Why Daejeon?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Well, it turns out that I did actually have some questions suggested for this (as seen here)! And that makes me glad, because it gives me some ideas to ponder, as well as the satisfaction of knowing that somebody is reading what I'm writing. So thanks!

Anyway, let's get started! I think it'll be easiest to break this up into a few parts.

Why not Seoul?
Frankly, I'm not sure if I have enough soul to live in Seoul! *rimshot* But seriously, I did consciously make the decision that I didn't want to live in Seoul. Last year, I spent 4 months studying abroad in Tokyo, Japan, and while there were certainly a lot of things to do, I felt that the city itself was little too large for me. Because of this, I decided early on that I wasn't particularly interested in living in either Seoul or Busan (the second largest city in Korea, on the south-eastern coast).

Additionally, one of the goals I have laid out for myself is to study Korean while I'm in Korea, especially if I feel early on that I'd like to stay for more than a year. Larger cities tend to be a bit more "English-friendly", and while I'm sure that's something I'd appreciate early on, I think a smaller city will be more beneficial to me in the long run.

So, then why aren't you going to live out in "the boonies" where there is even less English?
I did consider this, and actually when I filled out my application for EPIK, my second and third choices were provinces rather than cities (Daejeon was my first choice). That said, after giving it some thought, I'm happy that I'm going to a city. First of all, right now my Korean skills basically consist of being able to say "Annyeonghaseyo!" and a few other words, and being able to read Hangul (kind of). Because of that, I don't think it'd be best for me to be placed in a tiny farming village hours from civilization. Perhaps it would force me to learn Korean, but it's also possible that I would just go insane.

In connection, right now I'm still fairly young (23), and I feel like living in a city will provide me with more opportunities to meet and converse with interesting people my age. So while maybe there will probably be less need for me to learn Korean in a city, if I decide it's something I'm serious about, there will be more resources available to me. Also, from what I've read, I believe there is kind of an "age gap" in rural areas of Korea. There will be a lot of school age kids, and then a lot of older people who have moved back into the countryside to settle down. However, most people in their 20s and 30s are instead off in cities somewhere. (Waiting to meet me, I'm sure!)

Well, then why Daejeon?
Honestly, I don't have a particularly good answer for this. When I was in Japan, I took a trip down to Nagasaki for no particular reason, and it was great, so I guess sometimes I just like to do "random stuff". That said, there are some things about Daejeon that appeal to me:
-It's only 50 minutes from Seoul by train, and while I don't want to live in Seoul, I'd like to be able to visit
-Supposedly it has better air quality compared to many of the other large cities in Korea
-Wikipedia called it the "Seattle of Korea", and I've also been intrigued by Seattle, even though I've never been there (and we all know that Wikipedia is always completely accurate)
-Generally speaking, I get the impression that it's a young city that is still rapidly growing, which hopefully means that some excitement will await me there
-I'm sure I'll find more things to like once I get there too! I've found that there are interesting things just about anywhere, if you know where to look

So, in a nutshell, that's why I'm going to Daejeon! It seems like a good fit for me, but I suppose I'll find out if that's true or not soon enough.

Also, for Jud, the person who proposed this question:
While it was my choice to go to Daejeon, I also understand why people choose to go to Seoul as well. And if that's where you want to go, you should make sure that you don't let a recruiter place you elsewhere. While I'm no expert on ESL in Korea, from what I understand, while it is probably easier to find a job outside of the Seoul, there are still plenty of options within Seoul. It may just be that your particular recruiter doesn't have access to them. It's in your best interest to keep talking with different recruiters until you find one that offers you the location that you want, be it Seoul or otherwise. Don't settle for something that doesn't sound good to you! (Within reason, of course.)

Feel free to ask more questions here, or get in touch with me using the contact info on my profile page. Otherwise, the forums at Dave's ESL Cafe can be a useful resource, and the people there certainly have more first-hand knowledge than me.

Give me your tired, your poor...I mean your questions!
That's it for now. I have a couple more questions on deck, but if anybody else has suggestions, feel free to post it here and I'll probably get to it.



Jud Ketvirtis said...

Thanks for the great answer! As someone who's born and raised in the Seattle area, that does make Daejeon sound interesting.

Pa said...

Hey I work in the boonies! And Seosan is a lot smaller than Daejeon but there are still a lot of resources here. And I'm still able to get away with just using english :)