Make Your Year In Korea Count: Part 2
Last week you saw the first installment of this two-part series which aims to guide teachers in the right direction during your time in Korea. there are many ways that you can go wrong with your experience in Korea, but there are also many ways you can go right. Here is the second part to making your time in Korea count.
6. Learn from your students
These Kiddos… they’re something else. When I’m having a terrible day, all I need is the smile off one of my students to turn my own frown upside down. It’s cheesy, I know, but it’s true! I learn from these kids every day, from customs in Korea that I’m unaware of, to the real meaning of respect, to the ability to hide my candy in creative ways so they keep their mitts off of it!
I’m kidding about the last one (kind of), but I really do learn new things about myself, about people, and about life from my kids. They’re an experience in themselves, and I’m so honored to have had the chance to teach them.
7. Go out less. Sightsee more
So you know how I mentioned in part 1 that Korea is a time warp? I swear it’s true. It’s not rare to enter a noreabang at 11:00pm and not emerge until 4:00am without realizing that it’s way past your bedtime. Time flies by here (maybe because I’m having so much fun?), and it’s so easy to get sucked into the party scene because it’s so vibrant.
I’ve learned that I have to make an effort to balance out an eventful night out and the ability to still see everything I want to see during the day. If there’s one thing I’d love for you to take away from this list, it’s that your time in Korea will count 100x more if you put more emphasis on sightseeing and getting to know the world during the day more so than getting to know the world after the lights turn neon.
Both are worthwhile experiences and I certainly will not give up a great night filled with BBQ, Soju, and singing Britney Spears, but I’m so glad I’ve seen all the beautiful and historic parts of my city, as well.
8. Collect a recommendation letter
Guys, I can’t stress enough how important this is. You’re going to have a wonderful year full of so much to be grateful for, and one of those things is the fact that you’ve been employed with a great job for a whole 365 days. This is a tremendous accomplishment in today’s economy; don’t sell yourself short by forgetting to collect proof of the amazing job you know you did in Korea.
Some schools may ask you to write it for them and then they will sign the letter for you once it’s complete and others might insist on doing it themselves (more power to them). It’s also possible for your school to write it in Korean and then you’ll have to obtain an official translation, but I wouldn’t recommend this last option.
Now that you’ve got your letter, get out there and get yourself that next amazing job!
9. Dip your toes in the Korean dating pool (if you’re single!)
This one doesn’t apply for those of us who left significant others behind, or those who came to Korea with a partner, but all you singles out there, take advantage! All of my friends who have met and dated locals have had the chance to experience a totally different side of Korea.
You’ll have someone to practice the language with, take you to unique local restaurants and events, and even help you when some of the logistical things you’re too shy to ask your co-teacher about. Put yourself out there; you never know what will happen.
If dating in Korea isn’t your thing, no big deal, you can still make Korean friends. I’m so lucky to have Korean girlfriends who I can gossip with, compare stories with, and go on weekend trips with. They’ve certainly sweetened my experience by at least an extra cherry to top off my Korean Sunday.
10. Represent your country well
As an English teacher in Korea, your purpose extends beyond the classroom (or at least it should). Who you are and how you behave when you’re a Guest English Teacher will directly reflect back on your country. That sounds like a lot of pressure, doesn’t it? Not to be overly blunt, but it is.
Teaching abroad is a privilege, not a right. You were chosen for this position because of your experience, your education, and your character. That means you should take this as a great honor and make a point of growing global awareness. Be proud of where you come from, and behave accordingly.
Are you an English teacher in Korea? Can you add anything to this list? Let us know in a comment below.