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North London Collegiate School Jeju

Living in Jeju

If you are thinking of moving to Jeju, you will probably have many questions. We spoke to the current teachers and their families and tried to guess what those questions might be.

Will I need a car?

It is recommended that you hire or buy a car to get around on Jeju Island. There is a bus network that visits the main towns, but if you have a family then it is easier to get around by car. The vast majority of staff at present have a car. You can hire a car. The hire contracts are for 2 years and for the money you will spend over that year you could have bought a decent second hand car. Quite a few staff have done this. One hurdle is that you will need to have a large sum of money when you arrive, either ready to transfer into your bank account here or you could bring cash over with you. Some staff have carried on their person $6,000 in cash which resulted in avoiding transfer fees. This does come with the risk of the money being mislaid or stolen. $6,000 will buy a decent 2005 family car but you will not be able to buy it until you have received your ARC which can be up to 3 weeks after your arrival.

(Senior School Teacher, 2 years in Jeju)

Do I need a special driver license to drive a car?

You can drive using an international driving permit for a year. This must be obtained in the country that issued your driving licence. I believe there is a small charge for this. After a year you need to apply for a Korean driving licence. This can be achieved in two ways: 1. Sit the safety, written and practical tests. or 2. Apply for your photo and paper licence to be apostilled (legalised). The apostille of documents must be carried out by the relevant government department of the country who issued the document. This can be done directly through your government website or through a private company. It can cost between 50-90 pounds per apostilled document. If you are British, you can no longer send your licence to the British Embassy in Seoul.

(Married with family, Senior School Teacher, 2 years in Jeju)

How expensive / readily available is public transport?

There is an extensive bus service all around the island that runs to a strict timetable with very reasonable fares. The bus service between the school and the bus terminal in Jeju City is very good. The fare is WON 2 800 (GBP 1.70) one way and the bus stop is very close to the school. This service also stops at a hospital and the airport on the way to the bus terminal. It runs every hour and a half or so and starts from 7:30am with the last bus leaving from the school bus stop at about 9pm. The bus takes about 45 minutes from the school to the bus terminal which is the same time as a car would take. The return journey has the first bus leaving the Jeju City bus terminal from 6am and the last bus leaving at 7:40pm and getting to the school bus stop at 8:25pm. There are many taxis travelling all over the island and the equivalent trip from school to the bus terminal would cost about WON 35 000 (GBP 20).

(ESL part-time teacher, married to a Boarding Housemistress, no children, 2 years in Jeju)

My partner isn’t working - what are the chances of them finding a job in Jeju?

It is very difficult for a partner to find work in Jeju. If they have a university degree and obtain a CELTA (Cambridge University Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) or similar internationally recognised EAL qualification, they could find work as an ESL teacher at various language academies or even within our school's EAL department. We also have support staff positions that may interest your partner, for example administrative, finance and technician positions.

(ESL part-time teacher, married to a Boarding Housemistress, no children, 2 years in Jeju)

I’m a vegetarian, how will I find Jeju?

Being a strict vegetarian, as opposed to a pescatarian who will eat fish, is a bit more tricky in terms of eating out. There are restaurants that do pasta dishes, there are two great curry houses and a Mexican that does a mean vege burrito. Local Koeran food tends to be very meat based but you can get nice vege pancakes. Grocery shopping for vegetarians is fine, lots of options although things are more seasonal than you may be used to. Vege food at school is a matter of a work in progress shall we say, as the chefs need educating about what being a vegetarian really means. If you eat fish then its great lots of options.

(Married couple both pescatarians, 1 child omnivore!)

What are the actual charges for staff housing and utilities?

This depends on where you are accommodated. In terms of the main off site area Canons Village 1, located directly across from school, there are 3 types of accommodation. 1 bed, 2 bed and 3 bed. There is a maintenance fee that is split between all residents and varies according to apartment. This covers security guard, management!! village maintenance, water, street lighting. This is paid on the same bill as your gas. For a 3 bed apartment across the year this would average out to around US$2000 a year. On top of this you will have your own electricity bill about US$300, internet US$ 350 a year (this has cable TV included but not great options, so we stream everything, no data limits) and phone US$900 a year (this may have changed and will vary on type of contract and phone model. We did a rent to buy on iphone 4S over 3 years and now pay US$35 per month for service (includes unlimited internet, don’t really use calls)

(Married couple, both teaching, 1 child, 3 bed apartment)

What is the healthcare provision? What would happen if my family or I fell ill?

