Em in Asia!

My Experiences Living and Teaching in South Korea

June25

I’m sorry for the lack of updates.

I just… it’s hard for me to write when I feel like my heart is being torn into multiple pieces everyday. I came to the astonishing realization last week that some of my students don’t realize that I’m leaving. I’ve told them so often that I’m leaving – for vacation, I normally hasten to add, that they don’t realize that when I say that I’m going to America I mean that I’m not coming back. Furthermore, the Korean school year starts in the fall, so I’m leaving halfway through the year, why on earth wouldn’t I come back?

Last week I made it very clear that I was leaving. I told one of my second grade girls’ classes the number of weeks that I had left at our school and was surprised to find the class captain crying.

I got a phone call from my host mother on Saturday. She doesn’t speak any English so while I would’ve been scared talk with her on the phone my first year, it’s a mark of my improvement that without hesitation I picked up the phone and we had a short conversation. She wants me to visit before I leave.

Our program’s final dinner is this weekend and I can’t bring myself to be excited about it. I love F*lbright, but I can’t shake off the feeling that by spending a weekend elsewhere, I’m missing stuff here.

In addition I’ve been trying to make time to meet and see everyone I’ve grown to know over the past two/three years, make time for a new special person, teach special Friday classes, prepare for YDAC (we got 3rd place!) keep up my Korean studying, host visitors, hike mountains, plan for Camp F*lbright, pack up my belongings to mail to the US (check!), apply for jobs (I hate my resume. I hate my resume. I hate my resume), cry over my failing TOPIK result (partially joking), and keep myself together. It’s exhausting.

I found this letter in one of my club class students’ notebooks.

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Yes, yes I am sad, and pensive, and happy, and nervous, and frustrated, and overwhelmed, and surprisingly numb. She’s a very perceptive student, but I don’t think she’ll ever realize how much it means to me that she used the word “our.”

posted under Korean Language, School
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  1. Avatar July 12th, 2013 at 9:15 am Em in Asia! » Blog Archive » Final Friday: Part One Says:

    […] club class girls – probably my favorite club class student. She’s the one who wrote me this note, and is one of the three second graders in the class. She came in and hovered over my desk and […]


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안녕하세요! My name is Emily and when I started this blog I had received a 2010 – 2011 F*lbright grant to teach English in South Korea.  I then decided to apply to renew my grant, so I am now staying in Korea until July 2012. This blog is not an official F*lbright Program blog, and the views expressed are my own and not those of the F*lbright Program, the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations.

I graduated from the University of Mary Washington with a degree in Philosophy Pre-Law and Classical Civilizations, and found myself 3 months later teaching English at SGHS. The town that I taught in, SG, is a small town of 12,000 people, an “읍” (eup) rather than a “시” (shi – city), and though it was sometimes hard teaching in such a small town I really enjoyed the unique experience of being the first foreign teacher SGHS had ever had. I lived in the largest part of the county which is significantly bigger (40,000 people) than the town the school is situated in, but is also considered rural by Korean standards.

During my second grant period (2011-2012) I decided to change schools and I currently teach at CPHS which is located in an even smaller town than previously, in Jeollanamdo.

This blog is meant to serve as a reflection not only of being a Native English Speaking teacher in Korea, but also of living as a foreigner in rural Korea.



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