Friday, 18 September 2015

Teaching in Korea

I don’t really spend much time writing about the actual teaching aspect of my life here in Korea, so I thought it was about time that I gave you all a little insight into the actual Job that allows me to continue to gallivant around this side of the world. First off let me start by saying that I have been extremely lucky with my school, not that most schools are bad or anything but I have heard of some horror stories. So if you are thinking of trying this teaching abroad thing out then I would definitely recommend going with a good recruitment agency (especially if its your first time) and remember if something sounds to good to be true, then it probably is. As some of you know I personally went with Teach ESL Korea and I can not praise them enough. They were excellent from start to finish and supported me through everyone of my decisions. Check out their website HERE if you’re interested.

Another thing to bear in mind when going through this process, is to just go with your gut feeling when it comes to accepting offers and do not feel rushed in to this. Sure, things do move quickly here but if they are asking for an answer before you’ve even received a response from the current teacher, then that to me signals massive red flags. Remember, you’re giving up a lot to move to the other side of the world on your own, so I can not stress this enough, it needs to feel right! Of course there are always going to be things that you cannot be sure of until you actually arrive, but if the location, benefits and the school seem good then just jump in head first and go for it.

Seven months ago I found myself doing exactly that and now here I am still loving living and working in South Korea, so most of the time things really can work out, but if they don’t then at least you can say you’ve tried and there are always other options. I myself work at a Kindergarten and Elementary School in the small city of Anyang, which is about a 30 minute ride from the centre of Seoul on the subway line. It’s an easy commute and most of my weekends are spent up in Seoul exploring, so it suits me down to the ground. I have a lovely little loft style apartment that is literally a one minute walk from my school, and here I am basically the only foreign teacher. I say basically because there is actually another foreign teacher who I work with, but this is only for a couple of hours a day, so for the most part I am on my own.

 School lunch!
School hall

My working hours are 9:30am - 6pm (Monday - Friday) and I have a good few breaks during the day. The work itself is pretty easy and I even get a free school lunch, which at home might scare me to my very core, but the food here is amazing so it really is a massive plus. I have all the materials I need and I basically just follow a book for most of my lessons. I do have to plan my Drama classes though and this is a bit more work, but it is work that I really enjoy so therefore it doesn’t feel like a chore at all.

The children I teach are aged between 4 - 12 years old and (for the most part) are lovely. They are very respectful and genuinely do what I ask of them. Of course there is always going to be ‘that one’ but I have learnt not to let it get to me too much as they’re just kids after all. It's also important to remember that this is a business as much as it is a school, so it’s crucial to make sure the kids are all having a great time, so that they continue to come back. Most children in Korea go to school from 8am - 10pm at night, which makes their school days ridiculously long. Because of this I am pretty lenient when it comes to the kids not doing their homework. They have it bad enough without some westerner shouting at them for not completing one tiny piece of work.

Once a week we also go on field trips with the kindergarten kids which is a massive benefit to the role too. All this and I get a decent wage and my accommodation and flights paid for. Great right? RIGHT! I know what you must be thinking, there has got to be some negatives to this - it sounds like a dream job! Well I’m not going to lie, as far as things are going at the moment, it really is pretty good and I am definitely enjoying teaching immensely. Of course we all have our days and it can get a bit dull at times (like any job), but I think as long as you have the right attitude, remain positive and remember that Koreans do tend to spring things on you at the last minute, then things should work out quite well. If you’re seriously considering this as an option then my advice to you (although I’m no expert) is to do your research, plan ahead and just go for it! So, see you all soon? SOLD!

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

6 months and counting...

So its been a busy few weeks as you may have noticed. This is the first time I’ve actually managed to sit down and string a sentence or two together in what seems like FOREVER! Life just sort of got in the way for a while there, standard of course but completely unacceptable. I have come to realise though that Korea is genuinely quite tough! Its amazing and then its tough, and then its amazing again, and then its tough again...and then just when you think everything is going well, a landmine suddenly explodes in your face! BOOM! The expression ‘A roller-coaster ride of emotions’ is especially relevant here, and I don’t just mean Korea as I’m sure its a similar story in other parts of the world too.

Who knows why people choose to move abroad. Is it for an adventure? To escape or to find yourself? Or maybe to become the person you want to be? Or to change the person you already are? Or just simply because nothing else is going on back home. Everyone has their own reasons, and if they don’t then I’m sure they’ll find them soon. I was looking for an adventure and that’s exactly what I found, but what I didn’t realise is that it definitely does not come without its compromises, everyday stresses and standard dramas that life so often brings us wherever we may be.

As I have now gone passed the 6 month mark in Korea, everything has started to settle. People have come and gone, the weather has changed and the tides have turned. Everything is as everything was but with a slight difference; I now think I understand what this place is all about. There is always more places to visit and of course more things to learn, but I think I’m finally beginning to realise what living here really means for me. This experience is something that is almost unexplainable, you can have moments where you feel utterly lost and then 5 minutes later completely accomplished. You can feel proud, happy, empty, sad, vulnerable, liberated, carefree and sensible with a small dash of insecurity all in the space of perhaps just one hour. Its crazy, but I know now that it is all 100% worth it.

Over the last few weeks I have celebrated my 30th birthday, taken a trip to Daegu, missed a pals wedding from back home and said farewell to a few good friends I’ve met along the way. So with all these mixed emotions going on, I wasn't really sure what to actually write about in this post, perhaps that's why its taken me so long to do so. I do know however that I want to continue this journey and so I'll just leave you with a brief synopsis of things to come...

Last week I found myself once again in front of skyscanner, contemplating my next mini adventure. My winter vacation will be on and around Christmas Day and I luckily have a tremendous 10 days off in a row. So I have decided to simply throw caution to the wind and book a trip to that wonderful land down under, yes thats right folks...I’ll be celebrating Christmas and New Years in Australia! The last time I visited this place I was but a wee nipper around the age of 4 and so I don't really remember much. This time however I will be making the most of my 8 days there and I genuinely can not wait.

107 Days to go!

So watch this space as I’ll be sure to keep you all updated on my quest for pavements, in faraway places...

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