The most popular question I get asked is how I’m finding my new-completely-unrelated-to-my-education-and-previous-work-experiences job. (I sound as if there are thousands asking. There aren’t. Although I should take this opportunity to shift your attention to the right a bit. Blog stats. Read the number under it. Yup. In the thousands, baby. Booyah.)
**Disclaimer: It has only been 5 weeks since I’ve started teaching and I’m sure my thoughts and opinions will inevitably change down the road so I’ll revisit this question at exactly the half way point (and my birthday month)- i.e. April. Did not mean to throw out any hints or anything like that but it! was! a! total! coincidence! It just had to be mentioned. ;)
So how do I feel about teaching? To put it simply:
It feels natural.
And by that I mean there was no steep learning curve. (which I was expecting) The lesson plans are already done for me. There’s a teacher’s guide I can refer to. For everything else, I have a best friend called Google. My only responsibility is to cover the assigned material in the allotted time. And entertain the most adorable kids in the world. So all of this makes it really easy. And maybe I’m just a natural. Hey! It’s a total possibility!
So here’s the low down:
1. That look in the their eyes when they finally get it and the way their faces light up.
2. The love. The respect. If children in the west respected their teachers/elders half as much as Korean kids do, the future of our world would be in good hands.
3. My boss. Before South Korea and this teaching gig, I worked for 3 companies. And my bosses at all 3? Female. They were awesome. All their names even started with A! Digest that for a second.
3 jobs. 3 female bosses. Amanda, Amanda, Anita.
Coincidence? I think not. I loved, admired and respected all of them in so many ways I can’t put it into words. To say I wanted to be JUST like them when I grew up would be an understatement. So when I found out my director was male I was a little nervous. I mean, I was moving to a new country, to a job in a completely different field and I was breaking my female-only-boss-streak. To top it all off, I didn’t even know if his name started with A! (I still don’t but that’s another story for another day)
And I worried unnecessarily because I’ve been so lucky. And I’m convinced that I have The Best Director one could possibly work for in all of South Korea.
4. My coworkers. I’m pretty sure all my cheesy farewell emails at my previous jobs started with this line:
you spend a third of your adult years at work so sometimes it’s more important to love the people you work with than your actual job.
and while it’s cheesy, it’s true. Sure there are always a couple of people you don’t exactly love, but in general, I’ve been pretty lucky in the coworker department in the past. And the present is no different. To say I adore these girls would be an understatement. I have unique relationships with all of them. And they show their love in different ways. Whether it’s googling training chopsticks and where to get them or writing Korean translations in my phone or browsing clothing websites and pointing out the dresses they think would look good on me or educating me about everything there is to know about the Korean culture… they’re so awesome in so many ways. And again, I feel so lucky.
I feel like this post has too many awesomes and luckys.
5. The hours: 2pm-8pm. Which in my world is A-awesome. With a capital A
I clearly need to expand my vocabulary to include words other than awesome. Fabulous, maybe? Fabulous it is.
REDO: The hours. 2pm-8pm. Which in my world is F-fabulous. With a capital F.
No, that doesn’t work. it sounds like I’m trying to be all passive aggressive with profanity with the whole “capital F” thing. I think it needs to be a word that starts with an A. Suggestions? Please help me.
1. The Coffee addiction. I can feel it when we run out of coffee and I haven’t had my caffeine fix for the day. By that I mean I may or may not have fallen asleep. Eyes open. Standing up. On numerous occasions.
Teaching is fun. And easy. But it’s also tiring. And draining. You try delivering 50 min presentations every hour on the hour for 5 hours straight. All the while smiling and sounding enthusiastic. Sure, your audience may be boring men and women in suits compared to my adorable children in the cutest hello kitty ensembles, but it takes the same amount of energy. If not more. And whoever associated the red shiny apple with teachers clearly wasn’t a teacher. It should be a big cup of piping hot coffee. Or two. Or three…
2. It can get repetitive. The lessons themselves and the number of times you have to deliver them.
3. My mom’s dream was for me to be a doctor. That didn’t happen. Wanna know why? Because I get squeamish at the sight of blood. Like really squeamish. Like I’m the type that still turns away when the doctor takes a blood sample. Ya, that bad.
And kids… they’re always hurting themselves somehow. I had a girl who had a really bad nosebleed during one of my classes. I freaked. And then ran to get one of the other teachers. The other teacher was a natural. Knew exactly what to do and was calm the entire time. I was a little envious. Of her cool and collected demeanor. And then I got to thinking how terrible a mother I’m going to be. I need to marry a guy who isn’t afraid of blood. Or bugs. Or ghosts….Off topic! Sorry.
1. Their laughter. Its addictive. I guess this is what does it for me. And determines my fav age group to teach: the younger they are, the easier it is to make them laugh. The older ones who are bright and can understand English a bit more are also fun. Because they get my witty jokes. And think I’m extremely funny.
2. The endless gifts. of cookies. of chocolate. of pepero. of fresh warm baked sweet potato. I don’t even like sweet potato! But when it comes with all that love and “here teacher, this is for YOU” How does one say no?!
This list isn’t exhaustive. I wanted to convey a general idea of what it’s like to be a teacher in South Korea. And share my personal experiences thus far. Every teacher will have a different story to tell based on many different factors like their own personalities, the age of the kids they teach, their relationship with their director and co teachers, etc.
I know there are a few of you who are considering taking the leap and moving to Korea or <insert your country here>. To you, I say this: DO IT. I’m only 5 weeks in, and I can already say this has been one of my craziest yet smartest decisions to date.