Arrival in Korea - What to expect when you land
Chances are that you are very excited about this new adventure but also have a few apprehensions about what it will be like. Here are a few things to help prepare you for what is to come…
- Teach ESL Korea will arrange for someone to meet you at the Incheon airport when you arrive. Our agent will arrive 10-20 minutes after your flight lands, as it will take you approximately 30-40 minutes to pass through immigration and collect your bags. Our agent will know your name and be waiting for you at the Gate, holding a sign with your name on it. Once you meet him, he will bring you either to your school or to your apartment, depending on the time of day and the instructions given by your school. We will send you more detailed information once your flight is booked.
- You’ll likely need to change some money at the airport – be sure to have US dollars or Euros on hand to make the exchange easier. You might also want to bring an international bank card (check with your bank before you go to make sure that you’ll be able to use your card internationally).
- You will likely be approached by Taxi drivers eager to get you into their car to bring to wherever you need to go – just say “no thank you” and say you are meeting someone (to get them off your back).
- You’ll likely be exhausted when you arrive, but don’t expect that you’ll arrive to a freshly made bed and flowers on the table. You might have a few stops along the way before you get to your apartment. You might be put up in a motel for a night or two or three (or more) until your apartment is ready. Some motels are a bit sketchy and are nicknamed “Love Motels” because they can be rented by the hour. Don’t be alarmed, they are also used for travelers and people in need of short term accommodations.
- When my friend and I arrived (after travelling for 24 hours), we were expected to go and look at 3 different apartments and choose the one we wanted (and then were taken to a restaurant to have “supper” with our boss and other employees of the hagwon). Needless to say, we did the best we could just to keep our eyes open.
- A couple friends of ours had to stay in a Love Motel for about a week until their place was ready… red lights and all!
- If you arrive later in the day, you might not get to pick up food until the next day, be sure to pack some snacks that could sustain you for a day or two or three. There are also plenty of corner stores in Korea where you can buy food and drinks if needed and they are normally open until about 10pm or so.
- Chances are that you’ll be shown where the nearest grocery store is, but you might need to ask specifically.
- No matter when you arrive, you might want to email or connect with family and friends back home. The easiest way to do this initially will be at a PC Bang (PC Room).
- There are PC rooms almost on every street – just look for the sign that says “PC room” . For a small fee, you can use a computer there. They are smoky and loud, but will meet your need in that moment. Be sure to bring some Korean cash to pay for it.
Arriving on a weekend
- If you arrive on the weekend (Friday night to Sunday evening), you’ll probably have to navigate the first few days on your own.
- Be sure to bring a few things to do in your leisure time and don’t panic or think that your school has deserted you. They will likely get you started on Monday. If you are feeling very concerned or confused, you can email Dan at Teach ESL Korea and he’ll either help you or give you the name/number of someone who can. Chances are that you’ll just have to wait out the weekend.
- If you need to contact us but do not have access to phone or internet, just find a PC room nearby
- These services might not be connected upon your arrival but can normally be arranged through your school. Be polite and patient in requesting them. You will have to pay for these services.
- Cell phones can be purchased only after you have your Alien Registration Card.
Medical Exam & Alien Registration Card (ARC)
- All foreigners living in Korea need to register with the Immigration Office. In order to get your ARC, you will need to get a medical exam. Your school will help you in arranging this. It should be done within a week or two of arriving, if possible.
- Having your ARC helps you to do such things as obtaining a cell phone and showing ID when needed.
- The medical exam is not a huge deal. They will ask you the same questions that we asked you in the application process and do a blood test to check for drugs or serious illness. If you have a medical concern that you are not sure about, just ask your Teacher Rep how you should handle that.