When new teachers come to teach with Chungdahm Learning, the chief concern is almost always getting through the rigorous training process. I know I was personally very apprehensive and not sure what to expect. While this blog has already offered some tips to get through training, I’d like to share some of the more positive aspects of the process that often get overlooked in all of the hustle and bustle. Naturally, everyone in training should put their best effort into the material, but even though my training was 21 months ago, a few aspects of this week still benefit me to this day.
First of all, training is a great place for you to meet new people and make fast friends in Korea. One of my biggest concerns in coming here was being able to meet new people easily, but training week was very reminiscent of my orientation week in college. Everyone is a little apprehensive and sharing in a new experience, so studying the material together is a good way to form fast relationships. Personally, I’m still close to many of my training buddies from almost two years ago! As an added bonus, people from training will be dispersed around Korea, so if you’re lucky enough to make a friend in a good travel destination, you could be looking at free accommodations when you get around to some Korean sightseeing.
Another great aspect of training are the accommodations Chungdahm arranges for the week. I was pleasantly surprised when I came to Seoul for the first time to find that my hotel was smack-dab in the middle of Seoul’s financial district, Gangnam. I was glad I could take some time to familiarize myself with my surroundings because this turned out to be one of my favorite areas in the city to hang out later on. Also, everyone staying in the same hotel makes another excellent catalyst for making strong friendships in your first week.
This is Gangnam-gu, the location of Chungdahm's training accommodations. If you're anything like me, it will quickly become one of your favourite spots in Seoul.
Finally, even though you can hear or read about Korean culture from friends or this blog, experiencing it first hand is another thing entirely. During your training session, you may find that one of your colleagues is a Korean-American, eager to inform you of cultural norms and some basic tips on getting around. Failing that, you get to share the novelty of being in a new country with others who are going through the exact same situation. I’m sure you will find that, by and large, Koreans are extremely friendly people who try and accommodate someone who is clearly out of their element.
While the need to make a genuine effort on training week can’t be understated, these positive aspects will stick with you throughout all of your time in the country. For me and my training friends from the class of Spring, 2010, it was a great start to our time teaching English in Korea.
Josh Donner is the current head instructor at a Chungdahm Learning branch just outside of Seoul. Josh grew up in Toronto and after graduating from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, the 23 year old decided to put his History degree to use by starting a career teaching English in Korea. Josh likes to spend his time learning Korean and soaking up all the culture and adventure South Korea has to offer. In fact, Josh has found his time in Korea so fulfilling, he is eager to share his experiences! Follow Josh’s adventures in Aclipe’s Teachers’ Blogs.