Coming To Korea: What Not To Expect
Everyday you hear people say things like: ‘I got a great job offer and I’m considering moving to Korea for a year’,’Im fresh out of college and looking to travel and broaden my horizons, ‘I want to seek adventure in a new world’ and so on. Every year thousands of foreigners arrive in Korea. Many of them do their homework before arriving and can adapt easily. However, there are a bunch of new arrivals who arrive without any knowledge of what to expect are are totally lost.
You can find a bunch of posts on the net talking about ‘what to expect when you arrive in Korea’. In my experience however, it is equally important to know ‘what NOT to expect’. Therefore, in this post I’m going to talk about a few things NOT to expect if you decide to work as an ESL teacher in Korea.
Don’t expect people to hold your hand
First off, don’t expect to be babied. I’m not saying every foreigner does it, but enough do. Personally, I’ve known enough foreign teachers, many of them older who needed someone to hold their hand. They had no clue.
I’m not saying that doing things in Korea is easy. The language barrier is a big obstacle and from time to time you may need help. But some people are totally crippled without someone to guide them. I’ve known newly arrived foreign teachers who went hungry for a day because they didn’t go down to the store to buy basic supplies. The ‘said teacher’ did not know a word of Korean and was basically skeptical to go to the store and try and communicate with the Korean cashier.
Although language is important to know, but it is not the be-all and end-all. Koreans in general are super friendly towards foreigners. If you don’t speak the language, people will usually try their best to accommodate you. You can use the universal ‘body language’ at least for basic things like buying groceries or ordering food. Be adventurous! Go out and try do things on your own. Trust me! It can be a very thrilling and satisfying experience.
Don’t expect to be told/explained everything
Call it typical Korean work culture or just lack of understanding the language but expect to be the last person to find out that, there is a staff dinner or that the next two days are holidays. Don’t expect your boss or co-workers to come to you and explain every intricate details.
In fact, In my previous job, my boss would tell me about a new class that I was supposed to teach from the upcoming Monday on a Friday. On several occasions, my schedule was changed and I was the last person to know. These are not isolated incidents either. Other teachers who have been working in Korea long term have had similar experiences.
Most of us at one point or another have said things like: ‘no one told me’ or ‘why wasn’t I told’ or ‘I’m always the last person to hear things’, etc.
I’m not saying not being told is okay or justified. All I’m saying is that it’s a norm in Korea. Don’t take it personally. Look at it as something that happens all the time and deal with it.
Don’t expect to have the same schedule every semester
Another thing that you should expect is a changing schedule. I guess working at a public school is slightly different since you will pretty much have the same schedule for the semester and your schedule might change in the new semester. Private schools/hagwons however, are a totally different story. Schedules can change frequently depending on the class sizes, students and parents whim. So be ready to go with the flow! If you work at a hagwon, expect changes in your schedule.
Don’t expect things to be the same as back home
I think one thing a lot of foreigners in Korea do, is compare Korea with their native countries. Korea is very different than where you come from. The language is different, the culture is different and the food is different than what you are used to. So STOP comparing.
Constant comparison will help nothing except create negativity. Instead embrace the differences. Except things to be different. Be adventurous. Try new things, new foods. The comprar viagra de forma segura moment you stop expecting everything to be the same as ‘back home’, you will enjoy yourself.
Korea is truly an amazing and unique country. In order to savor the adventure, learn about the new culture. It will make you a stronger and more open-minded individual. Hopefully, these tips can make your stay in Korea a memorable experience.