Em in Asia!

My Experiences Living and Teaching in South Korea



Breathe in, breathe out, compose your face, and carry on.

Half of teaching is patience. Maintaining a placid exterior, and letting students know that you’re upset without blasting them. Not taking it personally when they’re not meeting your standards of behavior. It’s biting your tongue twelve times a day, choking back what you want to say and rising above it.

It’s remembering that though you’re feeling like crap, and you walked to school in the middle of a typhoon to be there teaching them, they’re probably feeling worse. That though slogging through the streets-turned-river that runs through your town is horrible, at least you get to go home. That when you are done for the day you get to take your public face off, dust it off, and hang it up for tomorrow. You can stretch your real face and exist as your inner self, which is something that some of these students who live eight to a room, elbow to elbow with people who are friends, classmates, competitors and strangers all rolled into one, never get to fully do.

When it comes down to it, teaching is really all about pausing to inhale,  exhale, and find a way to continue.

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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.