Interview With Jared Berg: An American Teacher In South Korea
Today we hear from our latest Reach To Teach Teacher Jared who is currently teaching in South Korea. He made the move from Miami to Korea and although he hasn’t been there for long, his experiences have shown him a lot. Read on to find out what he thinks of his time there.
Please tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Jared Berg. I’m originally from Miami, Florida and I attended Florida International University. I’ve been traveling on and off for about nine years now, and it’s become a very important part of my life. I received a BA in English with a certificate in public and professional writing. I wanted to do something that would allow me to fuse my personal and academic interests together, and that’s more or less why I chose to teach English in South Korea.
How have you enjoyed teaching in South Korea to date?
I haven’t been in South Korea for long, but it’s been a blast so far. I got really lucky with my school and placement, almost to the point where it’s too good to be true. It was extremely intimidating at first, but every day I grow more and more confident. My students are incredible.
What advice can you give to new teachers interested in teaching in South Korea?
Expect the unexpected! I’m sorry if that’s somewhat vague advice, but it may be the best I’ve received. I also feel that an alarming number of people knew very little about Korean culture before arriving. Do your research! I find it really annoying, naive, and disrespectful when people come here and complain about trivial things. Korea isn’t your only option. If you’re not interested in embracing this country’s culture than maybe you should look elsewhere.
Can you tell us about a particularly powerful moment in your classroom
The students know that I’m from a city with a heavy Hispanic influence. One day one of my first grade students approached me after class and asked if I had any Spanish language books she could borrow. She was so genuine and I found it really touching.
What are the positive and negative aspects of living in South Korea?
Positive: I have found that South Korea is a very accessible country, with an amazingly affordable healthcare system, which really comes in handy if you get sick. The public transport in South Korea is amazing, it’s so easy to get around and very affordable. Also the people of South Korea are some of the warmest people on Earth.
Negatives: sexism, you see it everywhere. And K-pop, it’s not my type of music and it’s hard to avoid it.
Have you had the opportunity to travel much in South Korea or in Asia?
I’m still very new here and haven’t traveled much in Asia. I’m going to Tokyo in September and Southeast Asia in the winter. I’m also trying to squeeze in a trip to Bali this summer.
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about?
Just do a ton of research before making your decision. There’s a lot of mixed feedback about expat life in Korea, so make sure you know what you’re getting into.
Do you have any favorite blogs or websites about South Korea that you’d like to share with our readers?
If you’re coming to Seoul then make sure to get the Seoul subway application but don’t be intimidated, the Seoul subway is incredibly easy to navigate. And be sure to download kakao talk as well, a free texting application that just about everyone in Korea uses. Good luck!