every question I’m asked about my recent re-location. I used to ask those questions too before I took on a life of travel and adventure, now that things have gone full-circle I’m smiling to myself. I’ve created a list to break down the steps for a move to the UK (or any country for that matter) which I hope you can find useful:

UK-England-London-Tourist-Photo-Big-Ben-Adventurer-Stacey

#1 Draw up a plan

Preparations for relocation can start up to six months before you move. For me this time, it was only three months however, many people take less time. It’s up to you and your personal needs.

#2 Passport check!

Do you have one? Is it valid for much longer? If you need a new one start going through the process of passport application ASAP as you need a passport to apply for visas. For some people who’re eligible for a UK or EU passport, they won’t need to worry about the next steps (and the rest of us are jealous of you, by the way!)

#3 Get the correct work visa

Most Aussie’s, Kiwi’s and Canadian’s under 31 will opt for a Working Holiday visa. These are easy to get and can take as little as two weeks however, if you’re highly skilled you may want to apply for the highly skilled migrant visas. Check with the British High Commission ASAP which visa type best applies to your situation.

Charles-Darwins-Garden-Kent-England-UK-Adventurer-Stacey

#4 Book Flights

I’ve written a bit about how to find cheap flights in the past but as a general rule, booking in off season or shoulder season to the UK is usually cheaper, you may also want to see if there is a big difference between business class seats and economy as sometimes the price is very close and being such a long flight for some, you may want that luxury.

#5 Purchase travel insurance

I’m with World Nomads who I strongly recommend because their coverage is so good – they even offer coverage for work-related injuries (lets hope that’s never a problem!) and cover you for more than just the UK. You can also renew your cover as you travel which is great for those of us who need it (like myself!)

#6 Sort out your home

If you own your place, you might want to consider renting it out to help with those mortgage repayments. If you are renting, you’ll want to find someone who can keep your stuff at their place or work out a storage option. Make sure you have this sorted well in advance to moving as you don’t need the stress.

church-window-scotland-uk-adventurer-stacey

#7 Mail: what are you doing with it?

You might want to consider getting a friend or family member to open your mail at home and relay anything important to you. Or alternately you can get everything sent to you electronically through a service or from the companies themselves.

#8 Consider power of attorney

This is not a must-do however, many long-term travellers or expats give their power of attorney to a trusted friend of family member back home. This is an extension of someone just reading your mail for you however, you might want to look into it and see if it’s an option for you considering you do plan to be away for a while.

#9 Health checks

You will want to ensure any vaccinations are up-to-date, your dental checks out and your doctor has had a good look at you before you go. You’ll also want to ensure any medications you are on are also available in the UK and take a note from your doctor about any medications you’ll be taking with you on the plane. It’s also important if you have contact lenses or glasses that you take an optical prescription with you as well.

Apparently the horse had a hole drilled in him to drain water... hole is in his penis so he looks like he is weeing when it rains. Cannot verify this story, but thought you'd like to know...

Apparently the horse had a hole drilled in him to drain water… hole is in his penis so he looks like he is weeing when it rains. Cannot verify this story, but thought you’d like to know…

#10 Pack properly and on time

I am an experienced backpacker but for sure, there were packing mistakes I made the first time I moved here. I left some things at home that I sort of needed and had to buy there. I would prefer to go that way than the other way though. You should start packing no more than a month before you leave (in order not to over-pack) and no less than a week before you leave (because you don’t need to stress about packing last moment). I have a general packing list for backpacking too that is a good starting point.

#11 Photocopy important documents

Make copies of important documents before you go: passport, travel insurance, visas, credit cards, hotel/hostel reservations and tickets. You’ll want to leave these at home however, some people make several copies and carry some with them, leave one copy at home and email another copy to themselves so if something goes wrong they can deal with it then and there rather than having to call that person at home and ask for their credit card numbers when they need to cancel them.

