Em in Asia!

My Experiences Living and Teaching in South Korea

Running on Fumes


One of my favorite thoughtful third grade girls has taken to visiting me during the daily cleaning period. Cleaning period goes from 3:20 to 3:40, but normally she’s done at 3:30 (apparently toilet-cleaning duty, as squicky as it sounds is a good job to get because you finish early) so she comes to the office and we chat while other teachers around listen in and congratulate her scholastic attitude. Little do they know that we mostly just chat. I’ve taken to teaching her random idioms, and she’s taken to teaching me in idioms in return.

English – to bomb a test.
Korean – 비가 내렸다 [biga neryeotda: rain falls]. In Korean when you get a question wrong on a test it’s marked with a downwards tic-mark. When you get a lot of questions wrong, it looks like it is raining on your paper. This idiom does not have the same meaning as to bomb a test, so this is not a comparison of the two idioms but rather what we taught each other earlier in the week.

Today she came in out of breath and looked exhausted. I handed her two coffee stick, and taught her the expression “running on fumes.”

“I think that can apply to both of us.” I said, she agreed, and we both wished the other luck on this gloomy, wet Tuesday.

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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.