Time2Travel’s Blog

What to do/bring before you leave...

Hi again

Ok so I imagine most of you will find this in some way useful. If there are any other things I think of or if there are other things you want to know about that I haven't included please comment at the bottom and I will either include it in the post (if it's a big reply) or comment back :)

Ok so again in some kind of order......

What to bring with you

Now depending on what kind of climate you live in it is difficult to say what to bring with you. At the moment it is really cold here in Ulsan. I mean makes-your-eyes-water-if-you-walk-too-fast kinda cold!! By nature I'm usually a warm person, the cold doesn't bother me that much but I go out in my Uggs, coat, thick woolley hat, snood and gloves and I'm STILL cold! It's -4°C here at the moment and it's supposed to get colder :((

In Summer it's really hot, dry and humid, so you need to think about that too. Shorts are ok to wear (at least to my school), but ladies you should cover up your cleavage! Showing boobage is a big no-no here! V-neck tops or round neck tops are ok, but strappy summer tops - not in school - EVER!!! You can buy clothes easily out here if you're slim'ish and petite (up to size 10 really), but you can always order online and have things sent to your school (I do) so that you don't miss the post. 

Ok so practical things: gentlemen I think you will be ok whatever you bring, although the men tend towards tight skinny jeans (from what I've seen anyway) so perhaps bring some jeans as a starting point. Also men's deodorant is none existent, so be sure to bring some with you. Shaving cream, razors etc are all fine as the men here are big on appearance :))

Women.....BRING BRAS! Unless you have little cupcakes you are not going to find any that fit you out here!! Trust me! That means anything bigger than a C cup is impossible to find!

In general I would suggest bringing a hefty supply of toothpaste (some of the stuff out here is rank like the Pine flavoured ones (bleurgh), but some is ok like "2080") and deodorant. Deodorant out here is a) very difficult to find and b) costs about £7 per aerosol!! I would also recommend bringing things like paracetamol, alka seltzer and BITE CREAM! The mosquitos are apparently nasty in summer, great! Ladies you can buy the contraceptive pill at pharmacies, but if you prefer your own brand, bring plenty! Guys, condoms out here are TINY and TIGHT lol so if you are "well-endowed" bring some with you! Also if you're a burly/muscly guy you should defo bring plenty of clothes as the men here are very tall and slim! There are a few "big size" clothes shops, but even they are small by Western standards.

The only things I wish I had brought with me are things to put in my apartment to make it feel more homey, things like photos and fairy lights (because it's Christmas nearly now and they're expensive out here), gravy and chicken seasoning (it's either spicy or totally bland here), then practical things like more pharmaceuticals like paracetamol, you can get them here but they're not the cheapest. Otherwise near enough everything you can get out here. There's a supermarket out here called Home Plus+ which is the same as Tesco in England (they have Tesco products and clothing) so most stuff you can buy out here. Some cities also have Costco too :)) Be warned that shampoo, conditioner, shower gel etc is probably the most expensive thing you'll have to buy, they're about 10,000 Won each (about £5).

Bring lots of adaptors too! It's a European plug (two round pins) here. I bought a haridryer and straighteners that already had a two pin plug so the only thing I needed an adaptor for was my laptop and alarm clock :D Ladies, Toni & Guy so really good electricals, that's where both of mine are from!

Oh! I also bought bed sheets! Now I only brought them because i heard that they aren't easy to come by. Maybe in smaller cities but Home Plus+ have loads of them so I nedn't have bothered but then again it's more comforting to have home stuff, you'd be surprised how weird it feels living in an apartment that doesn't feel like it's your home!