The private medical scheme is first class. The mere fact that it does not exclude existing conditions makes it very unusual as a benefit. The dealing we have had with the company have been very positive, no hassle, no queries and payments made fairly promptly, generally within a month. The outpatient medical provision on the island is good. The issue of waiting lists etc is minimal things get done very quickly indeed. School deals with a parent who is orthopaedic surgeon for many ailments and he is very good and welcoming and seems things like x-rays, scans etc are done quickly. The local GP service if you like is also pretty good. There are various options but the one we use seems to have at least one doctor who speaks English, they seem to rotate regularly. No problems getting appointments and the school medical centre can help with that. We haven’t personally experienced in patient care, but from what others have experienced it is very different to UK or NZ. The concept of nursing care is totally alien, the family is expected to provide that care which can put a strain on dependents. As I say others will have more first-hand experience of this, but I can say they all survived to tell their tales.

(Married couple, both teaching, 1 child)

What is there to do in Jeju?

Lots of things, depending on what your previous experiences and preferences are. Forget dreaming of whiling away an afternoon meandering through shops and shopping malls, it ain’t gonna happen. Supermarket shopping will become your highlight if you want retail therapy and you will discover the delights (and frustrations) of internet shopping in a big way. So with no retail what else? Getting out and about. If you have kids then be prepared for sand, sand and more sand. There are great beaches on Jeju with safe paddling and swimming as well as digging opportunities. The “season” is pretty long too with the brave heading into the water around end of March and retreating once November hits. Walking is also a good option with well-defined coastal paths (an island circuit called Olle trails) and numerous Oreums (parasitic volcanoes of varying heights) These offer a nice Sunday stroll option and a few longer day walks too. Cycling is pretty safe with little traffic (although Jeju drivers aren’t exactly observant) and well-maintained roads. Some staff head off road (and off bike on occasions) and there is a burgeoning road cycling group that just love their lycra. Lazy Sundays in a coffee shop appeal to many and there are endless options of cafes with great views. The more intrepid and slightly eccentric can try out the vast array of “museums” which truly have to be experienced to be believed. I won’t (or can’t) really describe their uniqueness but be prepared for the Paper-doll museum, Teddy bear museum, Museum of sex and health and the new Hello Kitty Island.

(Married couple, 1 child, love being outside)

How different is working in a boarding house to living in off site accommodation?

Life at NLCS Jeju when you live and work in a boarding house is significantly different to living off-site. Although you are not 'on duty' every night of the week, your home is amongst the students and so by nature, you will spend time with them every day. Your free time is much more limited than those who live off-site because you have weekly and weekend duties as well as being responsible for students first thing in the morning and when they come home from school. Above all, your priority is the students in your boarding house whether that be their emotional, physical or academic needs.

(Assistant Housemistress and English Language teacher, 2 years in Jeju) 

What is the weather like in Jeju?

It changes all the time and nothing lasts forever: Springs and Autumns are balmy. Occasional rain never lasts for long and most moths of the year, you can get on the beach and enjoy fine weather. In the winter, we get snow occasionally and the wind in February can be brutal, but wind also brings change and fresh air, so I tend to go with the flow. A couple of weeks in the summer, our part of the island seems to disappear into a cloud, and leaves you feeling like you're in the mist of a Sherlock Holmes movie - it's not unpleasant, but the damp does tend to get everywhere, so on comes the air-conditioning and I buy special 'damp-absorber' tubs from the supermarket. Jeju weather is 'different' but very rarely a problem. If you've got kids they'll be outside playing virtually every day of the year.

(Senior School Teacher, Single Male, 2 years in Jeju)

What restaurants are available in Jeju?

The restaurants in Jeju are plentiful and varied. The City Hall area of Jeju city has a real buzz about it and there is a wealth of choice for those willing to experiment. Eating out is cheap... if you eat Korean food, which is a fun and rewarding experience. Western food is good too but expect to pay more. The buffets in the posh hotels in Jungmun are exceptional, but expensive.  There are gems hidden away, from the best fish and chips you will have tasted (unless you are from Wolverhampton, apparently) to incredible value fish stews in Mosuelpo. Encourage your children to try foodstuffs before you come out, rice eating is essential. This will open doors for you to dine more adventurously around Jeju.

(Senior School Teacher, married with 2 children, 1 year in Jeju)

Is there a nightlife scene in Jeju?