#12 Get some spare passport photo’s taken

Generally with travel this is a good idea – I’ve had to use spare passport photo’s a number of times for things like visas. I’ve never been unlucky enough however, I’ve heard some police in some countries want them for police reports if you have to report theft.

heritage-houses-edinburgh-scotland-uk-adventurer-stacey

#13 Get your CV sorted

I’ve previously mentioned this on the blog however, UK employers prefer two-page CV’s with dates of each job (starting and leaving). Make sure yours is UK ready before you go as this will save plenty of time and hassle once you arrive.

#14 Contact your UK-based mates

This is super important! Sure, a whole lot of Aussie’s, Kiwi’s and Canadian’s move to the UK every single year and it won’t take much for you to make new friends but it’s much, much easier to have those familiar friends around you when you arrive and it’s never been easier to do this. Shortly before you leave (I left mine to a month before I left) you can change your city on facebook to the one you will be moving to in the UK and then search for other people in your friends’ list who’re in the same city. Surprisingly, you will find people who you didn’t know had moved. I found some old university friends which was great because they already knew what professional jobs were like here, employers expectations, etc. and could help me out. Also, joining facebook groups is a great way to hit the ground running. There’s a bunch of more formal ways to do this too like university alumni organisations, clubs and groups you’re a member of back home, etc. however, this is becoming the more popular way to connect so why not?

wax-figure-edinburgh-museum-adventurer-stacey

I hope that break down has helped you guys’ who’re thinking of making the big move and I sincerely hope this method of breaking things down encourages some of you to chase those travel dreams. I’d love to hear about others’ experiences with moving to the UK and any advice they would have for people considering it in the comments below. Keep adventuring guys’!

Four Of My Favorite Things About Dublin

I’m in Dublin this week for St. Patrick’s Day and am very excited to be here! It’s a great little city and very hard to get lost in (although, I do try!). The atmosphere this time of year though is what I came here for. Everyone’s Irish, even those who’re not and the city is full of revelers having a good time and spreading the Irish cheer.

My favorite things about Dublin though, are not the cliché one’s or the tourists, from my last trip here I had four favorites I wrote about in my travel journal. Actually, there were more but four seemed an appropriate number for an Irish story (like the four leaf clover, its lucky!) so I picked my favorite four and here they are:

Mohr-Ireland-Adventurer-Stacey

Pub Culture

Ireland has some of the best pub culture in the world. You can walk into a pub in the middle of the day and find local people drinking and shooting the breeze. Unlike in many other places in the world where a pub is a bar or a venue you go to dance, in Ireland they’re like public lounge rooms and people pop in for a drink and to catch up with their neighbors, the local gossip and politics.

At night though, pubs are full of great music, dancing and slightly awkward local boys’ trying to chat up local girls’. They’re fun places to be full of laughter and good cheer. Something I wish there was more of everywhere in the world.

Dublin Chippers

I was introduced to Dublin chippers by a local the first time I was in Ireland. Everywhere in the world seems to have its after-drinking food and a 2am trip to the Dublin chipper to pick up some fish and chips (or likely just chips) is as good as any after-drinking food in my book. Plus, you always seem to find someone you know in there, even if you have only been in town a few days’. Small place, very friendly.

Irish Directions

The first time I was in Ireland this happened to me and I thought it was just one weird guy but apparently it’s not uncommon (says Irish comedians, one shown below on youtube)

In my story, young pre-backpack Adventurer Stacey had over packed her suitcase and had broken it. She had to find a shopping mall to buy a new suitcase but got lost on the way (as always) and had to ask for directions. Most of the places in the world where I have asked directions I get something boring like, “Turn left at this set of lights and keep going, it’s on your left.” But not in Ireland. In Ireland the directions were more like, “Go left here and walk for ten minutes, then turn right and walk another five minutes, it’s on your left.” I laughed, surely he wasn’t serious. Did he know the pace of my walk? If I was likely to get distracted on the way and stop? Wind speed? Direction? I told him to stop taking the piss and tell me for real, how I get there. He laughed and told me he’d already told me before walking away. There was no-one else around so I decided to try it and you won’t believe, I got there. (the part about directions is at the two minute mark)

Irish Slang & Humor – You’ll Never Get It, Even When You Think You Do

I’ve had Irish friends and I think at this stage I mostly understand them (even though sometimes they do seem pretty alien) but when I was first in Ireland, often slang would go straight over my head and locals obviously didn’t want to tell me that they didn’t mean what they were saying.

