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Long-term TEFL & Mental Health
« on: January 19, 2021, 11:02:49 am »
Do you think living abroad and teaching English can have a negative impact on your mental health?

Personally I have been living in Korea (and lurking on Waygook) for nearly seven years now, and for the most-part I still enjoy it.
There are frustrations, of course, but overall it's been a positive experience. No plans to return to NZ any time soon.

However, when I browse this forum I wonder about the psychological impact that teaching English abroad for a long time can have on some people.
A lot of the long-term posters on this site seem to be very angry individuals, frustrated with their lot in life, and in many cases seem to openly despise the Korean lifestyle and culture.
Others seem to have retreated into fantasy, posting transparent fictions about their lifestyles - for whose benefit, I'm not sure.

Perhaps most worryingly, there have been a number of recent political posts that have descended into outright paranoia and conspiracy theories.
SJWs, radical Marxists, antifa, Donald Trump - why do you care so much about this stuff if you haven't called America home for decades? (or ever, in some cases!)
I just don't understand it.

Do you think that the long-term TEFL lifestyle can have a negative impact on your mental health?
This forum is one of the biggest resources for teaching in Korea, but when newcomers see the same faces arguing furiously in every thread, they probably wonder what they are getting themselves into!
« Last Edit: January 19, 2021, 11:04:37 am by throwdown »


  • L I
  • Waygook Lord

    • 5661

    • October 03, 2011, 01:50:58 pm
Re: Long-term TEFL & Mental Health
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2021, 11:23:54 am »
Do you think that the long-term TEFL lifestyle can have a negative impact on your mental health?

In general do the older expats, those who have been teaching English the longest, come across as strange people who seem a bit off or normal well adjusted folk? Which is more common? There's your answer.


  • oglop
  • The Legend

    • 4626

    • August 25, 2011, 07:24:54 pm
    • Seoul
Re: Long-term TEFL & Mental Health
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2021, 11:25:44 am »
In general do the older expats, those who have been teaching English the longest, come across as strange people who seem a bit off or normal well adjusted folk? Which is more common? There's your answer.
wait, so you are saying teaching ESL makes them weird? not that they have always been weird?


  • L I
  • Waygook Lord

    • 5661

    • October 03, 2011, 01:50:58 pm
Re: Long-term TEFL & Mental Health
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2021, 11:30:59 am »
It might be a bit of both. Chicken and egg thing. Maybe they were weird to begin with which caused estrangement from their family, lack of friends in their home country, and limited job options. Perhaps overseas teaching attracts and retains weirdos. But living in Korea for 25 years without being able to speak Korean has got to take its toll mentally. It's an isolating experience.


  • Kyndo
  • Moderator LVL 1

    • 1970

    • March 03, 2011, 09:45:24 am
    • Gyeongsangbuk-do
Re: Long-term TEFL & Mental Health
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2021, 11:42:24 am »
Do you think living abroad and teaching English can have a negative impact on your mental health?
I definitely think that it's possible.
I've had the misfortune of watching friends cope with stress and the various difficulties in adjusting to life in Korea in pretty self destructive ways. I wouldn't be surprised if the rates of alcoholism and substance abuse among NETs here in Korea were significantly higher than our peers living back home, sadly.

However, when I browse this forum I wonder about the psychological impact that teaching English abroad for a long time can have on some people.
A lot of the long-term posters on this site seem to be very angry individuals, frustrated with their lot in life, and in many cases seem to openly despise the Korean lifestyle and culture.
I think that some of it might just be due to the nature of anonymous posting -- people tend to form personas, and they definitely tend to be a bit more frank about their opinions and feelings than they would be in person.
Also, there's a percentage of people here aren't living in Korea because they want to, but because they're essentially trapped here due to the circumstances of their marriages/jobs/etc. I imagine that that could make one pretty bitter.

