Your hagwon bought the plane ticket and now you are sweating with anticipation. While each experience is different, there is some universal sage advice that every new teacher can use their first week in Korea.
1. You will hit the ground running
Like, there is a 50/50 chance you will start working when you land. If not, you will work the next morning.
2. Your apartment will need some deep-cleaning
Tenants do not face fees for leaving a mess when they move out. Therefore, unless the previous tenant was a saint your apartment will probably be gross. I found rotten vegetables in my fridge and dusty tissues scattered around my apartment. Consider it your initiation!
3. Dress to Impress
Appearance is everything in Korea. Although most Koreans know Westerners are generally under-dressed, you will be taken much more seriously by your new students and colleagues if you put in the extra effort. I even went the extra mile and changed my clothes in the bathroom when I landed in Incheon. My boss took us out to dinner as soon as we got out of the taxi so it was a smart move.
4.Get ready to Perform
Your first week you will probably be asked to teach a class in front of your superiors and coworkers. If you are loud, extroverted, and smile a lot you will be fine.
5. The children will probably be scared of you (the parents might be too)
This may be the first time they have seen a foreigner. Don’t be surprised if the sight of your foreign face makes them start crying.
6.Do not touch the opposite sex
Yes, even handshakes, Confucius will be angry.
7. If needed, re-negotiate your contract
If anything is not up to expectation, address it, immediately. The accommodation for me and my girlfriend was literally a hallway. We were persistent and got upgraded to a shoe box.
8. You will probably hold a cup of your pee next to one of your co-workers
Not the fancy fastened pee-cups you find in America. I’m talking a Dixie-cup. And whichever co-worker took you to the hospital for your medical exam will be just as horrified as you are.
9.Ask about your ARC semi-constantly until you get it.
Your life will be in limbo until you can get wi-fi, a cell phone, health insurance, and a bank account.
10.Remember to Take a Deep Breath
Transitioning to life in another country is never easy, especially when it is South Korea’s hurry-hurry culture. Know that you will eventually learn the ropes and be schoolin’ the rookies in no time!