One of my more vivid memories was when two older Irish men were at the pub, one asked the other what he wanted, “Oh, just a half Guinness” “Only a half?” asked his shocked friend before leaning closer to me and uttering, “He’s not well you know.” I thought he meant his friend was genuinely unwell, maybe he was about to go in for surgery and shouldn’t be drinking. As a result, I asked the first guy about his health and if he was okay, really. Did he need to go home? Some water? He just stared at me in confusion. Neither talked to me for the rest of the night. I later heard from someone that someone being “not well” was slang, a dismissive way of saying someone was crazy. I wonder if these guys’ thought I genuinely was crazy after the event.

Those are my four – now, if you excuse me I’m off to enjoy this wonderful little city!

Is It Hard To Find Work In London?

UK-England-London-Tourist-Photo-Big-Ben-Adventurer-Stacey

Something I see often on travel and expat forums is people stressing out, the common concern is clear: “But what if I get to London and cannot find work!”

Although this worry is totally understandable, it’s unlikely to be a real issue for many people. As long as their savvy, able to find work in their own countries and are willing to be a bit creative when the chips are low, finding work in London shouldn’t be a real concern.

The last time I was in London I had three job offers in as many days (and I wasn’t even living there!) of course, these were not high paying jobs and I would have needed to find something else eventually had I of chosen to live in London but the point is that in London, “Survival jobs” are abound if one cannot find the job in the industry they wish to work in.

UK-central-london-london-eye-adventurer-stacey

The three jobs I was offered were one in a restaurant, one in a bar and one in retail. Of course, two of the jobs paid slightly above minimum wage and the third was below minimum wage however, if one was in debt when they moved to London (as many backpackers are by the time they reach the “London stop”) or needed to find a job quickly they could quite easily find work.

Now let’s talk about those coveted professional job’s most people would prefer to be working with their higher pay and more sociable hours. How does one get one with as little stress as possible? Here’s a short, four-point strategy to keep in mind:

#1: What work will you do? “Anything” is not an answer!

It’s okay to have a fall-back (aforementioned survival job) in case your professional ambitions take some time to take off in the new city (let’s be honest, employers seeking a professional workforce have turn-arounds of something like 4-6 weeks between sending your application in and your start date and not everyone can afford to spend that time in their new flat on the couch). However, having some direction is important for when those opportunities do come up. Going to London and knowing you want to use your marketing degree gives you something to aim for when you are applying online or through agencies for positions and when you are in your survival job in the pub when a marketing executive comes in for a pint, you can smile and ask questions that may bring up leads (just don’t do this in front of your boss, okay?)

One must have a direction, or no tree shall be climbed...

One must have a direction, or no tree shall be climbed…

#2 Get your resume London-ready before leaving home

I love writing but even I cannot stand resume writing and when you must have a copy of your resume for each job type (ie. Your survival job AND your professional job) it’s all the more annoying. Before I land in London I will have a science resume, a hospitality resume and a nanny/babysitting resume. Different countries have different resume templates and it’s best to make sure your resume matches that of the country you’re moving to.

#3 Have a pre-London-arrival and post-London-arrival strategy

So you know you’re amazing and any employer should be happy to have you but, maybe you’re a week away from flying out and too busy with preparations for the new city to keep applying for jobs? That’s okay because you have a bunch of number’s to call once you’ve arrived, a killer strategy for hiding the jet-lag induced bags under your eyes and are perfectly willing to ask anyone – even the owner of the curry house where you have your first London lunch – about work opportunities. Having some sort of plan for “if I don’t find work from home” is positive and will help you far more than if you never let yourself have one.