Perhaps most worryingly, there have been a number of recent political posts that have descended into outright paranoia and conspiracy theories.
SJWs, radical Marxists, antifa, Donald Trump - why do you care so much about this stuff if you haven't called America home for decades? (or ever, in some cases!)
I just don't understand it.
Some people like to bicker, and some, I suspect, just enjoy trolling. Right now, a lot of people are desk-warming and are bored (like myself at the moment, for example), which I imagine just exacerbates those tendencies.
 I, uh, might have done a bit of both back before they forced me to stop by making me a mod.

This forum is one of the biggest resources for teaching in Korea, but when newcomers see the same faces arguing furiously in every thread, they probably wonder what they are getting themselves into!
I mostly avoid using other people's teaching material because I'm really picky about the aesthetics of my ppts (although I shamelessly rip off classroom game/activity ideas), but yeah, this site was a godsend when I first arrived in Korea, mostly for the life-in-korea advice. There's a lot of helpful stuff here, that is, unfortunately, somewhat overshadowed by, well, less helpful stuff. Wish there was more that could be done to make the former more prominent!

Others seem to have retreated into fantasy, posting transparent fictions about their lifestyles - for whose benefit, I'm not sure.
Well, I'm not too sure about this.
I've met some real characters here in Korea! Could be that these transparent fictions about their lifestyles are unfortunately all too real.

Now excuse me, but I think I hear the car alarm for my Bentley Mulsanne Diamond Jubilee 2012 Edition going off, and it's quite the trek from the teacher's lounge of my fancy-pants International school (where I earn 7,000,000 won per month and have been awarded teacher of the month for 3 years running, and where my students actually spend all their class-time paying attention to me rather than trying to whack each other with their binders when the coteacher isn't looking on those very few days when she actually bothers to show up) so I had better go jog down and see what's what.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2021, 11:57:08 am by Kyndo »


  • oglop
  • The Legend

    • 4626

    • August 25, 2011, 07:24:54 pm
    • Seoul
Re: Long-term TEFL & Mental Health
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2021, 12:33:43 pm »
It might be a bit of both. Chicken and egg thing. Maybe they were weird to begin with which caused estrangement from their family, lack of friends in their home country, and limited job options. Perhaps overseas teaching attracts and retains weirdos. But living in Korea for 25 years without being able to speak Korean has got to take its toll mentally. It's an isolating experience.
yeah, maybe. someone needs to do a researched study on this


  • Liechtenstein
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1354

    • February 15, 2019, 04:39:00 pm
    • NE Hemisphere
Re: Long-term TEFL & Mental Health
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2021, 12:58:49 pm »
I'll tell you what affects me the most, living in the same place for many years. I find that difficult and it doesn't seem to matter where I live. As mentioned in another thread, I moved often from a child and into my 40's. I find it extremely challenging to be in the same place for a long time even if it is exactly what I am looking for. This leads to anger and outbursts and a strong desire to move...anywhere as long as it's different.

It's a problem that affects me and people close to me whom I love. I don't know how to deal with it.


  • OnNut81
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1820

    • April 01, 2011, 03:01:41 pm
    • Anyang
Re: Long-term TEFL & Mental Health
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2021, 01:16:40 pm »
This will be the second time today Iíve moaned about this but if it gets noticed...The way this site is set up is that the threads with heaviest traffic stay on the page and the others get shuffled off where, with the ridiculous myriad of sub forms, they are difficult to resurrect unless you know precisely what youíre looking for.  Iíve gone Loki g for a thread I wanted to add info to and didnít even know where to start looking multiple times. So, the threads people tend to see are the bickering ones that stay up longer. The more genial interesting threads like ďGreat bbq joints in Korea ď or ďeasy day trips from big cityĒ donít get the traffic that an argument thread does and all that good info tends to disappear. I would say thatís a big part of the reason the perception of this site is of people arguing and being annoyed. I disagree that many posters however, come across as being unhappy in Korea.

I mean whatever happened to the ďbest burgers in SeoulĒ thread.  An example of a good thread that couldnít possibly get the responses to stay up.  Van Islander managed to get a bit of scandal by going on about the best burger in Korea being one his father made back in British Columbia and had never been made here, but itís disappeared. A new site peruser wonít stumble upon it.

