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Unsure of what to do
« on: October 28, 2019, 07:59:43 pm »
Hi there everyone. This is my first post on here.

Basically, I was accepted with the August 2019 EPIK intake, so I've now been in Korea for two months. I really like a lot about my new life here: the fact that I don't need a car, my city, how much money I make, work/life balance, the friends I've made, but to be honest with you, I really just don't like the job at all. I dread getting up every day for work and can't wait for Friday, and I just can't help but think that I shouldn't be feeling this way.

The reason I'm posting this is because since day one of arriving here in Korea, I've wanted to go home. And it's not just a feeling of homesickness, but rather a gut feeling that I need to leave. I've stuck it out for two full months now, and honestly I don't feel any better about staying a full year. I don't want to break my contract early, partly for financial reasons and partly because I don't want to be seen as a quitter, but I honestly am just miserable with this job and want to go home.

I think it's also a mixture of the fact that since being here in Korea I've discovered that I have IBS, which Korean cuisine exacerbates, and this has triggered horrible anxiety. I've had crippling anxiety virtually every day since I got here, and I don't think that I can handle it for a full year.

What I'm asking is, do you think I should trust my gut and leave at the six month mark? Or should I try to stick it out? Does anyone else have a similar story or is able to relate? If you need more information, just ask me.

Thank you.


Re: Unsure of what to do
« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2019, 03:21:44 pm »
I've been here for 5 years. When I first arrived at the hagwon I was working at I found out I was lied to about everything. I went months without getting paid, was lied to, badmouthed, had pay stolen from me. I still stuck it out and even though I considered going home at various points, I never really gave it too much thought.  The point i'm making is that I had it much worse than you and still I enjoyed my first few years here. Don't worry about what other people think. I don't think this job is for everyone. There is no shame in giving it a go and moving on. I would do the honorable thing and give your school some notice, but life is too short to worry about pleasing other people.


Re: Unsure of what to do
« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2019, 04:16:50 pm »
Sorry to hear that you're having problems.  Korea affects people in different ways and sometimes it's difficult to know what to do to remedy things when problems come up.  After two months, you are still fairly new here, so maybe the effect of being new is wearing off.  It does sound like homesickness, and that is entirely understandable.  I think the best thing is to indulge in some activities, find a hobby that you want to do.  If you have some good friends already then that a big positive.  Travel around a bit, do some trips around on the weekends, it'll help take your focus away from your homesickness, and it does pass. 

Which area of the country are you in?  You don't need to name exactly where but a province or direction might help. 

We don't know your exact work life as we all have such different ones, but many of us will have had similar problems, be they with co-teachers, principal, VP, school life, etc.  It's frustrating when you come up against these things and how to fix them.  Personally, I've always found the majority of my students to really pull me through sometimes, they can be really great for focusing on if you're feeling a little down.  That is part of what I really like here is that every day is different and different things happen each day at class.

What I have found is time goes quickly.  If you think you can make it to the six-month mark, then it's possible you can make it to the one-year mark.  If you can do another couple of months then you'll get to the winter holidays, you can book a bit time out of Korea and take it easy travelling around or whatever you fancy doing. 

With your IBS, you could buy Brewers Yeast here in Lotte Mart, or another big supermarket chain.  That can help IBS. 

  :smiley:



  • NorthStar
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Re: Unsure of what to do
« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2019, 07:44:52 pm »
Sorry OP....there is not much to say that will not be said by someone else. 

But...can you remember WHY you decided to come to Korea?  Is it possible for you to focus on that?  What parts of the job do you not like?  Are you able to make a few adjustments?   What is it,t hat you dread when you wake up? 

I regards to IBS...well, I have heard that organic apple cider vinegar helps...and the right diet.  You just have to maintain it...just like back home. 

Keep in mind, when the six month mark sets, wont' it be about the same time as your winter vacation?  If you quit EPIK, I have heard it is nearly impossible to get back in.  Granted, you could go the hagwon route and actually enjoy it...if, IF...you were to find a good one. 

If your instinct is truly telling you to leave...then, think on this.  Will staying here, despite your instinct, make you a better person in the long run? 


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Re: Unsure of what to do
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2019, 05:29:50 am »
Leave.

I have had several people made redundant by the financial sector, banks, marketing etc. come through  who were interested to see what teaching English was all about as a good career opportunity and I had them guide a short activity for 10 min. but most of them got really stressed out and started sweating profusely, and none of them got into teaching. And my students are lovely and are really eager to learn and always listen well.

