Meet Chungdahm Learning Instructor and Songpa Branch's latest addition, Dianna Coleman. Dianna is a great addition to the Songpa team, coming all the way from Southern California. She stumbled across CDL while researching the web for countries to teach English in and somehow found herself falling in love with the idea of Korea and starting her journey as an ESL teacher at Chundahm Learning.
Like Dianna, I was once too a new instructor. What helped me transition into teaching in Korea for ChungDahm more smoothley was learning from other teachers experiences, by talking to them and reading as many blog posts as possible. The biggest take away is stay open minded and be willing to grow. In this blog you will find out how Dianna transitioned into teaching, fell in-love with Kimchi Bokkeum-bap, and moved abroad as a couple.
Tell Us About Yourself
Hi there! My name is Dianna, I’m from the United States and lived in Southern California before moving to Korea. Prior to becoming a teacher for CDL, I was your typical starving artist moonlighting as the manager of a small café. I graduated from college with a degree in art a few years ago, and had been working in café management for a few years.
Why Did You Decide to Come to Korea? How Did You End Up at CDL?
Moving to Korea was a combination of many things: desiring an adventure, wanting to experience a culture different from my own, wanting to teach, and realizing a dream I had held for a long time. My significant other and I spent a lot of time researching different companies and countries, we ended up with CDL probably mostly due to our fantastic recruiter at Aclipse, Colette, who really helped us through the process.
What Was ChungDahm Training Week Like?
To not mince words, training week felt stressful. It was a full week of watching training videos, mock teaching, learning the tab system, class structure, and practicing. While it is a difficult five days, the trainers do want you to succeed and become the best teachers you can be. After the week I felt I was well prepared in the CDL teaching methodology, and ready to teach a class. After seeing so many trainee colleagues stay up into the wee hours of the morning, and look ready to drop the next day - my biggest advice is to get sleep. Sleep is so important to lasting throughout the week with the energy you will need.
How is Work Life at Chungdahm Learning?
Going from working a 40+ hour work week to a 24-27 hour work week feels unreal. The other teachers and team managers at my branch have also all been very helpful and kind in helping me acclimate to my job, and answering any questions I might have.
How Was Your Experience Coming to Korea and CDL as a Couple?
As a couple, our primary concern was being placed close together, so you can imagine our nervousness as we waited for a response on our placement. Although we had our worries, the company expressed a clear desire to place us close to each other, and ultimately we both work very close to each other - about a 30 minute bus ride away. Throughout the process of becoming settled here we were helped by our branches in finding our housing and becoming settled as a couple. The experience has overall been a very positive one. It’s really been a fun enterprise for us thus far and while we are primarily here to teach, we’re also exploring the world together, so it is a special experience in our lives.
What is Your Favorite Thing to do on the Weekends in Seoul?
My favorite thing to do on weekends hands-down is to explore. There is a plethora of things to do just in Seoul - from cultural/touristy-type experiences, to outdoor activities (hiking here is awesome), to cute/strange/funny café’s to hang out in - or shopping. Really tons of things to do or see. Getting outside of Seoul is also extremely easy. Taking day trips to other parts of the country has been fun. Weekend trips to other countries is also a shiny possibility - there are many countries just a short plane trip away. My significant other and I were able to travel to Vietnam, and while it was a quick turn-around it was a great adventure.
Was it Easy to Become a Teacher with Little to No Experience?
With very little experience in teaching, I felt it was very easy to become a teacher. Training week prepares you for the CDL structure and lessons, but your branch will continue your training and check in with you about your classes. The children are really enjoyable to teach, and their level of English is truly impressive.
How was Your Experience Finding Housing and Getting Set Up in Korea?
Settling into life in Korea was ultimately not difficult at all. I was surprised how easy it was in fact. My branch paired us with a Realtor and we were shown multiple apartments. After choosing an apartment it was very easy moving in and acquiring furniture (Gmarket is a great website to purchase affordable furniture, by the way). My branch also helped up with obtaining the important Alien Resident Card, setting up the appointment and providing the paperwork. While Seoul is very English friendly, some things will be much easier if you learn some basic Korean before moving here. My only struggles have involved needing a wider Korean vocabulary- but using a translating app on my phone has helped bridge many language gaps. Oh, and the trash system is something that will take time getting used to. Everything here is separated - food waste/plastic/Styrofoam/cans/glass/etc.. - all different bins.
What Did you Pack that you Wish you Didn't Bring?
I was so overwhelmed with the question of “what to pack?” before coming here, intent to include everything I could possibly need. I was mostly concerned about what might be difficult to find here. I definitely wish I had left my hair dryer and straightener at home, albeit bringing adapters to ensure the American style plugs would fit into the Korean style outlets - they won't work without buying a more expensive voltage transformer. It is much easier (and saves a lot more space) to simply buy those items in Korea. Contrary to many blogs I read, it is also not that difficult to find deodorant here, if you are ok with only one option, so my year's worth of deodorant was probably unnecessary. Finally, as an artist, I felt the need to bring a lot of art supplies, unsure of the availability of preferred art utensils here. Since living here, I have found two enormous art supply stores with all of my favorite art pens/markers/paints/brushes/etc at comparable prices. Can you tell I over packed? Don’t over pack haha.
What's Your Favorite Korean Kood?
My favorite Korean food is probably 김치볶음밥 (kimchi bokkeum-bap aka kimchi fried rice). So delicious and simple. My significant other and I frequent Kimpap style restaurants as they are cheap and the food is really good!
It is no surprise that Tijana Huysamen, a South African born Capetownian, avid traveler and travel journalist, fell in love with South Korea and its people. After Tijana arrived in South Korea in 2010, she had the opportunity to live in the heart of the Korean countryside. During her time spent in Chungnam province she learned to speak Korean, prepare Korean food and experience the humble nature of the countryside people. After a year break in New York, Tijana jumped at the opportunity to return to Korea again, and is currently working at the CDI Jamsil Branch, in Jamsil, Seoul. Read Tijana’s Aclipse blog to gain a unique perspective on Korea and her shared experiences and adventures both in a major city and in the countryside. Follow Tijana on Twitter @TeeAnni or email email@example.com to request more information on teaching in Korea!