"Words have no wings, but they can travel a thousand miles" (Korean Proverb)

Welcome to Flying Words, Jon and Aileen's blog of our adventures in South Korea! We will be in South Korea for a year, starting in mid-July, teaching English in a private school. We just graduated from college this past May, and are looking forward to having some adventures before continuing our education. 
We started this blog to keep all our family and friends updated and to share our photos and stories. We hope this is entertaining for you! We will miss you all, and are very thankful to have the internet to keep us in touch. 

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Big Decision

Some of you already know that I am very unhappy in my job here. I have been trying to make myself like it, and been trying to deal with not liking it by doing lots of other things while I'm not at work. That all worked for a while, more or less, but the balance between liking everything else in my life and severely disliking my work has shifted sharply towards the latter. I have decided it's time to move on, and gave my 2 1/2 month's notice today. The director was a little shocked, but mostly okay. He and my Korean co-worker mostly just said they would "follow my decision" and they wanted me to be happy, but they also asked me to stay through May.  I said I'd rather not, but if they really can't find anyone by then, I guess I could. 
       I definitely do not regret coming here. Not only have I learned about myself-- that I don't want to teach, that I would rather work in a task-based environment instead of time-based, etc-- but I have experienced a fascinating country and culture. I have met many wonderful people, and I've experienced living on the other side of the world in a culture infinitely different from anything I had experienced before. 
But I'm not leaving yet-- I still have 2 1/2 months, and I intend to use that time to its fullest to do everything I haven't done here yet that I want to do. And I will be much more able to enjoy that, and my students, knowing I have a shorter amount of time left. 
I really love some of my students, and so this was a hard decision to make, but I know its also in their best interest. Having a teacher that dreads going to class is not fair to them, and although I try to mask that, and I'm pretty sure I usually do, it's been getting harder and I've been getting more irritable despite my best efforts. Part of the reason I have trouble accepting teaching is that my students, who are from age 6 to 14, are exhausted every day from school and extra classes, they stay up until 11 or 12 (at least) every night doing homework and have hardly any free time. Even on school vacations.  During the school year, they go to school until 2 or 3, then they're at Reading Town for 2-3 hours (depending on if they're MWF or TTh), and I know they go to other academies....almost all of them have some kind of music academy, maybe science or math, and many learn Chinese or Japanese also. My oldest student- 14- goes to 12 hours straight of classes every day. She comes to mine- at the end of the day- exhausted and can barely do her classwork. But she still does her best. I don't like to be a part of the system that makes them miserable, and I while I try to make it easier on them by not assigning much homework, or playing games in class, the parents call and complain, and I'm told by my superiors that I have to assign more homework and do more work in class. I can't buy into this system, which is part of the reason I'm leaving. 
As for what I will do, I tried to get a job. I emailed contacts in the non-profit world, checked job sites and classifieds, and there was nothing. All my contacts said they had nothing and they didn't know of anyone who was hiring. I figured that would be the case. So, I've decided to take advantage of being over on this side of the world, and travel. How much I travel will depend in part on how much money I get from law school... I will find that out by April 15 (the seat deposit deadline), two weeks before I leave. My plan is to take the ferry with Jon to China and take the short train ride to Beijing and spend a long weekend there, after which Jon will go back to Jeonju and work, and I will continue down the eastern side of China, through Shanghai, Hong Kong, etc. by train, then into Vietnam. How much I do in Southeast Asia depends on the financial situation, but optimally I would go through Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand (the parts I didn't get to the first time), Malaysia, Singapore and, maybe, Indonesia. I know some people who have done more or less this route, and I'll be talking to them a lot. It's apparently quite easy to do on the train, and cheap. 
Then I'll have to come back here to get my things and Kimchi. I'll probably stay for a few weeks, then come back to the States in mid-late July. Then, law school in August. 
Phew. Well, that's my big decision. I've come to it after a lot of obsessing and a lot of trying to make excuses not to do it, but I have to accept that this is the best choice for me and everyone else involved. I don't regret coming here at all, but I would regret finishing out this contract. I feel bad that I'm breaking it, but I think it's better than the alternative. I'll let you all know how my plans develop, and I've told Jon he has to blog here when I'm gone, though I'll also blog from my journey. 


Anna said...

thats so sad about that girl who goes 12 hours a day! its also sad that you get calls of complaint and u have 2 give more work.....
anyway..what r u going to do with kimchi during all this traveling? put her in your pocket and walk around everywhere with her? :)
and... wow! thats alot of countries u want to visit!

Jon and Aileen said...

i WISH i could walk around with Kimchi in my pocket. i don't think she'd like it. she'd spend the whole trip in a ball :( anyway, Jon will take car of her. then i'll go back to get her so she can come visit you :)