YOU'VE DONE IT. You've board the plane and jetted to the far side of the world. Your thoughts are consumed with loved ones you've had to bid farewell to, and the students you will meet. Probably the last thing on your mind are those pesky details, like, say, where you'll score a full set of bed sheets or a reasonable cell phone plan. Depending on your teaching contract, you'll be expected to grab a couple of hours of sleep and arrive, fresh and early, at 8:00 in the morning, ready to teach. That being said, here's a quick guide to your new life's utilitarian needs, so you can focus more on lesson plans, and less on where the hell you recharge your T-card.
The Arrival Store
This very handy online store offers full English speaking services, and has some of the best cell phone plans I've ever seen. Depending on who your company liaison is (mine was Adventure Teaching based in Vancouver, CA) you can pre-order your cellphone ahead of time, and have it ready and waiting for you with your greeter at the airport. I only paid 32,000 won a month, and was free to end my contract at any time. (roughly $32/month). They have an office in Hanam Si, and have always been extremely quick and efficient.
Feel free to browse their other products. Some of the Arrival Store's other "Must-Haves" are helpful like converters or the cleaning kit, but the vast majority you can bring from home or find at local department stores once you gain your footing. They don't charge for international check-on luggage yet!
E-Mart/Lotte Department Store/local market
Immediately upon arriving, find the local subway station or bus stop. Chances are an E-Mart or Lotte Department Store will be close by, which are two of the biggest have-everything chains in South Korea. But make sure to check out your local market for the best prices on fruits/veggies.
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Photo courtesy of ramada.com
"T-money," which stands for "Transportation," is the ultimate rechargeable card to be used when paying for buses or subway rides. For the bus, simply scan your card once upon entering and once more upon exiting. You can buy a T-money card in any subway station, or they are available/rechargeable at convenience stores with the T-Money logo on their window. Subway stations have rechargeable d0-it-yourself booths (select the English-speaking option).
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South Korea Bus System Guide:
Green Bus: Local/City
Red Bus: Express City Buses/Regional
Purple Bus: Airport