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  • kristenlm
  • Adventurer

    • 55

    • August 20, 2012, 09:52:16 am
    • Seoul-Sindang
My first day meeting my co-teacher was this:
  I had my first taste of Soju the night before so I was a little hungover. It was soooo hot and humid outside and I had to move my luggage around. When I put my luggage on the bus, I cut my finger which started bleeding alot. By the time we left to go to the district office I was hot, sweaty, tired and bleeding. Once the bus arrived at the district office, I had to pee. I asked the waiting teachers where the bathroom was in Korean. They told me and I went. After I was done, I met my co-teacher who actually was the one to tell me where the bathroom was. She was so nice. She drove me to my apartment. She met with my landlord and took me to the bank to cash my traveler's checks. She then took me out to lunch and helped me figure out what to eat. After, we went to the school, I met the Principal and VP. She then drove me to E-mart to get some things. She taught me how to get around my area. She was the best.

My first day at school is shorter than my first time meeting my co-teacher. I went to school on Monday. I had 2 whole days by myself. I met my other co-teacher and then was told that I would be making a video announcement to the entire school. I introduced myself and my co-teacher translated. My first class, I introduced myself and helped out the teacher with the games. She learned right off the bat that I was OK with making a fool of myself. I was teaching by Wednesday!


  • taewon
  • Super Waygook

    • 406

    • July 04, 2012, 12:00:38 pm
    • Seoul
I did set up my flight to arrive on a friday night(came early by 2 days), knowing I would be tired and jet lagged to death. I got a hotel and slept. I don't see how I could of taught after getting off the plane. I feel bad for anyone who got thrown to the wolves within hours of arriving. It's common sense! If your new employee flew half way around the world, and you ask them are you tired or hand them a marker and say teach.
"One year they asked me to be poster boy - for birth control."
Rodney Dangerfield


  • Jrong
  • The Legend

    • 2381

    • April 28, 2011, 12:52:32 pm
    more
Nothing special.

We were all really tired. Got picked up on time. Got to the apartment and crashed. Went out looking for food, didn't find anything tasty. Co-teacher was very un-Korean in that she was very well-organized, on top of everything. Showed me how to get to school the next morning.

First day she just let me chill in the back of class. First whole week same thing, only calling on me at random times then slowly adding more stuff to my plate throughout the month.

Easy transition considering we were traveling with a kid. The main problems happened stateside, before leaving for Korea. I remember the stress of having to pack up, sell everything (car, crib, all of it) in 5 weeks span of time....aaah good memories.... I remember our old apartment that has a f-in hole in the wall from when I got mad at how the door had come unhinged from carrying out the sofa and couldn't get it back on and while my kid was screaming in the other room and we're about to miss our flight I blew it and just slammed my fist into said wall. It was an old wall so my hand was OK.

Too much information, probably.
"When in doubt...ask Troglodyte" ~0mnslnd


  • papayapie
  • Super Waygook

    • 421

    • May 30, 2012, 10:30:06 am
    more
@taewon and tinpani

Haha, yeah it kind of sucked. It really just made me kind of sad, actually. It's like I just flew across the world and you don't even have the courtesy to make sure my apartment is a livable place?

It was a huge blow after being forgotten at the airport for five hours. I was so stressed and sad and it just started the vicious cycle of crappiness that has been my life since coming here. I sometimes wonder if my first day had gone as I had expected (picked up on time, friendly co-teacher, decentish apartment with enough supplies) if I would be happier here. First impressions mean a lot, and the first impression I got was that these people who hired me didn't give two craps about me. Not a great way to feel when starting a new job.


