Most of what I share are the wonderful adventures I go on. I don't share much about my everyday life that allows me to have such wonderful experiences. This post, I'm going to share that part of my life with you. I have been in Korea for the past 2 years, living and teaching in 2 differnt cities.
I work as an English teacher in a Korean hagwon (학원). A hagwon is a private school, that children come to after they finish their regular school 2-3 times a week. The life of an English teacher in Korea can be hard and long, but I think the students make it all worth the effort. I work most days from 12:30 in the afternoon until about 9 o'clock at night Mon-Fri. I have taught all ages from kindergarden to 3rd year middle schoolers. Hogwons are open year round, most teachers only get 10 vacation days a year, plus national holidays (that's working about 245 of the 365 days a year!).
I take advantage of as much of my time off as I can. I wake up early most mornings to work on my photos, go to my Korean class, or take care of whatever personal buisness I need to. Then on the weekends I do as much exploring as I can. Sometimes I even take my suitcase to work and leave as soon as I get off Friday night, not gettiing back until like 2am Monday morning. While my body might be exhaused, the travel refreshes my mind and soul.
Kindergarden is one of my favorite ages to teach. The kids are full of energy and are excited to learn new things. They are full of hugs and smiles. We get to go on fun field trips and teach them about both Korean and American holidays.
Younger elementry students are still full of enerygy and excitement. I find them a lot of fun to teach, too. However, for all of my elementry and middle school classes the lessons start to get harder and come with more homework. I really have to work hard to make some of these lessons fun and entertaining. Espcially since I only have 45min - an hour with each class a day. Many days I teach 5-7 classes straight, with only a 5min break to change classrooms.
Due to the stress of the job, a good bond with my coteachers is imortant. Your Korean coteacher can make your life easier by helping with culture differences and unruly students. They are also the only link you have to communicate with the students' parents. You can see how much more difficult work would be if you don't have a good relationship. I have been lucky having only had wonderful coworkers.
I honestly never thought I would enjoy teaching as much as I do. I was never really one for kids, but my students are now a huge part of my life. I want to see them become the best they can be.
Teaching English is an easy way to see the world. However, unless you are serious about teachng and making a difference, I would reccommend finding a diferent way to explore. Even though I might only see my kinds for bout 3hours each week, I still have some impact on their lives. These kids have definitly impacted mine plenty.
Life in a hagwon is not glamorous, in fact it's challenging and stressful. But, when you see your students come to life and really get into a lesson, it all becomes worth it.