Em in Asia!

My Experiences Living and Teaching in South Korea


I’m in a gray sort of mood… it’s probably partly influenced by the terrible weather. It’s gray and bleak, and the clouds are so low you can’t see the mountains. The wind is so sharp and strong that doors constantly slam open and closed and it pushes students screaming down the hallways. It’d be funny if it wasn’t happening to me as well.

It’s also probably influenced by the fact that due to school trips I only have one class today, and it’s after lunch. My students are the highlight of my day, and the reason why I’m sitting at this desk right now, and when I’m at school and don’t teach I feel uprooted and awkward.

It’s also that time of year where I have to decide if I want to stay another year or leave. This would be the final time I could extend, because you can only have a Fulbright ETA grant for three years. I’ve pretty much decided that I’m going to stay (I love my school), but I talked to an old college friend today and it set me to thinking.

I’m scared of failing. I didn’t have any major issues in high school (academically, at least) and though I love my college, for me it wasn’t a reach school. In fact, I only applied to three colleges. The F*bright was the first thing I had really applied to that I wasn’t sure I’d get, and it stretched me so much. Being surrounded by all these talented people who have seemingly done so much more with the same resources was and still is daunting. It makes me want to be a better person. I’m finally getting comfortable here… I love my school and I don’t just fit, but I bring something to the table. At some point I’ll have to leave Korea, and face a whole new set of challenges. What if I can’t live up to them? What if I don’t get into any graduate schools, or I’m not able to find a job that utilizes my talents?

I don’t think this is my reason for staying, but this fear of failure is something I’ll have to face eventually.

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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.