Okay guys, today we have featured Journey Count in a special guest post on our blog! Jade and Oli also live and teach in South Korea, but do so in a rural town. We have teamed up to talk about the inherent differences and benefits of rural verses city living. If you would like to see our post about city life in Seoul click here to visit Journey Count! We hope you enjoy the guest post by Journey Count and take the time to check out their blog as well.
Applying to work in South Korea as an English teacher is not exactly a walk in the park. It requires countless emails, trips to the solicitor, expensive packages sent back and forth and a hell of a lot of signatures. So when we found out that after all that hard work, we were not being placed in the city of our choice (Daegu) but in an undetermined city or town in Gyeongsangbuk-do province, we were a little disappointed. Then when we found out that we were going to be living in a small, rural town, we were more than a little apprehensive.
We shouldn’t have been. Because there are a lot of reasons to love living in rural Korea and I am here today on Hedgers Abroad to tell you about them!
We live in Uiseong, a town conveniently located in the centre of Gyeongsangbuk-do and famous for it’s garlic. It is fabulous and really feels like home! Here’s why:
1. More Money
If you are placed in a rural area you get a rural bonus on top of your normal monthly paycheck: a very nice extra sum of $100 to spend on all the Kimchi and Cass your heart desires.
You’re also more likely to be the guest English teacher in multiple schools, as rural schools do not have the budget for a full time foreigner. And with additional schools comes another additional $100 a month.
Many foreigners come to Korea with not only a desire to teach but also an aching desire to save. With this extra income, and the fact that there is not as much to spend money on in a smaller town, you are more likely to save without having to only eat Ramen and stay inside your house.
2. The people
In our experience people in rural towns are simply friendlier! We love that where we live, everyone says hello and bows to each other on the street. We love that the people in our local corner shop always smile warmly at us and belly laugh and say ‘ma-si-sseo-yo’ when we buy beer. And we really love when the Mandu lady gives us an extra steamed dumpling!
People stop us in the street to talk to us and seem so happy to have us in their town. From what I’ve heard from friends elsewhere, this isn’t always the case.
3. The opportunities to connect with local people
I know this is not always true for everyone, but we have made genuine friendships with some of the amazing Koreans who live here in Uiseong. From our fantastic co-workers who take the time out of their busy lives to teach us to cook Korean food, or show us around their father’s farm, to the salon owner who proudly shows me pictures of her recent holiday as my nails dry, to the guy in the gym who buys us 3 dinners after our workout. We are constantly humbled by the openness and eagerness towards friendship from the people we meet.
This is also true of our students. We can’t help but constantly bump into our kids as we walk around our small town and it’s so nice to be able to stop and have a little chat to them outside of school.
Of course connections can be made between you and local people in Seoul or Daegu but I think it is easier to come by in a smaller town.
4. The beauty
While many Korean cities are sprawling masses of high-rises and neon, the Korean countryside is calm and beautiful. I will never tire of the endless layers of mountains that take over the spaces between cities, towns and little farming villages. Just seeing them from the window of my apartment makes me smile.
From our apartment we can be hiking within 5 minutes and any bus we take, whether local or inter-city, will have beautiful views to brighten our journey.
5. More reason to travel
Korea is a fantastic country for sightseeing and adventuring, and although your rural town may be beautiful, you are likely to exhaust its activities quickly enough to want to explore the rest of Korea.
In a city like Seoul or Busan it is easy to find something new going on each weekend, and thus you find yourself never venturing further than where you live. You will have an amazing time, but you may be missing out on what’s going on in the rest of the country! And, although it may take that little bit longer to get there, transport in Korea really is pretty great, and with a free tourist information call centre (021-330) it’s easy to organise too.
Furthermore, the smaller towns and lesser known sights nearby where you live are so much more available to you than someone living in the city, meaning you are exploring way more than just the Lonely Planet top ten. This will give you a deeper understanding of the history, culture, geography and people of Korea.
6. Size matters
Being away from home you are going to want to spend a lot of time with the family of new friends you make in Korea. In our town, the longest journey to a friend’s house is 10 minutes, making last minute movie watching sessions so easy.
What’s more, the smaller the place, the less traffic and less people there are to get in the way of any journeys you do make, which, having spent a lot of time in Daegu traffic, is really nice!
7. The apartment gamble
It’s not a 100% chance, but from our experience you are more likely to have a bigger, nicer apartment in rural areas of Korea. Considering that many people get a one room apartment with barely room to put their shoes on, we were incredibly happy with our open-plan kitchen and living room and three separate bedrooms.
We feel like royalty up here on the 15th floor!
I hope this post is useful for anyone wondering about where to live in Korea or concerned about being placed outside of Seoul or Daegu.
Jade and Oli are the two travel lovers behind the travel blog Journey Count. They are currently teaching in Uiseong, South Korea, loving rural life and exploring Korea and beyond. For more tales of country-life, or a myriad of other journeys around the beautiful world, head over to journey-count.com!