Nope, not the Backstreet Boys, although they did try to have a few comebacks in recent years didn't they?
It's me, yet again giving Korea another go. I landed just over a week ago and am already so busy throwing myself into new projects it feels, once again, like I never left. My first day was hard, I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to pack up and go home the minute I walked through the arrivals door, but I'll blame that all on extreme exhaustion. I arrived in Korea on an overnight flight from Budapest where I didn't sleep a wink, after 3 other restless nights and one sleepless overnight bus. I had hoped to go straight to bed (after my 4 hours bus to Daegu), but no Korea had other plans for me. I met my recruiter, dropped my bag at the airBnB I'd booked and jumped in a taxi to Mama's English School. I had an interview with the school and was fully expecting to start on the 1st of October, but my recruiter had options for me, this school being only one of them. Since my arrival I will say my feelings have done a 180 degree turn and I'm so happy to be back. In one week I've made new friends, settled into a new town, explored outlets for teaching yoga and private English lessons and am currently trying to help a friend start his own business. Damn, I'm exhausted just thinking about it, but the busyness does keep my mind off other less exciting things *cough* broke up with my boyfriend *cough* but that's all I'm going to post about on that note...
For the last two years people have been telling me what a great teacher I am, "one of the best foreign teachers I've ever worked with", but I often wondered how sincere these words were. Now, as my time in Korea is coming to an all-too-soon end I'm realizing that most of those statements were, in fact, heartfelt and I am a good teacher.
I've always seen my connection and interactions with students from one side of the glass, but over the last few days, I've been able to get a glimpse of the other side. I'm somewhat shocked by the number of students who have reached out to express their feelings towards my departure. I came across this article last week, which discusses the real impact teachers have on students and it really hit home with me. For those of you that don't want to click and read, here is a great excerpt from the article:
Your kindness. Your empathy. Your care and concern. They’ll remember that you took the time to listen. That you stopped to ask them how they were. How they really were. They’ll remember the personal stories you tell about your life: your home, your pets, your kids. They’ll remember your laugh. They’ll remember that you sat and talked with them while they ate their lunch.
Teaching English in another country is a unique and ever-changing experience, I remember being told from day 1 that there is no real way to prepare new teachers. For every incoming teacher, their city, school, co-workers and of course students are going to vary drastically. I strongly believe that it's a teachers attitude that is will determine how their career abroad unfolds. Coming in with a positive outlook, ready to take on any challenges or obstacles will help prepare them for success. There may be difficult moments full of challenging students, frustrating situations, and surprise schedule changes, ultimately making you want to throw in the towel, but the rewards are soon to follow. After spending close to two years in the classroom I'm happy to say that I've had a positive experience and wouldn't trade it for the world.
In the months before coming to Korea I'd have to say I was a lot more focused on how I would adjust to a new apartment, culture and language - the minor detail of becoming a teacher seems to have slipped my mind. The EPIK staff and lectures gave us some great material and resources to use for the classroom, however learning how to be a teacher is usually done over more than a weeks time span