Posted: Monday, August 9, 2021 - 1 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]
Category: Teach English

 When you decide to teach English in Korea, its important to know about their culture, peoples, regular lives, etc. In this blog, I am going to mention five things you should consider about living in south Korea before going to teach English in South Korea.

1. Many Koreans will ask ANYTHING. Questions your great-aunt Betty wouldn’t even ask. I have noticed that, as a younger woman – and clearly a foreigner – in South Korea, I am especially subject to many questions about my marital status. When I first arrived I spent the first week or two getting to know my classes. Almost without fail, the first question in each class the boys would ask: “Teacher, are you married?” When I answered no, it was very quickly followed up with “Teacher, do you have a boyfriend?” In addition to these, here are just a few examples of other questions I have been asked:

These questions are usually simply a way for Koreans to find out how to relate to you. If you are single and they are married, they want to find another connection. It is not meant in rudeness, simply curiosity.

2. Some stereotypes you have seen in movies and music might be incredibly accurate… And many are so far from the truth, it’s almost humorous. Here are Stereotype faqs about South Korea:

Stereotype: Asians are short. Truth: I can’t speak for all Asian countries; I have heard Koreans are among the tallest of Asians.

Stereotype: Asians eat a ton of seafood / tentacles / intestines. Truth: In my experience, yes! It is almost impossible to walk down any street without seeing at least one restaurant – or market – with live octopus or any number of sea creatures waiting to be eaten. I grew up in New England and was still shocked by the amount of seafood here.

Stereotype: Asians are all brilliant, especially at math. Truth: Asian students – and people – are just as diverse as any other school/country I have been in. Many Korean students seem far more dedicated to their studies than some of my students back home, but again, each student/person is different.

3. Koreans seem to love American/English brand items, movies, singers/bands, sports…. You name it. I have seen various sports caps and jerseys – the most common usually being either LA or NY. Some also have international soccer teams - Brazil seems to be a popular jersey - and a few of English soccer teams (Man United or Liverpool usually). My middle school boys are obsessed with anything to do with Avengers, and their favorite singers are often Maroon 5, Jason Mraz or Lady Gaga.

4. Despite their obsession with American/English speaking culture. They often have NO IDEA what it means or represents. One of my elementary girls had a Boston Red Sox hat on. When I pointed out the logo on the hat and said ‘Red Sox’ she gave me a blank look. The teacher translated, asking if she was a Red Sox fan, and the girl had never even heard of them. A friend had a student with a baseball cap that said in large letters “COCAINE”. He had no idea what it meant.

This is not unusual at all for both children and adults. If they like the look of a shirt or hat or pair of shoes, or whatever it is, they will wear it even if they don’t understand what it is or means.

Overall, Korea has been a crazy rollercoaster of adventures and learning experiences. Some things you just can’t prepare yourself for and have to see and experience for yourself. My hope, however, is that these observations might at least make you aware of some of the things you’ll be getting yourself into if you ever decide to move to South Korea!

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