Preparing to traverse thousands of miles for a new job is stressful enough. Add on top of that packing your belongings into two bags. What will I need? What won’t I need? What will I need, but don’t even know I’ll need until the situation presents itself? I kept worrying that I would over pack or forget something essential.
I started the first five on my old blog. You can see them here. Here is a quick summary of the first five: 1. An open mind, 2. Patience, 3. Friends, 4. Toiletries, and 5. Sleep.
6. Smart Phone
I bought an iPhone 4 as a birthday present to myself back in October. Besides traveling, it is my favorite purchase. It is a helpful navigation tool. I can’t count how many times google maps helped me find my way. Or, the translator app helped describe my destination to a confused taxi driver.
Seoul boasts an incredible, albeit confusing bus system. Luckily, there are a slew of bus apps that tell you down to the second, how far the bus is from your current stop.
My kids love Angry Birds! I don’t let the students play it class. I am not a bad teacher. If a student goes off on a tangent in class about the laser angry bird being the best (yes, this is a common occurrence) I have a way to connect and engage the class on their level.
7. Language Skills
You DO NOT need to speak Korean to get around in Seoul. Even though the subway maps are in English and the announcements are in English (as well as on the buses), knowing a little Korean is helpful. Knowing the politest way to say “hello” could get you a larger portion at a restaurant or make a taxi driver more inclined to take you all the way to your stop instead of leaving you two streets away.
It does not take long to learn the Korean alphabet. It takes most people about a day to learn how to write. I would definitely invest some time learning how to read, to write, and say every day key phrases.
8. Vitamins and hand sanitizer
Kids will cough and sneeze all over you after they just had their hands in their mouths for twenty minutes. Ya, working with kids all day is gross. The younger they are the grosser they get. I fight off their colds by using hand sanitizer/washing my hands regularly and taking vitamin C as an extra boost.
Coffee is my savior! It keeps me awake while teaching all day. I now understand why all my teachers and professors are addicted to it. I would struggle without my two cups before work. Thank goodness Koreans are addicted to the dark brew. There are thousands of coffee shops in Seoul. You can’t walk more than five minutes without passing one.
10. Good shoes
I never considered how much time teachers spend on their feet. A good pair of shoes with support make it less strenuous on your body.