Now, reading my lengthy post largely about nothing Iím starting to question my mental health.


  • Kyndo
  • Moderator LVL 1

    • 1970

    • March 03, 2011, 09:45:24 am
    • Gyeongsangbuk-do
Re: Long-term TEFL & Mental Health
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2021, 01:32:34 pm »
Now, reading my lengthy post largely about nothing Iím starting to question my mental health.
Don't worry about it too much: in a few days, evidence of your in(s)anity will all get lost in the shuffle.  :wink:

But seriously, I may start a thread soon about possible ways of dealing with it, because I really do think that it's an issue that affects the overall usefulness of this site.
I enjoy debating opinions as much as the next person (well, that really depends on who's standing next to me I guess), but that's only a small part of what this site potentially has to offer.


  • 745sticky
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1226

    • March 26, 2020, 01:52:57 pm
    • Korea
Re: Long-term TEFL & Mental Health
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2021, 01:51:24 pm »
Perhaps most worryingly, there have been a number of recent political posts that have descended into outright paranoia and conspiracy theories.
SJWs, radical Marxists, antifa, Donald Trump - why do you care so much about this stuff if you haven't called America home for decades? (or ever, in some cases!)

I think you'll find this is the case at home as much as it is here, so I doubt it's indicative of anything.


  • L I
  • Waygook Lord

    • 5661

    • October 03, 2011, 01:50:58 pm
Re: Long-term TEFL & Mental Health
« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2021, 02:05:17 pm »
Is it as much the case among university graduates?


  • OnNut81
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1820

    • April 01, 2011, 03:01:41 pm
    • Anyang
Re: Long-term TEFL & Mental Health
« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2021, 02:06:14 pm »
Don't worry about it too much: in a few days, evidence of your in(s)anity will all get lost in the shuffle.  :wink:

But seriously, I may start a thread soon about possible ways of dealing with it, because I really do think that it's an issue that affects the overall usefulness of this site.
I enjoy debating opinions as much as the next person (well, that really depends on who's standing next to me I guess), but that's only a small part of what this site potentially has to offer.

Kudos to Kyndo if you can make some headway there.  Lots of good conversations have been lost here. I know there was a time when this site probably had to differentiate from ESL cafe in look but that site is pretty much dead in regards to the discussion boards. The simpler four or five forums made it much easier for a variety for stuff to be seen. Just think, with a current events forum people wouldnít even have to know about another US politics discussion.


  • oglop
  • The Legend

    • 4626

    • August 25, 2011, 07:24:54 pm
    • Seoul
Re: Long-term TEFL & Mental Health
« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2021, 02:55:16 pm »
Don't worry about it too much: in a few days, evidence of your in(s)anity will all get lost in the shuffle.  :wink:

But seriously, I may start a thread soon about possible ways of dealing with it, because I really do think that it's an issue that affects the overall usefulness of this site.
I enjoy debating opinions as much as the next person (well, that really depends on who's standing next to me I guess), but that's only a small part of what this site potentially has to offer.
dunno about anyone else, but if something isn't on the front page, i won't see it. it's all i check


  • hangook77
  • The Legend

    • 2958

    • September 14, 2017, 09:10:12 am
    • Near Busan
Re: Long-term TEFL & Mental Health
« Reply #13 on: January 19, 2021, 03:22:19 pm »
Do you think living abroad and teaching English can have a negative impact on your mental health?

Personally I have been living in Korea (and lurking on Waygook) for nearly seven years now, and for the most-part I still enjoy it.
There are frustrations, of course, but overall it's been a positive experience. No plans to return to NZ any time soon.

However, when I browse this forum I wonder about the psychological impact that teaching English abroad for a long time can have on some people.
A lot of the long-term posters on this site seem to be very angry individuals, frustrated with their lot in life, and in many cases seem to openly despise the Korean lifestyle and culture.
Others seem to have retreated into fantasy, posting transparent fictions about their lifestyles - for whose benefit, I'm not sure.

