Moving to the other side of the world (even if it’s temporary), is an unnerving task. Those who depart alone are the most valorous. Potentially, they will move from popular friendship circles to an initially companionless city. They will probably experience a culture shock due to their new surroundings, and they might find that there is no one to confide in when they have a bad day. Family tends to feel too far away to distress them, and new friends are too fresh to taint with concerns and worries. Therefore, there is a homely comfort in migrating with someone else, whether it is a friend or a partner.
Korean private academies have a few options for couples who wish to teach there. First, there are couple positions where you would both be working in the same academy and living in the same home. This is probably the most common of the options for couples. Academies find that they can cut the cost of accommodating their employees by recruiting a couple who are happy to share their living space. Similar to EPIK’s preference for married couples when recruiting a pair, a lot of academies will favour those who have been wedded, as there is less chance of the couple breaking up. Luckily, this tendency isn’t as strong as it is in EPIK recruitment. The academy that you will work in will most probably be a big one, but at least you will know your co-worker and should be able to strike up a compatible working relationship.
Second, there is the couple position where you reside together, but work separately. This is a lot rarer to come across, and tends to occur when two academies have a strong tie, (such as being part of the same franchise), and they realise that they can save money by boarding their foreign teachers in the same accommodation. This option has much more appeal than the former, because it allows the individuals to work separately. Therefore, it avoids the nasty possibility of work and home becoming entwine, because there are no co-workers who want to witness a couple having a domestic during work time.
Finally, you can chose to work in different academies in the same city, but with separate accommodation. This is even less prevalent than the previous two options, as the chances of getting a job where the contract starts at the same time and where the academies are located close enough to one another is very slim. However, it is not impossible; in fact this is the option that I eventually settled on. The positive of this option is that you have two separate homes, and if the worst occurs and you break up, you won’t be stuck for a place to live. However, it may be the case that you have a sizeable distance between the two homes. For me, the commute is over 9 miles. After a long day of looking after children who hardly speak the same language as me, the simple task of getting home can be unmerciful. However, the fact that there will be someone there who I can vent to and who will sit down and eat a late night dinner with me, is what encourages me to make the journey.
As I said before, those who move to another country alone are amazingly valiant; they are the heroes who drop everything they have in order to follow a dream elsewhere. Yet, for me, I derive the most pleasure from this experience by sharing it with someone who I love.