One more thing! While I think of it! I would HIGHLY recommend doing some lesson plans before you get out, just so you're covered for your first lesson. My first lesson I just did about me (the kids loved being nosey) so I showed them some pictures of my family and hometown and told them some interesting stuff about it (the boys liked the fact that there's a gibbet/guillotine in my home town!). Then I asked them to pick their own English name (my co-t said this was a good idea) and needless to say it went down well, I have a lot of Beyonces, Optimus Primes and Hagrids in my classes but it has helped getting to know their faces! Then I just asked them to think of a question to ask me, most of them wanted to know if I had a boyfriend lol. The first few lessons you do can be about England or wherever you're from, they love to know all that stuff! And if you like Manchester United you're well in because Ji-Sung Park (or Park Ji-Sung out here) is the national treasure!! Also swot up on your Justin Bieber songs (for the girls) the Twilight and Harry Potter saga and K-Pop too, that's very popular, especially Infinite!

Ulsan Online recently did a survey of the teachers out here in Ulsan, Korea. Here's is what the group collectively put together as a list of THINGS TO BRING WITH YOU.


OK so you will get insurance etc via your employer, BUT this doesn't come through right away, t's once you have your ARC card that the insurance comes into effect, usually 3 weeks after you arrive.

So I went on http://www.comparethemarket.com/ and got travel insurance from there. Just a basic one, I think it was about £30 or thereabouts for 2 months insurance which included medical, flight and baggage cover I think!? This would take me from November to January by which time my work insurance should have come through. Now you may hear the recruiters talk about Ex-Pat insurance, I think this is more an American/Canadian thing because I couldn't find anything in the UK about Ex-Pat insurance so don't panic.

If I hear anymore about the insurance I will update this post but I doubt I will. I have heard of some other teachers who have gone to the doctors/hospital etc when they are ill and they've just shown them their ARC card and been treated fine.


OK you should ONLY book your flight once you have your visa back. I flew out here with Emirates as they gave you 30kg luggage allowance whereas the other airline only gave you 20-22kg. Believe me, when you have to pack an army of jumpers (it is FREZZING out here) you'll be thankful for it! My flight was around £470 including taxes etc. I flew from Manchester but you can fly from London and Edinburgh (or Newcastle, one of the two) as well. I took the later 1.30pm flight which got me into Dubai at midnight local time. I only had a 3 hour wait (which flew by because the queue for security was HUGE) and then my flight on to Seoul was at 3am and landed at 4.30pm local time.

Now a good trick, for if you're only a few kgs over and can't fit all your luggage, is to what I did. I had my sister hold on to my laptop (2kg) and my Uggs out of my carry-on bag (they only weigh it when you check in) so that I was under the weight limit and then snuck them in afterwards :D hehe

You can pay for additional luggage but it was something ridiculous like £140 for an extra 5kgs! It's cheaper to post stuff out there. If you send a 20kg box with DHL or the Post Office it's only £100!!

Chances are they'll have you fly out here on the Friday ready to start on the Monday so I left on Weds, arrived in Seoul on Thursday and then travelled down to Ulsan on Friday morning. I have heard of a few people arriving and literally going into school in the same afternoon so be prepared for the worst!!!!

Airport Hotel

Now the flight, including stop-over in Dubai, was 17 hours in total, then it takes aother 5 hours to get from Seoul down to Ulsan. If you're working in Seoul you don't need to arrive early like I did but if you are coming anywhere near Ulsan I would 1,000,000% recommend staying the night in a hotel before you travel the extra 5 hours! I was sooooooooooo tired when I arrived there is no way I could have done another 5 hours. I stayed at the Incheon Airport Guesthouse which I found on www.hostelworld.com. I had a double room (actually had 2 double beds) and it was about £30. The shower was good too, fast and hot, made me feel human again! They picked me up from the airport for free and then took me back there (to catch the bus) the next day, again for free. If you stay over and stop here I would recommend getting some food at the airport as there wasnt much nearby.


I would also recommend bringing Korean Won with you. I didn't because you had to pre-order it at the travel agent and i didnt know this and so didn't have time. They do accept US dollars but unless you know the exchange rate chapter and verse chances are you'll get ripped off a little.

UK Phones

One point to note is that O2 doesn't work out here. I'm not sure about the other networks but my phone (Blackberry) doesn't even pick up a Korean signal so it was pointless bringing it. The only thing it's good for is storing numbers should I need to use a payphone. If you get your phone unlocked, apparently you can use a Korean SIM here, but I don't know this first hand. 

