Sunday, December 2, 2007

Pay Day Wednesday!

Well, I'm completely broke. I sent home a bunch of money at the beginning of the month to pay off some of my debt, which was awesome, but now I'm almost completely out of won. Fortunately you can live here pretty well without spending much money if you need/want to do so. You just avoid the evil downtown area restaurants and bars and only buy absolute necessities.

However, being broke is making me fantasize about the things I want to buy when I have money again: tomato sauce, a lint brush, a cheese grater, a camera, you know... the basics.

If anyone here is wondering about saving money in Korea, it's ridiculously easy to do, but it does depend on the quality of life you want and your tolerance for risk (by teaching private lessons on the side, which is illegal). I've been living at least as comfortably as I was at home (minus some conveniences that just aren't available here in the same way like a dryer, a car, and a good oven) and sending home $1,200-1,500 each month and I don't have one of the higher paying jobs or do private lessons. I don't drink a ton, but I go out a lot and travel about, so I'm not being a total hermit. I'll probably send back less in December because I'm planning a trip for February, need to buy Christmas presents (and send them home, which costs more than the actual presents), and buy a digital camera, but it's not hard to do well here.

By the end of my year here (thanks also to severance and the refund of pension, which my non-sketchy employers do correctly!), I should have no credit card debt, have made a pretty substantial dent in my grad school debt, and still have some travel money left over.

I'm not here for the money, though. I came for the experience. I think a lot of people here just for the money have a harder time because they keep trying to live like they did back home, which can be pricey here. Some of them get really depressed and develop alcohol problems, which gets to be expensive pretty fast.


  1. I don't know why your blog came up on my search. I was looking for childhood obesity and transportation in Korea. But did enjoy your postings. I was born in Seoul and came to the U.S. for graduate study and am working right now. I did have an English teacher like you when I was in Korea. Happy memories...enjoy your time in Korea as I enjoy my time in the U.S.

  2. I'm debating whether your statement about severance and pension refund implies that PG County is a sketchy or a non-sketchy employer. (Yes, I think you're actually talking about your employer in Korea, but relating it to PG County is just so more amusing.)

    Oh, and at least your oven has a rack. Does your stove have a pilot light?

  3. hey, can u tell me the exact address where u take ur YMCA korean lessons and how to get their by bus/train? there's this new foreigner in my school and i told him about the ymca korean lessons but i don't exactly know. the buses near his house are 403/604/724/349 and he lives near a train station

  4. Cutr,

    Thanks for your note! Enjoy America.


    No, PG was legally bound to pay me most of what it owed me according to contract. However, many jobs over here in Korea neglect paying for health insurance and other things for their foreign employees, even though these things are mandated by the government. Lots of folks over here end up screwed out of lots of money that way.

    And I don't have an oven. At all. I've heard you could buy one, but I haven't yet. I probably won't. I'd just wind up baking things that are delicious and bad for me.


    It's next to Banwoldong Station (the one where the two lines meet). I don't know bus routes, but if you go through the metro center (underground shopping) that covers the subway stop, there are signs that point to the YMCA exit (maybe exit 14?). I'd be happy to show your co-worker sometime, but the classes are almost finished for this semester and won't start up again until February sometime. Shoot me an e-mail or something.

  5. Two good books for prospective ESL teachers coming to South Korea are "Island of Fantasy/Korea Life Blog" by Shawn Matthews and "Prisoner of Wonderland" by Jane Keeler. They both had miserable first jobs/times here, but the going got much smoother the second time.

  6. Did either of them get evicted? I should write about that.



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