Hi! My name is Morghan, and I’m a brand-new teacher with Chungdahm Institute. I’m from the east side of Washington (state) and I went to school at Western Washington University, which I’ve only recently graduated from. Upon graduating I decided I wanted to teach in Korea for a simple set of reasons: I wanted to explore, I’d never been to Asia before, and I wanted to take a risk and do something completely new. Korea seemed like the perfect country to gain quality teaching experience, all while being able to travel. Plus, school was expensive, and I can save a lot of money here.
My first month in Korea has not been what I expected. Honestly, I thought my first weeks I'd find myself being very lonely and uncomfortable. I worried about what the language barrier would like? Who would I make friends with? Would I meet anyone or would I be relying on my family and friends from home a lot? Just in case, I told myself the first month at least would be hard. Just give it a month – anyone can take anything for a month right?
Well, I can honestly say to my pleasant surprise that it’s actually not been super hard. There’s so many things about living in Korea that have made adjusting really easy. Plus, I met people right away, since I did training with one of the other new teachers at my school and then promptly met a third new teacher once I got to my city, Busan. Almost right away, I had a few friends.
After training week was completed I was quickly brought to my apartment that Friday. What a whirlwind. That morning we had our final mock teaching sessions, then we were ushered into a van, brought to the train station and sped towards our new cities. Within a few minutes of stepping off the train, our contact person appeared and swept us into a cab to take us to our accommodation. To my surprise, the apartment was unfurnished but new – I am the first person to live here. It’s a nice place, though small. It is in the typical tiny-room Korean style and immediately reminded me of one of my dorm rooms in college. By far, the best part is the giant windows that let in sunlight in the morning. My least favorite part is that the kitchen is a lot smaller than I’m used to. For one person, though, this place is perfectly sized. Plus, it’s new and I even have a bit of a view.
That night, I found myself in a huge city as night was falling, full bags on the floor of my empty apartment and suddenly very alone in the best way. That sounds kind of silly, but it’s true. There was such a sense of anticipation that first night, nothing like I expected. It felt good to be somewhere new where living is a little more challenging than anywhere I’ve ever lived before. And then I went and got Korean Barbecue by accident and it was awesome.
That was Friday – I had the whole weekend free to do whatever. I chose to spend that time gathering necessities for my place and doing as much walking as possible. I walked, I looked at everything, a bird pooped on me, I bought stuff for my place, I found a church that I liked, and started to settle in. Oh, and I ate. And the eating has continued. Korea is food heaven.
Monday found me nervously in the classroom, having met my coworkers and waiting to do the same with my first two groups of students. Lucky for me, I also met the other new teacher then too, who even lived down the hall from me. I honestly don’t remember that first day very well. What I do remember is that with the end of each day I felt more comfortable and really began to feel like I knew what I was doing. The kids are all so different, the atmosphere of each of my classes completely unique. It’s something I’m still getting used to.
As for my new city Busan, it is simply an awesome city. I can go almost anywhere on the subway. There’s tons of stuff I can just walk to (the beach! I can walk to the beach! What!). There’s an incredible amount of shopping. And there is always something to do. I haven’t had a boring weekend yet and I doubt I will for a while. Plus, with my class schedule (3 pm-10 pm), I have a ton of free time in the morning and recently I joined a daily yoga class. I also enjoy taking my bicycle around the city and trying new things such as making kimchi, which I have now made a few times. Although I’ve had a few bad days where I really missed home or just felt frustrated by the people around me, I can honestly say the good has far outweighed the bad and I’m loving my experience so far.