After graduating university, I thought I would never have to worry about waking up early every morning and going to school. I thought I was going to be free from that dreadful schedule. Good bye school work! Good bye waking up early! Good bye PowerPoint presentations! Good bye unflattering fluorescent lights!!
Despite graduating, however, I still go to school five days a week. I still have to worry about school work. I still have to worry about PowerPoint presentations. And I still have to immerse myself in this unflattering fluorescent light.
Right now, I can hear elementary school students yelling and running down the hall as they make their way to their next class. To me, this is the sound of pure joy and happiness. Who knew that I wouldn’t mind waking up early in the morning and going to school? Who knew I would enjoy being around hundreds of kids five days a week? Who knew I would actually enjoy going to school? It seems as if my world has been flipped upside down.
Indeed, my world has really been flipped upside down. I am on the other side of the Pacific Ocean – living peacefully in South Korea. I have been here for one month now and everything still seems foreign and new to me. When I first decided to go through with my plan of becoming an English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teacher, I really had no idea what I was signing up for. All I knew was that I loved Korean culture, I wanted to learn Korean and I wanted to learn how to teach. After living here for one month and going through multiple phases of “Oh my god. What did I get myself into?” and “I miss driving?? I can’t believe I miss driving!”, I found out that I am really enjoying my life. Whenever I stand in front of class and teach, I realize that this is where I belong.
I arrived in South Korea on March 21st. That was the most dreadful plane ride I have ever been on. It was dreadful because I was sick and it was a 13 hour trip. Luckily I slept throughout the majority of it. At the end of my trip, I sparked up a conversation with the girl sitting next to me. Turns out, she was a super rad girl who helped me prepare for what was to come in Korea. I feel incredibly lucky to have sat next to her because she gave me the company that I needed. If you’re reading this AJ, thanks for everything!! After landing, I had to catch a bus with a couple of people from my recruiting company and we headed to Seoul. I had my first authentic Korean meal with my recruiting company…and it was DELICIOUS. Afterwards, I was dropped off at the orientation site.
Let me tell you. Orientation was a whirlwind of events. It felt like I was back in college. I met a lot of great people. We lived in dorms. We ate meals together. We went to lectures that taught us how to teach properly. It was ridiculously intense but helpful. Luckily, I had a freaking awesome roommate (you know who you are!!) who helped me adjust to Korean life. After those 6 days of orientation, it felt like we knew each other for months. It was seriously THAT intense.
At the end of orientation, we stood in the front of the auditorium and waited for our names to be called. We were being placed in our schools and meeting our co-teachers. One by one, we were auctioned off to our own schools…or at least that’s what it felt like. From there on out, we all ventured off on our own.
I found out that my school was extremely caring and accommodating. After showing me my run-down and hair infested apartment, my co-teacher told me that they are going to move me out as soon as possible because it wasn’t safe for me there. From my experience so far, my apartment hasn’t felt dangerous to me. I guess living in the ghetto area of Southern California has numbed me from the occasional drunk people walking around and the Love Motels. Even though I don’t feel threatened in my current residence, I am definitely looking forward to moving to a newer apartment that’s closer to my school.
The only thing I dislike about teaching is the prep time. Making lesson plans is fine but making PowerPoints is a pain. Teaching, and I mean actually teaching, is the fun part of the job. I really love watching students take part in speaking English. I especially love how competitive my students get when we play games. The other day, my class stayed for an extra 3 minutes just so they can pull ahead in the game. It was hilarious! I think the main thing I want to do as a teacher, besides teaching them English, is to get them to become excited to learn. At the moment, my students don’t realize that they are speaking English when they’re playing games. They’re mainly worried about the points and getting the questions right. They have no time to realize they are learning pronunciation and intonation. It’s great!
So…TL;DR : It’s my one month anniversary of being in Korea. I am still going through phases of doubt. I have made cool friends here. My apartment was hairy. I’ll be moving out soon. And I freaking LOVE teaching my students.