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Speed bumps not stop signs.

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Just a few bumps in the road are not one to set me back and put me off from this experience. Although I have come to realize a few things about my experience. Unlike a majority of the friends I’ve made and people I have met thus far, I work in a private school, or hagwon if you would like to call it.  It is a preschool, but called a kindergarten/elementary school (MWF 4-6 only).  When I interviewed, I was told I would be teaching kindergarten then going to elementary school afterwards, making it seem like it would be a split day at two different schools. Rule #1 never assume anything when taking on a job in Korea. #2, don’t believe everything you read online, although I didn’t.

I teach 4-7 year olds. Korean age is usually 1-2 years older than American age. So the “4” year olds I teach are American age 3, sometimes 2 and so on. So since my birthday is in ’87 I was 26 when I got here and on my birthday early May, I didn’t change Korean age, just American age. I am still 26 Korean age, a it depressing. It is based upon what year you were born, not your actual birthday. Then 3 days a week I get grade 1 & 2, for one hour each. They all come Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 4-6. The first hour I teach grade 2, and then grade 1. This is the debate class. I have yet to have a real debate, just trying to get through some stories and answer some questions. Like really, debate for first grade? I told the one mother that came in to speak with me about her child that I didn’t take debate until high school so it was very surprising to me when they told me I would be teaching DEBATE! whoa. We talk about topics like, having a TV in a child’s room, having vendors outside of the school, why wearing seatbelts is safe, etc. nothing too exciting.This week our debate is on No Dating. Should be interesting. Most of the kids just don’t understand it, some of em do and explain to the others in Korean, so that is helpful. There is about one brainy one in each class, so they pretty much save me. 

Back to the original reasoning for this post. Hagwon teacher vs. public school teacher.

I am not going to go into too much detail, just to start with the beginning of the process.

  • My paperwork/application process was much shorter/quicker. 
  • I had a 4 minute skype interview before I came. Talked to my recruiter, basically was blinded the whole time by the situation I was signing up for and moving across the world to begin the new journey.
  • I came after the said training they  were going to put me in because the girl who’s apartment I was taking over would not have been out in time so I came about 3 weeks later.
  • The orientation at the school I sat through 2 days of full on korean when I first arrived. The one day was like orientation for the teachers, and the second day was basically all the teachers in their classrooms setting up and preparing things. I sat there and listened to Maroon 5 on the one teachers’ phone and asked a few times if I could help, but she refused. (It’s a culture thing I have since read that they do not like to accept help because it seems they are being lazy/weak). Sure uh huh,
  • Public school is basically like applying to college, not the work part, but the application/arrival part. You apply with quite a lengthy application. Some have an orientation at home with the other teachers they will be going over with, and then come together on the same flight for the most part. Placed outside of Seoul for a 2 week orientation, wearing matching t-shirts/sweatshirts and do group bonding activities so that when they are told of their placement they have instafriends/groups to hang with.
  • Do not get me wrong, I am not upset that I wasn’t graced with matching t-shirts with 200 odd people in some rural Korean town, but I think this experience I have been placed into has only made me stronger, or atleast that is what I keep telling myself.
  • Lately, school has been good. Last week wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, so  I had to let them know. Now the owner asks me daily how I am doing in her broken English and I have received some sort of gift every day. Today, she just handed me some fruit Mentos. Yesterday, she asked ‘How is today for you?’ which is nice. Better than before, Much!

I do not want this to come off as any sort of rant, but maybe if you are thinking of coming to Korea and stumble upon this post, you will know the basic difference just in the first weeks of your Korean experience when it’s public v. private. Which still remains a huge debate. I thought they would be similar teaching/school experiences just a longer application/more vacation for public.

I have 2 weeks vacation in the whole year. Yes 10 days, one week in July (because apparently it is too hot for anyone to attend school) and one week for Christmas. Wahoo. Public school gets something like 10 weeks. But from what I have heard so far, I make more money than them, so I  am not sure how I would be able to use all that vacation to it’s full advantage without making the money I make.

Must get back to school now, just had a to write a lil’ rant, get it off my chest, make it known to the world my opinion of public v. private. I have had a fine time making friends, most of the people I have met I have encountered on the Subway. Kind of a running joke now that everyone I met has been on the subway, but I am okay with that.

I enjoy meeting and talking with other private school teachers as they can definitely relate more. As for me I am the only foreign teacher in my school, which is again unheard of. My friends that live in my building have 3 foreign teachers at their work and like 4 Korean teachers. At my school there are 8 Koreans and me. Just some differences that I am still getting used to, that is all.

❤ and miss you all




About kerlerd

traveling nomad.

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