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Last updated July 3, 2018, 3:29 a.m.

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Iran is NOT What You Think!!

I just completed a 14 day trip around Persia with G Adventures, and much to my surprise, Iran is not (at all) what I thought it’d be like!  Contrary to popular belief, Iran is extremely safe, with the most friendly people I’ve ever met who went out of their way to make sure I was safe and having a good time.  I have no incentive to lie to you about this — it is just the 100% truth.

Before I dive in any further, please take 2 minutes to watch this video — which currently has 4+ million views as I write this:

Is IRAN Safe? (Realizations from 14 Days in Iran)

IS IRAN SAFE TO VISIT?! 🇮🇷🇮🇷🇮🇷I just finished 2 weeks traveling all over this fascinating country with G Adventures, and let’s just say that IRAN IS NOT WHAT I EXPECTED!!

Unfortunately, the media makes Iran look extremely evil, when in reality, it is absoultey safe to visit, and the locals here are the most humble, honest and hospitable people that I’ve met in all of my travels. I am not joking!!

Over the next 14 days, I will be launching daily videos as they happened over the past 2 weeks of my life in this beautiful country. I will be digging deep into the ancient history, trying all of the best dishes, meeting eye to eye with locals and observing their unique lifestyle as I take you behind the scenes of this special nation.

Out of all 14 videos that you are about to see in my Iran series, this one has the strongest message — which is why I am sharing it first.

I truly hope you enjoy watching my raw perspectives around Iran, and I encourage you (as always) to comment below with any questions and and I’ll do my best to get back to you!

Follow Drew Binsky for daily travel videos, and come say hi on Insta @drewbinsky 🇮🇷

P.S. I apologize for the 2 week delay in sharing any videos — Truth be told, I decided to take a break from making videos so I could fully enjoy and appreciate this eye-opening trip to Iran. I haven’t gone more than 2 days without sharing a video over the last YEAR, so it was hard for me, but it was a nice detox. I’ve been so anxious to roll out these videos and I hope you find them valuable 🙂

Posted by Drew Binsky on Saturday, June 9, 2018

 

When we (Americans) think about Iran, we tend to only think of negative things such as terrorism.  But what about the 80 million innocent locals who live across this fascinating country? And all the history the land contains?  This is Iran at its core – hospitality and history – and I’m excited to give you a glimpse of what I just experienced.

This trip was the second that I have taken with G Adventures (the first was to Tajikistan & Uzbekistan last year) — and all I can say is positive things about my experience with G.  The schedule on our Iran trip was a perfect mixture of sightseeing and free time, while we moved around to Iran’s most historical cities.  Looking back, I honestly can’t think of a better way to spend 14 days in Persia (for a detailed look at our day-to-day itinerary, click this link).  Our group had 12 members, representing 9 different countries from Mexico to New Zealand to to the U.S. to Germany, and our guide, Amin, was a really cool dude who knows everything about Persia and Persian history.  Amin has turned into one of my good friends!

Here is a photo of our group, followed by a photo of Amin and I!

Soon after I arrived in Iran, I learned that the wifi situation is extremely slow, and therefore, I would be unable to upload daily videos like I usually do.   While I was originally frustrated, it ended up being a good thing – I was able to stress less and fully enjoy my time in Iran.

In this blog post, I’m going to share with you my top 5 favorite things about Iran, and whenever necessary, I will embed a video that is related to what I am talking about.  If you want to see all 14 videos that I made in Iran, please do so on my Facebook and/or YouTube pages.

5 Favorite Things About Iran

1. The People

No matter how many Instagram posts and videos I make about the friendliness of the people, it still won’t do justice by how over the top they truly are!  If you take away anything from this blog post, please let it be that Persians are the most hospitable, kind and humble people that I’ve met in all my travels to 139 countries.

I interacted with as many locals as I could, and not once on any occasion was I disrespected or even looked at funny.  I even told people that I was both American and Jewish, and it made them even more interested to get to know me.  I was invited (dozens of times) into peoples’ houses for a cup of tea and even offered a bed to sleep in.  One time in Isfahan, I walked into a hardware store in the evening and the owner wouldn’t let me leave because he wanted to talk to me all night and he kept feeding me tea!  I made many good friends while in Iran, and I can’t wait to go back and visit them all someday soon.

Here is a video I made all about the kindness of Iranian people:

The World’s FRIENDLIEST People! (IRAN)

Out of all my travels in 137 countries, it is right here, in Iran, where I have found the most hospitable and friendly people. Complete strangers coming up to me on the street, from big cities to small towns, offering me a cup of tea in their shop or a bed to sleep in their home.

I’m convinced that I could come to Iran with $0 in my pocket and easily be able to make friends, find delicious meals and be welcomed in a comfortable home like family. Seriously, it’s almost like they force you into their homes (in a good way!)

Over the last 2 weeks, I’ve told dozens of Persians that I am both American and Jewish, and contrary to what you may think, it makes them like me even more, peaking their interest and asking more questions. I have not felt a minuscule of negative hostility yet from anyone in this country.

Also, as I have now published 10 videos about Iran so far — it really makes me laugh when I read some of the comments and hear people calling my videos “propaganda.” These videos are the farthest thing away from propaganda!!! They are telling you the downright truth from my experiences in the country. Nobody told me to make this video (or any video). I made this because I feel the need to share what I am seeing to you. And I hope that by watching this video (and my others about Iran) — that you will remove your negative stereotypes about this humble nation and realize that it’s one of the safest and best places to visit on our planet.

If you have ever been to Iran, and you agree with what I am saying, then please share your thoughts or a quick moment/story from your experience with the people here. I want the entire world to know!!!

Follow Drew Binsky for daily travel videos, and come say hi on Insta @drewbinsky 🙂

Music: Epidemic Sound

*Note* My trip to Iran was from May 26-June 9, but due to limited WiFi there, I decided to delay my videos until trip ended — which you are seeing in chronological order. Hope you enjoy!

Posted by Drew Binsky on Monday, June 18, 2018

 

2. The Historical Sites

Iran is home to one of the world’s oldest civilizations.  Human activity in this country dates back 40,000 years — and evidence of these ancient humans can be found in select places in Iran.  My favorite historical sites were Persepolis and the Rayan citadel.  Persepolis was the former capital of the great Persian empire, which was ordered by Darius the Great is 515 BC.   The site today, which is partly in ruins and patly in tact, is organized by about a dozen columns with extremely detailed inscriptions on the stone. The Rayan citadel is another built-up city from the same time frame, but it’s more compact and set alongside a beautiful mountain range.   It was abandoned soon after it was built, but the buildings are still remarkable to witness.  Both Persepolis and the Rayan Citadel are 2 of 22 UNESCO sites in Iran!

Here’s a video I made about Persepolis:

PERSEPOLIS: The Forgotten Wonder of the World?

You know how some places just WOW you? That’s what’s happening to me right now, at Persepolis in Iran.

Persepolis is the name of the former capital of the Achaemenid (Persian) Empire. Archaeologists and historians believe that this city began being built in 518 BC – or 2,530 years ago.

Today, as you wander around Persepolis, you can see incredible stone columns and walls with extremely detailed inscriptions, giving us insight for how these humans used to live their lives. The most impressive thing to me is that nothing in Perseoilis is restored — it’s all in its original form. I cannot imagine how much more polished this city looked back in its heyday!

After spending all day exploring Persepolis and being so stunned that my jaw is dropped to the ground, I cannot understant why it’s not considered in any of the ‘7 wonder of the world’ lists. I have been to all 7 wonders on each list, and Persepolis would easily be in my top 3!!!!

Have you ever heard of Persepolis? Are you as fascinated as I am by this place?

Follow Drew Binsky for daily travel videos, and come say hi on Insta @drewbinsky 🙂

Music: Epidemic Sound

*Note* My trip to Iran was from May 26-June 9, but due to limited WiFi there, I decided to delay my videos until trip ended — which you are now watching in chronological order as they happened. Hope you enjoy!

Posted by Drew Binsky on Friday, June 15, 2018

 

3. The Persian Gardens

When one thinks of Persia, he/she probably doesn’t think of gardens (after all, Iran is made up of 2/3rds desert!)  But somehow, thousands of years ago, the people of ancient Persia were able to figure out how to get water to create the most beautifully organized gardens.  The gardens of Iran are so spectacular that UNESCO recognized them as a world heritage site, as 9 of them are are scattered all around the country.  We visited 3 gardens, and my favorite was the one in Kerman.  I loved the central water canals, giant fountain, and towering wind tower overlooking the greenest trees and purple flowers!

