What has South Korea Taught Me? #1

Every now and then I plan to write short posts discussing some of the professional and life skills living and working in Korea has taught me:

First up: How to Roll With it:

During my month long English teacher training back in August 2014, one phrase kept being repeated: “In Korea, decisions are often made last minute and you will receive notice of these changes last minute”.- Well, let me tell you, this is ABSOLUTELY TRUE. 

For someone like me who thrives off planning, researching, and generally knowing what is going to happen today, tomorrow, and three years from now, this was a big adjustment. In December, I arrived at school after an hour and ten minute bus ride, only to be told “Oh yeah, school will close in 45 minutes”. Of course, I was upset. I had to leave my house, ride the bus (and spend $3.30 in bus fare), come to school, and then be told that I’d be going back home! And just today I arrived at school early only to be told my classes didn’t start until later in the day and I’d be needed to teach a class after lunch. I also have breaks in my schedule I didn’t know about!

This type of thing is very common in Korea and every single English teacher has a story about it! At first, the last minute decision making can be frustrating, especially if there is a language barrier. After a while, however, you simply learn to always be prepared for change. This morning when I learned of my schedule change, I barely blinked an eye. I expected something like this to happen because we just started a new school year, and we have several new teachers who are trying to figure out how things work. A few months ago, when I was a new teacher, I would have felt confused and a little upset by the sudden change, but now I make an effort not to let it bother me. Of course there are days when I come to school and I am told I am teaching one less class, and instead I will be helping with a cooking class. Change is not always negative. The ability to not only accept that changes happen, and sometimes without notice, but also keep a level head and be prepared for change is an invaluable skill in the workplace and in everyday life. This is a skill I hope to take back to America with me.

So remember: Life happens! Work happens! So what do you do? You just make the best of it and go with the flow!

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