Teachers Share their Experiences While Living Abroad!

Russell's First Six Months Teaching in Seongnam, Korea

Posted on Mon, Apr 23, 2018 @ 12:00 PM

Balancing Work and Creative Endeavors

I am nearing the halfway point of my first year teaching in abroad in South Korea, and so far this experience has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have had in my life. Fresh out of university, I had no real understanding of what the next step was for me. Halfway through my undergraduate degree I found a real creative voice as photographer and writer. 

I worked as a creative director for an independent publication at school, photographed many musical events, worked on documentary photo projects, and was fortunate to be connected to a great arts scene in my home city of Toronto. Not knowing what I wanted to do next and not wanting to settle for an entry level job in a field I did not fully enjoy, I felt teaching abroad to be a great alternative. However, one of my biggest concerns was letting go of the creative side that started defining me as a person.  To my surprise, Korea has allowed me to develop as a creator and individual.


Placement at CDI Seongnam

I was fortunate enough to be connected to one of the top main branches of Chungdahm Learning through my awesome and super helpful recruiter, Colette. My branch, Bundang is located in Seongnam which is only about fifteen minutes away from Seoul by train. The location is ideal as it is a newly developed, residential city filled with recreational green areas whilst providing an urban feel. Being a city person, I really had my heart set on living somewhere in Seoul. However, Bundang is filled with many beautiful areas, cafes, and shops in a more relaxed environment.

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Besides the location, work has been an absolute pleasure as the work environment at Bundang caters to building strong relationships between the teachers. Our branch is one of the largest with a total of 24 teachers, all of whom are very competent and well-trained as the branch management does a great job of upholding high standards and communication. There is a very strong community at our branch, and I am glad to call many of my coworkers friends. On top of all this, the students I work with are some of the brightest kids who make the experience even more rewarding.  

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My Passion for Photography

As great as my situation is at work, I firmly believe that doing things outside of work will make your experience here in South Korea more worthwhile. The photography that I love the most is documentary-street photography. South Korea provides exciting environments for me to photograph as life here is so distinctly different from back home. The people and all the beautiful places to visit here continue to keep me on my toes and look for the next shot. One of the most distinct things about South Korea is that the people here are very trendy and fashionable. One of its main draws is Seoul Fashion Week which I was fortunate to attend even with my work schedule. I recently photographed a series based on my experience throughout my week, taking portraits of different people and candid photos.



Travel to Japan

Work has allowed me the flexibility and funds to take trips, as I recently visited Japan for several days which was another great opportunity to take awesome photos. My stay in Korea has not only allowed me to continue to be creative but has also allowed me to travel, expanding my perspective as a creator.


I am very excited to continue my journey here in South Korea, and I am very glad to be in the situation I am now. The initial leap is always the hardest but being here has allowed me to grow not only as an individual but as creator.


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Russell Canceran is from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He attended the University of Toronto, graduating in 2017 with a double major in Political Science and Equity Studies. He is passionate about the arts, photography, and writing. When he is not taking photos or traveling, he can be found enjoying a book in a cafe. This is his first year working in Korea, and is currently working at Chungdahm Learning’s Bundang branch, located in Seongnam.


Tags: arriving in korea, teaching at Chungdahm, chungdahm learning, bundang, seongnam, work balance, teacher testimonial

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