4. The Society

Being in Iran is like entering a time warp back to the 1970s or 80s (not that I was alive in those decades, but from what I know, this is how the world looked like).  The models of cars on the road today don’t resemble anything modern (except for maybe a few neighborhoods in Tehran), there are NO international brands or chains anywhere to be seen except for Coca-Cola (no McDonald’s, Starbucks, Uber, Marriott, etc), and the wifi speeds will remind you of AOL dial up in the 1990s (yes, I do remember that!).

But that all being said, it is somewhat of a refresher to be immersed in such a society, which is opposite to most countries that are overrun by tourists (like where I am right now in Bangkok).  There are no scams in Iran.  Life is as real and genuine as it gets.

5. The Food

Ah, last but not least — the food!  Who doesn’t travel for food?  Iranian cuisine will not leave you disappointed.  The cuisine is based on a combination of rice, meat, vegetables and nuts.  Common herbs include saffron, cinnamon and parsley, and fruits include plum, pomegranate, apricots and raisins.   Most of the meat takes form of a ‘kebab’ which is minced beef/lamb/chicken served on a plate alongside fresh vegetables like tomato, cucumber, olives, onion and lettuce.  If you like nuts, then you are in for a treat because most dishes have them and Iran is actually the world’s largest producer of pistachio nuts!   And Lastly, the watermelon juice is so fresh and you should give it a try.

As you can see, I have developed a deep love for Iran and I am already planning my next trip back soon 🙂 If you have any questions on Iran or my experience with G Adventures, please comment them below or email me and I’ll get back to you!  Lastly, don’t forget to book your trip on this link!

Disclosure: I was invited on this trip by G Adventures, and received financial compensation from them for the execution of videos and social media content. As always, this post was written by me and is honest from my own personal experiences.

The post Iran is NOT What You Think!! appeared first on Drew Binsky.


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2018-07-03T03:29:47Z
Join Us on a GROUP TRIP to THAILAND (NOV ’18)

Hi Friends! We’re beyond excited to launch our very first group trip to Thailand! Deanna and I will be hosting an 8 day trip from November 10-18th, 2018 to the Northern parts of Thailand from Chiang Mai to Bangkok!

**This is not a free trip, it’s a paid trip.  Prices and details listed below**

We will be moving to Bangkok next month (June) and staying for the remainder of 2018, so we will be almost experts on Thailand by the time November comes around !

Before I explain further about this wonderful opportunity, please watch this short video which recaps all of the bullet points in 2.5 minutes.

 

Travel With Us to THAILAND (Group Trip)

ANNOUNCING OUR FIRST GROUP TRIP this November 10-18th — TO THAILAND!

Come join Deanna and I on an adventure of a lifetime for 8 days across the Northern Parts of Thailand.

This group trip is for people who A) want to hang out with us and explore the hidden parts of Thailand, but more importantly, B) to learn how to earn money online to fund your travels. There will be a heavy focus on making travel videos, but also I’ll be sharing advice on travel blogging, working with brands, social media marketing, getting sponsorships, pitching and more.

Basically, within these 8 days, I’ll be giving you all of my best tips and secrets that I’ve learned over the last 6 years in this business — all while having the time of our lives in Thailand!

The trip will be powered by my friends at G Adventures, but the schedule will be customized to make room for shooting videos and editing/learning on our computers every evening (Yes, I will have lessons planned to teach).

THERE ARE 12 SPOTS OPEN FOR THIS TRIP:

REQUIREMENTS
– You must be between 18 and 35 and able to speak English
– You need to have a desire to make videos, start a blog, or a career making money online
– You need to have some kind of camera more advanced than an iPhone, and a computer, but you don’t need any filmmaking skills

HOW TO APPLY:
– Email me (drew@drewbinsky.com) a 60-90 second raw video of you explaining who you are, why you want to come and what you are planning to get out of this trip. That’s it.
– If selected, you will hear back from us within a month and full payment is due by August 10th.

MORE INFO IN THIS BLOG POST (more detailed itinerary, total costs and more) –> https://drewbinsky.com/join-us-group-trip-thailand-nov-18/

WE CAN’T WAIT! 🙂

Follow Drew Binsky for daily travel videos and inspiration!

Music: Epidemic Sound

Posted by Drew Binsky on Tuesday, May 22, 2018

 

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THIS WILL BE OUR ROUTE

DAY TO DAY ITINERARY

Nov 10, Day 1: Chiang Mai

Arrive at any time. Welcome meeting in the evening.

Nov 11, Day 2: Chiang Mai

Enjoy free time to explore Chiang Mai. Opt for a bicycle tour, a visit the Mae Sa waterfall, shopping at the night market, or getting a traditional Thai massage. Enjoy a local cooking class with dinner.

Exclusive Inclusions:

Hands-On Cooking Class

Nov 12, Day 3: Chiang Mai / Chiang Rai

Travel to Chiang Rai and start exploring.

Nov 13, Day 4: Chiang Rai

Visit the town of Mae Sai

Nov 14, Day 5: Chiang Rai / Lampang

Continue on to Lampang and enjoy a homestay in a traditional Lanna village. Participate in craft demonstrations and opt to help prepare a local meal.

Exclusive Inclusions:

Local Living Village Homestay

Nov 15, Day 6: Lampang / Sukhothai

Take in traditional morning activities, followed by lunch in the village. Travel to Sukhothai and enjoy a free afternoon.

Nov 16, Day 7: Sukhothai

Tour of Sukhothai Historical Park and explore the area with some free time.

Nov 17, Day 8: Sukhothai / Bangkok

Travel to Bangkok and enjoy some time for last minute shopping.

Nov 18: Day 9: Bangkok

Depart at any time.

As mentioned in the video, this trip is for people who not only want to explore the hidden parts of Thailand with us, but more importantly for those who have a burning passion to earn money online to fund your travels.  This includes making videos (which will be the main focus), but also, learning about travel blogging, getting sponsorships, pitching, social media strategy and anything else revolving around making a living online. Basically all of the knowledge I’ve picked up from the last 6 years will be taught to you in these 8 days.

The trip will be arranged by my friends at G Adventures, but we have customized the schedule to make room for shooting videos and editing/learning in the evening.

An average day on this trip will be wake up early, explore a village, meet with locals, learn how to cook their foods and film everything we can. And then, spend 3 or 4 hours in the evening at either a cafe or hotel lobby with our computers open and ready to learn!

Of course, we will also be having a few fun nights as well (nightlife is really fun in Chiang Mai and Bangkok!)

REQUIREMENTS FOR THE GROUP TRIP:

There are three major requirements that you must fulfill. They are the following.

– You must be able to speak English (EDIT, I HAVE REMOVED THE 18-35 AGE LIMIT).

– You need to have a desire to learn how to make a living online to fund your travels (making videos, travel blogging, social media, etc)

– You need to have any kind of camera (more advanced than an iphone) and a computer – but you don’t need any previous filmmaking skills or travel blogging knowledge!

HOW TO APPLY:

There are 12 spots open for this trip. To apply, simply email me (drew@drewbinsky.com) a 60-90 second raw video explaining who you are, why you want to come and what you are expecting to get out of this trip (DEADLINE IS FRIDAY, JUNE 15th).   Please do not go over 90 seconds or your application will not be considered.

TRIP COST:

The cost of this trip is $1,600USD, which will include nearly everything except your flights (you are responsible to get to Chiang Mai on November 10 and book your own flight out of Bangkok on November 18 or later). The $1600 includes:

  • 7 nights at hotels, 1 night at village homestay
  • 8 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 2 dinners
  • All transportation (buses, taxis, shuttles) to and from all activities and between all destinations
  • Hands on cooking class in Chiang Mai
  • Bicycle tour in Sukhothai
  • A local tour guide (who will be co-leading the tour alongside myself and Deanna)
  • Daily lessons (workshops) with me about making videos, travel blogging, and making money online. I will have curated lessons planned

If you’re chosen, payment must be sent to me via Paypal or Venmo NO LATER THAN July 20th, 2018  or else your spot will be given up to someone else. This also gives me about 2.5 months to go through your applications.