Buses/Flights in Seoul

Now I didn't fly from Seoul to Ulsan because Korean Air only give you 20kgs luggage and I already had 30kg from Emirates. Apparently it's not expensive to pay additional baggage but I had booked my hotel for the night and had already arranged to meet my co-teacher at the bus station in Ulsan. All domestic flights go from Gimpo Airport which is about 45mins away by bus. Apparently there is also an express rail that takes you there too. If you are flying from Gimpo the same day I would recommend giving yourself at LEAST 3 hours between flights as you have to get through baggage, immigration and get there with enough time to check in.

Buses from the airport are a doddle to catch, when you come out of arrivals just head for the exit near Exit 7-8 and you should see a little stand next to the door that mentions transport. The lady there was very helpful and took me outside to the ticket office and got my ticket for me. The buses come regularly if you're going to Gangnam Station (Seoul central bus station) so keep an eye out for them, the number is written clearly on the front/side.

Buses to Ulsan go every 5 hours. The first one is around 7.30am then again at around 1pm then the last one is around 6pm. I thought they went every 30mins (I read the website details wrong) and so had to take a bus into Seoul station and then wait 15mins for the bus to Ulsan. So you know, if you take the bus to Ulsan via Seoul, the bus will drop you off literally at the side of the road. Cross the street go down the subway stairs, turn left at the bottom and walk straight ahead, there is an escalator at the other side, go up it and turn right, that is the central terminal!)

Health Check

Now I had to pay for my medical which I wasnt aware of, some people didn't. It was 80,000 Won. I had an eye test, hearing test, chest x-ray, urine and blood sample taken and I was weighed and measured. The results came back in about 4 days and then you can send off for the ARC card.


Now my apartment is lovely (check out my video) but please don't be misled, not ALL apartments are this nice. Mine is in a new building and is a good 20mins north of Ulsan centre. Apartments in the city are more expensive and aren't as nice. They're not horrible by all means, I have been to some other teachers apartments and while they're not as new and shiney as mine they aren't bad. As long as you dont expect the Ritz you wont be disappointed. Just think of an average apartment in the UK and you'll be fine. Just the decor is a little dated. But they are a lot bigger, most of the ones I've seen have more than one bedroom!

All apartments should come with furniture already i.e. bed, wardrobe, desk or table and chairs, washing machine, microwave etc check your contract for more details. If you want additional furniture you can use your settlement fee (usually 300,000 Won) to buy stuff. I've seen a brand new sofabed for sale (on sale) for 80,000 Won (116,000 full price) so 300,000 should go pretty far! I will post details of where to shop etc in another post.

ARC/Immigration, bank account and phones/internet

Your co-teacher should take you for your ARC card once you have your medical results back. You'll need your passport, 10,000 Won and a recent passport photo. The card takes about 2 weeks and they will likely post it to your school. Once you have your ARC card, you can get things more set up.

Once you have your ARC card you can set up a bank account. Most people have an NH Bank account to get paid by their school but they aren't the best bank for foreigners. KEB Bank offer better rates for foreigners and for sending money home. You can open as many accounts as you like. Once you have your bank account set up you can then get a phone and set-up an internet connection.

If you read my other post about things to do while you're waiting for your contract you'll know that you can have a phone waiting here for you via the Arrival Store (http://www.thearrivalstore.com/). Otherwise you'll have to wait for the ARC to get one.

I don't have either a phone or internet just yet but I will update this section once I have them :D

If there is anything else you would like to know that I have missed please message below......thanks!


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Ohh, that is pretty awesome! I am pretty certain I have to pay my own bills (well, they're delivered to me!). I think everyone gets a different deal when it comes to appartments. I, personally, would love a bigger appartment just to be able to put visitors up properly or host in a room that I don't sleep in. I only two people with 2 bed appartments, and they both pay for them (the school gives them a stipend, but it doesn't cover the whole rent). I don't know a lot about Ulsan, but most Korean cities have an abundance of "one rooms" (Konglish for studio apartments), and that's what schools tend to provide :)

Merry christmas! Hope your first one in Korea was okay :)

Hi Mahalath

I agree with Ash, great to hear from you!! You're blogs are what insprired me to write mine!! I found them so helpful I wanted to write on my life in Ulsan (so far anyway!)

