First Day Teaching in Korea

My situation is a little unusual it seems. My first day teaching in Korea didn’t actually involve teaching. In fact, my first week didn’t really involve teaching. This is pretty crazy given some people get thrown in right away with absolutely no information. So I will give my two different “first day teaching in Korea” experiences. My actual first day, and my first day actually teaching.

My Actual First Day Teaching in Korea

It was awful. I was allowed to come in at an unusual time. Normally you arrive at school by 8:40AM (I’ll have a schedule post soon). I was allowed to come in at 9:30. I think this was the kiss of death. If I had left to arrive by 8:40 I would have been able to catch the correct bus. Instead, I sat there waiting for a bus that was continually delayed. It was also a torrential downpour. So much so that I was soaked entirely up to my chest, even with an umbrella. I actually decided to call a taxi, I was that desperate not to be late. And….of course my taxi driver couldn’t find me. When he finally managed to figure out I was at the bus stop (which I told him multiple times on the phone in Korean that was perfectly fine) he took a wrong road almost immediately. Dear God. But we finally got there. My co-teacher wasn’t there so I wandered around until I found the right room where I actually drank coffee I was so desperate.

I was shown around the school a bit and introduced to my nice office. The office is primarily mine but occasionally the special needs teacher has her individual sessions with kids. This is actually kind of cool because I understand enough Korean to learn some of her methods. Additionally the…librarian? Another teacher I’ve never seen teach? I haven’t figured out who he is yet, but he also likes to read books in the office away from the kids. Can’t blame him.

Leaving the school…

One of the other teachers tried to feed me lunch but I had to go to the hospital and I had forgotten the word for “can’t.” But all was well and I went to the hospital. It was a very thorough check. I had a chest x-ray, urine test, blood test, hearing test, dental check, and my height and weight measured. I’ll be happy to learn if there’s nothing wrong with me, haha. I think because I hadn’t eaten the entire day I was already feeling fairly faint and for the first time had a bit of a needle phobia. I will say, the bruise is still there and it’s been a week so I guess she was a little rough as it’s never taken that long.

My co-teacher bought me lunch which was wonderful (and delicious) and we decided to have a language exchange. He’ll help me with Korean and I’ll help him with English, hooray! And then…that was it. He took me back home, which I was so thankful for as it actually gave me time to clean my filthy apartment.

My First Day Actually Teaching

I know I shouldn’t develop biases already but I can tell you I like my main school the most. Unfortunately, I don’t actually spend that much time at my “main school”- just a day and a half. But they have a goat! And chickens and rabbits and really sweet kids. But my first time really teaching, besides some informal after school classes, is at my second school. And don’t get me wrong, this second school is nice. But they don’t have a goat and the office is shared so I feel pressured to look as though I’m working all the time when that would legitimately be impossible. If I worked every single hour I’m in here for a month, I think I could have my lessons planned out for the entire year. And I’d do that, except they don’t give me that much information ahead of time.

My first day was fairly…confused. I really recommend creating a powerpoint about yourself as that can ease you into the teaching experience. Especially if you will be teaching without a co-teacher, as I did. I had previewed the lesson information I would be teaching all on my own but I don’t have a CD drive on my computer at home (who does anymore?) and as previously mentioned….the computer at my second school is almost unusable. I taught the same class to 5 different groups of 6th graders who were, as a whole, pretty well behaved. There was a shocking difference in levels between the groups – my third group just wasn’t really having it. My 5th group seems to know everything already. Oh well, it’s up to them to learn English at that point.

After classes…

Then I ate the lunch I brought with me. Most of the time teachers just eat in the school cafeteria and some schools make you pay for it. Mine makes me pay, but it’s 3,000 won a meal and they won’t let me pick and choose which days. So I opted instead to bring my own food. I will be getting more than enough Korean food while I’m here. I’m happy to have the opportunity to cook for myself and make sure I’m getting the nutrients I need. While I like Korean food, cafeteria food is still cafeteria food, and in my first couple days I was finding myself increasingly without energy. In just the two days of bringing my own food I feel substantially better. To be honest, I think most people wouldn’t have this problem. I just seem to require significantly more meat/protein/iron than the average person to feel energized. Additionally, most shellfish makes my stomach upset, including shellfish broths which comprised most of the cafeteria soups. It’s just a no-go.

And then I sat for the next 4 hours. My co-teacher gave me the pages I would be teaching the next day with her but that required no most than 10 minutes of preparation. This is the aspect of the job that will drive me nuts. I am a bouncing ball of energy at the best of times and just a few hours of boredom can leave me completely depressed. Hence, hobbies. There will be a lot of writing, reading, and learning going on.

But that’s a wrap for my first day teaching in Korea! More posts are soon to follow 🙂

Check out what I’ve already written about teaching in Korea!

Why Teach English in South Korea

Programs Besides EPIK

GOE Orientation

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