OTHER THINGS TO NOTE/BRING:

  • You will be paired up with a roommate during the trip unless you’d like to request a private room, which will cost you an additional $249 for the 8 days
  • It is mandatory (as per G Adventures) to have emergency medical insurance that covers for both emergency evacuation & repatriation to the sum of $200,000 USD. It is also strongly advised to have a cancellation/interruption insurance just in case something unexpected happens.
  • I personally recommend bringing pocket money of $80-120 USD to cover lunches and additional spending money (souvenirs, beer, etc).
  • Make sure that you are able to obtain a visa on arrival in Thailand, or you must take the necessary steps to apply for a visa in advance.
  • Pack lightly. Trust me. We will be moving around a lot and you will not want to have more than a backpack of things. Nothing will be fancy or the need for fancy attire. One pair of pants, one light jacket, few shirts, underwear, walking shoes, hat, sunscreen should do the trick! You can always buy things in Thailand if you forget them at home!
  • Cancellation Policy: As per G Adventures’s, cancellation 60 days or more prior to departure = Loss of deposit, cancellation between 30 and 59 days prior to departure = 50% loss, and cancellation within 30 days of departure = 100% loss.  But we really hope you don’t have to cancel as we will need to find a replacement ASAP (and if we have issues on timing, the entire trip may be cancelled).

If you need guidance for what to pack, see this video on my best packing tips!

What’s in my Bag? PACKING TIPS

Ever wonder what I bring with me on trips inside of my 2 carry-on backpacks? In today’s episode of Travel Tip Tuesday, I share all of my secrets for how to pack efficiently and more!!

Have anything else to add? Please share below!

‘Like’ Drew Binsky on Facebook for more fun travel videos, and come say hi on Insta/Snap @drewbinsky

Music: Epidemic Sound

Posted by Drew Binsky on Tuesday, February 20, 2018

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That’s it!   If selected, you will hear back from us within a few weeks. And don’t worry if you’re not selected this time, because I may shortlist you for our next trip in early 2019!

Good luck applying and we can’t wait to travel with you!

Drew Binsky

The post Join Us on a GROUP TRIP to THAILAND (NOV ’18) appeared first on Drew Binsky.


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2018-05-22T18:02:51Z
Best Places to Visit in Summer 2018

Every year, my friends at Allianz Travel Insurance conduct a survey of the most popular destinations for Americans to visit in the summer months.

The way that Allianz calculates these destinations is by reviewing customers’ trips planned from May 28 to Sept 3, 2018 — and each trip is between 5 and 8 days long.

As you can see in more detail via the graph below, the most popular places for this summer domestically are Orlando,  NYC and Las Vegas — all of which are not surprising.  The bottom few in the top 10 are Boston, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and San Francisco.

For international destinations, the top 3 are Cancun, Higuey, Dominican Republic and Montego Bay, Jamaica.  I am assuming that many people will visit these destinations via cruise ship (like Carnival), as they are hotspots among cruise lines.   The bottom 3 destinations in the top 10 are San Juan, Puerto Rico (surprising, considering the recent trauma that just hit the island), Paris, France and Turks & Caicos.  I’ve been dying to go to T&C for a long, long time — so maybe I will finally make it out this summer!

Below is the complete list of the top 10 international destinations for American travelers this summer.

Paris and London are the only two destinations outside of the Americans, and they are (of course) the two most popular destinations in Europe.  No surprises there.

I’m happy to see islands in the southern Caribbean included in this list, such as Aruba, because they are the most stunning places to visit in the region (in my humble opinion).  For next year, I’d like to see Colombia make the list (another amazing country that is becoming quite popular for Americans to visit these days).

In regards to Mexico, there are travel warnings all over the places for Americans to be careful going (and especially after another family was just found killed while on vacation) — but places like Cancun, where I’ve been twice, are much safer than other regions.

As for my personal recommendations for places to visit in summer, 2018 — I would say Japan, Tajikistan and Prague — all are fascinating places that will be in peak season from May – September.

*Methodology: The data of U.S. travelers’ 2018 summer travel plans was gathered by analyzing the number of travelers that went through the online booking process of airfare and package paths for partners offering Allianz Global Assistance travel to generate itineraries for roundtrip flights departing from US airports during 5/28/2018 – 9/3/2018 for trips between 5-8 days in length.

Disclaimer: I am a partner with Allianz and receive financial compensation from them.  That being said, this post was written by me and all opinions are mine.

The post Best Places to Visit in Summer 2018 appeared first on Drew Binsky.


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2018-05-12T09:45:50Z
Highlights From a 6 Day Road Trip in FLORIDA

I just wrapped up an incredible, action-packed road trip to Florida over the last 6 days in collaboration with Visit Florida.   It was my first time back in the sunshine state since 2007, so it was great to be here with fresh eyes and new perspectives. My girlfriend and I flew into Fort Myers, and then visited Cape Coral, Babcock Ranch, Punta Gorda, Englewood, the Everglades, Marco Island, Naples and finally headed East to Fort Lauderdale and Miami. We drove more than 400 miles in total and just had the time of our lives.

If you are a visual person and don’t want to spend the next 15 minutes reading about our trip, then please see this recap video below:

My 7 Favorite Things About FLORIDA

I just finished an amazing week road tripping around Florida!! We saw so many animals, ate incredible foods, soaked up the sunshine on the lovely beaches and did tons of water sports like parasaling, jetskiing, air boating and kayaking.

In this video, I share with you my 7 favorite things about the Sunshine State. What are your favorite things to do in Florida?

Huge thanks to VISIT FLORIDA for organzing this trip and all the regional partners in Charlotte Harbor, Punta Gorda, Naples and Fort Lauderdale. I can’t wait to return to your state! As for now, I’m on my way to Hilton Head, South Carolina — see ya there!

‘Like’ Drew Binsky for more fun travel videos and come say hi on Insta/Snap @drewbinsky 🙂

Music: Epidemic Sound

Posted by Drew Binsky on Sunday, April 1, 2018

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Overall, I think Florida is the most relaxed, beautiful and forward-thinking state in the USA. We did not have a single bad meal – I think I gained 10 pounds while there (but I’m not mad about it!). We were doing nonstop activities, mostly water sports, like jetskiing, kayaking, air boating, parasailing and scuba diving. The wildlife caught me by surprise, as did the heartwarming southern hospitality.

In this blog post, I’m going to recap the highlights of each place we visited, while sharing some photos and videos that I made along the way:

Part 1 – Fort Myers, Charlotte Harbor and Punta Gorda

I personally think that Florida’s South West part is the best kept secret in the state. It’s less commercial, less touristy but has the same stunning beaches, ridiculous views and relaxing lifestyle as East or North in the state.

For me, the two highlights of Charlotte County were visiting Babcock Ranch and the beaches in Englewood. Babcock ranch is a 27 square mile planned community, that is America’s first solar powered town. They are 100% powered by solar energy, as almost 500,000 solar panels can be found in nearby fields and on the top of commercial buildings. Being solar powered means electric driverless cars to get around, top-of-the-line technology with free wifi outside (everywhere!) and work out machines that pump energy back into the ground. I was thrilled to be here and witness such forward thinking and innovation – and I hope that the rest of the U.S. will soon follow their footsteps.

Inside America’s First Solar Powered Town

The future has arrived!

Yesterday, I had the privilege to visit the most forward-thinking and innovate town I’ve ever come across. It’s called Babcock Ranch and it’s in South Western Florida.

Babcock Ranch is America’s first solar powered town — 100% powered by the sun. This means that they produce more energy than they consume, as almost a half million solar panels are laid out in nearby fields and on top of commercial buildings. They have driverless electronic shuttles that take you around, work out machines that pump energy back in to the ground, top-of-the-line technology readily available and even free WiFi everywhere in town (including outside)!!

Babcock Ranch is setting the standard for future cities across the U.S.A and the world, and I’m lucky to be able to witness it first hand. They are planning to have 19,500 homes on 6 million square feet of commercial space.

Have you ever heard of Babcock Ranch? Or do you know of any other towns that are on their way to be 100% solar powered?

More to come soon around Florida with VISIT FLORIDA 🙂

‘Like’ Drew Binsky for more fun travel videos, and come say hi on Insta/Snap @drewbinsky!