#4 Consider agencies

Employment agencies are a big deal in the UK. Many professionals, both local and expat’s find their work through them and often they will be working within forty-eight hours of arriving in London (crazy, right?). The best way I’ve found to register with UK employment agencies is through Agency Central

No idea what this building is, but know that no-one working minimum wage is living here, or driving that car...

No idea what this building is, but know that no-one working minimum wage is living here, or driving that car…

Moving to a new city will never be easy however, when one considers the transient nature of mega-cities like London’s population the well-worn path of people before you does make it appear easier to make this work than it sometimes feels like when you’re receiving rejection letters. Chin up, it’s all part of the experience and this is a great “coming of age” experience for many young Kiwi’s, Aussies and Canadian’s for a very long time.

Travelling Creatives: Wandering The World, Making Art

Travel really brings out creativity in people, to live an unconventional life of travelling freely for extended periods of time people have to get creative.

Artisans from a nomadic tribe currently in Guatemala create beautiful jewelry

Artisans from a nomadic tribe currently in Guatemala create beautiful jewelry

While I was in the UK I was staying in hostels (or living in hostels technically when you consider the length of time) and while I was there I met some of the most talented musicians I think I have ever met in my life. I felt so much richer just for having been enchanted by their art.

In South America the creative types morph from buskers with guitars into jugglers, circus folk and artisans who make jewellery, handicrafts and even bars of soap to sell in their pursuit of a live lived on the road. These guys’ seem to be living a much rougher lifestyle from the outside however, they seem much happier than their often better-off European busking cousins.

In the past I’ve also met traveling hairdressers, the best hair cut I ever had was in a hostel in Belize. They’re every bit as creative in their marketing to backpackers for fast cash before moving onto the next town as the traditional artisan creatives.

Scots-Bagpipes-Edinburgh-Adventurer-Stacey

Being around all of these creative types feels amazing! While in Edinburgh I was nudged by some musicians who were living in the hostel to come to a bar and listen to music. Sounds unremarkable as most bars with live music tend to put a band on themselves however, this bar had just opened the floor to anyone who was interested in playing. As a result half of the bar was talented musicians and the other half was people like myself who happily listened. The bar was so full of people one could hardly move but that didn’t matter, you had no reason to want to go anywhere. To buy a drink one would pass their money to the bar from person-to-person (a lot of trust here) and then have their drink passed back from person-to-person (even more trust when you consider how much Scot’s love a drink!). It was such a great experience and one I will cherish always, it really fed my soul.

Being as surrounded by creative energy as I am while on the road I want to dust off a guitar and learn to play again, or start up my own travelling micro-business in handicrafts or to learn to cut hair so I can cut travellers hair and make enough to travel onwards.

Sadly, I am lacking in these areas at the moment. I am a writer and find great pleasure in a quiet corner of a hostel common room, tea mug in hand writing for my blog and for my personal travel journal. This is my creative streak expressed.

Although writing is solitary I know it won’t make me quick money like busking or selling jewellery will. Perhaps I should have polished some other skills before I left home. Hindsight is twenty-twenty!

 

Do you have skills that can make you money on the road? If so, will/do you use them to aid your travels?

Travel Jobs: (often illegal) Bar work

“Hey, you were here last night, weren’t you?” John from Nha Trang, Vietnam asks me, smiling. “No, I passed by and you tried to get me to come into your bar but I went home – long days’ travel.” I explain, looking him dead in the eye and seeing all of the boredom and loneliness there. I hate it when people’s eyes are not sparkling – it makes me sad to knowing they’re sad.

(Photo credit: Sam Howzit)

(Photo credit: Sam Howzit)

Many, many travellers have picked up bar work sometimes legally but often illegally all over the world. I’ve seen some of this in my own country Australia but also in Asia, Europe and North America. These guy’s risk having their passport blacklisted and live a life with a revolving door of new acquaintances, horrid hours, low or no pay, in a constant state of drunk or hangover which will leave the most seasoned drinker praying for it to end.

