I finally arrived 4 weeks ago. Tired, a bit travel weary but happy I was embarking on a new adventure. Only a handful of people knew I was coming. I wanted it that way. Although, most times people mean well, their negative energy can sometimes screw up your journey, so only my family and close close friends knew I was coming to S. Korea to teach English.
I was tired of Houston and although moving to S. Korea meant I had a snowballs chance in hell to meet someone, I had to move. My life was at a standstill and I was becoming a nutter. So in March, I started the paper trail to pave my way to this lovely country in the Pacific. Of course my friend Feather, was the catalyst behind it. She had been trying to get me here since last year. So finally, I decided why not give it go.
First I had to get an FBI Background check which took 8 weeks. Then I had to send said background check back to DC to have it notarized. Oh I forgot I had to get fingerprinted before even sending for my FBI Background check. Then I had to get my diploma and transcripts notarized by my state. While I waited I went to http://www.eslcafe.com to begin looking for contracts.
I already knew that I may run into some problems because Asians have colorist issues but I have never let that stop me before so I didn’t let it concern me. I applied to at least 25 ads on the site. One recruiting agency actually blocked my email address after receiving my photo so they weren’t black people friendly. I just kept it moving. I had over 10 interviews. I received a job but it was rescinded 4 days later. Back to square one. Four days after that I received two more interviews. One was at a public school in a small town called Jinju and the other was at the school I am teaching at in Daejeon–the 5th largest city in S. Korea and the Science and Technology center of this small country. My kids are fantastic, travel is cheap, I love my co-workers and I have found out a few things. 1) Samsung is Korean and 2) so is Hyundai and Kia–> ok I already knew this but these companies are EVERYWHERE!! Everyone drives a Hyundai or Kia and Samsung is the #1 selling computer company in the world, including Korea.
I find myself surrounded by people who look like me but with straight hair and light skin and there are many “stereotypical” likenesses to black Americans, for which I will discuss a bit later. The other thing that is very interesting is that Koreans are not particularly racist, they just don’t like anyone non-Korean. And other from the occasional stare on the street and my kids wanting to touch my hair, no one really notices me. However, the Asian explosion or being surrounded by Asians has sometimes been overwhelming that one day I started screaming “Godzilla!” to quickly realize that I was in the wrong country.
South Koreans also have this weird obsession with looking Caucasian. On the streets there are some really bad blonde dye jobs, they even dye their children’s hair and put perms on them–curly perms. S. Korea is the #1 plastic surgery center in the world–blepharoplasty is #1. If they are not getting their eyes done to create a more open eye, they wear these freaky contacts to make their eyes seem bigger.
Koreans are also #1 in education–children from the age of 5-16 go to school on average daily and some Saturdays for 10 hours a day and #1 in suicide.. I am sure the education expectations are quite stressful. There is hardly any petty crime and Korean men love to get pissy drunk.
I have been hit on by an old Korean man since I have arrived. Most of the WM foreign teachers date Korean women to the chagrin of the WW foreign teachers. Despite all of this, the place really is amazing. I do not feel as if I am in an East Asian country. My neighborhood looks like a city in Europe with Korean signage. Its just cool. My city is surrounded by beautiful mountains, 45 minutes from Seoul on KTX and 2 hours on the fast train –KTX– away from the beautiful beaches in Busan.
I am in love with Rain, the Korean actor, kimchi is delicious and I have been enjoying riding my brand new beach cruiser around town. In fact I have already lost 10lbs.
Here’s a few does and dont’s of S. Korea that I have learned so far: Please note that this is done with a snarky tone
And here are a few pics of my kids on a school field trip:
I would suggest if you have a Bachelor’s degree or higher and you are from the USA, UK, Ireland, S. Africa or Australia/New Zealand, I would definitely give teaching a go for a year just for the experience. So far it has been priceless for me.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me :-). I’ll have more pics to share next week since I am going to Seoul and possibly the beach.