Hello world indeed. This is the first and, terrible accident aside, definitely not my last post. Welcome fair reader to James Vs World, the personal travel blog of a teacher-traveller that is me, James Johnson. I am (very almost, in like 9 days) 22 years old and I am currently nearing the end stages of the application and visa process that will eventually see me flying off to South Korea for a year to teach English as a foreign language, TEFL, as it is more commonly known.
Actually that last bit isn’t entirely true, as I unreliably narrate this post I am in fact only almost nearing the end stages of my aforementioned travel plans, and by that I mean that I am at least 70% sure that yesterday, a little past 7am after a 17 minute and 10 second conversation, I was offered a job teaching English in a school South Korea. This may sound like an odd statistic after having conversed with not only the director of the school but also a native English speaking teacher currently teaching there but, as the phone line was bad and it was 7am, as I mentioned, I can honestly say that I’m not 100% sure. What I am sure of is the fact that the very friendly Korean director is a fan of American action movies and hill walking, the latter being an interest we both share.
What I do know about the Job and South Korea is that I will be living and working in Incheon, the third largest city in South Korea, located just outside Seoul (officially Seoul Special City), the largest city and also the capital. I will be teaching kids aged 4 to 14 and most interestingly, as they don’t sell it there, I will have to take a year’s supply of deodorant. Amazing what you can find out on the internet isn’t it. Apart from that, and the boring details like how much I’ll be paid and what my accommodation is going to be like (2.1 Million Won (about £1200 before tax) and shared, probably small, but in line with the normal size of apartments in Korea which I’ve heard are pretty small anyway).
Another thing, a fairly major thing actually, is that I will be teaching in a private (not state, non-compulsory) school which in Korea are called Hakwons. I call this a fairly major thing as taking this job will represent the first significant risk of my travelling-teaching career. Hakwons have a bad rap, not all of them mind, but most of the teaching related horror stories that pop up on the forums about teaching are generally about Hakwons. As these are for-profit and often small, usually with only one native English speaking teacher, it seems that many would rather find a reason to fire you after 11 months then keep you to the end of your contract. The reason they do this is two-fold (there maybe more reasons but there are two big ones) and these are 1) They save themselves one month’s extra pay which all schools have to pay any teacher that lasts to the end of their contract and 2) They don’t have to pay for your return air fare back home, often leaving the teacher stranded and severely out of pocket. Not a great situation to be in I’m sure you’ll agree.
So as you can imagine I was wary as I was asking questions about the job, but there are a few things that make me feel better about the situation, and hopefully this is not just me being naive. The first thing that makes me inclined to trust the school is that before talking to me the director put me onto an English speaking teacher currently teaching at the school, we talked a bit about the school and he gave me his email address to ask any more questions I might have (emailed him today with a whole bunch). Secondly there are 4 native English speakers at the school, and I’m sure the school would have a pretty hard time explaining why it had to suddenly fire four members of staff 11 months into their 12 month contracts. So those are my reasons, fingers crossed you won’t be reading this blog over the next few weeks and months to find me cursing the school, the staff and my own stupidity. I hope not anyway as I’m really quite looking forward to getting out there, meeting some really cool kids and getting my travelling-teaching career off to a jolly good start. I guess only time will tell.
Now though I think is a good time to end this first of many posts. I only hope that over the next few weeks, months and maybe even years (hopefully years) I can give a little advice, a little insight and maybe even a little entertainment to anyone who’ll listen.
Fair reader good night, and stay tuned.
James Vs World – Draw