Let's begin by talking about clothes as they will most likely take up the most space in your suitcases. My suggestion is to bring mostly professional clothes as they will have to last you for at least a month before you can go shopping. This is probably even more essential if you aren't in a big city with easy access to shopping and western stores. Your professional wardrobe should also include shoes, but don't stress about this one as you will wear indoor shoes at school. For the ladies I have found a good pair of black flats to be essential and for the gents a nice pair of loafers? Here are a few other things to remember about professional attire in Korea.
1. Sleeveless is a no no. Ladies if you own lots of professional tanks or sleeveless dresses I would consider investing in a versatile blazer or sweater to cover-up with.
2. Skirt/dress length is a tricky one. While many of your Korean co-teachers will wear skirts that would be considered too much skin in the work place in the west that same rule will not apply to you, at least in my experience. I tried to judge what was appropriate based on what my co-teachers were wearing, seems legit right, and I noticed that some of their skirts were a good 5 inches above the knee, like barely passing the finger test (where your skirt length should come down to wear your fingers brush your thigh when standing). So I thought, hmm I shall wear my cute blue skirt tomorrow, it is maybe 3-4 inches above my knee so I thought I would be safe, but noooo. My legs are too sexy (guess that is not a completely awful realization)!! Haha I kid, I kid, I am not sure exactly what it is but the length of skirt rule is definitely different for me, an inch or two above the knee seems to be my limit. So be careful when bringing skirts and dresses over. See this blog for a better representation, East vs West clothing
And here is my family looking fabulous sporting acceptable dress lengths.
I'd say my cousins in the dark blue and the peach dresses are about as short as I go these days.
Seriously though, what a good looking bunch. Am I right?
3. Oh back to tops, they are big into the high-collared tops here. Korean culture is more or less opposite of the west when it comes to scandalous amounts of skin. Over here, work excluded, you can go crazy short with your bottoms but showing a lot of skin up top is avoided. I wear a scooped neck t-shirt sometimes and even then I feel like I am constantly pulling it up to avoid standing out. So I would lean towards blouses, button ups and high collared t-shirts.
This is about as low as you should go with your shirt and that's pushing it.
Aw, another cute family pic! : )
For the gents all I can say is that I have not seen any male teachers wearing shorts and the sleeveless thing applies to you as well. It really depends on your school though for female and male teachers alike on how professional your attire will have to be. For instance teachers wear jeans and graphic t-shirts at my school while teachers at other schools might wear blazers and ties every day.
Alright onto the other junk.
Toiletries: Bring enough toiletries to last maybe a month. You can get all of that pretty easily here it's just nice to not have to worry about finding a store that sells it while you are at orientation. Less stress the better. Ladies, bring a few months to a years supply of tampons. You can get all the pads you want here but tampons, especially good ones are harder to find here. And if you are picky about your toothpaste bring a bottle or two. I also suggest for both males and females that you bring a few sticks of your favorite deodorant, otherwise you are looking at slim pickings my friend. Other than that I just brought some essentials for the first month or favorite brands, no need to get a years supply of everything in your medicine cabinet.
Prescriptions and vitamins: I am not on anything other than birth control so I can't speak much about prescriptions but I got a years supply of it before I came out here. Depending on your prescription and how much a years supply will be that might be the best option for you as well. I also brought a bottles worth of two of my favorite vitamins. I have found vitamins and supplements to be expensive here, at least at the few places I have looked. Luckily you can ship them here pretty cheap from Iherb.
Food and spices: Again this will depend on whether or not you are in the city but you can get a lot of your favorite western spices in Busan though you pay a pretty price. I brought a bottle of oregano and garlic from home because I use them on pretty much everything. If you have a favorite spice and can find a bit of room in your suitcase that is probably the least expensive way to go about it. You can also get some from iherb.
The rest of the junk I stuffed in was personal items. A few pictures, posters, a few books, things like that.
Hope this helps. If you have a question about anything I didn't mention or want to know about something specific please send us an email!