A day in the life….
Welcome back, everyone! I hope that you are all having an amazing week and that my blogs are helping you get through your week a little easier. Today, I just want to shed some light on my life as an expat teaching English in Korea!
My day usually starts off around this time, if I haven’t been out the night before boozing it up with a couple of expat friends of mine. Anyways… I usually wake up around this time, grab a shower, eat a granola bar and catch up on Facebook, American television or watch a movie that I’ve downloaded from the interwebs.
This is usually when I try to either find something in my apartment to cook myself for lunch or decide to get dressed so I can go find food elsewhere. Let’s be honest, if I’m cooking in my apartment it’s usually going to be corn dogs in the toaster oven, frying SPAM to make a sandwich, or cooking beef and some chili beans to make myself my favorite burritos my mom makes for me when I’m home. I’m not the grandest of chefs, but I get by. If I go out for food it usually depends on my mood as to what I eat, or my feelings based on the night before. If I’ve drank one too many I will try to find something greasy and unhealthy to eat, like McDonalds. If I’m in a good mood I will run over to the Lotte Mart and partake in the One Way Buffet where I can get a mix of Western and Asian food!
I also try to fit in a bit of shopping into this time as well….
This is usually the time when I try to make it back to my apartment to prepare myself for the rest of the day. This will involve me dressing myself in proper work attire, adjusting my air conditioner for the day, packing my backpack and pretty much just dreading the work day. Music usually makes me feel better so I’ll crank up some K-Pop or Spice Girls on the iTunes and dance around my apartment for a bit before I actually officially “get ready.” Keep in mind that I try not to dance around too much because it’s rather humid here and I’ll be too sweaty for work if I do.
This is the time in which I usually fumble my way downstairs to find a cab to take to work. Here recently, I haven’t been walking much to work. It’s only about a 15-20 minute walk, but like I said before, it’s a bit to humid to walk, and if I walk I’ll need a change of clothes in my bag to put on when I get too work. That’s too much hassle for me! I’m a sweaty guy, so I have to pick and choose my battles with the heat and humidity.
This time is usually set aside for me to prep my daily lessons. Prepping usually involves me printing out daily/weekly vocabulary preview tests, printing out words for the next week’s preview test, printing out background information for next week’s lesson, and printing out listening scripts for my listening lesson. This may not seem like it would need much of a prep time, but it never fails that the two copy machines we have in the office ALWAYS break down at the same time. This means I usually have to print each item 50 times before I can get 1 complete set of copies to hand out to my students. It’s probably the most frustrating part of my day…. besides deciding what I want to eat for lunch!
In addition to killing 35 trees with meaningless copies, I also go through each lesson I’m teaching that day and look over it, read through the questions on the quiz, make sure the answers match up, and jot down any questions I might want to ask the students to get them a bit more engaged. Usually the books we use in class have mostly been prepped for us, usually by the person that taught that class the term before. However, sometimes I find it difficult to decipher their chicken scratch in the book, so I find it necessary to put my own in the books so it looks like I’ve actually contributed to the class, not just copied what was given to me. I’m always finding ways to cover my behind!
This is the time in which I have my first class of the day. “Three hours of English instruction with a native English speaker!” That’s our selling point anyways… I only wish it were that simple. At times I feel like I’m more of a babysitter or a ringmaster at a circus than I am a teacher.
“Don’t speak Korean!”
“Put the mirror and make-up away!”
“Stop speaking Korean!”
“Are you paying attention?”
“Did you write down the answers in your book?”
“Don’t thrown things across the room”
“Why are you still speaking in Korean?”
“Don’t lean back in your chair!”
“STOP SPEAKING KOREAN!”
Those are just a few of the most common phrases I use every single day. At times it’s completely exhausting. However, it’s not all baby wrangling and lion taming. Every once in a while I will get lucky and have a class that is an absolute blast. I’m able to work, play and teach all at the same time. The best part is I barely notice that any of it is happening. That’s the stuff that my fantasies are made of!!!
This is when the second class of my day starts. Three more hours of English instruction! This at times usually involves less wrangling, mostly because most of these students are middle school students. However, it does involve a lot more “Please stop speaking Korean” moments! I guess it balances itself out in away. Three hours of not having to pull students down off the rafters is better than six hours of having to do it, right? All in all, the older kids are a lot quieter than my younger students, they have a lot less energy and tend to be a lot more sleepy! Therefore, I have to work harder to teach them because if I’m boring, which is inevitable, for even a second, they will fall asleep!! I find myself a bit more engaging with these students than other. Hopefully it pays off.
This is usually the time when us “Chungdahmers” go out for the first time since 2:00 so we are one the prowl for some food and fun. Usually we’ll all grab dinner together and then possibly head over to a foreigner bar for a drink or two It’s a pretty laid back night after work most days. Finally we all trickle home, into our beds, and into our dream lands, just to wake up and do it all over the next day!!