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Preparing to Teach English in Korea

A recent grad’s growing passion for travel is about to lead her to the other side of the world to begin a new adventure.

I’m about to do something I never imagined myself doing.

In a couple of weeks, I’ll be moving across the world, to a place I’ve never been, to a culture I know nothing about, to a country whose language I don’t speak. Oh yeah, and to do a job I have no experience in, no educational background in and really no clue how to do effectively!

Soon, I’ll be living on my own in Busan, South Korea, teaching English to children of all different ages for the next year of my life.

Did I mention that I don’t know a soul in Korea? Not even in Seoul?

“That’s crazy!”

This is probably the most common response I get when I tell people about my latest adventure (followed by the inevitable question of “Why!?”) Sometimes I can’t tell whether they actually think I’m crazy for doing this, or if it’s just the first word that comes to mind as they try to express their excitement (or disbelief?) for me.

Then, once the initial shock has subsided, a flood of questions usually follow. Why Korea? It’s so far away! Aren’t you nervous? How are you going to communicate? Do you speak any Korean? Do you know anyone there? Do you even want to be a teacher?

All of these questions are, of course, understandable. The truth is, “No.” No, I don’t know anyone there. No, I don’t speak any Korean. In fact, I can only remember how to say one word, and have absolutely no idea how to write it! And no, surprisingly enough, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to be a teacher.

Given these realities, I have to admit, this probably is the craziest thing I’ve ever done. (Luckily, I’m still young!) It doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense looking at it from this perspective. But the good news is, if I didn’t think it was worthwhile, I wouldn’t be doing it!

So, why did I make this decision after all?

After thinking about it for awhile and trying to come up with a reasonable, even responsible answer, I realized something. I don’t really have one. I never really did. And why should I? To be honest, the best response I can come up with is why not?

And yes, I realize this may be naïve, and probably sounds nothing short of ridiculous. Maybe I really am crazy. But if being crazy gives me the opportunity to challenge myself daily, to step outside my comfort zone, and to learn about the world by experiencing different parts of it first-hand, then I have to admit that I’m quite happy being crazy.

Besides, what do I have to lose? I’m still young. I have no major commitments or responsibilities holding me back. But I do have a lot to learn - about the world, and about myself.

And yes, of course deep down there is some part of me that’s nervous. Even terrified at times, when I think about all the challenges that lie ahead. After all, moving to the other side of the world for a year is a pretty big next step.

All I know is that I have everything to gain by taking this leap. So, why not do it?

And don’t worry; I am planning to learn some Korean - at least to the best of my ability! After all, I still have a couple of weeks to get it mastered! That should be more than enough time, right?

Stay tuned to find out how I’m coping with the biggest adjustment (and biggest challenge!) of my life so far!

Korea, here I come!!!

Wish me luck!

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Published in Work Abroad Blogs
Allison Burney

A small-town Ontario native, Allison Burney studied journalism and human rights at Carleton University in Ottawa. Volunteering in Guyana sparked her desire to keep travelling and learning about different cultures. Interested in teaching ESL? Perfect! Allison lets us in on her experiences teaching in Korea.

Website: allisonburney.wordpress.com/

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