Teach Abroad - South Korea, Teach Abroad Programs

My First Month in South Korea

by Cicely Morgan, Greenheart Travel English Teacher in South Korea

So I have been in South Korea for a little over a month. This is my first time living aboard in my adult life so I must say it can be very challenging at times. However, living in South Korea so far has truly been an adventure that is worth the challenges. I arrived on August 20th at Incheon Airport after about 14 hours worth of traveling for the orientation shuttle at Daejeon. It was a warm rainy day coupled with the humidity, and having to manage 3 bags of luggage plus just getting off a long flight was physically draining. But I had a smile on my face the whole time because I was so happy my luggage didn’t get lost, unlike the last trip I took.

Finally arriving at the orientation site at around 10pm, registering, and meeting my roommate for the next week, all I wanted to do was settle in a sleep. The week of EPIK orientation was filled with a crash course of material and information about Korea history, culture, survival language lessons, and of course, teaching in Korea. At times it was too much information; the days ran almost 12 hours with lectures. But on the bright side, I met some great fellow EPIK teachers that I can share my Korean adventures with.

During orientation, I was contacted by my future co-teacher and Native English Teacher that I would later replace. This doesn’t happen often at all, so I was pleasantly surprised and relived to know I was placed in a now famous area in Seoul, South Korea. Thanks to a song that has swept the world over, I will be doing Gangnam Style for a whole year in South Korea. I was placed at Wonmyong Elementary in Gangnam, one of the top public elementary schools in Seoul (so I was told). I am teaching the children of doctors, lawyers, and businessmen. A good number of the kids have studied or lived aboard, so as a whole their English level is relatively high.

My apartment is also within walking distance from the school in Gangnam. It’s not really that small compared to others I know, so no complaints here. I am happy with it. I am blessed to have 5 co-teachers that are all really nice and helpful. As someone that doesn’t have much teaching experience and was quite nervous about it, this was a load off my shoulders. Even the teacher I replaced was really accommodating; she left me a lot of useful things for the apartment and even took me out to dinner while answering all my questions about her experience.

As the first few weeks of teaching and getting settled in Korea have now gone, I have learned that students don’t remember if a lesson didn’t go well; all the paperwork you have to set up for immigration, banking, etc can be a tiring process; I will be in great shape by the end of my year from all the hills and stairs I climb daily; and living Gangnam Style can be quite expensive. I have also eaten my fair share of Kimbap (rice with vegetables dish) and Korean BBQ, had a lot of fun with friends I made from orientation, almost mastered the Seoul subway system (with a map), have been bitten by a lot of mosquitoes, and stared at by many piercing eyes (I see being African-American while living Gangnam Style is still a new concept to Koreans, lol). I look forward to adding to this list of learning, experiencing a variety of other things, and growing as a person during these next 12 months. Right now I am just taking it a day a time, I should pace myself, right?

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