It’s the beginning of October 2019. My year in Korea officially ended August 25th, 2019.
Mannnnnn listen, it was a roller coaster. Let me tell y’all.
So, I got to Korea August 2018. Before I came, I told myself I didn’t have any expectations. Wrong!
My expectations were I would have a lot of free time. I didn’t expect my teaching job to be too taxing, because I knew I would have a Korean co-teacher. I expected to travel and grow as a person. I expected to find out more about the culture in depth. I expected to make connections with other dope ass people. Most of these things did meet my expectations and some things happened that I didn’t expect.
Expectation: Easy peasy job
Reality: HA ! Girl, bye. This is a REAL job. You gonna do some work.
So I got to the school in the middle of the week. Even though it was the beginning for me, I came in the middle of the school year. Therefore, there was no period for me to ease into the job. I remember my first day, my co-teacher asked me for an introduction PowerPoint. That’s not too bad, I expected that. Then she was like I need this,that, and this for class next week. She asked me could I prepare it within two days. I was like uhhhh ok, a little bit of real work. A little is cool.
Then not too long after, she was asking me to prepare for a camp. Also, I had to prepare for an open class AT THE SAME TIME. Open class is basically a “show” class that is prepared for other English teachers. So, it was more than just preparing for a regular class. Then, camp usually is 2-3 days two hours each day. With camp you think of a theme, activities, materials, budget, all of that. I had camp, regular class, and open class and I had two schools. That means I had double the work many of the other public school teachers did.
AND THEN on top of that I was in a whole new country, that comes with it’s own difficulties. I was dealing with the language barrier, becoming comfortable with feeling uncomfortable, being ok with relying on others, simple tasks becoming complex tasks, all while trying to make sure I am making the use of my year in Korea and explore the country.
So with all of those things going on, I was overwhelmed. I was having trouble balancing it all. I didn’t expect to be working all day at work and then having to bring my work home . I also brought much of the extra work on myself, because I wanted to be a good teacher. I didn’t use my resources as I should have. I was so overwhelmed I was contemplating breaking my contract early and leaving.
Thank goodness for my tribe/ village though, because they helped keep me grounded. So I stuck with it , and I learned the tricks of the trade. So when I came back second semester, you couldn’t tell me nothing. I was turning in work early, planning ahead of time and learned how to utilize my time better. Therefore, I had more time to myself. I had time to find what I was really into.
I also struggled with finding the right community for me while in Korea. Living abroad can be hard living away from your family and friends. That is why it is imperative you find/ build the community you want. When I first arrived I hung out with people that I knew from my orientation and lived closest to me. I don’t have anything against those people, but they weren’t the right group for me. We were not into doing the same things. I was scared to be alone though, so I hung out with them longer than I should have. Once I finally gained the courage to be alone and build my own community I met people who were more aligned with me. Once I did that, I was mad I didn’t do it sooner. It’s all a lesson learned though.
Korea has taught me to be more open minded, caring, how to ask for help, and not to settle no matter how far away from home I am. Also, I’ve learned some great skills teaching English and I know I always want to work with children in some fashion. I also learned no matter how good a job is, it just isn’t for me. I have so many ideas, and I’m ready to be fully committed to my specific mission/purpose.
Reality surpassing expectations
All of my other expectations were surpassed. I’ve traveled within Korea, Japan, and the Philippines. I have grown EXPONENTIALLY this past year. I’ve found love in roller skating, I understand my mission, I am authentically 100 percent me. Honestly, it might be the most I’ve ever grown within a year. Since I worked with Koreans and taught the children, I had an inside look into the culture. There are some things I would take away and some I can do without. I will go more into depth about it in a future post. I’ve met some dope ass people from all around the world. I feel grateful.
Korea was my first country to live in abroad! It has definitely prepared me for my new journeys.
Thank you Korea. You will always have a space in my heart.