Music: Epidemic Sound

Posted by Drew Binsky on Wednesday, March 28, 2018

 

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Englewood was shockingly beautiful – I wasn’t expecting the West (Gulf) coast beaches to be as pristine as the East (Atlantic) beaches. But I was proven wrong.   I woke up early for sunrise and sat in the sand with my eyes out on the horizon. I saw dozens of dolphins playing in the sea as I listened to the sound of the crashing waves on the shore. Aside from the beach, Englewood had incredible restaurants and a lovely downtown shopping area called Fisherman’s village with tons of shops, cafes and live music.

Part 2 – Naples and Surrounding Areas

As we headed South down the West coast, our first stop was Everglades City to jump on board a air boat (powered by a huge fan on back). The boat took us around the Everglades – AKA the swamp where the alligators live! Even though it was the low season for gators (because of the low water level and high concentration of salt) – we did manage to see a few and I cannot believe how big they are.

After the Everglades, we headed to the quaint town of Naples, which I honestly knew nothing about before arriving. And I quickly figured out that it’s one of America’s richest cities, with the second highest density of millionaires per capita and households that are upwards of $10 million dollars.   While the people were mostly over 65 and retired, there was definitely a fair share of younger, hip areas (check out Bar Tulia!) and the beaches did not disappoint.

 

How Rich is Naples, Florida?

I’ve never seen wealth like I’ve been seeing here in Naples, Florida over the past 48 hours. It’s one of America’s richest cities, with the second-highest proportion of millionaires per capita and an average home price of $520,000! Almost every household I’ve seen is HUGE — like fancy castles.

BUT despite the rich and famous, there are plenty of things you can do on a budget in Naples, and also, there are loads of fun activites & water sports available. We have gone parasailing, jetskiing, air boat riding through the Everglades, kayaking, river cruising and swimming on the shore. Have I mentioned that there is a 10-mile straight coastline of pure white sand beaches?

Have you ever been to Naples?? More to come soon from the Sunshine State with VISIT FLORIDA!

‘Like’Drew Binsky for more fun travel videos, and come say hi on Insta/Snap @drewbinsky 🙂

Music: Epidemic Sound

Posted by Drew Binsky on Thursday, March 29, 2018

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But above all, the highlight of Naples was visiting the Naples Zoo. When most people hear the word zoo, they tend to freak out and over analyze animals being mistreated, etc. But the Naples Zoo does the exact opposite – specifically their rehabilitation facilities for injured or orphaned Florida panthers.   We were about to meet with one panther, named Uno, who was found blind on the side of the road 4 years ago after being shot in the eye. The team at Naples Zoo rescued him, gave him a nice facility and they are now closely looking after him.  Uno is currently living a happy and healthy life, which is crucial when there are only 230 panthers left in existence.

 

Are You Against Zoos?

Whenever I mention the word ZOO, people tend to freak out because they automatically think animals are being mistreated. While this may be the case for some zoos in the world, there are several others I’ve visited who are working hard to protect & conserve animals and our ecosystems.

Yesterday, I visited the Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens in Florida, where I was able to meet with Uno — a blind panther that they rescued on the street and have taken under their wing. Without their efforts, Uno would not be alive, and the vulnerable species of the Florida Panther would have one less member (there are about ~200 living today).

What are your thoughts on zoos? Are you for or against them? Let me know in the comments below.

‘Like’ Drew Binsky for more fun travel videos and come say hi on Insta/Snap @drewbinsky 🙂 We are now on our way to Fort Lauderdale with VISIT FLORIDA!

Music: Epidemic Sound

Posted by Drew Binsky on Saturday, March 31, 2018

———

Part 3 – Fort Lauderdale

Our last leg of the trip took us to sunny Fort Lauderdale – a place I remembered as kid was very fun. And my thoughts are confirmed as an adult!! We began our experience by attending a mermaid show – where real girls dress up as mermaids and swim in a pool as we all watched through giant windows from inside a bar. It was actually more fun than I thought!

The following day, we went scuba diving with South Florida Diving Headquarters which was actually my first time diving in the states (I’ve been diving more than 5 countries!). Even though the day was quite windy and slightly rainy, the sea life was booming. I did one ship wreck dive and one reef dive, and I saw turtles, sting rays, puffer fish, lobster and more!

Finally, to wrap up a fun time in Fort Lauderdale – we went to the FAT Art Walk Village, which only occurs once a month on the last Saturday. It’s basically a blocked off street with art exhibits from local artists, food truck vendors, live music and all around good vibes. We loved it.  This was so much fun that I think it should be a weekly event, not only once a month!  Seeing this retro side of Ft. Lauderdale was a nice change of pace from Naples.

Final Words 

Our trip to Florida was one that I will never forget.  Aside from winter sports and mountains — this state really has it all.  Especially if you like to be around the water!

It’s no surprise to me why everyone wants to retire in Florida.  Year round great weather, golf courses, wildlife and beaches is all I need to hear to live a happy life!  It was truly a magnificent adventure down in Florida.

Special thanks to my friends at Visit Florida for helping organize this trip, as well as all regional partners of Charlotte Harbor, Paradise Coast & Fort Lauderdale –I can’t wait to return in the near future!!.

Disclosure: I was invited to Florida by Visit Florida, and received financial compensation from them during the trip. As always, this post was written by me and is honest from my own personal experiences.

The post Highlights From a 6 Day Road Trip in FLORIDA appeared first on Drew Binsky.


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2018-04-03T12:25:21Z
Ultimate Guide to Teaching English in Korea

*This article is 25-30 minute read, but it will give you EVERYTHING you need to know about teaching English in South Korea and adjusting to Korean life. I spent several weeks writing this and I’m confident that it has the best information online.

I taught English in South Korea for 18 months – from August 2013 to February 2015 – and it was the best experience of my life.*

I was originally going to make this an eBook and charge $20, but I decided to share everything for free because I love you guys and I want you ALL to have an amazing experience like I had.

The best way that you can pay me back is by purchasing your TEFL class on this link, because I make a small commission at no additional cost to you.  The class is put on by a company called myTEFL, and I can assure you that it’s the best and most affordable TEFL class that you can find online.  The commission that I make will go directly to making my website better 🙂

Use the discount code “DREW” and get 35% off, so the course will cost you about $195!

And as always, don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions!

Intro

Teaching English in South Korea was the best decision of my life. It’s one of the most adventurous and unique life experiences that anyone can do for themself. I highly recommend teaching in Korea to anyone and everyone who meet the basic requirements (more about that later).

Even beyond the teaching aspect, the lifestyle in Korea is an eye-opening and fantastic experience in itself. There is so much to learn about the world when you are thrown in a fast-paced, tech-savvy Eastern Asian culture such as Korea.

Over the last few months, as my travel blog has nearly tripled in traffic, my email inbox has been flooded with question about teaching English in Korea.

How can I teach in Korea? What are the requirements? Is the job hard? Can I make enough money to travel Asia? 

So, I decided to write this guide to answer all your questions and tell you everything that you need to know about teaching English in South Korea to make the MOST out of your experience.  I use a combination of my knowledge, research online and I even interviewed current English teachers to provide you with the complete package from start to finish. This guide is so useful that I wish I had a copy before I started teaching!  I’ll do my best to keep it updated with accurate information for years down the road.

As I am writing this, I’m on my 18th and final month of living and teaching English in Korea. I decided to move here just 2 months after I graduated from the University of Wisconsin, when my friend told me about the job opportunity. I immediately applied for it and was accepted the following week without much thought. I always knew that I wanted to travel around Asia, and this job was the perfect gateway to make my dreams come true.

Before I dive into any more details, it’s important to be aware of the fact that the Korean government has been cutting teaching jobs like wildfire over the last few years. While there is still a big demand for native English-speaking teachers, the government seemingly caught on to the overly generous benefits and awesome lifestyle that young foreigners (like myself) were having in Korea. That being said, there are still many sources that will help you find a teaching job if you meet the requirements, so don’t worry!

After you read this post, you will be ready to book your flight to Korea and start a brand new, thrilling chapter in your life 🙂

Let’s get started.

The following is an overview of the 13 categories that I’ll cover:

1. Public Schools vs. Private Schools
2. Job Eligibility & Requirements
3. How to Find a Job
4. Contracts, Benefits & Payments
5. How to Plan Lessons
6. Upon Arrival in Korea
7. My Personal Experience
8. Life in Korea
9. Korean Culture
10. Nightlife in Seoul
11. Resources
12. My Advice to You
13. What to Pack?
14. Interviews with Current Teachers

1. Public vs. Private Schools

–> This is the most important thing that I’ll tell you in this guide. <–

Teaching at a public school is completely different than teaching at a private school… So listen carefully!