Ok so in reply to your posts: about the toothpaste, I personally havent tried the Korean brands yet, I only put the "rank" part as that's what my friends have had to say about it haha! Apparently you can get Arm & Hammer out here (just look for the logo) if you don't like the Korean stuff. I am very glad to hear about the Tylenol!! Marvellous stuff!! I had it once when I was travelling, sooooo much better than the UK brands I'll have to say haha I'll be looking out for that myself! Re: the apartments, I have been to a few down in the centre of Ulsan (and heard about one or two here in Hogye) that have more than one bedroom!? I'm not sure on the costs of rent but my general thought on the idea is that they're a bad one as you'll no doubt end up paying more to heat it up! I like my cosy little place as it's sandwiched between two other flats so I never need my heating on, it's always toasty!! The good thing about my new build too is I have since found out that my bills are included in my rent with is paid for by the UMOE so I literally only have to pay for my phone and internet! Sweet huh!? It's worth asking your co-t to read through your apartment contract with you as I only found this out when I asked how i have to pay for my bills :)

Hey Ash

I was actually going to write a post on this early next week. I brought my unlocked (was T-Mobile but unlocked it for my O2 contract) Blackberry out here and even with it being unlocked it didnt work, not with my UK sim card anyway. It wont even pick up a Korean carrier. Might try it with my Korean sim tonight (i pick my new phone up in a bit) and let you know!

I've recently signed up for an iphone 4s and did a bit of background research first because I wanted to buy the handset outright and then get a contract (otherwise you have to sign up for a 2 yr contract) as I might be moving to Oz after SK so wanted a phone i could take there. Now apparently it all depends on whether your phone/carrier is a CDMA or GSM as to whether it'll work. Now i'm not tech savvy so had no idea what that meant, I went on the Apple Support Community (https://discussions.apple.com/community/iphone/using_iphone you have to sign in with your Apple ID and password) for help and got good albeit even more confusing advice. I decided it was all too techy for me to figure out so I just got a regular contract with the cost of my phone included and figured i'd just sell the phone online to someone in Korea before I go to Oz and get a new one there.

I would recommend asking for advice from them as they all seemed to know their stuff even if i didn't. Worse case scenario is you'll have to sell your iphone and get a new one out here!?

Hope this helps!

I have an i phone 4. Gonna have to find some technological wizz kid to give me final say on this. I will only just finish the contract when i leave so dont really want to buy another smart phone lol :P

I am pretty sure that's wrong, unless your phone is swanky enough to be able to pick up networks anywhere in the world (most UK ones are able to just in Europe, America and obviously the UK I think). It is worth a try I guess, but you'll need a Korean contract anyway, and the ones available to foreigners (ie, not the cheapest ones) tend to come with a free phone anyway. It just takes a little while to set up.

Hey mahalath welcome back :)

All good info thankyou! But i had heard my i phone should work out there after being unlocked? Obviously with a Korea sim card. Have i heard completely wrong?

Also, appartments. I only know one person who got more than 1 bedroom without paying extra for it, so I would far from expect it (she had a uni job as well). The only exception is that married couples sometimes get an extra room, but not always. Actually, you're pretty lucky to get that kitchen. Out of a lot of my friends last year my appartment was the biggest, but it was only one room (seperate bathroom and balconies of course).

The last thing I want to say that might help you is that a LOT of furniture can be picked up off the streets. People put it out for recycling and you are welcome to take it. There are often, in appartment complexes, areas for leaving your furniture. If you need stuff, find an appartment complex near you and go free shopping. It is second hand but generally really good quality stuff. 

UK phones don't work period out here. It's a totally different way of recieving signal, so the phones in the UK, generally, aren't built for it.