Some people love talking in front of people and having a laugh with 30 students, to others it triggers huge anxieties (=psycho-somatic IBS). This job is the most complex, high-paced ever-changing, most demanding job I've ever done and without actually enjoying it I would have burnt out and crashed years ago already. I know that only a few people could teach like I do which also comes with its own solitude. I can only imagine how that must feel like for a newbie teacher. Just to say that we've all been there and only precious few of us become accredited teachers after having returned back home, most of us leave teaching altogether. That should be a tell-tale sign to you that you're not alone in your concerns, we all have had them.

So leave, and find peace and focus in an office job, I sometimes wish I would have had... :sad:
« Last Edit: October 30, 2019, 05:54:58 am by Cohort 2019 »
incumbo studiis


Re: Unsure of what to do
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2019, 07:29:22 am »
Sorry to hear that you're having problems.  Korea affects people in different ways and sometimes it's difficult to know what to do to remedy things when problems come up.  After two months, you are still fairly new here, so maybe the effect of being new is wearing off.  It does sound like homesickness, and that is entirely understandable.  I think the best thing is to indulge in some activities, find a hobby that you want to do.  If you have some good friends already then that a big positive.  Travel around a bit, do some trips around on the weekends, it'll help take your focus away from your homesickness, and it does pass. 

Which area of the country are you in?  You don't need to name exactly where but a province or direction might help. 

We don't know your exact work life as we all have such different ones, but many of us will have had similar problems, be they with co-teachers, principal, VP, school life, etc.  It's frustrating when you come up against these things and how to fix them.  Personally, I've always found the majority of my students to really pull me through sometimes, they can be really great for focusing on if you're feeling a little down.  That is part of what I really like here is that every day is different and different things happen each day at class.

What I have found is time goes quickly.  If you think you can make it to the six-month mark, then it's possible you can make it to the one-year mark.  If you can do another couple of months then you'll get to the winter holidays, you can book a bit time out of Korea and take it easy travelling around or whatever you fancy doing. 

With your IBS, you could buy Brewers Yeast here in Lotte Mart, or another big supermarket chain.  That can help IBS. 

  :smiley:

I'm actually in Chungnam as well. Honestly, with how my anxiety has been and how sick I've felt, I have no interest at all in travelling. I just want to be near home so if I get sick, which I often do here, I can just head home. It's super frustrating too, because I almost never got sick back in the US.

The thing is too, I think it's just me that's the problem. I mean, I don't really like most of my students, but my co-teachers are friendly enough, my schools are quite nice, I like the area that I live in, etc. The main thing I dread everyday is the job, and like I said that feeling hasn't gone away at all in 2 whole months, even with all the vacations and things. And I know that next semester will feel even longer, so I kind of just want to get out in March when it would be a good transition period for everyone, instead of trying to stick it out and being miserable. Plus, my friends are most likely leaving in March, and they're honestly the only reason I'm hanging on as is. Does that make sense?


Re: Unsure of what to do
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2019, 07:30:56 am »
I've been here for 5 years. When I first arrived at the hagwon I was working at I found out I was lied to about everything. I went months without getting paid, was lied to, badmouthed, had pay stolen from me. I still stuck it out and even though I considered going home at various points, I never really gave it too much thought.  The point i'm making is that I had it much worse than you and still I enjoyed my first few years here. Don't worry about what other people think. I don't think this job is for everyone. There is no shame in giving it a go and moving on. I would do the honorable thing and give your school some notice, but life is too short to worry about pleasing other people.

That's exactly what I'm thinking too. Yeah, a lot of my friends here have been in much worse situations, and yet still love it. And then there's me that honestly has had a relatively easy ride, and I'm just counting down the days until I can leave at this point. I really don't understand what's wrong and it's super frustrating. I think the job just isn't for me.


Re: Unsure of what to do
« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2019, 07:36:15 am »
Sorry OP....there is not much to say that will not be said by someone else. 

But...can you remember WHY you decided to come to Korea?  Is it possible for you to focus on that?  What parts of the job do you not like?  Are you able to make a few adjustments?   What is it,t hat you dread when you wake up? 

I regards to IBS...well, I have heard that organic apple cider vinegar helps...and the right diet.  You just have to maintain it...just like back home. 

Keep in mind, when the six month mark sets, wont' it be about the same time as your winter vacation?  If you quit EPIK, I have heard it is nearly impossible to get back in.  Granted, you could go the hagwon route and actually enjoy it...if, IF...you were to find a good one. 

If your instinct is truly telling you to leave...then, think on this.  Will staying here, despite your instinct, make you a better person in the long run?

