To help our students and graduates make a smooth transition to their new lives teaching English abroad, we've enlisted our ITA Ambassadors to provide us with insider facts and tips for making the most of life in major cities around the globe like Seoul, South Korea.
Whether it's finding an English-speaking doctor, opening a bank account, or simply finding a supermarket where you can find the odd comfort food from home (peanut butter!), our ambassadors have actionable on-the-ground-tips to help you feel at home in your new home city. Please note that things change and we will do our best to keep these "Fact Sheets" updated over time and that current and future ambassadors will continue to provide the most accurate and up-to-date information possible.
Meet our Seoul Ambassador!
|Visa Type||Work Visa|
|North American Comfort Food Locations||
There are many places to get North American comfort food, however, they're always more expensive. For example, a medium bag of Doritos that is normally
There are several International/foreign marts in Itaewon, Seoul, due to the Yongsan Military Base being so close by. Two of the larger ones are:
1. Foreign Food Mart: Itaewon, Seoul
There are also several Costco's in Seoul where they sell most of the same items you would find in the USA. It's the same system. You need a yearly membership which costs 38,000 KRW ($33 USD) and they don't provide bags so you'll need to bring your own.
Bus & Train
Most expats get around via public transportation. The metro (subway) system is really easy to learn and use. You will usually find information in both English and Korean in the city. If you are outside of the city where there aren't as many foreigners, there is less English on signs and posters.
There are many apps you can download to help you get around. Kakao is a Korean company that has free bus, metro, and taxi apps. The bus and taxi apps are only in Korean, the metro app is in English and Korean. You can create an account so your information syncs across all the apps.
The easiest way to pay is to purchase a T-money card and continuously add money as you use it. These cards can be purchased for 5,000 won at any convenience store. Once you pay for the card, you can charge it with any amount. I recommend only putting about 20,000 - 30,000 won on there at a time. This way if you lose the card, you don't lose too much money. Once you set up a bank account, some banks (KEB) offer transportation cards that keep track of your spending and then charge you at the end of the month. This is very helpful because you don't have to worry about charging or losing your card.
The basic bus/metro fare is 1,250 won, and then depending on your distance, the price increases in increments. Generally, total distances exceeding 10km: 100 won for every 5km between 10 - 50km / 100 won for every 8km when exceeding a total of 50km.
|Hospitals & Doctors (English Speaking)||
I'd suggest the following three hospitals/clinics:
|Beauty Supply Stores, Hairdressers & Barbers||
Here's a few Korean-run businesses that I know of:
Yang Lee Hair: Mapo, Seoul
Family Hair: Itaewon, Seoul (Speaks English)
Itaewon Beauty Shop: Itaewon, Seoul (Speaks English)
|Bank Account Location||
Citibank Korea or KEB Hana - multiple locations.
Some restaurants I enjoy frequenting are:
1. Ciuri Ciuri: Authentic Italian in Sangu, Seoul
A few of my favorites include:
1. Starbucks: They are everywhere!
2. Seoul Train: This is a bar in Itaewon, Seoul. It plays American R&B music and has cheap drinks.
3. Thursday Party Draft House: An American bar, jam-packed with a great crowd on the weekends. Located in Hongdae, Seoul.
4. Phillies: This is a bar located in Haebangchon, Seoul. They serve decent food and show many sports games.
5. Rocky Mountain Tavern: Another bar in Itaewon, Seoul. Tuesday is wing night and Sunday is trivia night!
|Permanent Housing Resources||
Many jobs will provide housing, but if you want to venture out on your own, you can find local Realtors (부동산) to assist you. Be careful, some of them charge high fees.
You can also join groups on Facebook where people post many things to buy/sell. They also list apartments for short/long term rent.
Craig's List is another option. Just be sure not to send any money to anyone without first meeting them.
|Expat Community Resources||
There are tons of groups on Facebook to join. Many of them are based on location like the HBC/Itaewon Information Board or interests like Good Times ROK for parties and concerts, and the Nike Run Club for fitness.
Searching through Facebook or searching your interests online will yield so many results. Example: Hiking, film festivals, travel, etc.
Food in Seoul
General Tourist Information
- WinK (When in Korea)
Good Times ROK
Want to learn more about Teaching English Abroad?
Download your free starter guide or call 773-634-9900 to speak with an expert advisor about all aspects of TEFL certification and teaching English abroad, including the hiring process, salaries, visas, TEFL class options, job placement assistance and more.
- Teaching English in South Korea: Country Profile
- How Much Money Can You Make Teaching English in South Korea?
- What is the EPIK Program for Teaching English in South Korea?
- Top 10 Reasons to Teach English in Seoul, South Korea
- South Korea Alumni Facebook Group: Only enrolled students & alumni may post, but anybody can check out the conversation between ITA grads teaching English in South Korea on a wide array of topics from job tips and apartment hunting to recreational activities & social meet-ups.