Jeju city, 45 minutes drive from the school, has a rich and busy night-life of bars, restaurants and nightclubs - several different areas of the city 'buzz' with action on a Saturday night and school chums tend to 'buddy-up' to share a taxi home in the wee small hours. As a singly gay man, I have found the lack of my type of 'nightlife' a little isolating, but to be fair, the school has put me within a rich community of great friends and drinking partners so I've not felt a need to get to a roller-disco more often than holidays has allowed.

What do staff generally do during the holidays?

Jeju itself is a beautiful island, and many families stay not he island to enjoy it's excellent facilities, but in the holidays, I tend to get off the island it as quickly as I can. It's a perfect base for visiting China and Japan in particular. The Korean mainland is said to be beautiful, but I'm also a big fan of Southern China, where tall limestone Karsts make a dramatic background to paddy fields and locals take their ox for a walk. Places I had previously only dreamed of visiting are now within easy and regular reach: I visit Japan at least once a year to see palaces, ancient temples, cherry blossom groves and landscapes that literally take my breath away. Vietnam and Cambodia aren't far.

(Senior School Teacher, Single, 2 years in Jeju)

What facilities are available nearby the school?

In the JGEC building there is a convenience store (stock is growing to suit the needs of staff), pizza takeaway, fried chicken takeaway (with draft beer), a Korean restaurant and a fusion restaurant (with draft beer) which does a variety of dishes. There is also a cash machine, which accepts western cards and has English commands.

(Married JS teacher 3 years in Jeju)


You may have heard rumors that Jeju is a barren rock, but nothing is further from the truth. As the Global Education City grows, we have increasing access to a range of lovely western and non-western restaurants, coffee shops, and shopping. The school is 15 minutes drive from a local town, which has dentists, chemists, supermarkets, food-markets, bakeries, dry-cleaning, sports equipment stores and toyshops. Slightly further afield, you can find cinemas, football grounds, night clubs and department stores. Jeju is often strikingly different to life in the UK or the US, but there are plenty of facilities within easy access.

(Senior School Teacher, Single, 2 years in Jeju)





Do you have any advice on shipping personal belongings to Jeju?

Air freight is much quicker than shipping, however, it is more expensive. You should expect delays due to customs, so it may take a few weeks, even if your company guarantee a 7-10 day delivery. You need strong cardboard boxes for clothes/shoes/bedding as they can get quite battered; take particular care with fragile items such as plates, glass picture frames & ornaments. I used strong clear plastic 30L or 50L boxes for books & resources. I would suggest packing clothes & shoes in protective plastic bags. You cannot send liquids/gels/deodorants via air - they will need to come with you in your suitcase. You can expect your shipping to be held in customs until your ARC has gone through and you will need to do further paperwork when you get here, even if you have completed it all in the UK. Bear in mind that your boxes may not always be delivered at the same time, as customs may not clear them all together. Bring both casual & work clothes with you in your suitcase, so you are ready to start teaching, just in case your belongings are delayed.

(Senior School Teacher, Single, 1st international job)  

What ought to be brought from home that is difficult to find on Jeju?

The only real problem, I find, is getting clothes for the 'bigger' person. I'm smaller than many Koreans, but somehow wide shoulders and big feet [for men] are hard to shop for on the island. I usually end any trip abroad with a visit to a department store [I got great socks at the Kuala Lumpur branch of Debenhams last Easter, and many friends swear by M & S in Hong Kong]. Once a year, I take an empty suitcase home to the UK and come home with luggage full of blue cheese, toothpaste and new work-shirts.

(Senior School Teacher, Single, 2 years in Jeju)

Cheese, cordial and walkers crisps!

(Married JS teacher 3 years in Jeju

What teaching resources would I need to bring?

You can browse the books we have in the library by using the library catalogue, which can be found at This page also includes links to the on-line subscriptions we support from the library. If you can't find something that you think is necessary for your teaching, you are welcome to discuss it with the librarians before you arrive and we may be able to add it to our collection.

(Locally-contracted member of staff, 1 year in Jeju)

Is there the opportunity to learn Korean?

There is a language exchange programme, which has been implemented by the Head of Korean. It is flexible and designed to meet your current level ability (many are complete beginners). Having a Korean Literature department means that there are plenty of colleagues who have the requisite teaching skills to make this a fruitful experience. Times and class sizes vary and it can be one-to-one as well as in small groups.

(Senior school teacher, married with 3 children, just arrived)

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