Tylenol out here isn't too expensive. It's the American paracetamol and it is what you need to ask for in a pharmacy if you need a pain killer. Actually, in pharmacies always try brand names for medicines. I went with my brother to get an antihystemine, I translated on my phone and showed the pharmacist who went "Ah, pir-a-tin" (or possibly "jir-tek", I can't remember which). 

Also, you might find this useful: http://maryeats.com/2006/11/16/kimbap-nara-menu/ Most things are spicy, but some are not, and eating in cheap restaurants is something I like to do a lot.

Also, adapters can be found in hi-mart (well, that's where I got mine from! I forgot to bring one). It's a universal one and cost me about 10,000W

Bed sheets should be provided by your hagwon, they are sold in Home Plus, but they are expensive!

Also, a lot of hagwons pay for the health check, so it's worth asking before you go out there :) They're way more likely to say yes then.



Great post! I've not been on for a while, but I'm glad to see you made it to Korea :)

I just want to add a couple of things, firstly, "eop-seo-yo"(없어요, pronounced like up-suh-yo) which is roughly "I don't have". It can also mean "I don't want." I find I use it more than "an-i-yo". For example "Point card-eu issiyo?" "Up-si-yo" in a shop. Another one that is really useful is "Mul-la-yo" (몰라요) which means I don't know. It is a nice way to attempt to politely end conversations with people who are trying very hard to communicate in Korean (for example "korean korean korean korean?" *confused face* "mul-la-yo?") (I find it useful especially in taxis). The other one that's useful for taxis is "eo-di-e" which is "where?" If the taxi driver asks you a question with this in (generally listen for something that sounds like "Oh-dee" then he probably doesn't know where you are going. You can give a nearby landmark, call a friend or get out the taxi and find one who does (yeop-e (옆에) means next to, which is kinda useful sometimes as well.

As for the post, the only thing I really disagree with is that Korean toothpaste is rank. I have no problem with it. I think if you try and stuff enough in your luggage to last the year you'll be over packing. Deoderant is a whole different matter.

Just to add though, in summer be careful! A lot of places a string top is a bit of a no-no and V necks aren't generally appreciated too much (mostly if they show clevage). Winter is COLD! I don't have a hat or scarf at the moment :( My hair froze on my way to work the other morning :(


I've just found this website "Eat Your Kimchi" it has a useful section on what to expect in Korea, take a look...



Thanks :) I have learnt pretty much what you have put there so i will be trying to learn more before i come! :) Talk to me in Korean is a really good learning website if you want to get going and its free ^^ Teach you just a couple of words a lesson

I am going to go with A first. Interested to know what the nightlife is like :) Oh and i will pray for an apartment like yours :P



You asked me if I learnt any Korean before I got here.....

I did buy a Lonely Planet Korean phrasebook for about £4.99 from Amazon. It has been quite helpful but I would also definitely recommend buying a proper Korean-English dictionary! It would make things so much easier for me when going to the supermarket and I'm trying to find something specific!!

The phrases I have learnt so far are:

an-yong haseyo = hello (that's the polite form, you can just say an-yong but ONLY if you're talking to someone younger)

kam-sam-ni-da = thank you

.....ju-se-yo = I'd like....... eg. hanna coca cola ju-se-yo = I'd like one coca cola please.

yo-gi = here (when taking a taxi)

yo-gi-yo = to call the waiter, literally means over here!

an-yong-he kye-se-yo = goodbye

ne = yes (said more like nay)

an-i-yo = no


That's about all I've mastered so far, remember they dont use PLEASE out here like we do. Most expressions in the phrasebook are the polite form anyway so dont worry about coming across rude! They use please literalyy if you're begging/pleading for help and that's it!

I would recommend knowing your numbers too! at least one to ten!

What do you want me to write about next?

a) Prices - food/alcohol/nightlife

b) The Ex-Pat community out here

c) My school and first week of teaching

Please vote below by leaving a comment and I'll get writing :D


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