*Public school jobs are MUCH BETTER than private school jobs*

What’s the difference?

Private schools (called hagwans in Korean) are privately owned and managed academies. They typically have classes of 5-15 kids, and you will be accompanied by several other foreign teachers at your school. The work load is much larger and the benefits are much worse than public schools.

Public schools are owned by the government, and are similar to any public school in the U.S.  Typical class sizes are 30-40 kids. Public schools generally hire only 1 native English speaker to teach at the entire school.

When comparing the two together, private schools have stricter rules, longer working hours, worse benefits, shorter holidays, and a much larger work load as opposed to publicschool gigs. And the starting salary for both private and public is about the same.

I have met hundreds of English teachers since I’ve been in Korea, and I have never heard of a single person who enjoys working at a private school. They are the ones who are constantly stressing about their lives, complaining everyday about how demanding their schools are and how they have no vacation time.

On the flip side, mostly everyone who I’ve met at public schools (including myself) absolutely loves it!

In addition, most people who I meet at hagwans (private) are only there because they didn’t know the difference between the two jobs when they originally applied. I am writing this post so you will not be one of those clueless people!

So just in case I haven’t made it clear enough yet…  You want to find a job at a public school, unless you want zero vacation time and a lot of pressure on your job.  Trust me, you’ll be much happier in Korea this way.

*Please note that every public school job slightly varies from one another depending on how strict your principal and faculty members are. Some schools will give you extra classes to teach, some will let you have more vacation days, and some will make you do more lesson planning. It’s sort of luck of the draw, but generally speaking, the main benefits are the same.

The remainder of the information in this guide will solely focus on public school jobs, so if you want help finding a private school job (which I don’t know why you would even consider it), then you will have to look somewhere else.

2. Job Eligibility & Requirements

In order to teach at a public school in Korea, you must meet 3 basic requirements:
– Carry a passport from an English speaking country
– Have a Bachelor’s degree from a 3+ year University
– Get a TEFL certificate to be a certified teacher

That’s it. You are not required to speak any Korean or have any previous teaching experience.

Although, learning Korean is a really good idea.  I nearly became fluent and it was a hugebenefit to my lifestyle in Korea.  My experience would not have been the same if I didn’t attempt to learn the Language…  I personally recommend using Beeline Language to learn Korean — it’s a great online course that’s both affordable and intuitive!

Next, I will explain each requirement in detail:

a) You must carry a passport from an English-speaking country

These countries include: The USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Northern Ireland, South Africa, Nigeria and any other country where English is the first language.

Unfortunately, even if you are 100% fluent in English but you do not carry a passport from one of these countries, then you cannot get a contract job at a public school. However, there are several other opportunities to teach in Korea such as being a private tutor or working after school gigs. These jobs are more risky, because you’ll have to find your own clients, arrange housing on your own, and find a way to get a working visa. But you can charge up to $60USD per hour as a private tutor, and end up making even more money than on a contract job at a public school.

b) You must have a bachelor’s degree from a 3+ year University.

It’s as simple as that. You must prove that you have a bachelor’s degree from a 3+ year University to be eligible. Any bachelor’s degree works! (My degree is in economics…)

If you have an English or a teaching degree, then you may be exempt from #3 on this list (below).

c) You must obtain a 100+ hour TEFL Certificate.

TEFL = Teach English as a Foreign Language.  You must have one of these certificates to be eligible to teach, and it can be acquired by taking an online class which provides you with the necessary skills and training to be an effective teacher and to find a teaching position.

The TEFL class costs anywhere from $1500-$1,200.   The class must be labeled as 100 (or more) hours, so it will take a few weeks to finish. Even though it’s labeled as 100 hours, the amount of work is realistically more like 50 hours.

The TEFL class is extremely easy if English is your mother tongue or if you’re fluent. Basically, you’ll read a bunch of chapters about grammar, sentence structure, vocabulary, etc and take mini quizzes at the end. You’ll also be required to write essays at the end of each chapter and submit them to a TA who will grade your work and provide feedback.

*Please note that there are a lot of sketchy TEFL companies online that will rip you off.* So, I highly recommend checking out a company called myTEFL– they offer a very affordable TEFL certificate and it’s one of the most reputable classes that you can find online!

3. How to Find a Job

Assuming that you meet all requirements in #2, there are several ways to find teaching gigs in Korea.

But first, check out this useful article by Go Overseas, which explains more in detail for how to find jobs in Korea!

In my personal case, I was lucky that my University (Wisconsin) has an affiliate program with a recruiter in Korea, so I just applied directly through my school. But I am guessing that most of you don’t have this option from your University, so you will have to use an alternative method for finding jobs.

Next, I will lay out all the ways in which you can find a job at a public school.

a) EPIK & GEPIK

EPIK & GEPIK are the two biggest recruiters for public school jobs in Korea. Your first priority should be to score a job with them, because they are the best!

The acronym of E.P.I.K. stands for English Program In Korea, and G.E.P.I.K. is Gyeonggi-do English Program In Korea.

The two companies have virtually the same contract. The only difference is that they offer jobs in different areas of Korea.

EPIK provides teaching opportunities in 15 metropolitan cities and provinces in Korea, including Seoul, Busan, Daegu, Incheon, Gwangju, Daejeon, Ulsan, Jeju and Gangwondo. So basically, EPIK provides jobs everywhere in the country, except for the Gyeonggi-do Province.

On the other hand, GEPIK provides jobs ONLY in the Gyeonggi-do Province, which is the most populous province in Korea with 13 million people. It’s located on the outskirts of Seoul. My current job is provided with GEPIK.

With both EPIK and GEPIK contracts, you are not allowed to choose which grade that you will each (Elementary, Middle of High school).  However, you can request your top choice, but it’s not a guarantee that you’ll get it.

The same goes with the city or school that you’ll be placed in. You may suggest your top choices to live and teach, but it’s not a guarantee because if there is only one spot open, they will fill you in with that job. But don’t worry because public transportation in Korea is the most efficient in the world so you can easily get around.

b) Private recruiters

There are tons of private recruiters that can hook you up with jobs in Korea. Word on the street is that they are cutting jobs more jobs every year, but think optimistically because there’s always a way it can work out!

The most popular and reliable private recruiters that I’m familiar with are Teach ESLKorviaGone 2 KoreaHands KoreaWork N Play, and Morgan Recruiting Services.  If you apply to all of them, then I guarantee you’l find a job opening.

There is also a thread on Dave’s ESL Cafe, where people post job openings all over Korea and you can apply directly on there.

c) Word of Mouth

If you already know a teacher who is currently teaching and is about to leave, then you can usually arrange to take over their position.

d) Post in Facebook groups

There are TONS of facebook groups that deal specifically with teaching English in Korea. Post a question on there, and get instant feedback!

Here are some good groups to post in:
– Public Jobs in Gyeonggi-do
– English Teachers in South Korea
– Korvia GEPIK
– GEPIK Teachers
– Teach ESL Korea

e) Talk to me! 

As a last resort, contact me and I can probably put you in touch with the right person.   Remember, I am always here to help you and that is my motive for writing this article!

4. Contracts, Benefits & Payments

Ah ~ The moment you’ve all been waiting for!

What’s inside your contract? How much do you get paid? What are all of these amazing benefits that you can get? Tell me more!

a) Contract

This is what sets Korea apart from the rest of the world when it comes to teaching English. The pay + benefits of teaching in Korea is better than anywhere else in the world.   There are some countries in the Middle East that pay more than Korea (Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar), but the benefits and lifestyle of living in a remote Middle Eastern city is nothing compared to living in Korea.

In Korea, most starting public school contracts have the same pay and benefits. The contacts are all about 50 pages long, with writing in both Korean and English. You will need to sign the bottom of every page, acknowledging that you understand and accept all of the information in the contract.

Every contract is 365 days – no more and no less. If you want to stay longer and your school likes you, then you’ll have the chance to re-sign at the end of your term. You might get lucky if you school offers you a 6 month extension (it happened to me), but it’s not very common.

All contracts assure that you have a Korean co-teacher by your side at all times in the classroom. They are there to help with discipline, safety and translation whenever necessary. I had 4 different co-teachers who taught different classes with me. Some were helpful and others didn’t say a word in class. It all depends.

