Em in Asia!

My Experiences Living and Teaching in South Korea

My Life in Bullet Points


A LOT has happened so I’ll update you in bullet form and expand in blog entries later.

Recent wins:

  • Woke up at 5 am yesterday to go with underclassmen to cheer for the 3rd graders (high school seniors) taking the 수능 (Suneung), which is a test that students start preparing for in elementary school. If you don’t do well on this test you can’t go to the college you want (or even college at all in some cases). Most of my students in the academic track stay at school until 10 pm or later every day doing self-study… pretty much just for the Suneung, and even the kids that are not in the academic track stay late and study. I was there before any of the teachers (got there at 6, most teachers got there at 7:30/8) and got to hang out with my students in the freezing cold. Apparently foreign teachers never go and cheer for the suneung so my school was really shocked (and very happy) that I went, and since I went with my host sister and not a teacher apparently they didn’t even know I was coming.
  • Almost finished with book 2 of piano, going on to book 3 in a few days.
  • FINALLY figured out how to do a dora chaugi kick in hapkido (watch the video, he does one at 0:24).
  • Went to the hapkido night class one day instead of my usual afternoon class and saw one of my trouble maker students. This kid is about 6’4″ and has to weigh at least 250 pounds, he’s massive. We had to practice blocking practice and I was paired with him and I completely took him out. I can now say I beat up one of my students.
  • I’ve been practicing with a core group of 7 students for the English competition (we have to sing a pop song) that’s coming up and today we finally nailed the difficult harmonies in the chorus. My students were so happy!
  • I taught a lesson on Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along-Blog to my advanced kids.
  • I bought some sweaters so I won’t die!
  • Discovered a duck pond in my “downtown”
  • Went to Daegu/Busan with friends last weekend and built a sand-castle.
  • Tomorrow I’m going to the United States ambassador to Korea’s house for a Thanksgiving dinner with most of the first-year F*bright English Teaching Assistants.


  • I’ve been sick.
  • I lost my VOICE which is absolutely awful if you’re an English conversation teacher.
  • Korean vocabulary has recently been stagnating and grammar is definitely getting worse.
  • I STILL don’t know what I’m doing for Winter Break.
  • I feel like I’ve hit a wall in my relationship with teachers at school due to the language barrier and I really want to build deeper relationships but I don’t know how/I’m too tired to keep trying.
  • I have had 5 times as many spam comments as actual comments on my blog. Hint hint.

More later, I promise. As well as actual pictures eventually.

posted under Rural, School
4 Comments to

“My Life in Bullet Points”

  1. Avatar November 20th, 2010 at 10:06 am Dad Says:

    Hi Em,
    For your Winter Break – how about visiting some towns in South Korea with your host sisters? Can we discuss this more on the webcam? Please let me know when and what time? Remember Mom and I will be gone to visit the Potosky family in Cleveland on Thanksgiving Day.

    My 2 cents thought – how about teaching teachers some sign language. Maybe it would help them understand how to communicate with you using gestures and body language.


  2. Avatar November 22nd, 2010 at 7:07 am Elisa Says:

    Hi Em!
    Boo for spam comments and being sick 🙁 You sound really busy but I hope you’re enjoying things (for the most part) as well. So for this suneung test, how soon do the students find out how they did? It sounds incredibly stressful & nerve-wracking for them, I can’t imagine. Dinner with the ambassador sounds neat, & I’m glad you’ll get a chance to see the other ETAs too.

    Also, happy (almost) Thanksgiving!! I’m really thankful to have you for a friend 🙂 Sorry I’ve been not so good about keeping in touch … I will try to do better! Hope you’re doing well!


  3. Avatar December 5th, 2010 at 10:04 am Leah Says:

    hahahahhhahahahahhaa you beat up your student 🙂

    so does this mean you can break wood with your foot??!?!?!

  4. Avatar December 6th, 2010 at 11:35 am epotosky Says:

    @Elisa – same to you too!
    @Leah – No. Not at all. Not nearly that advanced yet. I can do basic nunchucks though.

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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.