Em in Asia!

My Experiences Living and Teaching in South Korea

Sometimes I think sittin on trains…


I’m currently on a train slowly meandering through the Korean countryside. Korea has three different train types of various speeds and prices and I’m on the slowest and cheapest.

As I’m coming from Jeollanamdo, it takes forever to get anywhere no matter which train I take, so as long as I’m not in too big of a hurry I might as well take the slow train. I rather like this train as unlike the KTX (Korea’s high speed rail system) it stops at almost all of the stops and so you get to see these tiny platforms next to shacks so small that it’d be misleading to call them train stations and you can try to imagine what it would be like to live there, surrounded by crops bisected by a single train line, just waiting for something to happen. Sometimes even the slow train doesn’t stop at certain stops, making me wonder if it’s a real stop or the remnants of a ghost town.

It’s 추석 (Chuseok) and I’m sitting on the train to Seoul. Gwangju, the stop where I got on, is the first stop, and Yongsan station in Seoul is the final station, so I am riding this train as far as I possibly could. It’s always interesting seeing who’s on the train. Chuseok is one of two major family holidays, so we have soldiers and students, couples and the elderly, and the occasional foreigner. So far I’ve already had three seat partners, and I still have two hours left. The girl next to me just offered me candy, and I’m now going to sit back and enjoy the rest of this train ride.

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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.