Also, your students will likely view your English class as a “bonus class,” because they already take a normal English class with a Korean teacher. So luckily, you are never expected to prepare tests or grade homework.  But the bad news is that the kids tend to goof around more in your class because it’s “fun,” so you will have to deal with more discipline issues.

b) Benefits

Here are the main benefits in your contract:

1) Flight reimbursements to AND from Korea
2) 18-25 PAID Vacation days per year (depends on your school)
3) Free Rent at a place within walking distance to your school (fully furnished)
4) No taxes (this may not apply to your country, but for USA citizens you aren’t taxed)
5) Year end Bonus (equal to one paycheck)
6) Health Insurance
7) Pensions
8) A Visa to live and work in Korea
9) 10 Paid Sick Days (varies on each school)
10) Free lunches at school (some schools will take out $1-2 per meal from your paycheck).

*Please note that some benefits depend on your school. My school was really lenient when it came to vacation time, and other people I know had a stricter schedule. But generally speaking, you will be entitled to all of these benefits.

c) Payments

The starting salary for most public school jobs is just shy of $2,000 USD per month.  It doesn’t sound like a whole lot, but keep in mind that this is a solid $2,000 that goes into your pocket every month, because you have virtually ZERO expenses, you are tax free, and the standard of living in Korea is relatively cheap. More or less, you can live like a king (or queen) with this amount of money.

Just to give you an idea of what I mean by living like a King… In my first year of teaching, I had enough money to eat out 5 days a week, rage at clubs in Gangnam every weekend, and travel to 12 new countries. Granted, I didn’t save much, but this money was derived 100% from my paycheck.

Some people come to Korea with the intention to save money and some come just to travel the world. I know some people who saved $14K in one year by living extremely frugally and not leaving Korea. But others like me, spend it all on having fun and traveling to a bunch of new places.

And when you think about it, a salary of $24K teaching in Korea is just as good or better than your friends who are making $60K working corporate jobs in NYC or London, and are paying $1,500 for monthly rent and $15 for a cocktail at a bar.   And their lifestyle isn’t comparable to what yours will be like.

Believe me on this one 😉

5. How to Plan Lessons

Some public schools will give you a textbook to follow, and others (like my school) will expect you to come up with your own lessons from scratch. Both have their own pros and cons.

For textbooks, I can’t really give you any advice, because you must follow what the book says. But if you make your own lessons (which many of you will), then there are some great resources online where all English teachers in Korea post ideas and share their materials.

The website that literally saved my life is called Waygook.org. It’s a forum-based website where all teachers in Korea upload their lesson plans – like powerpoints, worksheets, game templates and ideas. It’s a place to collaborate and share ideas with other teachers. You can even post any questions on the forums and you’ll get answers immediately. I downloaded 75% of my powerpoints and materials on this site, and my teachers were thoroughly impressed by the “work” that I put into lesson planning.  It’s essential.

 

6. Upon Arrival in Korea

When you arrive at Incheon International Airport, you will be greeted by your co-teacher and he/she will take to your new home. You will be given an allowance of about $300USD to get settled in to your new place (sweet!)

Within the first few days upon arrival, you are required to get a health check and a drug test a nearby hospital. So yes, that means that you must stop smoking weed about 3ish weeks before you come to Korea, so you don’t fail the drug test and get sent back home…

After a few days of getting over jet lag and culture shock, you will show up at school and start teaching. Honestly, the first week is intimidating because everything is so new and confusing, but I promise that you’ll settle in quickly and get the rhythm of teaching.

7. My Personal Experience

I’ll admit that I got a bit lucky by my school. All of the teachers are extremely friendly and the school was really lenient on my vacation days. I was able to travel to 17 new countries during my time teaching over 18 months, and I took 6-7 sick days without ever needing a doctor’s note.

My school didn’t follow a textbook, so I created all of my lesson plans from scratch. But as I mentioned before, I used Waygook.org as my main resource for ideas and game templates.

My school – Yangjin Middle School – was located in the rural area of Anseong, about 70 kilometers south of Seoul in Geyonggi-do province.  I had approximately 700 students, and I was the only foreigner at my entire school and one of the only foreigners in my town.

I taught 18 different classes of 35+ students. I taught each class once a week, so I saw every student in the school exactly one time per week.

The hardest part about teaching was adjusting to the English level of each class. For example, within one class, I would have kids who could have a full conversation with me, and others who couldn’t read the alphabet. This is because some students attend a private academy (hagwan) after school everyday to study more English, while others don’t practice outside of school.

So, it was hard to find the “median” English level to make sure that all kids were learning something. I usually just played games, showed them videos and tried to entertain them as much as possible. (Yes, the job was as easy as it sounds.)

The majority of my students were adorable and respectful.   I made a personal connection with many of them and they really looked up to me as a role model.   It was a very special feeling.

I realized that my only job wasn’t to teach English, but to help them understand what life is like outside of Korean borders. Most of my kids had never met a foreigner before and have never left Korea, so they looked up to me and asked me lots of questions about American culture.

My town was very rural, and I was one of the only foreigners in my neighborhood. I was literally a celebrity in my town because every time I left my house, I would run into my students and they would scream across the street to say “HELLO DREW TEACHER!!”  Furthermore, everyone at the local restaurants and supermarkets knew me.

If you want to know more information about my town, then please see this post called “What it’s Like to Live and Work in Rural Korea.”

To learn more details about my job, please see this post called “A Day in the Life of an English Teacher.”

I also took the time to learn Korean, which was a huge benefit to me as I was living in Korea.  I highly recommend you to make the effort as well.

My students are so adorable that they all wrote me letters and drew pictures of me during my last week teaching.  Here are some of my favorites ^^

8. Life in Korea

South Korea is a very friendly country to live in for foreigners. It’s also extremely safe. So safe that the police don’t carry guns on them, and big crimes like murders, shooting and robberies are virtually unheard of. 

Everything you hear about North Korea on the news is false, and it’s just the media trying to gain attention and make a story. Things easily get blown out of proportion on the media. Nobody in South Korea speaks about their neighbors to the North because they know that it’s a joke, and nobody here feels threatened by them. Whenever I ask my students about Kim Jong Un, they just start laughing and start making fun of him.

South Korea is a very densely populated country. The entire country is the size of Mississippi and it is home to 50 million people.  Just to reiterate that point further – take the entire population of California and New York, and thrown them all into Mississippi, and that is like the population of Korea.

So at first, you will feel overwhelmed (especially in Seoul) because there is SO much happening at once. But it’s just a matter of time until you settle in and call Korea your new home.  For me, this took about a month.

Korean people are some of the friendliest that I’ve ever met. Most of my friends are local Koreans, because I made the effort to meet them. You will realize that many Koreans are shy and difficult to approach, but those are typically the ones who can’t speak English. On the other hand, the ones who can speak English are more outgoing and willing to meet you. Many of my best friends were Korean, and I also dated a few Korean girls during my time.

Public Transportation in Korea is the most efficient in the world. It’s bizarre how easy it is to get around.

There are 5 types of transportation systems:

a) KTX trains – these are known as “bullet trains.” They are the fastest and most expensive trains in Korea. You can get from Seoul to Busan in 3 hours (that is the entire length of the country from North to South). The journey from Seoul to Busan round trip is about $60USD. Not every big city has KTX station, so you must check to see.

b) Regular trains – these are common and much cheaper than the KTX. They connect every city in Korea. From my city, it takes 40 minutes to get to Seoul and it’s only $3.50USD.

c) Metro – the Seoul metro is the most extensive metro system in the world, which means it covers the most ground (over 85 kilometers).  There are 18 different lines, 622 stations and it carries over 20 million people every single day.  You can take this to get everywhere in the Seoul Metropolitan Area, but it gets REALLY crowded during peak hours. Even my town of Pyeongtaek was on the metro, it would still take 3 hours to get to Seoul.

d) Buses – Don’t under estimate the buses in Korea – they are amazing! I use buses more than trains to get around. All highways in Korea have a “bus lane” which is virtually traffic free. Also, buses are much more comfortable than trains and usually cheaper.

e) Taxis – Taxis are everywhere in Seoul and they are really cheap! I usually take taxis in Seoul because it’s so much quicker and easier to get around. It costs about $5-7 for a 15-20 minute ride. Especially if you have more than one person, take a taxi to avoid the crowded metro.

