Em in Asia!

My Experiences Living and Teaching in South Korea

Hello world!


My name is Emily Potosky and I received a 201o – 2011 F*lbright ETA (English Teaching Assistantship) grant to teach English in South Korea for one year!  I’m going to be at orientation at Jungwon University in Goesan, N. Chungcheongbuk-do, South Korea for the first six weeks, but after that I’m not quite sure where I’ll be placed.  As nerve-wracking as that is, I’m incredibly excited to see all of  the Korean friends I made at UMW again!  I leave the United States on July 2nd, which is just under 4 days, and I’m ready for adventure!

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3 Comments to

“Hello world!”

  1. Avatar June 29th, 2010 at 12:00 pm Seungkyung Eom Says:

    Welcome to Korea!
    6 weeks are too long..TT I cannot wait to see you in Korea! yeah~~ 🙂

  2. Avatar June 14th, 2011 at 5:46 pm Korena Burgio Says:

    Hi, I stumbled upon your blog when looking up Jungwon University because I am a 2011-2012 Fulbright ETA going to South Korea too! I was wondering if you had any advice on stuff I should be bring or be mentally prepared for. Thanks,

  3. Avatar June 15th, 2011 at 8:51 am epotosky Says:

    Oh man, congratulations! Korea’s baller – I’m enjoying it so much that I actually am staying for another year, so I’ll be meeting you in August! I think there may be a character limit on comments so I’ll write a few brief things here, and then if you send me your email address I can email you. My email address is epotosky@gmail.com.
    1) If you haven’t already, learn hanguel. I really can’t stress this enough… I used the Korean Wiki Project and that helped a lot because there were sound clips.
    2) Buy a work wardrobe. Depending on your size, (clothing and feet), clothing may be difficult to find – not necessarially impossible because there are foreigner districts in Seoul, but difficult and not something you want to worry about. If you’re a girl then be careful about the neckline of your shirts. I teach in a rural area, so it’s a bigger deal for me than for some other fulbrighters, but nothing that shows cleavage. I even feel awkward in shirts that show too much open neck-space, but again I live and teach in a rural area. Some Fulbrighters have stated that they feel that they over-prepared in this way and left shirts at home that they should’ve brought, so again it depends on every individual’s experiences. Also, showing your shoulders is considered a bit risque, so in Jungwon you’ll be able to wear tanktops as long as they’re not spaghetti strap, but outside of Jungwon other than Seoul you probably won’t feel comfortable wearing tank-tops. If you’re a guy I don’t have a whole lot of clothing tips, other than if you have larger than average feet, just make sure you bring enough shoes to last you the year because they might be difficult to find.
    3) There is totally deodorent in Korea. People say there isn’t but it’s there and not even that difficult to find. That being said, if you’re really particular about a certain thing (like type of shampoo, etc) then just bring a year’s supply. I discovered this year that apparently I’m really particular about toothpaste (odd) and Korean toothpaste is slowly killing me. I’m bringing a year’s supply. Also, if you’re like to use specific over-the-counter medicines or vitamins then you should bring them with you. Vitamins are expensive in Korea, and you may not find the exact brand of medication you prefer.
    4) Bring gifts for your Principal, Vice Principal, main co-teacher homestay. I wasn’t sure what to get them so I waited until I got here and it was just stressful, because at the end of orientation I still wasn’t sure. I got my host family a picture book of Washington DC (I’m from Virginia) and a board game and that went over well. For my P VP and co-teach I just got whiskey and wine from a convenience store in Jungwon, which went over well but I could’ve also just bought in America and saved myself the time and worry.
    5) Bring stuff to use in school: prizes, magazines, board games, etc. I had no teaching experience before I came and had no idea what to pack. My suggestions are some sort of small cheap prize that students can win by earning participation points (you probably won’t give your students grades so this is a good way of getting them motivated). This can be anything – I use candy and postcards of Washington DC, but I know other people use stationary supplies, etc. I wish I had sent magazines because you can use these for clubs, decorate your English lounge (if you’re lucky enough to have one – I don’t), and do collage-projects. Board games are also really good if you have a club class.

    This is a lot of information, and probably super overwhelming. I remember freaking out this time last year. If you want more information or have any specific questions seriously feel free to contact me: epotosky@gmail.com

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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.