Hi guys!

I would really like to make a monthly budget for myself while I’m abroad. I’ve done a bit of research about how much some teachers in South Korea spend on certain things, but a lot of information on the web seems relatively outdated. So, I was wondering if anyone on here would be willing to share how much they spend on the following per month:

1. Utilities

2. Health insurance

3. Cell phone

4. Groceries

5. Savings/misc.

Any information you could provide would be greatly appreciated and I feel like it could be a very good resource for others interested in teaching in Korea. Thanks in advance!

A Hefty Price Tag

Just for fun, I decided to sit down and tally up all the money I’ve spent so far during this process. And I really wish I hadn’t.

One of my main reasons for going abroad to teach is being able to save money to help pay off my loans at home. I know I’m not going to be making six figures, but for the most part, everyone I’ve spoken to seems to say that people can save a lot while teaching in Korea. I’m frugal and I believe that. However, part of me is scared shitless that I won’t be able to cover costs.

I went to a private Catholic University. Even with government grants and a pretty decent scholarship, I still have about $120,000 in student loans I need to pay off. Disgusting.

I also work two part-time jobs. Another reason I’ve decided to go to Korea is that even though I graduated two years ago, I haven’t been able to find anything full time in my field. The market sucks right now, I know. I just work so hard and feel like I’m not making any headway at all. One of my checks goes directly into the bank to cover expenses. I literally do not even see it. As for my other check, I don’t keep more than $100 to last me two weeks – that’s including gas to get to and from work, food, and recreation. The rest goes straight into the bank.

I really hope this next year provides some respite for my poor wallet. As well as adequate experience to help me get a job in my field when I return to the States (which happens to be art history/museum education).

So, the following is a list of everything I’ve spent so far to get me to Korea, and I’m not even in the country yet:

TEFL certificate – $559.98

Background check – $25

Fingerprints – $3

State apostille for background check (because I had no idea I needed to send it to Washington, D.C.)- $40

Federal apostille for background check – $8

State apostille for diploma – $40

Sending documents USPS for EPIK (which I later withdrew from) – $10

Having documents sent back from EPIK recruiter – $22

FedEx-ing documents to private school I signed with – $53

Visa fee – $85

Vaccinations – $293

Total – $1,138.98


Apologies for the rant. I really just needed to get that off my chest.


I don’t like needles. Or doctors. Or anything vaguely related to the medical field, really. I usually don’t even take aspirin if I can avoid it.

But. Seeing that I’ll be abroad for at least a year, I figured I should go get vaccinated.

A few days ago, I called my doctor to make an appointment. The office said they didn’t carry travel vaccines, so they referred me to the only place in the area that did. I called them next and scheduled an appointment with them. I also asked how much it would cost. The girl on the other end said $75. I asked if that included everything. She said yes.

So, I get to the office and have a full on, sit down consultation with an RN. They prepared this (actually really informative) booklet for me about South Korea which included different vaccines, hospital information, traveler information, and consulate information. Cool.

Then, the RN got to the vaccine part. She went over a list of about 5. Hepatitis A and Typhoid seemed to be required for entering the country. Fine. Japanese encephalitis and rabies were *highly* recommended, coming in at the super discounted, bargain basement price of THREE HUNDRED AND SIXTY FIVE FUCKING DOLLARS. EACH. I laughed, I’ll pass. If I get bitten by a mosquito or rabid street dog, I’ll take my chances.

However, with the Hep A and Typhoid, my total came to $293. I’m sorry, but what exactly is the “everything” that $75 included? I left feeling lied to and angry because this always seems to happen at the doctor. Especially because I totally have $293 to throw around.

Whatever. I suppose it’s worth not ending up with some rare disease in a foreign country.

Has anyone had any similar experiences?

Mo’ Money, Mo’ Paperwork (Or Applying for My E2 Visa)

My recruiter just notified me that she will have my visa number by next week (yay!).


I still need to gather more documents (and a visa fee) in order to send everything to the Korean Consulate in NY. I guess when your employer says that they’ll sponsor your visa, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t have to pay more money or do most of the work. The more you know!

Anyway, I’m going to need the following for my E2 visa:

1. Visa application form

2.  Valid passport

3. 1 passport photo

4. Confirmation of visa issuance number

5. Copy of employment contract

6. Visa fee

I guess everything is finally beginning to come together, though. Can’t believe that I’ll be leaving about a month from now. Crazy. Absolutely crazy.

Playing the Waiting Game

I finally checked my FedEx tracking, and my documents definitely arrived in Ulsan last week. I haven’t been contacted by my recruiter or the school yet, but I am sitting here in New Jersey eagerly awaiting the next step…

I don’t even know when I’m supposed to arrive yet. My contract says August 16, but the last time I was contacted by my recruiter she said the date might be closer to the 25th. I still have a lot of planning to do on my end. Like giving both of my jobs adequate notice. And packing. And saying goodbye to friends.

It’s completely nerve wracking and exciting all at once. Everyone who knows me knows I’m a planner, a list maker, and always early for everything. All the time. So this is really stressing me out.

Ugh. Well, here’s a random picture because I liked my makeup the other day:

Photo on 7-17-15 at 10.06 AM #2

In the Mail (Take Two)

All my documents are on their way to Korea as I write this!

My apostilled background check finally came in the mail on Friday, but I was away from home until Saturday night so this morning was my first opportunity to get everything to FedEx. Everything should get to my school by Friday. Hopefully, they will let me know soon when I’m supposed to arrive, my flight information, etc.

I also took my car for inspection and renewed my license. Feeling super productive.

Thinking About Teaching Materials

Lately, I’ve been thinking about things I’d like to bring with me as teaching aids. The school I’m going to be teaching at has its own set of textbooks and curriculum, but when I spoke to the other American teacher there he did say that there would be room for spicing up lesson plans/activities/whatnot.

So, I spent my afternoon in Staples the other day ogling stickers and flash cards and posters. Things are so much nicer now than when I was in elementary school! I really just wanted to buy armfuls of stuff, but there is only going to be so much room in my suitcase.

Here are my questions: What materials did you bring with you to teach abroad, if any? What do you wish you hadn’t brought? Talk about what was most fun/effective for students.

The Wealthy English Teacher?

I came across a really interesting article on Ulsan Online. It’s an interview with Jackie Bolen, a Canadian woman who’s been teaching in Korea for about 10 years. She talks about becoming financially independent while teaching English abroad.



The article can be found here.

I think this is really interesting because one of my biggest concerns before going abroad is money.

How am I going put aside enough to take care of my student loans? Savings? Travel?

Obviously, I know the salary for an English teacher isn’t going to make me rich. However, after reading this article, I feel a little more confident that I can become comfortable and secure in my finances. It might take a bit of planning, but I think it’s part of the whole “growing up” thing.

Did anyone else have financial concerns before they went abroad? What did you do/are you doing to make sure all your bases are covered?