Reach To Teach Interviews Caroline Hosey, an American Teacher in Seoul, South Korea
There isn’t much that ESL teacher Caroline Hosey hasn’t done in the past year that she has lived in Seoul, South Korea. She is a regular volunteer at local orphanages, she’s fearless when it comes to food, and she rarely turns down an opportunity to learn more about her adoptive land. We hope you’ll enjoy reading her travel tales as much as we do! Check out her blog McHosey – Adventures of the Seoul for more stories about Caroline’s life in South Korea.
Hi Caroline. Thanks very much for allowing us to feature you and your wonderful blog today. Let’s start our interview off with you giving our readers an introduction.
I am originally from Savannah, Georgia. After graduation, I found myself frustrated with the current job market, so I decided to look for opportunities abroad. In college, I had a roommate from Seoul, so I thought it would be interesting to reconnect with her by teaching and living in Korea. It has been the best choice I have ever made, and I am very thankful to have had this experience.
I think I was always meant to travel, and I am excited about all the opportunities that lay ahead.
I feel that teaching is the most intensive and eye opening way to experience Korean culture. Modern Korean society is built on an extreme competition, and its foundation starts in the school system. Korean students are some of the most hard working and competitive in the world. Teachers truly have a huge impact. I feel that I have learned so much and grown tremendously from my students. Sometimes I wonder if they inspire me more than I inspire them.
When I first started teaching, I found the job a little daunting and at times frustrating. However, as I got to know my students, I began to sympathize with them. I began to slowly understand that the pressure they face is something I never have or will experience. I used their stress as motivation, and I decided to challenge myself to experiment and find creative ways of approaching teaching. Whether it was Gangnam style dancing, or using games to practice new concepts I tried my best to always learn from my students and strive to find ways to relate with them on a personal level. The more I have been able to achieve this, the better my experience has been.
I want to be honest and say that teaching in Korea is not all rainbows and sunshine. It is HARD WORK! However, I can say that it is work that will leave you gratified at the end of the day.
What advice can you give to new teachers interested in teaching in South Korea?
I think the best advice is to have an open mind. I know that this may sound somewhat cliché, but it is the truth. Take time to travel and explore Korea. Traveling is a great way to meet people and get your mind of pressures from work. Also, don’t compare things in Korea to things back home. Instead look at cultural differences as opportunities to try new things or a chance to learn more about yourself. Furthermore, take time to get to know your students. The more open you are to them, the more open they will be to you.
I can’t think of an exact moment, because almost every day a student will remind me why I have chosen this profession. I think the most rewarding aspect is watching them grow because of your efforts. I had students who did not know the difference between a “sentence” and a “paragraph”, but now they can now write solid five paragraph essays with topic sentences and a thesis statement (and don’t forget, these students are only 13 years old). These students are pretty incredible and it is amazing to watch their growth and development as English learners.
How has teaching in Asia changed you as a person?
I would say that overall I am the most content and happy with my life that I have ever been. I was happy in the states, and I consider myself a positive person, but I had a lot of stress due to finances and long working hours. Back home I felt somewhat trapped, because I was always working, and I was always worrying about students loan payments and all my other financial burdens. In Asia, I feel free. I am able to save money, while still having time for myself. This time for myself has been valuable in more ways than just helping me financially. I for once have time to exercise. I have time to try new things I always wondered about. I have time to build relationships. I most importantly have time to think.
You’ll find a great list of places to visit in South Korea on my blog. Here are some of my personal favorites:
- Skiing at YongPyeong (future host of the 2018 winter olympics)
- Innertrip Festival – A Korean Music Festival Experience
- Korea Burning Man at Gijipo Beach
Some other places I’ve visited and really enjoyed are:
- Namhae for a garlic festival, hiking, kayaking, and a day at the beach.
- Boryeong Mud Festival
- Muiido Island
I plan to visit Busan and Daegu for Christmas as well as take a weeklong trip to Thailand in December. I am hoping to eventually explore Jeju and Dokdo in Korea. I also want to travel all over Asia.
Some places on my bucket list are Taiwan, Vietnam, Bali, Japan, China, and India.
We hope you’ll let us know when you decide to come to Taiwan! Thanks very much, Caroline. We wish you the best of luck in your next teaching position abroad!