Honestly the main reason I came to Korea was that I wanted to save up some money and try my hand at teaching, and I'll have enough saved up at the 6 month mark that I can come home, buy a car and still have some savings. So I would consider that a win. I think that I also don't get any joy out of teaching elementary school students. I also hate that my job is so disorganized. My schedule has been changed every week since I've been here, and this is week 10. I don't particularly like my students, since they have no interest in English. My co-teachers don't really care either. Plus, I have 4 hours of afterschool each week with the same students, so 160 minutes a week with 9 3rd and 4th graders who barely understand what I'm saying, with no syllabus, book, guide, etc., and it's honestly killing me. I'm running out of ideas and motivation and know that there is no way I would be able to do 4 straight months with mostly the same students.

If it gives you an idea of how stressed and anxious I feel everyday, I worked a retail/barista job back home, and I wasn't ever even a 10th as stressed as I am here. I know it sounds crazy, it sounds crazy to me too, but that's just how I feel.


Re: Unsure of what to do
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2019, 07:44:43 am »
Leave.

I have had several people made redundant by the financial sector, banks, marketing etc. come through  who were interested to see what teaching English was all about as a good career opportunity and I had them guide a short activity for 10 min. but most of them got really stressed out and started sweating profusely, and none of them got into teaching. And my students are lovely and are really eager to learn and always listen well.

Some people love talking in front of people and having a laugh with 30 students, to others it triggers huge anxieties (=psycho-somatic IBS). This job is the most complex, high-paced ever-changing, most demanding job I've ever done and without actually enjoying it I would have burnt out and crashed years ago already. I know that only a few people could teach like I do which also comes with its own solitude. I can only imagine how that must feel like for a newbie teacher. Just to say that we've all been there and only precious few of us become accredited teachers after having returned back home, most of us leave teaching altogether. That should be a tell-tale sign to you that you're not alone in your concerns, we all have had them.

So leave, and find peace and focus in an office job, I sometimes wish I would have had... :sad:

That's exactly what I was thinking. I have never had anxiety like this in my life, and it's getting to the point where it's disrupting my daily life. And I've been doing so many coping mechanisms too: drinking peppermint tea, going on a walk with my friends everyday, hanging out with them and getting dinner, going to cafes, etc. And I think it's definitely holding it at bay, but the anxiety is still there, every day. I'm actually at school right now feeling the anxiety as I type this, and I'm so over it honestly.

I think I'll look into getting an office job when I get home, I think I just don't have the energy or the passion for this job, and I also think that my students deserve someone who can actually put in more than the bare minimum, if that makes sense.


Re: Unsure of what to do
« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2019, 07:50:27 am »
Sorry to hear about your troubles,

My question is this: if you had no IBS trouble/anxiety, would you be content to stay?
If your answer is yes then there are a variety of things you can do to improve your situation from the get go.
If your answer is no then leaving might be the best option. I will say one more thing, anxiety is not situation specific. i mean that there is a high chance that you might get it in any circumstance that gives you similar or worse stress responses. in other words... you can leave but your IBS might follow you.

you have no pressure to leave right this minute, so you have time to play around with the intrapsychic conflict system that presents itself, and see if you can overcome this.
ofc, if you just want out, then your next move is pretty simple.

Just my 2 cents


Re: Unsure of what to do
« Reply #10 on: October 30, 2019, 07:57:44 am »
Sorry to hear about your troubles,

My question is this: if you had no IBS trouble/anxiety, would you be content to stay?
If your answer is yes then there are a variety of things you can do to improve your situation from the get go.
If your answer is no then leaving might be the best option. I will say one more thing, anxiety is not situation specific. i mean that there is a high chance that you might get it in any circumstance that gives you similar or worse stress responses. in other words... you can leave but your IBS might follow you.

you have no pressure to leave right this minute, so you have time to play around with the intrapsychic conflict system that presents itself, and see if you can overcome this.
ofc, if you just want out, then your next move is pretty simple.

Just my 2 cents

Thanks for sharing. To be honest... my gut reaction is to say no past March. I was thinking that as well, that my problems could follow me home. But I think I could deal with it better back home because it would be much easier to adjust my diet and I have access to a free clinic that I've gone to before that would be able to prescribe me anxiety medication and refer me to a psychiatrist, if I still needed them. It's just so bizarre, because like I said I never had these issues before, but since the exact same day that I arrived here, it was like a switch flipped and I immediately started having issues and had the feeling that I wanted to go home.

