Question from a reader: life as a student

N.B. writes in:

Dear Chris,
i got admission into hansung university. i really love it but i am interrested in knowing more about the country. do students have the right to work?
Well, i wish to know if one can pay his fee by working little jobs there, the minimum salary one can earn in the month.
How can french language help somebody there in south korea?
are there french schools there? are there job opennings for computer technicians? what types of jobs are easier to get ? what are the requirements to get a teachnig job?
are there many odds jobs there? if yes what types?
is it difficult to get a living room there and how much can one rents a room monthly. is it difficult to get a work permit there?
thanks for your good comprehension and bye for now.

The good news is that your questions have answers; the bad news is that the Korean Immigration Service seems to change their answers every time you turn around. It doesn't help that one of the English-language websites intended to assist foreigners only end up confusing people. I'll confess to not having much first-hand knowledge; instead I've asked friends and researched online to help answer your questions.

Officially, students obtain a D-2 visa to study in Korea. An S-3 permit allows a person to have a part-time job (e.g. up to 20 hours a week). This page gives some ideas on acceptable occupations - think basic manual labor, researching, office workers, and the like. You can learn more about the visa and permit from your school; they should be able to give you forms or direct you to more information. I'm sorry to say there won't be many jobs for a foreigner without Korean ability off-campus, so use your skillset to find you job(s).

Paying your fee - if you're referring to your tuition, probably not. If you're coming on a scholarship and want to cover your minor expenses, probably.

French might come in handy within the French village (called Seo-rae-ma-eul in Korea, nearby the Express Bus Terminal in Seoul); elsewhere, probably not. Perhaps you might find someone on craigslist that desires a language exchange or tutor, or some translating jobs. Almost all English teaching jobs (officially, at least) require one to be a native English speaker; people from India and the Philippines are coming to Korea to teach English on a limited basis as well. Some locals want to learn badly enough that native proficiency is not required, for what it's worth.

If you're a student, you'll be MUCH better living on-campus. Besides being closer to classes and most opportunities for working, things are going to be cheaper While landlords near the school may have better deals for foreign students, getting an apartment generally requires a very large 'key money' deposit. You might find a fellow foreigner with a spare room to rent - again, look on craigslist as one place to start looking. Best of luck - and welcome to Korea.

Readers studying / going to school in Korea - any words of wisdom or things I missed? Comments are open.

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