I'm reading that YOU want to study and are in need of an academic visa. Right? Or is it that you want to teach at an English Language school? From what I've read on this topic and other sites is that an academic visa is a royal pain and that it's just easier to leave the country every now and then like a tourist. But my hunch is you want to teach, but not at an International School. You'll go through much of the same process as your girlfriend, I think. Three month non-immigrant visa to start out with. The school staff should help you take care of this. Once they have all they require of you, they will get you a legitimate work permit. As for Walen and the Chatachuk area, I'm sure there are lots of economical places to stay.
EDIT: Refer Rule 10
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