For further reference, I've studied abroad before twice and while the second time was amazing, the first time I had the exact same feeling as I have now. I was going to stay for a year but ended up only staying for 5 months because I had a gut feeling that I needed to go home, and it ended up being the absolute right decision. So we'll see how these next two months go and how I feel around Christmas, which is when I would have to give notice if I want to leave at the end of February.


  • 303lmc
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Re: Unsure of what to do
« Reply #11 on: October 30, 2019, 08:51:57 am »
I'm also sorry you're feeling so bad. the IBS definitely makes it hard to adjust here. Any way you can eat a less Korean diet and not eat at the school? I eat pretty western food at home, make a lot of soup with lentils, quinoa and barley with veggies. I also understand it's triggered by stress as well. do you meditate, or know how to handle the anxiety flare ups?
As far as hating the job, I really hated it here the first  2 -3 months too. it was hard to communicate with the students and they basically ignored me. that all changed and now i really enjoy class, well I mostly enjoy class. ;)
some days are really hard and I question what am I doing here. But I remember why I came here and look at what I have to go back to, which is virtually nothing. the last 2 weeks were pretty bad for me and I questioned if I really want to stay another year, even though I said I would. and now, this week, I feel back to "normal" and am ready to stay. But trust that there will be another time when I question why did I sign that contract to stay?? for me it's like a pendulum some days, I love it here, I hate it here. I strive to be somewhere in the middle, but don't always hit the mark!
But in all honesty only you can decide if leaving early is what you need to do. Yes it will make it impossible to get back into EPIK, but if you hate this and never wanna do it again, who cares?
And though you have been here 2 months which might feel like more because you hate it, it really does fly by. have you communicated with your COT how you feel and ask for help?


  • oglop
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Re: Unsure of what to do
« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2019, 08:53:02 am »
i'd probably give it unless after christmas. give it a bit more time, have a break at christmas, and from dec-march school is pretty laid back anyway. and things change at the beginning of the school year- see how it goes then


  • thunderlips
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Re: Unsure of what to do
« Reply #13 on: October 30, 2019, 09:30:50 am »
If you leave before 6 months, don't tell your school just leave after your pay arrives. I'd say try to stick it out until after the vacation and see how you are feeling. Take a nice trip to Thailand or somewhere and just enjoy life.


  • Piggydee
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Re: Unsure of what to do
« Reply #14 on: October 30, 2019, 09:58:56 am »
OP I feel you.  I'm surprised I lived here for so long as I did myself.  10 YEARS  :shocked: :shocked:   And shockingly enough I thought about tacking on one more year.   But my lifestyle hasn't been healthy and honestly I'm feeling a bit burned out from the kids too.  I feel if I stayed one more academic year, I would probably be very mean and scowl at the kids.  That's no way to be an effective teacher.  I once heard this piece of advice.  "Would you like to learn from someone you didn't like?" So if my attitude is not the chipper/cheery self it once was back in 2008 then teaching kids who aren't that chipper about me is going to feel like an up hill battle.  Just best to leave now than later. 

OP, try to see if you can do half your contract and find a replacement for you through a recruiter.  There are people who work at hakwon who WOULD love to jump into public but never seem to make the usual fall/summer recruitment times. I got into public because I took over for a girl who was like you.  Did Korea for 6 months didn't like it.  So I slide right into her place and it worked out for me.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2019, 10:45:01 am by Piggydee »


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Re: Unsure of what to do
« Reply #15 on: October 30, 2019, 06:05:02 pm »
https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/drugs-and-treatments/sleeping-pills-and-minor-tranquillisers/withdrawal-effects-of-benzodiazepines/
Quote
Withdrawal symptoms may include:

abdominal cramps
agoraphobia (fear of crowded places)
increased anxiety
physical symptoms of anxiety (muscle tension, tight chest, palpitations, fast heartbeat, sweating, trembling or shaking)
blurred vision
depression
difficulty sleeping
dizziness
face and neck pain
headaches
inability to concentrate
increased sensitivity to light, noise, touch and smell
loss of interest in sex
loss of appetite
nausea (feeling sick)
nightmares
panic attacks
restlessness
sore eyes
sore tongue and metallic taste
tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
tingling in the hands and feet
unsteady legs
vomiting (being sick)
weight loss.
Severe withdrawal symptoms can include:

burning sensations in the skin
confusion
depression (severe)
depersonalisation (feeling detached from your surroundings)
derealisation (feeling out of touch with reality)
hallucinations
memory loss
muscle twitching (eyes)
paranoia and delusions (strongly held beliefs that other people dont share)
seizures (fits).

