Preparation

28 Nov

So I have been doing research on teaching English in the east since last year and what I could gather Korea and Taiwan was the two best options.  I had difficulty locating information specific to South Africans as the English teaching market is flooded by Americans and Canadians.  And we Saffa’s are just different from those from the northern hemisphere.  Our culture and approach to life is just different.  Blog after blog after blog it dawned on me that Korea would be my best option.  Nicola and I even conducted a little experiment on facebook to help us decide between Korea and Taiwan.  We assigned both Korea and Taiwan a different color and made our statements that people had to choose one of these colors.  Although we only received about 20 responses before one of my friends spoiled the experiment by stating that she thought Korea was the best option the outcome of the experiment was KOREA!!!  So now in the final months before our departure I can truly say that I am well prepared for what lays ahead in 2010.  It’s a pity that we are going to miss the World Cup (well not really, I mean have you been to Jo’burg lately – its roadworks everywhere and building bridges and stadiums and and and (which is not a bad thing as its good for SA) its chaos), it’s not every day such a big events comes to South Africa.

In preparing for Korea I really searched for some South Africans in Korea and read up on their experiences.  Thanks to Facebook I stumbled upon the South Africans in Korea group (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2309967428&ref=ts) which has assisted me in so many ways.  The members of this group were always very eager to answer all of my question and I truly feel that the South Africans in Korea is truly a close knit community.   Hey maybe one of these days we could have a little Cape Town or Jo’burg town in the heart of Seoul.  That would be weird though.  Can you imagine a shebeen, corner café with fish and chips and a king pie, or even better a chicken licken.  Maybe someday!  Anyway back to the preparation, I came across a blog called SafKorea (http://safkorea.wordpress.com/) which has truly been an excellent resource.  The blogger (who since left Korea) has truly been amazing in posting all relevant information on his blog like how we Saffa’s are exempt from paying pension and tax to how to obtain the tax clearance certificate from the oh so greedy SARS!!!  My endless strolls through the digital passage ways of the internet led me to some other blogs that really gave me an idea of how certain Saffa’s experience the Korean culture! (oh and since I’m not in Korea yet I have no idea if South Africans refer to themselves as Saffas, but while I was living in the UK Saffa’s was our nickname).  Reading through these blogs really helped me in getting my mindset right for this endeavor because culture shock here I come!  Since I had to pack my bags for a whole year’s worth of stuff, I know that it is almost impossible to fit everything you need in just 20 kilos.  I learned this the hard way since I lived somewhat as a hobo those first three months in England! Luckily Emirates has a 30kg capacity, although University was too good for me so my clothes are all a size bigger now since then!  My recruiter advised me to let my parents ship most of my summer clothes to Korea once I get a confirmed address, as this will make the packing just such as easier task.  Apparently, and I will still confirm this, but you can ship a 20 kg package to Korea for about R500.  And that’s not too bad as buying new clothes and shoes of 20kg’s will be way more that just 500 bokke!  So I think I’ll ship my summer clothes, and by the time it reaches Korea it will be Spring and a nice way to say okay you may go to the beach now!

I think it is very important to embark on something like Korea consciously and fully prepared.  There is nothing that will truly prepare me for that moment I set foot on Korean soil but having a great knowledge on what lies ahead can only be beneficial!  Google is our friend and it should be used to learn as much as possible.  I mean I am very picky when it comes to food, and I am brutally honest when I say that the Korean dishes frighten me a wee bit, but hey try everything at least once, and then you spit! Ha ha! Anyway from my research I learned that Co-op has a lot of more familiar foods so at least I won’t go hungry, although a rice diet might do me some good!

Anyway the moral of the story is to be prepared.  As everything that I have learned over the past year from Korea might be completely irrelevant once I finally get there, but at least I can embark on this journey knowingly on what lays ahead and calm my s(e)oul!

Christo 😉

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