Packing Checklist For Those Teaching In Korea:
I’ve been teaching in South Korea with the EPIK Program for almost a year now and I’ve got a pretty good idea of what one needs to survive here. So here is my packing checklist for those teaching in Korea, especially for women who are planning to make Korea their home for a year or more.
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What You’ll Need:
Pack those jeans and jammies. T-shirts and dresses. Skirts and sweaters. Pack yourself a full wardrobe in your favorite styles and most importantly in your size. Korean sizes tend to run smaller and they lean on the modest side so keep that in mind when you are packing.
I admit I pretty much brought my entire wardrobe with me because I didn’t want to be bothered with buying more clothes to replace ones I already owned. This might not be the best move for everyone and I was advised against it but in the end, I’m glad I did.
My school teachers and co-workers adopt the business casual look for work so I have as well. Your school may have a stricter dress code or it may not have a dress code at all, but to be on the safe side I would bring some nice clothes that are easy to dress up and make look professional.
You can buy winter coats and jackets in Korea of course because Lord knows the population would suffer without them but I found mine for a great deal on Amazon and I bought it right there and then. That turned out to be a good decision because winter coats are expensive in Korea.
Shoe sizes also run small here. A US Size 8 and lower should have no problems but if your feet are larger than that you might want to pack sneakers, hiking boots, winter boots and flats in your size so you don’t have to worry about being without them.
What I said about shoes and clothes applies here as well. The bra sizes run small here. Bring what you need from home to get you through.
Finding stick deodorant is so difficult! I tried four different stores in my area and only managed to find a tiny can of spray deodorant that cost way too much. To be fair I may have had more luck if I bussed it to E-Mart or Lotte Mart but having to do that every time I run out is an inconvenience I’d rather avoid. If you would too then pack 4 or 5 stick of your favorite brand of deodorant.
I’ve had as much luck finding razors I like as I have finding stick deodorant. If you shave, stock up on these.
Specific Shampoo/Conditioner/Leave-In Brands
There are all kinds of shampoos and conditioners in Korea. You’ll absolutely be spoiled with choice…unless you have black hair that only stands certain brands. In that case, we do have some options here in Korea but you may still want to bring along a couple bottles of your favorite brands.
Make-Up For Your Skin Tone
I don’t wear make-up so I don’t have any personal experience with this but I’m told it can be difficult to find shades for darker skin tones.
Important Miscellaneous Items
Of course. You won’t actually get to Korea without it.
These are handy little buggers to have around. You’ll need them for your Alien Resident Card. You’ll need them for your medical exam. Get a few while you are home and throw them in your carry-on.
Documents and Copies Your School Requested
TEFL certification, application, training certificate, etc.
You will have to wait at least a month before getting your first paycheck so make sure you have money to live on until then.
Medications and Prescriptions
If you have specific medications that you prefer than bring them. My travel sickness is no joke and I don’t have time to play trial-and-error with any other brands. I brought a years’ supply of the ones I know work for me.
Unlock your phone before coming to Korea so that you can buy a new plan and Sim card right away.
Power Strip/Plug Adapters
I’ve got lots of power cords and they are all for American devices. My apartment has lots of outlets and they are all for Korean devices. You see the problem.
To get around this bring plenty of plug adapters and power strips.
You’re probably planning on doing a bit of traveling while you’re in Korea which means you’ll need a backpacking backpack at some point because big bulky luggage cases won’t do for a weekend trip to Daegu.
My Osprey Porter 46 doubled as one of my carry-ons and it has made traveling around Korea, and the world, so much easier.
Dual Voltage Hair Dryer
If you’re going to bring a hairdryer from home than it needs to be dual-voltage, otherwise it may blow up. And no one wants that.
What You Won’t Need:
I brought twin-size bedding and walked into an apartment with a queen bed. Not complaining about the upgrade but I do wish I hadn’t taken up the luggage space. Unless you know the size of your bed, don’t bother packing bedding.
Even as I write this I know I’m a hypocrite because I packed books. I packed a lot of books. I just couldn’t be without them because I am weak. You must be stronger than me. Get a Kindle or a Nook or whatever kind of E-Reader and load that up with all your favorite books.
You don’t need to buy gifts for your co-teachers before you arrive. You won’t know how many you’ll have (six in my case) and you won’t know them or what they like. What I did, and what I recommend you do, is buy a bunch of treats or baked goods with your first paycheck after you get here and bring them into school.
Trying to pack your life away for a year-(or more) long adventure isn’t easy. I know I obsessed about it for weeks…okay, months. But all that obsessing can be put to good use now in making this packing checklist for those teaching in Korea to help other incoming English teachers.
If you would like more info on how to Save Money While Teaching In Korea than read this post next.