My First Few Weeks in Seoul as an English Teacher

by Sharon -- March 21, 2011

My year in Korea as an English teacher started off wonderfully. I flew Singapore Airlines on a direct flight from SFO to ICN (Incheon International Airport). Although I was alone, I weaseled my way into my own row where I could blissfully stretch out my legs and lie down whenever I wanted. They served free wine the entire trip, and although I didn’t drink any for fear of making me sleep , I thoroughly appreciated the opportunity to drink unlimited booze for 13 hours. They served decent food and their movie and television show selection was amazing. I watched the following movies: It’s Kind of a Funny Story (starring Zach Galifianakis, which I highly recommend), Due Date (also starring Mr. Galifianakis and a Robert Downey Jr), Let Me In (a remake of a great Swedish movie that wasn’t as good as the first), and another movie that I completely forgot. Sorry.

I arrived at ICN and had unknowingly taken a trip back into time to my college days. Buses shuttled many twenty-something English teachers to NIIED (National Institute of International Education) in Seoul. We were assigned dorm rooms, found the dining hall, and 15 of us proceeded to venture out and find a restaurant that served excellent food and cold booze. This was the beginning of a great 10 days of Orientation.

I am a teacher through the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education (SMOE) which finds and places native English speakers into all of the public schools in Seoul. Before every school year begins in Seoul, they hold a 10 day Orientation for new English teachers with the purpose of shoving as much teaching skills and Korean culture as humanly possible into our brains. Although it was a long and tiring week and a half, it was also surprisingly fun.

I met people from all over the world who were here for the same reason; to teach English in South Korea and immerse ourselves in the Korean culture. Every day we had classes that consisted of lectures, classroom activities, lesson planning, lectures, cultural experiences, shows, and more lectures. We were taught everything from Korean culture to classroom management to how to get a cellphone. And, by the end of the orientation, every teacher had presented their own original lesson plan to their class that they had worked on all week.

Between running from lunch to our next class, we barely had a few minutes every day to check our email. It was quite busy and hectic, but it was worth it to gain the information that we did and to meet the people who would be in the same city doing the same thing you would be doing all year. I made a good amount of friends and a smaller circle of close friends that will be our buddies for the year.

I have now been teaching at an elementary school for 2 and a half weeks and I can say that I am decently happy with my situation. I have definitely run into some obstacles so far, but I will save those for a later post!

Random Thought of the Day: Korean kids, girls and boys alike, blush and giggle like crazy whenever I tell them that my husband’s name is… Jason.

Be awesome and help us share:

8 Responses to “My First Few Weeks in Seoul as an English Teacher”

  1. why do they giggle at the name Jason? is it too american or something? Good post! :D Hope things stay going well!!! hi to Jason as well!

  2. Do you know of SMOE does mid-year starts? I’m looking at coming over in August or September.

  3. And it’s good to have you back. I don’t think Jason translates to anything in Korean (but ask a co-teacher to be sure)…

    @Britt: SMOE might do a few hires to replace teachers that leave, but hagwons hire year-round. After three years at one hagwon or another, I don’t have too many complaints :)

  4. Chris, do you know of reputable hagwons in Seoul?

  5. @Holly — My parents asked the same question and I’ve wondered why that as well! Sharon thought it was just because my name sounds “very white”.

    @Britt — You should look around Hoegi station, I’ve heard that’s an awesome area to live in Seoul! :-)

  6. Jason, is that where you two are staying? Way out there to the east?! It’s like a whole 3 miles from Hyehwa! ;)

  7. Haha..yeah. It’s a little out there, but it’s not bad. Plus the area is actually a lot of fun. We live right next to a University.

  8. Hi! I think the name Jason results in gigles because of the just ended Korean tv drama Dream High where there is a character of that name who is well loved by many for his talent and taste in girls. Just wanted to tell you that.

    I hope that the rest of your time teaching there will continue to be great!

    Ellie, Penang Malaysia.

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