So I’ve been in South Korea for 33 days…

As the title states, I’ve been in Korea for 33 days now. I’ve experienced and learned loads of things.

Things I’ve learned:

  • moving to another country is OVERWHELMING as fuuuuuuuuuuuuuck
  • students are really impressed when you can spell your name in Hangul
  • students are also exponentially impressed when you answer them, outside of their paid class time, in Korean
  • taking the bus at night when you know nothing about your surroundings is terrifying – especially if you get lost
  • you get lost a lot – like A LOT
  • you will have so many blisters on your feet from walking around – like incepta-blisters (blisters on top of blisters, on top of blisters, on top of blisters)
  • the general public is either terrified of you (locking their car doors when they see you walking) or exponentially happy to see you (waving and smiling and trying to speak English to you)
  • bus drivers are really REALLY nice and will try to help you as much as they can
  • If you want American style pizza, like Papa John’s, it’s going to cost you about $30-ish for what we consider a medium size and it will be their large size
  • Koreans put sweet corn on their pizza – like wtf and I’m from Iowa
  • Korean shampoo makes my hair super greasy feeling – yuck
  • not having a clothes dryer actually kind of sucks in a really humid environment
  • if you can read Hungul but don’t comprehend what you’re reading it doesn’t really help that much
  • people like to abruptly stop in the middle of the sidewalk and you will bump into them and they will act like it is your fault
  • if you are female and someone calls you “pumpkin” it means they think you’re ugly
  • if you’re female and someone asks you if you’re Russian, it means they think you’re a prostitute
  •  you will make a ton of mistakes
  • just when you think you’re getting shit together, something else happens and you’re back to feeling like a loser who always fucks up

Yesterday I went to register myself as an alien. I love that I can say that. Yo, I’m an alien guys! The director’s assistant, Hyo Bin, and I went to the clinic to pick up the results for my health check that I had last week. He was exceptionally hung over and still reeked of alcohol – I wonder if he would have passed a breathalyzer.  I passed, obviously because I have neither HIV nor do methamphetamines which seem to be the most important tests they run on you. So we went to the opposite side of Suwon and I paid money to register myself as an alien. I also had my finger prints re-scanned and gave a picture of myself for my alien registration card (ARC). 

On the way back to school a 방탄소년단 or BTS song came on and I was trying very hard not to burst out in uncontrollable laughter. The song, Fire, is totally my jam and I tucked my lips inside my mouth over my teeth to keep from embarrassing myself. Well that shit didn’t work! I was humming along and Hyo Bin grabbed my shoulder in shock and asked me if I knew the song. He also asked me if I liked Kpop and I did my best to appear casual about it. And then he asked me which groups I like and I just pointed at his radio. He was like, “aaah but they’re babies!” And I was like ¯\_(ツ)_/¯   Yeah, so? He seemed so surprised that I knew that song though. 

This week we started calling students at home for phone speaking; where we have to call all students we have in our classes once per term. I found out I screwed up my phone schedule I handed out to the kids (see aforementioned fuck ups) so that was fun. My Korean and native English speaking coworkers were really understanding about it though and said some kind, encouraging words to me. I at least got a trail run to make a phone call to one student and it went pretty well. It is a bit weird though, calling students who don’t ever really talk in class and you’re like, wow you have a voice!?

One of my Korean co-teachers told me today that when she spoke with the kids’ parents the kids always tell the parents about how kind Britt Teacher is. That made me feel pretty good.

Today I learned if students are missing from class longer than three minutes I am to notify staff as they might have been injured or tried to attempt suicide. 😳

Monday, October 3 is Gaecheonjeol, or National Foundation Day. This is a pretty cool holiday because it celebrates the creation myth of Korea as the founding of the nation (see Creation Myth). Because of the three day weekend, my coworker Sean, girl who works at our parent company Brittany, and another girl who I have yet to meet Elizabeth are going to stay in a hostel and putz around Seoul. Luckily, there are loads of free or relatively inexpensive things for our broke asses to do. I know we’re going to the Korean War Memorial, Namsan Tower, Gyeonbok Palace, and some sort of theme cafe.

My Motives

I’ve had many different and some very interesting questions regarding my motives for want to teach English in South Korea.

Truth be told, my interest in Korea is not very old and it started with being fired from a job and having way too much free time so I took up using whatever disposable income I had on cutesy stationery to decorate my Filofax planner with. All the cute Korean planner stickers I found on etsy, eBay, etc. had Hangul writing and Korean phrases on them.

In 2014, I moved in with a roommate who had interests in Korean and Japanese cultures and she allowed my curiosity to flourish. I started watching Korean dramas and listening to Kpop. She also had a friend that taught English in Japan and encouraged me to look into options appealing to me so I started looking into English teaching jobs in Korea.

Since I was also going to University of Iowa during this time and they have Korean language and culture classes I decided I might as well take some. I took a Korean Humanities class that encompassed the history, folklore, and arts of Korean people. During this time I also took a Hangul class to learn how to read and write via King Sejong Institute.

I decided to apply to some teaching jobs in Korea because why the heck not?! And now I’m going on my next adventure.