Teachers Share their Experiences While Living Abroad!

Perspective: Interview with Breana and Joe

Posted on Thu, May 31, 2018 @ 12:00 PM

Having talked exclusively about my own experiences, I wanted to introduce you to two of my favorite coworkers. I asked them exclusively about what they enjoy in Korea and what can be a bit more difficult for people coming to Korea for the first time. Both teachers are veterans in their own rights.

Breana

Breana is originally from Canada and has been teaching at Chungdahm now for a little over two years. Before coming to Korea she had been living in the Czech Republic as a teacher. She originally came to Korea to earn enough money to pay off her student loans and is quite frugal with her spending. Her biggest difficulty with saving though is that she is very giving. Breana tends to make a lot of baked goods for the teachers and other staff at work. My favorite snack that she makes is banana bread.

So, what would you say is the best part of living in Korea for you?

“I really like the food, and there’s so much cheap and good quality skin care. I have also made some lifelong friends here, both Korean and foreign.”

Breana is a leader in a foreigners group on Facebook; all the foreigners are from the Anyang area. They meet up to get dinner, go hiking, and do different events together. They meet up quite often, and everyone always makes different events for the Facebook page.

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What would you say is the most difficult part of living in Korea?

“I think it was really difficult to not spend a lot of money. Korea isn’t especially expensive, but it’s easy to spend your extra money quickly. However, if you aren’t spending money, it’s also difficult to meet people. It’s not very common for friends to meet at each other’s homes; it’s more common to meet out and about at cafes or restaurants.”

I know that you like to cook a lot. What do you really enjoy to make? And do you find any difficulties while doing it in Korea?

“I find that cooking more Korean style foods is really fun, and it’s a nice skill you can take home with you. However, it can be difficult to cook and bake western foods because it quickly becomes expensive. For example, butter is a common ingredient in western cooking, and it’s easily double the price for a small amount. Also, some things can be difficult to find. Even if you’re making basic foods like pancakes, it can be difficult to find syrup depending on where you live. However, it’s gotten a lot better over the short time I have been here. Things I used to hunt for are now common items in the bigger marts. I think if nothing else, it forces you to be creative and work with different substitutes.

What other hobbies have you learned to enjoy in Korea?

"I really like biking. I always enjoyed it, but the city I used to live in wasn’t so easy to get around. Korea seems like it has a bike path everywhere.  I also really like the many outdoor activities. If you don’t have roller blades, you can easily rent them, or hop on a rented bike for a nice ride along the Han River!"

Joe

Joe is originally from the United States. But has been working for Chungdahm for around nine years now. If you ever have any of the book reading classes or teach any April classes, he is often the voice of the narrator. He did the voicing a few years ago while working as a curriculum development manager at headquarters. They asked him because he had such a smooth voice.

Joe majored in music and is very gifted at the bass guitar among many other instruments. One thing that I really appreciate about Joe is his passion for education; he has a lot of creative styles that are unique to him. For example, his classroom uses a different seating style and is decked out with numerous plants in the back window to give the students a more relaxed feeling.

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So, what would you say is the best part of living in Korea for you?

“The best part of living in Korea is that it is a continual learning experience: having the opportunity to experience different cultural perspectives towards life, to see ways
people interact and communicate with each other, to use a different language on a daily basis, and to enjoy non-Western foods are all great learning experiences that help make living and working here rewarding.”

What would you say is the most difficult part of living in Korea?

“The most difficult aspect of being in Korea is the isolation a foreigner can feel. I live in a
neighborhood that is not close to where my co-workers live, so I don’t hang out with them
much outside of work. Also, breaking into Korean society is incredibly difficult; there always is a sense that I am an outsider, which occasionally can create a strong sense of loneliness. My suggestion to overcome these feelings is to try to go to a lot of events. Meet as many people as you can and try to make those connections where you can. Go do things and ask other people to do things. For example, a lot of people participate in language exchanges, and that is a great way to meet people.”

I know that you are a musician. Is there anything you’ve been able to do in Korea? Like playing live or recording anything?

It has been great as a musician here. I play bass guitar, and have had many opportunities to
play gigs and perform. Inexpensive rehearsal spaces are all over the place, and it isn’t that
difficult for a band to find places to gig. You don’t make money beyond cab fare, but that
doesn’t matter to me.”

What other hobbies have you learned to enjoy in Korea?

“I have enjoyed studying Korean, although my studies have been intermittent. I also enjoy
making kimchi!”

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Neil Frazer. the author, has been teaching with Chungdahm for a little over three years. He comes from a small town in Wisconsin, named Spooner and graduated from Olivet Nazarene University with a Bachelor's of Social Work. After traveling to Korea in college he quickly fell in love the culture, food, and quality of life that Korea has to offer and immediately knew he wanted to come back. He looks forward to sharing his experiences of living in Korea and working at the Pyeongchon branch, near Seoul.

 

Tags: teaching at CDL, save money teaching English, learn korean, korean community, exercise, work balance

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