I have highlighted a few symptoms I think you may recognise. If so, my online assessment is probably correct. I am especially concerned by your stating of a 'reemergence'  of said symptoms.

You mentioned you had support from a free clinic back home. From one of my other studies/short-lived careers as a young buck I can unequivocally state that you should NEVER take any anxiety medicines (Benzodiazepines such as valium or Prozac or any other Benzos).

If you have been on any then this is directly the cause of your current situation. These medicines are extremely disruptive and going cold-turkey causes immediate depression-suicidal thoughts- to physical inhibitions such as shaking, agoraphobia (fear of going outside) and fear of social interaction.

A more cynical person than myself would argue that these meds have been specifically designed to create this dependency to increase revenue but simply put because of your body's need for increasingly higher doses, most people end up either hospitalised or on opioids. If people close to you, would have noticed a recent, distinct personality change in you had this been you back home, then this is a huge red flag.

I believe that if you have only taken them for 1 week or so then it is possible to go cold-turkey, anything longer means you have become fully dependent on Benzos.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2019, 06:30:19 pm by Cohort 2019 »
incumbo studiis


Re: Unsure of what to do
« Reply #16 on: November 01, 2019, 12:04:27 am »
  Apart from your illness, I wonder what the problem is. Working at a public school can involve a lot of deskwarming, which is boring, if you have to be sitting down. Also, there may be issues about how lessons are conducted. Do you feel left out, or are you just used like a tape recorder. If that's the case you should gently but persistently try to make adjustments to help you gain some control. Also, try to show interest in the co-teachers. Maybe engage them in conversation, and occasionally buy token gifts for the office.

If you leave Korea you will feel worse, and the school and the kids will feel terribly let down.
Also, if you were at a hagwon, you'd not get much vacation, and you might work 10 hour shifts. That's worse. Be thankful for small mercies.


  • Colburnnn
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Re: Unsure of what to do
« Reply #17 on: November 01, 2019, 07:30:14 am »
Classic case of not really understanding what the job is about. You probs watched too many 'HOW TO BE AN EPIK TEACHER' and '5 THINGS I LOVE ABOUT KOREA' videos on YouTube.

Listen, you signed a contract, as a professional you should be completing that contract. If you want to quit, give 60 days notice and leave, you are not a prisoner. Yes, you should feel guilty and yes you are letting your kids and school down. Not to mention the EPIK applicant who you denied a place. You were hired to be a teacher, not to get pissed in Hongdae or make a blog.

You get the sh!ts? Wow, welcome to Korea. You know you don't HAVE to eat Korean food. You can, like an adult, decide what you want to put in your mouth. Next time some ajumma tries to give you some red dodgy meat stew just say. No thanks. There are pills at the pharmacy that you can take to stop the sh!ts. And there are toilets pretty much everywhere when you need a dump. Keep some paper in your pocket and you're good to go. Hardly something to break a contract over.

You've been here two months. You have not given it a chance and come across as a bit of a flake.


  • lhelena
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Re: Unsure of what to do
« Reply #18 on: November 01, 2019, 07:55:58 am »
My grandmother died 2 months after I started my contract (she was like another mother to me). When I came back from the US (my school gave me some time to go for her funeral and be with my family) I honestly wanted to quit. I was very depressed and didn't want to stay. I was crying myself to sleep almost every night. BUT I have a great group of friends here that kept inviting me out to do stuff, even if it was just dinner after work. Then I met and began dating my husband and ended up signing for a second year.

My point is that moving your whole life to another country can be really bad for your mental health, especially if there is some other shitty factor involved. However, 2 months isn't long enough to gauge anything in my opinion. You committed to a year and I think it's only right to take that seriously as well. Whether you see it that way or not, people are depending on you to at least finish what you singed for. But if you feel your health is really at risk here, you should be seeking the input of a doctor, not the opinions of people on the internet.


Re: Unsure of what to do
« Reply #19 on: November 01, 2019, 08:15:21 am »
Sounds like you just got a shitty school to be honest. Ride it out to the one year mark (it'll be over before you know it) and put in your transfer notice. Try get in touch with the co-ordinator of your province and ask for a better deal. Until then, just do what you can. I considered quitting in my first year, thanks to my wench of a co-teacher and many of the issues you listed above. Three and a half years later and I have a family and a fairly predictable (if not a little demanding) work schedule, and I'm actually quite grateful for the opportunity Korea's given me.

It sounds like your work situation is coloring the rest of your experience quite negatively, and that's normal. Are there any high schools in your area? I taught high school for one year, and it was miles more enjoyable than elementary/middle, mainly because of the students and slightly smaller classes.