When I travelled to Lagos, Portugal the only thing bar workers needed was an ability to get drunk and party until the wee hours then repeat their performance for three to five months. Unlike most of the gigs in Asia, these guys’ were getting paid so they could afford to eat decent(ish) food, they’d do a few hours work in a hostel as well in exchange for a place to sleep at night (or rather, in the day) and free alcohol. Not a job for saving money, but enough to stretch out your travel just that few months’ longer which can be enough for some people.

In Lagos, I met Chrissy, an Australian (Legos had only a few nationalities: Portugese (minority), English, Irish, Scottish, Australian), she had beautiful, long blonde hair and a body appreciated by most bar guys, and their patrons. I went out with her for a drink one night when she had a daggy sweater on yet she still had half a dozen guys’ hitting on her and clambering to buy her drinks.

Later I met another Aussie called Mark who was deeply lonely and broke. The season proper had not started yet and he like John of Vietnam, Mark already had no light in his eyes. I stayed in the same hostel four nights, I think he had a different female visitor at least three of those nights (he was staying in a different dorm, thank god!).

Chrissy was smart and although she had been offered a job, told the bar she was doing some backpacking and would be back later in the season, could she start work then? Sure, whatever you want they said. I knew myself that she wouldn’t be back, what’s the appeal in this life for her?

Have you worked in a backpacker bar while travelling to sustain yourself? Am I unfair in my assessment? If I am, would you recommend this gig to other travellers? Please share your experience and opinion in the comments below.

Announcing my upcoming working holiday!

The London Bridge is falling down, falling down...

The London Bridge is falling down, falling down…

I recently graduated university with a science degree. The ceremony was beautiful, I had my whole family there cheering me on as I walked across the stage to accept my certificate. Happily, I didn’t trip over my gown and fall flat on my face, I just breezed right in gracefully accepting my certificate before turning and smiling at my proud family.

Until now, I’ve been working travel around my studies. With 11-week semesters twice a year I had plenty of time to take off and explore however, I had to keep coming back to my homeland, Australia to complete my degree. Not that I’m complaining as I am really lucky to be a resident of Australia’s cultural capital Melbourne but it does inhibit you from living elsewhere, finishing a degree.

I’ve had my eyes on the UK for a long time now. In 2012 I first visited London, Belfast and Stone Henge. I enjoyed my time there but didn’t feel I was giving myself enough time to delve deep enough into the UK’s history and culture. I was just a tourist, flittering through having a good time but not really connecting with the place on the deeper level I’d like to.

stone-henge-adventurer-stacey

A few weeks’ ago I went to pick up my passport. I had received two ambiguous emails about the Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) working holiday visa I had applied for and was feeling a little worried, as if I wouldn’t receive this visa and therefore wouldn’t be able to experience the UK as I’d like to. I went through the heavy locked door into a room where I had to empty my pockets and turn off my phone, placing everything into a locker before being called into another security room and being told to stand on a red dot as I was scanned with a hand-scanner. As if I could have hidden any weapons in my dress. Then I was allowed through to a third room where I’d sat just two weeks before when I applied for my visa. I waited to be called and when I was the woman just handed me an envelope. I stared at it for a second before I was dismissed, I stood up to leave then asked, “But, did I get my visa?” the girl behind the desk smiled at me, “You’ll have to open the envelope to find out.”

I walked over to one corner out of the way and opened the envelope. I was flipping through my passport looking for the visa. Finally, after twenty-odd pages without the visa I found it and smiled. When I looked up the security guard who’d scanned me coming in was standing nearby smiling back at me. I had it! I allowed the guard to walk me out and he said, “So you got it then?” I was so happy I started telling him how happy I was and that I couldn’t wait to get home and book my flights. We talked about the international world we live in (my visa was granted in Manila, not my countries capital of Canberra where I assumed they’d send my visa) and talked a little about history and what I wanted to do when I got there before I had to leave for another appointment I had made just down the block.

I had a few drinks with some friends that night to celebrate then at 2am, still a little tipsey I booked my flights and travel insurance. I’m so happy to be taking this journey and cannot wait to share all the ups and downs (hopefully mostly ups!) with my readers.

white-cliffs-of-dover-adventurer-stacey

Your turn! Have you ever had a working holiday before? What advice would you give to someone about to undertake one?

