- Jeju, “Island of the Gods” is known for it’s lush green landscapes, 368 oreums (hilly volcanic formations), waterfalls, lava caves, green tea plantations, oranges, and fresh clean air. After a lot of research and discussion with my recruiter, we thought that Jeju would be the place for achieving my thirst for an outdoor, recreational, and adventurous lifestyle. There would be plenty of olle trails for me to hike and beautiful beaches to run along. I wouldn’t get bogged down by the social drinking scene and I could achieve my physical and athletic goals.
- Weather conditions in South Korea in general aren’t ideal. In January, it can get as cold as 6.8 °F (−14.0 °C) and in August, it can get as hot as 99.1 °F (37.3 °C). Considering I’m a Californian, that sounds awful. The real problem is the humidity. Korea is incredibly humid, that even if it’s a nice 76 °F outside, you could be pouring sweat. Which leads me to my second reason for picking Jeju… it’s an island, so they’ll get the nice breeze (little did I know they were also popular for their terribly dangerous windstorms). Nonetheless, Jeju was known for having slightly better temperatures in the hot humid summers.
- Everything I read online suggested that the cost of living on Jeju would be cheaper than mainland. Not only is housing more affordable (400 KRW – 700 KRW for an average studio – 1 bed apt) but pescatarian food would be more available and comparatively inexpensive since the island was surrounded by sea life.
- Lastly, I knew I would want to travel Korea quite a bit and I learned that the best placements for a wanderlust would either be Daejeon or Jeju. Daejeon is at the center of mainland, so public trains would be accessible and it would only take an hour to get to Seoul and a little over an hour to get to Busan. The problem was traveling to Jeju Island from Daejeon. Roundtrips from mainland to Jeju ranged an average of 100 KRW – 300 KRW depending on the season, while traveling from Jeju Island to anywhere on mainland was quite inexpensive, where you could find rates as low as 40 KRW for a roundtrip. What’s easier traveling an hour by train or by plane at a fraction of the time and cost?
- Jeju has a large expat community. It’s not hard to make friends with other English teachers, because of close proximity. There are only a handful of housing locations for English teachers, so more than likely you’ll be living in the same building with a few other teachers, if not more. (I’ll share more info on housing options, locations, and expectations in another post)
Update: Requesting a placement on Jeju Island is a huge decision. As much as I enjoyed certain aspects of Jeju, there are just as many reasons why I would not choose Jeju again. I recommend thoroughly researching both the positives and negatives of each location you may be considering. Take it from me, your placement can make or break your experience.