Perhaps most worryingly, there have been a number of recent political posts that have descended into outright paranoia and conspiracy theories.
SJWs, radical Marxists, antifa, Donald Trump - why do you care so much about this stuff if you haven't called America home for decades? (or ever, in some cases!)
I just don't understand it.

Do you think that the long-term TEFL lifestyle can have a negative impact on your mental health?
This forum is one of the biggest resources for teaching in Korea, but when newcomers see the same faces arguing furiously in every thread, they probably wonder what they are getting themselves into!

What happens in America eventually spreads to the rest of the world like it or not.  As long as they are the military, economic, and cultural super power you won't escape trends forever.  They do eventually spread.  Seeing how much Korea has changed over the last 10 years culturally and socially is a testimony to that.  Living abroad, you can't escape those things forever. 

As for the rest, not sure if TEFL has an impact on your life unless you hate it and dislike kids and stay in spite of it.  I guess it is like working a job back home you don't like and you stay in it.  If you make good money, you stay and tolerate it.  If you make poor money, you try to get out and or move onto something else. 

A lot of long termers were lured to Korea in a bait and switch kind of program.  A lot of folks came over here to make money and got married then got the F visa as a way to make serious dough or have huge savings potential.  Then, the market changed overnight and now many of those long term married expats are struggling as wages stayed the same and living costs rose a lot.  Also, the tutoring and side jobs dried up compared to before.  But they are stuck due to having a family.  I suppose that can create bitterness. 


Though anyone who got married in the past few years at least now knows what they are getting into with dimmer prospects unless they marry a woman with a good job or steady career herself. 


  • oglop
  • The Legend

    • 4626

    • August 25, 2011, 07:24:54 pm
    • Seoul
Re: Long-term TEFL & Mental Health
« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2021, 03:27:46 pm »
all of the people i know who have been in korea for a long time are not struggling. generally, if you have an F visa, some qualifications and enough experience, you won't be struggling to find a decent job or decent part-time work. where are you getting this information?


  • stoat
  • The Legend

    • 2087

    • March 05, 2019, 06:36:13 pm
    • seoul
Re: Long-term TEFL & Mental Health
« Reply #15 on: January 19, 2021, 03:35:15 pm »
all of the people i know who have been in korea for a long time are not struggling. generally, if you have an F visa, some qualifications and enough experience, you won't be struggling to find a decent job or decent part-time work. where are you getting this information?

Are you including Covid? I know a few people who've been struggling over the last year because of that.  I'm not sure if that's what hangook's referring to when he says the market changed overnight.


  • oglop
  • The Legend

    • 4626

    • August 25, 2011, 07:24:54 pm
    • Seoul
Re: Long-term TEFL & Mental Health
« Reply #16 on: January 19, 2021, 03:42:19 pm »
Are you including Covid? I know a few people who've been struggling over the last year because of that.  I'm not sure if that's what hangook's referring to when he says the market changed overnight.
i wasn't including covid, but that has also affected me, yes. i just presumed hangook was banging his normal drum of wages being terrible and was being overdramatic when he said things changed overnight. his next sentence is "wages stayed the same and living costs rose a lot" which doesn't sound covid-related (or something that happened overnight).

maybe he can clear it up for us ;)
« Last Edit: January 19, 2021, 03:50:20 pm by oglop »


Re: Long-term TEFL & Mental Health
« Reply #17 on: January 19, 2021, 03:50:14 pm »
Do you think living abroad and teaching English can have a negative impact on your mental health?

Personally I have been living in Korea (and lurking on Waygook) for nearly seven years now, and for the most-part I still enjoy it.
There are frustrations, of course, but overall it's been a positive experience. No plans to return to NZ any time soon.

