This is the second “Teacher Stories” we’ve done this week! It really is great hearing from our teachers in Korea and this time we hear from Tiffany who we placed in Naju – a small city just 20km south of Gwangju. Enjoy!
1) Please tell us a little more about yourself and how you came to teaching in South Korea?
I first thought about teaching in South Korea after a friend of mine recommended I consider EFL teaching as a new career path. I graduated with an English degree and had always been interested in languages and culture, so I began exploring teaching English abroad. I soon discovered that South Korea had many entry level positions for new teachers or for those who wanted to switch professions.
At first, I was worried that I might be too old to teach English in South Korea. It seemed like something for fresh college graduates. But I discovered I was not the only one my age to use South Korea as a pathway for switching careers. In fact, Korea does have teachers groups and volunteer opportunities for those interested in strengthening and building their skills as an educator. It’s always nice to be able to speak with teachers who have been teaching for a while. I have been able to get some good advice on what I do in the classroom and which avenues to consider for furthering my education.
2) How have you adapted to the culture?
– Tiffany sent us a photo of a waterfall from her recent trip to Jeju Island.
Personally I found adjusting to Korean life to be extremely easy. I think how someone adjusts to living and working in another culture depends on his or her perspective. If someone is flexible, adaptable, and open-minded, then adjusting to a different way of living is really not much of an adjustment at all.
That being said, I can tell you about a few things I have noticed about living in Korea that may be surprising to an outsider. For one, South Korea uses squatting toilets in many of their public restrooms or even the restrooms at school. Koreans also don’t have the typical Western showers; usually a Korean shower is an attachment above the sink that can be flipped one way to force the water though the sink faucet or another to make it come out of the shower head. The bathrooms are more like giant shower stalls with a drain in the center of the floor. There are toilet paper covers to keep you toilet paper from getting soaked while you’re washing up. Finally, South Koreans don’t normally use dryers. Most apartments will come with a washing machine, but you will have to air dry your clothes on a laundry rack.
3) Have you been able to make some new friends?
Yes, I have been able to make a few new friends since I have been here. It is extremely easy to meet people in South Korea. There are many different Facebook groups that are great starting points for new teachers to get involved with both the foreigner communities and the local communities.
4) What was your relationship like with Say Kimchi?
My relationship with Say Kimchi Recruiting was amazing. My recruiter, Anne, was extremely organized, professional, and knowledgeable. She was also personable and committed to helping me find a position in South Korea that was the best fit for me. The thing that impressed me the most about working with Anne was how she was able to stay afloat in my sea of questions. She answered every single question thoroughly and with patience.
5) Any advice for recruits wanting to teach English in South Korea?
The advice I can offer to anyone thinking about teaching English in Korea is to be open-minded and flexible. I know that is the advice most often given to prospective teachers, and based on my time here I can see how truly important those traits are to the success of new teachers. Just go with the flow, show up to work early (it makes a good impression) and if you end up living in a rural area, try to spend some time outdoors. Korea has some truly beautiful mountain scenery. Get out and experience it!
Read more Teacher Stories to see how other people are adjusting to life in South Korea!