Em in Asia!

My Experiences Living and Teaching in South Korea

Back to School Chaos


It amazes me that no matter how old I am, no matter how long I’ve been doing this for, or what I’m there for, I’m always nervous on the first day of school. Kindergarten I didn’t want to go to, and same with fourth grade – my rebel year where I refused to do my book reports and was held in from recess for a week. In eighth grade I was nervous because it was my last year of middle school and everything would be different. That feeling reappeared in twelfth grade and my senior year of college. Interestingly enough, this year I seem to be a reincarnation of my 8th grade, 12th grade, and senior year selves. I may be a teacher, and I’m not graduating, but this is the beginning of the end of my time at a Korean high school. Hopefully this isn’t my last stint at a school, a few years from now it would be nice to have this same feeling again upon getting ready to graduate from graduate school, but let’s not count our chickens before they hatch.

So far the start has been chaotic, like it always is. I arrived at school early just in case there was a surprise teacher’s meeting (there was) and went to pick up the papers I had had copied for this week.  I received the papers (halfsheets made to look like postcards) and had a silent freak out, because they weren’t double-sided like I asked. Normally this wouldn’t faze me, but it’s the first day of school, and I was berating myself for not asking someone how to say “double-sided” and going to the copier alone. As soon as I calmed myself down and started cutting them I found out that they were in fact double-sided, and only the first page if the stack wasn’t. I originally only needed 288 copies, so that’s what I requested, forgetting to cut that order in half because I was making half sheets. I then decided last night to teach the same lesson to first and second grade, thereby doubling the amount of copies I needed, and making it so that the number I had had printed was the correct number after all.

I haven’t even taught yet.

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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.