To book train tickets and view routes (in English), see this website.

*You can buy a metro card called “T-Money,” which you can swipe for the Seoul Metro and taxis. Carry it in your wallet with you at all times, and just add money on it inside the metro station or at a convenient store like 7/11.

9. Korean Culture

It will take some time to adjust to Korean culture because it’s very unique.

You may feel uncomfortable in the first few days upon arrival because things won’t be like you are used to.  I have been here 18 months and I still earn something new every day about the Korean way of life.

The first thing thing to know about Korean culture is the importance of the family.  Essentially, Koreans spend lots of time with their family and family-time it always comes before play-time.   Along the same lines, Koreans are very good about showing respect to other people- specifically people older than them.

Next, I will lay out some of the biggest cultural distinction in bullet points: 

– The Korean Language has different dialect and verb conjugations when speaking to your friends vs. speaking to someone older
– When you greet someone older than you, it is necessary to bow (the older the person, the deeper the bow)
– If someone older than you offers you a shot or some food, you must take it
– If you give or take something from a person that’s older than you, you MUST use 2 hands
– If you take a shot with someone older than you, you must turn your back and face the other way
– K-Pop (Korean pop music) dominates the music scene, and all teenagers and young adults are obsessed with the songs
– Traditional Korean restaurants have no chairs. You must sit on the ground and eat.  This is also true in many Korean houses. Always take off your shoes.
– Many Korean couples will wear the same clothes (matching jackets, shoes, socks, backpacks, etc.)
– Koreans are afraid of the sun and they want to be as white as possible (as opposition to being tan).   You’ll see many people take out their umbrellas on a sunny day to protect themselves.
–  Koreans have very good style and they like to dress nice, even if they are just going shopping.  Korean girls always wear high heels.
– Koreans have bad manners like dramatically spitting in public streets and loudly slurping up noodles
– It is nearly impossible to find a trash can in Korea (don’t ask me why)
– Yes, Koreans do eat bizarre foods like dog meat, live octopus, bugs, cow blood soup and chicken feet. I’ve tried them all.  Check out this video of me eating an entire live octopus in Seoul in one bite!

10. Nightlife in Seoul

Ah! My favorite section in this entire article! If you’ve ever read my blog before, then you probably know how much I (literally) rave about Seoul’s nightlife, and why I think it is The #1 Party City in the World.

In fact, the most popular post that I’ve ever written on The Hungry Partier is called an “Ultimate Guide to Clubbing in Gangnam.” Inside that post, I recommend all of my favorite clubs in Gangnam and talk about the nightlife in Seoul. In the last 3 months, this post has been viewed over 20,000 times!

*The rest of this post will talk specifically about the clubbing scene in Gangnam*

When the sun goes down in Seoul, the city becomes electric. Crazy neon signs populate every building (it’s like Vegas on steroids), and soju bottles begin to pop off in restaurants and bars. Soju is a very popular rice liquor in Korea, that is the most consumed alcoholic beverage in the world (62 million cases were sold in 2014). It tastes like watered down Vodka, and it comes in a glass green bottle. The best part? It only costs $1USD per bottle!

Every single weekend during my 18 months in Korea, I went to Seoul to party my ass off. The only time I stayed in my town on the weekend was when I was sick. I can’t even explain to you how much fun I had raging in Seoul. It was the craziest time of my life!

There are 5 major areas for nightlife in Seoul, as explained in detail below:

1. Itaewon 

Itaewon is the foreigner district of Seoul, but it’s also trending for young to middle-aged Koreans. Here, you will find several bars (some fancy, some casual), as well as various night clubs and pubs. The healthy mix of foreigners and locals gives Itaewon a unique feel that’s always full of energy.

2. Hongdae

Hongdae is the most hipster and crowded nightlife area in Seoul. On any given night of the week, head over to Hongdae to see young Korean trends and fashion at it’s finest. The entire area is more-or-less a college campus, because there are 4 big Universities surrounding it.

Everything in Hongdae is much cheaper than other parts of Seoul because places cater for student budgets. In Hongdae, there are more bars and clubs than I can count and it’s always packed with people until morning. Many street vendors local Korean BBQ restaurants stay open 24 hours, so make sure to get some drunk food after the night!

3. Sincheon

Sincheon is like an extension of Hongdae, because it is located just one metro stop away. It has a similar college vibe to it. The streets of Sincheon are packed with thousands of 18-22 year olds and there are several activities to do there.

There is one main strip with most of the bars and clubs that are cheap and fun. It’s always a good idea to start the night in Sincheon, and then head over to Hongdae for some more fun.

4. Apgujeong

Contrary to the cheap bars of Hongdae and Sincheon, Apgujeong is an expensive and trendy nightlife hub district located next to Gangnam. Rodeo drive is where all the craziness happens, with some of the priciest clubs and deluxe hotels in Seoul.

If you’re not on a strict budget, then go to Apgujeong for dinner and drinks before heading out to Gangnam (but seriously prepare your wallets).

5. Gangnam 🙂 

As made famous by Psy’s “Gangnam Style” song, this area is the number one district for Seoul’s luxurious and posh nightclubs that are absolutely insane. Dozens of multi-leveled clubs with massive dance floors and top-notch sound systems can be found scattered around the area.

Gangnam is compared to the “Beverly Hills” of Los Angeles with it’s wealth and fashion. Basically, this is where all of the celebrities and rich folks hang out and spend ridiculous amounts of money, but as of lately, it is beginning to trend for young 20-somethings who want to party all night.

If you want to do some serious clubbing in Seoul, then definitely go to Gangnam and read my post to prepare you!

11. Resources 

In this section, I will share with you some important resources that you can use for meeting people and finding out things to do in Korea.

This category is broken down into 4 sub sections:
– Popular blogs in Korea
– Learning Korean
– Meeting People
– My Korean-related Blog Posts

a) Popular Blogs in Korea

– Eat Your Kimchi – Simon and Martina, a Canadian couple, moved to Korea in 2008 to teach English and have been blogging about it ever since. On their website, they share awesome things about Korean culture from the best eats to the hottest K-Pop songs and everything in between.

– Seoulistic – Seoulistic is a very informative culture and travel site for people who are coming to Korea and looking for things to do and places to explore Korea.

– Seoul Searching – My friend Mimsie – An American expat whose been living in Seoul for 6+ years – covers everything related to Korean culture and her experience here. She has phenomenal travel guides to nearly every big city in Korea. What sets her apart from the rest is her creativity and perspective that is really interesting to read.

– A Fat Girls Food Guide – My friend Gemma writes about all the best non-Korean foods to eat in Seoul! Her mouth-watering reviews cover Thai to India restaurants and everything in between.

– The Soul of Seoul – This blog is written by an American expat named Hallie, who is married to a Korean rockstar and who has been living in Korea for 8 years. Her blog is very informative and she writes a lot about festivals, foods and events in Korea.

– Zen Kimchi– Joe has been entertaining the world since 2004 with his humorous exploration of Korean food and sharing survival tips for foreigners already there.

– Seoul Eats – Dan provides excellent info on finding the best local foods in Seoul, and organizes cooking events and walking tours around the city.

b) Learning Korean

I cannot tell you how important it is to learn Korean – at least the basics. It will make your life SO much easier. I am conversationally fluent and my experience would not have been the same if I never tried to learn the language.

You can learn Hangul – the Korean alphabet – in just a few hours. There are 14 consonants and 10 vowels. It’s a phonetic language, meaning each letter/vowel always makes the same sound. Korean is much easier than its neighbors like Chinese and Japanese.

I started learning the Korean alphabet on my own by watching YouTube videos. I also paid for lessons on a website called Beeline Languages and it was really helpful.   I was able to read, write and speak basic conversation before I ever stepped foot on Korean soil.

When I lived in Korea, I practiced speaking with my Korean friends and I always pushed myself to read the signs around me. I used Korean everyday and made a strong effort to communicate and understand life around me. I also dated a Korean girl who didn’t speak any English, so that helped me a lot as well.

The best websites that I recommend for learning Korean are:
– Beeline Languages
– Talk to Me in Korean
– Korean Class 101.

Beeline Languages can be purchased for $12 per month or you can do a deal for $6 per year.  They have nice videos which go over common words and phrases.  You will be able to speak from the very first lesson and you will improve fast.