However, when I browse this forum I wonder about the psychological impact that teaching English abroad for a long time can have on some people.
A lot of the long-term posters on this site seem to be very angry individuals, frustrated with their lot in life, and in many cases seem to openly despise the Korean lifestyle and culture.
Others seem to have retreated into fantasy, posting transparent fictions about their lifestyles - for whose benefit, I'm not sure.

Perhaps most worryingly, there have been a number of recent political posts that have descended into outright paranoia and conspiracy theories.
SJWs, radical Marxists, antifa, Donald Trump - why do you care so much about this stuff if you haven't called America home for decades? (or ever, in some cases!)
I just don't understand it.

Do you think that the long-term TEFL lifestyle can have a negative impact on your mental health?
This forum is one of the biggest resources for teaching in Korea, but when newcomers see the same faces arguing furiously in every thread, they probably wonder what they are getting themselves into!

Speaking for myself, I'll post my fair share of negative things and the main reason for that is simply to get it off my chest and get on with life. I'm pretty happy go lucky in the real-world.

While I take an interest in politics I will say that one needs to be careful; a few of my male friends have alienated themselves over the years as nobody wants to be around them when they constantly drone on about politics.
I'm not sure if taking an interest in politics made them a drag to be around or that they're simply depressed and when you're depressed you take interest in depressing things, but the theme and tone of contemporary politics
is almost completely negative.

It's my firm belief that, aside from the paywall, the US political wankfest is responsible for deterring any young bloods from joining this forum and gradually convincing veterans from just leaving this site.
Seriously, look at threads 2yrs back (if you can be bothered)... you'll find them same US political arguments made by the same people and nobody has changed their minds.

As soon as I see the words "Trump", "SJW", "liberal/conservative" etc. I stop reading a thread and feel sorry for the guys just arguing and being miserable. A movie marathon of 'Requiem for a Dream', 'Grave of the Fireflies', 'Amistad' and
the ending of 'Million Dollar Baby' would be less depressing than joining an argument with a bunch of guys derailing the millionth thread into US politics... during vacation, of all times!

I know this plea will fall on deaf ears, but please, stop derailing everything into US politics, it'll be the nail in the coffin for this site. EVERYONE aside from 3 or 4 guys has had enough of US political discussion.


  • VanIslander
  • Moderator LVL 1

    • 2282

    • June 02, 2011, 10:12:19 am
    • Seogwipo, Jeju Island
    more
Re: Long-term TEFL & Mental Health
« Reply #18 on: January 19, 2021, 09:36:13 pm »
1. The question of mental health comes up with the unhappy guys who complain and complain and complain but stick around. Living overseas is a JOY for some, but a labour to be endured for others. Figure out what it is for you. Love teaching or appreciate your lifestyle or bank coin or just have a good time!

2. Goals & hobbies. Those who seem unstable or miserable seem to have neither.

3. If you could re-live your time here, in its entirety, the good bad ugly and beautiful in Groundhog Day eternal recurrence, would you? Does this question elevate or depress you?

4. Did you have a good day today? Yesterday? What do you expect tomorrow to be like?


  • stoat
  • The Legend

    • 2087

    • March 05, 2019, 06:36:13 pm
    • seoul
Re: Long-term TEFL & Mental Health
« Reply #19 on: January 19, 2021, 11:10:04 pm »
Quote
+It's my firm belief that, aside from the paywall, the US political wankfest is responsible for deterring any young bloods from joining this forum and gradually convincing veterans from just leaving this site.
Seriously, look at threads 2yrs back (if you can be bothered)... you'll find them same US political arguments made by the same people and nobody has changed their minds.

There's space for everyone on a forum, that's the beauty of the internet. A bunch of old farts as you call them having a conversation about Trump doesn't preclude anyone else, including young bloods from having a conversation about BTS, Mukbang, Tik Tok or anything else they want to talk about. Getting annoyed at what others are discussing on an infinitely large medium is like  as Ricky Gervais pointed going to a town square, seeing an advert on a noticeboard for guitar lessons and saying 'but I don't f--cking want guitar lessons.'
« Last Edit: January 19, 2021, 11:12:43 pm by stoat »