Friday, February 1, 2013

A Southerner in Korea

By Corinne Boyer

      In a small town 45 minutes south of Seoul, a few hundred Korean students learned to speak English with a slight southern twang.  And I was there.  From 2009 to 2010, I lived in Yong-in, South Korea and worked as an English teacher.  After graduating from the College of Charleston with a B.A. in Communication, I decided to see the world.  I moved to New York City after graduation.  I interned for record labels, waited tables, and worked as a nanny.  You name it, I did it.  
      One day, after one of my bosses called me an idiot, I spent the afternoon researching job opportunities abroad.  I discovered I could teach English abroad with a B.A. or a B.S. in any subject.  After finding a reputable recruiting agency, I decided that South Korea was going to be my new home.  I chose South Korea based on the paid vacation, housing stipend, and salary offered.  While my friends began getting married, I purchased a one way ticket to a continent I had never visited.

      Three flights and twenty something hours later, I was greeted by a stranger holding a sign reading, “Corinne Boyer.”  I hopped on a bus with no English speaking people, and two hours later, I was greeted by my co-teacher Myeong-Sun.  “Hello, Corie, would you like a hamburger from McDonald’s?” asked my new friend.  “No, thank you.  I’m a vegetarian,” I said.  Thus, was the beginning of offending Korean people for several months by not eating meat. 
      Myeong-Sun drove me to my apartment and had gone grocery shopping for me.  To enter my new abode, I had to take my shoes off at the door.  Koreans wear two sets of shoes--a pair for outside and a pair for inside.  I peaked into my refrigerator to see white bread with whole corn kernels baked into it, a bag of dried squid (similar to beef jerky), and banana milk.  I read about culture shock, but didn’t know I would immediately experience it.

      I walked across the street to my school and observed Myeong-Sun for one week.  She was full of energy, played games with the kids, and showed them dozens of YouTube videos.  The next week I hopped in and began classes with games, conversational English, and funny YouTube videos.  Having no teaching experience wasn’t a problem in a public school because they follow a curriculum.  I added activities to the lessons and even taught a few of my own classes.  For my classes, I wrote my own lesson plans and taught whatever I wanted.
      A few weeks after moving to South Korea, I had my first five day holiday, so I booked a flight to Taipei, Taiwan.   I spent two days in Taipei and three days in the tropical city of Hualien.  That summer, I traveled to Thailand for thirteen days.  I rode an elephant through the jungle, saw crocodiles in Bangkok, and visited Koh Phi Phi where the movie The Beach was filmed.  For Christmas, I spent 16 days in Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands. 
      I learned my way around the second largest metropolitan area in the world.  I learned how to read, write, and speak Korean.  I went on several field trips with the teachers at my school which usually ended with several courses of dinner and drinking too much.  Teaching in South Korea changed my life.  I even caved in and ate meat!  I can’t believe I waited ten months to experience Korean barbeque.  I became addicted to traveling, I made some of the best friends I’ve ever known, and I have since visited those friends in Cape Town, Boston, and Chicago. 
      I encourage you to pursue your four year degree.  Teaching English in a foreign country is just one of the many great opportunities available to college graduates.  If you want to travel, work with kids, and are seeking an unconventional job, teaching English abroad is the perfect job for you.

1 comment:

  1. What a terrific opportunity! Teaching English in a foreign country is something I would have done if I hadn't dropped out of college and started a family. Maybe one day!