Helicopter Skydiving over the Swiss Alps

Swiss-Helicopter-Skydiving-Adventurer-Stacey1

“NO WAY! I am not jumping out of anything!” I said, adamant that the next day I was NOT jumping out of a helicopter. “You will need someone else if she doesn’t want to – it costs more if only one person goes.” My university friend nodded then turned back to me with the saddest look in her eye, “I’ll go with you.” I changed my mind swiftly. My friend smiled as me and there I was, making what could either be a fantastic decision or a very, very bad one.

The next day we’d wondered around the small Swiss Skiing town of Jungfrau and I couldn’t believe what I was going to do. I wondered how can this not need additional cover on my travel insurance when skiing does!? (I later found out that in that rather expensive sky diving fee, you pay for extra insurance).

Around lunch time we headed to the shop, they checked our suit sizes, safety talk, sold us video’s and photo’s (expensive, but are you really going to do this and not have proof!?) They also taught us the proper way to land of which I never grasped – more on that later.

"Okay, we're going to jump in a few moments..." OHMYGODWHAT!?

“Okay, we’re going to jump in a few moments…” OHMYGODWHAT!?

 

We drove out to the helipad and watched the first group (there were three groups – six people, all girls, and two people who’d just come along for helicopter rides who thought jumping from one was crazy). My friend and I chose to be the second group jumping. We wanted to watch the first group land and besides, they’d already told everyone they would be first. Not requested, told.

We watched the first group land and took photos for them on their cameras. They later did this for us. Despite buying the photos and video’s we also wanted photos taken of us landing from after because, why not!?

When it was our turn we got into the helicopter nervously. I asked if I could jump first (a wise choice!) I sat almost on top of my unusually good looking Swiss-German diving instructor (we dived tandem) and as we went up (my first time in a helicopter and I was jumping out of it! What!?) I felt my stomach falling from the helicopter. I would later pick it up on the ground after landing.

Free Falling (the wind in my cheeks!)

Free Falling (the wind in my cheeks!)

We were up in the sky and all I could see was beautiful mountains but I couldn’t think of anything but that jump and how terrified I was. I distracted myself by squeezing my instructor’s knees in time. Looking back this was probably not a good idea as he could unhook me mid-flight if I annoyed him and I had no parachute attached.

Then, it was time. The door was open and I was leaning out of it thinking, I wonder if I can turn back – OH NO OH MY GOD, WHAT IS HAPPENING, Am I… falling? Then he pulled the parachute chord and we righted ourselves suddenly. What!? That was free falling that’s inspired all of those songs!? But – I didn’t even know what was happening. OH no, can we re-wind… I think I missed it (and my eyes were open the whole time!)

I felt like we were so close we could touch the mountains. It felt like we were floating forever. My diving instructor spoke very little English but we practiced our landings in the sky. I still couldn’t get it. He was frustrated but couldn’t communicate with me properly (perhaps a safety tip for others: make sure you can communicate readily with your sky diving instructor before letting him push you from a helicopter or a plane).

Arms out - touching the sky!

Arms out – touching the sky!

It came to an end quicker than I would have liked. My friend had already landed and we were getting closer and closer to the ground. What has been a Lego village was now houses. Oh man! I don’t want this to end so quick! Rewind back to that free-fall, I never got it anyway!

It was landing time: I had my feet straight out and felt as if my legs were being pulled in different directions then the diving instructor moved funny and suddenly I was on my face in the snow. WHAT!? What had apparently looked quite funny to everyone watching was very painful for me. I knew I would feel it in the morning if not right now. Eventually I got up and walked over to my friend who had been worried.

While the second group were in the air (we were photographing their landing) I ran into the shed at the helipad and put my blue (it was minus fifty when we jumped from the helicopter and despite my brand new bought-that-morning Swiss ski gloves I was freezing). I ran cold water over my hands and it felt like fire. When my hands were at their normal pink I went outside to take pictures for the next jumpers.

