Part-timing Stories in Korea
Studying in Korea would be a great opportunity any foreigner can acquire and experience. Aside from the beautiful country and the promising culture, the universities are also prominent for the degrees that one can acquire. However studying far from your parents, living alone and of course all these college fees that you can’t of course apply for college loan, unless you are Korean. The only way to survive is to use your free time to make money.
This is how working part-time became my most educational experience aside from the fact that I am a student in Korea. Foreign students is a minority group among all types of foreigner groups in the country. Also, not all are lucky enough to grab a full scholarship or even attain allowances on their universities, the only way to survive would be to work something out for a living. Besides the fact that lifestyle in Korea is indeed expensive, age would be a factor that most foreign students, rich or not in their home country, find working part-time a need. Of course, shopping, traveling and even having fun with new found friends needs money. With the young-lifestyle loving Seoul, you won’t just get the full attainment of studying in your dormitory, focusing on your grades and practicing your Korean. The idea of having fun, shopping and eating good food with no money problems is every foreign student’s desire.
When the idea came up to me, I was already suffering from being a poor student in our university. Food and living was not a problem, but when it comes to terms of joining friends for a two-day trip to Jeonju or just strolling around Daejeon, it did become an issue as I have to decline all the time. I don’t want to be a party-popper but there are times, where you just can’t rely on friends all the time for you to have fun. The easiest way I did to find a part-time job was that I found from craiglist. Basically, all expats and foreigner-friendly working areas would post job on craiglist. Ranging from English Instructors and Models, and specific visas that they only allow. A foreigner can try to look around the site. The first job a student can try in Korea could either be working on restaurants as servers or dishwashers or at Hostels as cleaners or receptionists. However right now, anyone can now also work as part-timers at academies. English Academies or Hagwons, are still strict when it comes to hiring students, but camps during summer or winter or working as on-call instructors or part-time lecturers can be anybody’s hitch to work.
If you don’t have a working Korean number, you can send e-mails to around the jobs you think looks promising from the website. However, to be really sure it is really advisable to have a phone number and directly contact the employer. From there, you can have answered emails the next day or a week after asking for an interview. I was lucky enough to be able to have a phone interview, as it is a hustle and also a waste to go to the city just for an interview. My employer was really friendly and kind enough to work on my terms though we had a problem understanding each other’s terms on my lodging. So a good tip-off if you are to leave your dormitory and work for the whole summer in Seoul, better talk it out with your boss if there is an allowance for it or if not arrange yourself for a 4-hour volunteer work at any hostel so that you can have free-lodging. I was able to do it for mine. Working at the cafe was only for four hours and it is in the afternoon and cleaning for the hostel is on the late mornings, that is why my 8-hours a day is busy enough to not spend the hot afternoons outside. At 3pm, my shift ends, unless my boss asks me to work overtime. You really have to discuss pay terms when he asks you to work over-time. But nonetheless I was paid for my overtimes. Alright, so back to the story, at 3 pm, my after work, I would have the free time to go around Seoul and since the subway is fast, I almost went around everyday. Mondays was also my off so it I have a day to go somewhere longer and spend it with friends who also at the time were working.
Working as a cleaner and a server, was I guess the most memorable for me. I have never done such type of work back home and doing it in Korea was rather touching. Having a Korean boss, engaging conversations and being able to practice my Korean, gaining friends, learning how to cook and clean and much more. They were like everyday classes in school, though its outside and much more realistic. I clean beds and change beddings, I sweep and mop the floor and provide assistance and service among fellow foreigners or Koreans. I get fulfilled as I grew more adult than before and aside from that I learn to enjoy Korea as well.
One thing though to secure, even if it is a fellow foreigner boss is that working terms should be discussed. A couple of my friends tried working at restaurants and engagements such as pay and rights are importantly discussed before they started working. Since we only have student visas, we don’t have secured rights when it comes to working part-time. It is better that working terms are laid down so that when it’s time to leave pay can be given as it was agreed and problems won’t arise.
Looking for a job without craiglist can also be done through walk-in applications. It is quite convenient as interview can be done on-the-spot. Given a good opportunity, you can have work as fast after trying up walk-in applications. More opportunities are also given for part-time workers on their universities as well. They can apply for jobs that requires English or man-power and it is much secure as you only work on your university. One part-time I did was already a part of my scholarship program. Working in my university was a good opportunity to expand my talents. I was able to secure a good profile and gain friends from students. And since I was a student, I gave classes to my Korean schoolmates like its a normal language that friends can converse too. Though pay was always a problem in our part, as delays always happens, it was good enough for me to finance my life Korea.
There are so many disadvantages to working in a foreign land, but equipped with motivation and confidence, even as a student, surely your Korean experience would be the best crossroad of your life.