Talk to Me in Korean is free, and they have PDF files that you can download with vocabulary and grammar. They also have nice videos on their YouTube Channel.

On the other hand, Korean Class 101 is a $200 annual fee, but it really helps you learn vocab and you listen to a series of podcasts and it’s very easy to understand. I did this for 6 months before I came to Korea and it was worth it!

c) Meeting People

The best way to meet people is to go into Seoul and hop around the bars and clubs. I met new faces every weekend that I was in Seoul, and my network of friends kept growing bigger every weekend.

But if partying isn’t your thing, then you should look into specific groups on MeetUp.com. You can find Meet Ups for anything you’re interested in, from sightseeing, dating, food, partying, hiking, language exchanges, painting, rollerblading, rock climbing, entrepreneurship and more.

There are also a number of Facebook Groups that you should become a part of. My favorites were Every Expat in KoreaSeoul Expats and Nightlife in Seoul. In these groups, there are always people posting meet ups around Seoul!

d) Me

As I’ve repeatedly mentioned, I am always happy to talk about Korea and share any recommendations with you. I am just an email away!

12. My advice to You

I have a lot of advice to give you before you move to Korea, so listen closely.

Half the people I’ve met who come to Korea LOVE IT, and the other half HATE IT. I’ve seen it time and time again, and it’s very easy to tell who will end up loving it and who can’t wait to get out.

If you take my advice in this section, then I can guarantee that you’ll love it as much as I did. I have listed my advice in order from #1 being the most important.

1) Step Out of Your Comfort Zone: If you’re wondering why I loved Korea so much, then this is the main reason that I can give you. I forced myself to step out of my comfort zone every day situations.

What do I mean by “Comfort Zone?”

I mean doing things out of the ordinary. Things that made me feel a bit uncomfortable. Things that felt awkward to me.

But guess what? You’ve already done the hardest part, which is choosing to come in Korea in the first place. This is the biggest step out of your comfort zone, so it is essential to maintain this mindset throughout your time here.

I trained to be a black belt in Taekwondo. I partied in Seoul every weekend, I met hundreds of new people, I became conversationally fluent in Korean, I traveled to dozens of cities in Korea.   I constantly kept myself busy and that’s why I loved Korea so much.

On the flip side, if you just go to school and then go home and lock yourself in your room, then you are going to be miserable. If you don’t go out of your way to make friends, then you are going to hate life. If you don’t get yourself involved in clubs and activities, then you will be counting down the days to leave Korea.

You must understand that Korean culture is not similar to any other culture that you’re used to. Everyday, you will be wondering what the hell is happening around you but you must be able to adjust and go with the flow. Korean culture can be very intimidating if you don’t make an effort to step out of your comfort zone.

2) Learn Korean: If I haven’t made it clear enough, it is so important to learn Korean. This can make or break your experience. Even if you suck at languages, you should still learn how to read and write, and learn basic phrases like “How much is this?” “Where is the bathroom?” “My Name is Drew.”

Learning the language also introduces you more into Korean culture and enables you to better make sense of life around you.

It’s really satisfying to understand what people are saying around you and having the ability to speak to Korean people in their native tongue.

Here was my farewell speech that I did to my entire school, only speaking in Korean:

3) Have a Side Project to Work on

You will have LOTS of free time on your job. I’m talking about several hours everyday to sit on your computer.

Instead of watching every season of Breaking Bad, you should consider making better use of your time by working on side projects like:

STARTING A BLOG!

I started my travel blog the day I moved to Seoul, and fully committed myself since day 1. In just 18 months after launching my site, I get 40K page views per month and I have 40K Social Media Followers. I am also making enough money from my blog to fund my upcoming travels around the world.

However, it does take a tremendous amount of work to make this happen. About 40+ Hours a week of blogging full time over the last year. If you want, you can absolutely do this too and become a professional blogger during your time in Korea.

But if you don’t like writing, or aren’t interested in blogging, then I suggest learning some new skills online or starting a business, as opposed to wasting your time watching TV Shows.

4) Be Flexible

Korean culture might drive you crazy sometimes. Your co-teachers will never warn you of changes until the last minute. I don’t know why they do this, but you must learn to adjust.

For example, my co-teachers would tell me minutes before school ended that I had to teach an after-school class that day.  But this can also work out in your favor too, like the time when my teachers told me that school was cancelled the night before.

So, don’t freak out when you’ve turned in your papers to teach English but you don’t get placed at a school until weeks before you arrive. Just understand that Koreans do everything last minute.

The best way to handle this is to have an open mind from the start, and prepare for everything. Learn to make adjustments when someone throws a curve ball at you, because it will happen quite often.

13. What to Pack?

Summers in Korea are really hot, and winters are brutally cold. All four seasons are prominent. You must pack clothes to prepare for to all weather types.

For school attire, you can generally keep it casual. Although during your first week at school, you should make a good impression by dressing up nicely (I wore a button down and slacks). But by the end of my term, I was wearing jeans and a V-neck.

You can find almost ALL toiletries and accessories in Korea, so don’t worry about bringing all of your cosmetics. The only things that you should stock up on is deodorant and any personal medications that you may need.   I don’t know why Koreans don’t wear deodorant, so bring enough to last you for one year. Also, girls have told me that Koreans don’t use normal tampons, so you might want to look into that if you are a girl.

You don’t need to overpack. If you forget something at home, then you can find it at one of the many Giant Shopping Malls in Korea. For all of my stuff, I only packed a big suitcase and a 40 liter travel backpack for all of my trips. If you are planning to go on backpacking trips around Asia, then you are definitely going to need a travel backpack. I use the Osprey Porter 40 Liter and it’s great!

14. Interviews with Current Teachers

I figured that you are probably sick of only hearing about my experience, so I reached out to some fellow teachers and asked them questions about their experience teaching in Korea!  See interviews below.

Teacher #1. Morgan Sullivan

1. Which program are you on?

I am part of English Program in Korea (EPIK), a government run program that places teachers in public schools throughout Korea.

2. How did you find your job?

Several people had told me that teaching English in Korea and Japan were great opportunities for people who wanted to travel and make a decent living wage, so I started doing research via the internet and came across several blogs and websites that suggested teaching through EPIK. Once I had the name, I did some more searching, found the main website, and decided to apply.

3. What are your biggest takeaways from teaching in Korea?

It sounds a little bit corny, but I think my main takeaway is that attitude is everything. If you enter a situation with a positive attitude and an open mind, an entire world of amazing opportunities can open up for you. Starting completely from scratch and living in a country so drastically different from home is filled to the brim with challenges, and if you don’t take the time to manage your perspective those challenges can become overwhelming. No matter the situation – good or bad – your reaction and your attitude is 100% up to you.

4. What 3 pieces of advice would you give to newbies who are first arriving in Korea?

Learn as much Korean language as possible BEFORE you arrive in Korea

Do your research – There is a huge wealth of information (blogs, YouTube videos, forums) out there about people who have already taught in Korea, and their insight and experiences will be invaluable. They know about the culture, they know what it’s like to teach ESL, and they have already gone through all the hurdles and hoops that comes with being a new arrival.

Be a Yes Man/Woman – A willingness to try new things and go out of your comfort zone will enrich your experience exponentially. Try the food you can’t pronounce, explore the cities you’ve never heard of, and be open to giving anything and everything a chance. You don’t know what something is really like until you try it for yourself –  for all you know it could be the best thing to ever happen to you 🙂

Check out Morgan’s awesome travel blog called A Beautiful View!

Thank you for reading this guide!!

I did my best to tell you everything I know about teaching in Korea and adjusting to the Korean lifestyle.  I hope that you all will make the right decision to teach and live in this amazing country.  Don’t forget to buy your TEFL class on this link!

And lastly, feel free to check out the many other blog posts I’ve written about teaching and living in Korea!  You can find all of them in this section of my blog, or see the most popular ones below:

– What It’s Like to Live and Work in Rural Korea
– A Day in the Life of an English Teacher
– 6 Damn Good Reasons to Visit Seoul
– 5 Reasons Why Seoul is the #1 Party City in the World
– How I Traveled to 17 Countries and Saved $3K
– 5 Ways I’ve Grown After 1 Year in Korea
– Gangnam Nightlife Guide
– Seoul (Itaewon) Nightlife Guide

 

The post Ultimate Guide to Teaching English in Korea appeared first on Drew Binsky.


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2018-04-02T04:33:26Z
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