LEGO HOUSES! Aren't they cute!!!

LEGO HOUSES! Aren’t they cute!!!

When the final jumpers were on the ground we were all abuzz and I’m sure not making any sense to each other as we all spoke at once excitedly. Eventually we all jumped into the van and headed back to the township. I can still vividly remember the van (weirdly) and saying goodbye to the diving instructors and organising a time to pick up our movies/photo’s the next day.

Would I do it again? Likely not, even if I did have wicked landing skills I don’t think there are many places that could compare to the Swiss alps or the novelty of jumping from a helicopter (which you can only do in two places in the world – Switzerland and New Zealand) I also think as it’s not something I was looking for, it just found me that’s pretty telling.

Post-landing w/ snow all over me. Yeahhhh...

Post-landing w/ snow all over me. Yeahhhh…

What about you, dear reader? What’s something crazy you’ve done while travelling? Would you recommend it to others’?

Awesome travel opportunity: Teaching English in South Korea

Image credit: Flickr user  Republic of Korea

Image credit: Flickr user Republic of Korea

I love living in the age of information! I have been contemplating, among other things for my future travel as I save and continue my studies the possibility of teaching English in South Korea (no, not North Nanna, relax!) There’s so much info out there and I’ve been spending some time sifting through it, so you have no need to, just read on…

I’ve done some research and found that there are two ways to teach English in Korea. You can either teach at a public school (through the EPIK program) or at a private after-school institution (hukwan). From what I’ve heard the most reliable jobs are with the public schools, and if someone wants to teach at the hukwans it’s better to find a good one once you’re there and have some teaching experience as well as some knowledge of the hukwan and how genuine it is. Maybe aim to do that in your second year in Korea.

Working out my sums I know I could easily save USD$1000 a month there working in a public school. In a year (their contracts are year-long) I should be able to save USD$12,000 easy, many estimates are for more but my numbers are based on a very comfortable lifestyle which involves exploring Japan and China on my time off. You could do it too! Let’s talk about how.

So when can I go and when do I need to apply? You can either go in February or in August. You should apply between October to December for the March term or between April and June for the August term.

Personally I would attempt to apply with the EPIK office rather than an agency. You’re welcome to do it differently if you can see a benefit in applying through an agency however, I have not seen any benefit’s aside from agencies hosting drinking events for English teachers to befriend each other when they first arrive in Korea. This doesn’t sound worth a cut of your monthly salary to me.

Before commencing their placement, potential English teachers will need an E2 visa which can be applied for in your own country. You should apply for this after receiving your Notice of appointment to EPIK in the mail. Application should take about a week.

When you apply for the placement you state preferences where you want to work (preferred city) and hopefully receive your first preference. An apartment will be provided for you as part of your placement although some do chose to look for their own apartment and ask if they can have a supplement in their monthly salary given to them for this. Apparently you cannot rent with this supplement and end up spending your own money for this. It’s best to accept the apartment they are giving you.

When you arrive in Korea, you have an orientation to complete with other English teachers and then commence work in your school.

As foreign English teachers are only expected to (at the minimum) have a Bachelor’s degree which can be in anything as well as a certificate to teach English as a foreign language, no-one  expects you to take classes on your own or really to know what you’re doing which is why you’re assigned to a Korean co-teacher who will usually take the lead in lesson planning and will let you know what is expected of you. Co-teachers are also likely your first Korean acquaintances and someone who you may want to ask all those “I’m new here” questions of. When a friend went to Korea as an English Teacher, his co-teacher became a fast friend and is even visiting him later this year in Canada.

Working in a public school you will get four weeks holiday a year where you can explore Korea or surrounding countries. However, if you are not on holiday you can’t expect the time to sit at home either. Teachers are often expected to desk warm (stay behind their desk for eight hours of the day as they are being paid to work) and are also expected to take part in summer and winter camps where the students still come in on their own holidays to learn.

All in all, this sounds like a fantastic opportunity for someone who’s graduated and doesn’t yet know what they want to do, or wants to travel this part of the world while paying back their student loans.