–By Bria Kassner
I REALLY DID IT!
Around this time last year no one could have told me that I would be living in Korea on a one-year contract. Nobody could have told me that I’d be (trying my best to) participate in Korean-language conversations, eating Korean food with native Korean teachers, and teaching hundreds of Korean students for five days a week. If you told me last year that I would be leaving my entire life in the United States to pursue my dreams and to follow my heart in South Korea, I definitely wouldn’t have believed you.
I had just gotten engaged in June of 2015, and by July, my fiancé had chosen to be stationed somewhere new and exciting: South Korea! Aside from the happiness of our engagement, I was devastated that he would be so far away. What did that mean for me, for us? I hadn’t graduated college yet and the thought of not having another grade or class to aspire to was stressful, on top of that I was thinking of what being married would look like, and how this across-the-world romance was going to work. All of those thoughts came crashing down and one day I got really still and asked God to lead my next move. Soon enough I made the decision to be a teacher. And fast forward, 11 months later, I am a certified English teacher in South Korea, a Bachelor’s degree holder, and I am reunited with the love of my life — Life is good.
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On a daily basis my life consists of eager students and caring staff who ban together to make the learning experience one of happiness and joy. When I first got to Korea, I was a “newbie”and to an extent, I still am, but my experiences have made me a little more lived-in and comfortable.
As a first time teacher, I was both excited and extremely terrified of my students. I had never been a teacher before and thus never had to create lesson plans and anticipate so many things not going according to plan. This was a completely new role for me. And the same people that I had studied my TEFL course (Teaching English as a Foreign Language course) for, for a solid 6 months while finishing up my last semester of college, were the same people that made me want to hide behind a curtain. This must be what it feels like for new parents: The thought of someone depending on you for guidance, understanding, love and patience can be both invigorating and petrifying. I have almost 300 little “someone’s” needing those things from me Monday-Friday for 8 hours a day, and though I love it now, I was scared out of my mind back in April.
Since then, a lot has changed. Lesson planning is now my life, and I don’t go a day without thinking of ways to connect with my kids more, because I genuinely love them! I have two schools that I teach at: my main school that hired me and handles all of my needs, and my “travel school,” which I work at 1 1/2 days per week. My kids range from 3rd graders – 6th graders, and I teach 22 classes per week for 40 minutes each. The life of a teacher is constant work, but I truly love it and embrace it! To keep myself full of life after long days of teaching, I make a constant effort to get myself involved in activities! I love to bike ride, play badminton with the teachers at my main school, attend a Crossfit class a few days a week (I am the only foreigner and get laughed at pretty often but in good spirits), and spend time with my fiancé, other teachers and friends! I attended my first Korean wedding last week! Each day is a new adventure that I welcome with open arms and it almost feels like I’m a baby again, re-learning everything and adjusting to this new culture. Life is meant to be lived — go out and live it!
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