I can’t believe I have been teaching and living (if you don’t count the first week of training) in Korea for a whole MONTH! 🙂 I haven’t really shared much about my classroom, students, or life in Korea in general, but I promise it’s all been great!
This past month, I’ve grown immensely as a teacher, person, friend, and independent woman. It’s crazy to think how much you can grow in such a short amount of time. Teaching English as a second language has been extremely busy, rewarding, joyous, and a wonderful experience so far. I have never taught ESL before coming to Korea so I was a little anxious as to how my lack of experience would “prepare” me. In fact, this is my first teaching job, so I am definitely a newbie.
Fortunately, teaching is my passion and I did graduate with a B.A. in Elementary Education, but the program can only prepare you so much (although I am super grateful for the opportunities I have had with student teaching in a local school back home and in New Zealand). Also, the intense one week training could only teach me so much, so the best way for me to learn was to actually get thrown into it!
I already mentioned a bit about my first week of teaching so I won’t get into that in depth here, so back to my immense growth! I have learned things like routine, repetition, patience, over-explaining, creativity, time management, and the moment I’ve been waiting for: trying to find ways on how to help my students understand and learn more of what they need outside of a curriculum. It really is incredible, thinking on a daily basis of what am I doing wrong? What can I do better so they can understand better? What do they actually need more focus on? What do they really know? And the list goes on and on. I’m always thinking about my students and I’ve found myself easily consumed in my career. It’s not a bad thing, but I have come to realize that I could easily spend 10+ hour days prepping, grading, designing creative projects, etc. no problem. Unfortunately, that means I’m not spending enough time on myself, which is a bad habit I fall into if I’m not A. traveling, or B. spending money. 😛 And even when I do have time to myself, I find myself cleaning my apartment excessively.
Don’t get me wrong, I have been going out and exploring around Seoul, but I have to admit that I’ve been a little bit of a shut in with the colder weather (especially during the week…weird work hours make it difficult to do much during the week). But maybe it’s a good thing for me to focus on work and have cabin fever later when the weather is nicer. 😉
Outside of work, my month has still been pretty good. I haven’t been eating as much Korean food as I would like to since Korean food is a very social experience (better to go with more people and share dishes), so hopefully I will have more opportunities later and meet more foodies! 🙂 And the Korean food I have eaten has been delicious!!! I have gone grocery shopping a handful of times, but it’s sometimes hard when you don’t have a vehicle (miss my car so much… 😦 ) so I have to be smarter about how I shop. Also, I am very surprised as to how expensive groceries are here! Eating out can be pretty cheap, but then again, it depends on what you get.
Besides food, I haven’t mentioned how foreigners need to apply for an Alien Registration Card (ARC) in order to set up a bank account, phone plan, internet, etc. I actually got my ARC TODAY! 🙂 So, I’m pretty excited to get all of those things set up! Yay for adulting! 😉
I do want to mention a little bit about Korean culture before I end this post. The culture in South Korea is familiar and interesting for me. I’ve met so many people that are very friendly and generous (always giving snacks, drinks, medicine, etc.) and sometimes touchy-feely (skinship). I have never really been much of a touchy-feely person my whole life, so I hope it isn’t too obvious (like I really hope I don’t cringe or tense up or anything, it’s just a natural reaction for me ). I’ve been raised by my Korean mother, so a lot of the things she does at home and with friends, I’m familiar with. There’s still a lot to learn though!
My goal is to become fluent in Korean (I know some basic level at-home conversation / survival Korean) and really take Korea in as a whole! I’ve been pretty shy at using my Korean because I constantly worry about if I’m being too formal, too informal, wrong terms for a particular situation (Korean is a very situation, hierarchy language), etc. Being half Korean and raised by my mother, there is a lot I do know, but a lot I don’t know as well. I learn something new everyday, so I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year will bring me!
Overall, I am extremely grateful and happy to be in Korea. I really am living my dream and learning so much about people, culture, school, and myself. I hope everyone can enjoy their holiday season! I, myself, will be going somewhere to celebrate… which I will share later on. 😉