So here’s what has been going on…


I know it’s been awhile, a long, long while, but I had to make some changes.

For most of June and July, I was unhappy. Really unhappy. Not sleeping and eating unhappy. I hated my job. I missed people. I felt stagnate and bored.


I left.

I am now in the States, happy as a clam.  Yay!

And now that I am not in Korea working for my hagwon, I can tell y’all some inside info for working as an ESL teacher in Korea.

Be prepared to have a lot of things lost in translation.

It was extremely frustrating to communicate when most of my superiors speak only a fair amount of English. Here’s a good example: My electric bill was taped on my door every month. The first time I saw it, I brought it in. They took it and told me that I didn’t have to bring it in anymore. Then four months later, they told me that I haven’t paid my electric bill and my electricity was almost cut off. This kind of stuff happens all the time to teachers.

I wasn’t allowed to color out of the lines.

There is a methodology you are taught and you HAVE to stick to it if you don’t want to be in trouble. I got in trouble multiple times for being too creative, teaching too well and talking too eloquently.

Don’t get me wrong, the system works well. But it was just too frustrating and disheartening when you get chastised for trying to make things better for a particular class.

I was a little too Wednesday Addams for them. 

I don’t think a week went by without someone telling me to smile more. They seemed to want me to be more buddy buddy with the kids than a teacher (but this might be a translation issue).

Hagwons are known for not being nice to unhappy employees. 

I was going to quit through the proper channels laid out in the contract but I was told that there are horror stories of people getting shafted for doing so. They are immediately fired, treated horribly and/or screwed out of some element of their contract. I don’t know if the particular branch I worked for did this, but I wasn’t willing to find out. My dad even pointed out that they could lock me out of my apartment and take all of my stuff if they wanted to (the apartment was under their name).

So I just left. I didn’t tell anyone. It’s not something I am proud of but I like my stuff.

Anyhoo, so I think this might conclude the blog. I have more stories to tell but now…I am not sure if I want to delve into them right yet. I’m kinda sick of my Asian travels at the moment. I love Korea and I don’t regret going but I would have regretted staying.

Thanks for reading!!!

— Sara




6 Replies to “So here’s what has been going on…”

  1. Hi Sara,
    Sorry that I’m some random reading your blog.

    I’ve actually been offered a job at Chungdahm Hwaseong Dongtan April Institute… Is this where you worked?

    If you have any info to share I would really appreciate it 😀

    1. No worries…read away! That was the branch I worked at. They really dont like you deviating from the protocol, which was super frustrating for me. But overall, it wasn’t horrible. If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

      1. How many other foreign English teachers were at the school?
        Were the directors/head teachers nice etc?
        I have read other reviews of Chungdahm where they used the CCTV footage to fire people! Was anything like that ever an issue at this school?
        Thanks so much!

      2. At the school…almost all the teachers are Foreign. In April, there were 6-7 foreign teachers. Only the staff and one teacher (It was still Alice last I checked) are Korean. Alice is cool, I never had any problems with her. The head of the branch is on the Chungdahm side, so you almost don’t ever see her. You will probably see more of the owners than the actual branch director. They are very polite but they seem like that they really don’t care about the teachers. The hire-ups knows the teachers will only be there for a year, so the hire-ups doesn’t put a lot of effort into getting to know you. So if you don’t make trouble…they wont really remember you .

        The CCTVs are the worse things. I hated CCTVs. They record every class and the “head” teacher (a teacher picked to do more work for a little raise) will pick 2-3 classes of yours to review a week. It’s really annoying. I actually got in trouble because I taught a class too fast and I allowed the students to do homework in the remaining class time. A parent complained. I had to write a letter to the owner, stating what I did wrong and had to watch other teacher’s CCTVs of the same class. But ultimately…if you are trying to learn the protocol and teach the kids, they wont fire you. It’s cheaper to retrain you than get a new teacher all together.

        This branch isn’t part of any of those horror stories you’ve read. And Dongtan is great. I really miss that city. It was clean, quiet, safe and interesting. I got a bike and rode it around the city every night. Then you had two buses that that take you directly to Seoul, which is only about 30 mins away.

  2. whoa! the CCTV part sounds insane.
    Did you ever have to put in a lot more hours?
    There is a weird clause in the contract saying something about I understand I am not a full time employee… (but if I’m not a full time employee – i’m not technically eligible for severance?)
    How was the training?
    Did your apartment (or the other teachers apartments) have air con?
    Did they help you open a bank account and do all that stuff?
    Did you get your degree certificates back ok?
    Sorry for so many questions! Thanks again!

    1. I only had to put more hours in for either a: training/meeting or b: a crash-course class they had twice a year. Those were horrible but I left during the middle of mine. But, you do get to take a paid vacation during this crash course class time. It is an extra class in the morning (during public school breaks) kids can take. So…you will be teaching in the morning and then again in the afternoon. But this is for like a month or so…I can’t remember since I only taught a week of that.

      I don’t know about the clause…I don’t recall anything like that in my contract.

      Training was intense but not as bad as they make it sound. It’s a lot of info to learn in a week so just do your best. Again…just’s cheaper to train you more, than completely replace you.

      I did have an air con, so did all the other teachers. I was the one with the biggest apartment (which, I heard, the school isn’t using my apartment building anymore because the landlord was asking for higher rent). And the counselors at my school were nice enough to get me a kettle, trash can, pillow and little dust pan.

      Alice helped me set up my bank account. She actually helped me with my phone, internet and any weird notes tacked to my door (I apparently forgot to pay my electricity bill once and she helped me with that).

      All of my degree certificates came back fine. I was so stressed about that before the fact, but now I wished I didn’t waste that energy.

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