  • eveliens
  • Super Waygook

    • 352

    • November 05, 2010, 08:49:25 am
    • Seoul, Korea
My first day wasn't bad because I was picked up at the airport and taken directly to orientation, which was nice. But the day I was picked up to go to my village... I mean town... that was special. Mostly because my VP and CT picked me up and we sat in silence for 3.5 hours. Then I was dump-- introduced to my new abode by the hot water button being pointed out and a good bye because the school day had ended. Did I mention this was a Friday? I spent the weekend rather dazed and hungry [as my apartment was up on a mountain]. I also managed to get lost while exploring and didn't know where to tell the taxi to go to get home. Monday morning I asked the school nurse [who was driving me around to get my paperwork/documents/health check done], "Where's the food store?" There was this small gasp and then, "WHAT DID YOU EAT?!!" She showed me the bank, grocery store, bus station and train station (highlights of the village) and that was that.  :P

Not terrible but second time around my CT TOOK me to Emart and to meet the landlord, etc. It was easier for both of us :)


  • Janitor
  • Moderator - LVL 2

    • 959

    • June 14, 2010, 02:01:32 pm
    • Ulsan
Way back in 2003 was my first day. When I arrived I had to take a bus from Incheon to Kimpo. I was tired and had no idea where I was going. So some airport official took me by the hand (yes, we were holding hands...) and got me on the plane.

When I got into town, I was met by the recruiter who took me to the hogwan. One lady sat next to me in the back seat and asked me random questions. It was all very surreal at this moment.

When we got to the Hogwan I met my director and owner. They grunted at me and spent the rest of the time speaking Korea. They gave me a fibre One drink and just ordered me to drink it. They took me to a small mart and ordered me to buy something. I had no idea what I was looking at. A little annoyed he dumped a few things in the basket and then showed me my place.

My first day I watched a few lessons and had my first class which was a Grade 2 class or something like that. I thought every things was great until a kid ddong-chimmed me.  About a week later one of the teachers told me "uh... we sort of forgot about you... what do you eat?" I guess in the chaos that was the intensive week where I was working from 9-8 they forgot to help me. Thankfully my friends were already in the city and got me straightened out before they left on vacation.


  • Mattaru
  • Veteran

    • 151

    • April 26, 2012, 03:29:10 pm
    • Yeongam
Wow great stories. Looks like some of us got off on a seriously bad foot. Woke up on the wrong side of the country, as it were.


My first day I watched a few lessons and had my first class which was a Grade 2 class or something like that. I thought every things was great until a kid ddong-chimmed me. 


AHAHAHAHAAHAHAHA, that made me choke! The Korean baptism, eh? Welcome to Korea, lmao.


My first day was wrought with nerves. It's my first teaching job. I've only got a TEFL before this. I had 30 minutes to rush out of departure and catch Canadian Connections Bus heading from Incheon to Gwangju. Everything was eased off the moment I found them (and made it out of arrivals thankfully) on time. They were great! The orientation prepared us to expect the unexpected. Made some great friends, settled in, got accustomed to the culture and rhythm here right off.

Then came my first teaching day. I was interrogated by my co-teacher on the way to my apartment. I was shown a quick tour of my apartment. Then I was left to explore my small town by myself for the weekend which I enjoyed. Had no idea what to do for food though, that was confusing.

First day at school, Monday: I get there, and I'm dragged in front of the teacher's office, and had to mumble a quick introduction. No one understood a single word I said though, so that's okay, that remains sorta true up to now, where I try and talk with limited Korean.

Then, I'm dragged in front of the whole school for a speech. Oh boy. So the Principal gestures towards me, says something in Korean, says 'Mecchew' (Matthew) something something, and I think - HEY! That's my cue! Better hop on stage!
Hopped up there, went up to the podium. Turns out the principal hadn't finished speaking.  :-[ . . . Oh god. What an embarassment. After the kids had finished laughing, I went back up there and did the same sort of looking-forward-to-teaching-you-all speech.

That was then, 6 months ago. Now, I've settled in well. My co-teachers are amazing. My school is great, the students are lovely and it's all lesson planning -_-
My first day I watched a few lessons and had my first class which was a Grade 2 class or something like that. I thought every things was great until a kid ddong-chimmed me. 


  • adamjay
  • Veteran

    • 118

    • August 29, 2011, 08:06:10 am
    • Wonju
The first time I came out to Korea was through a recruiter who thought, after a five-minute conversation, I was perfect for the job.  It was a position at a hagwon in Gangwon-do.  I somehow managed to get to the bus station where the owner was supposed to pick me up, but he didn't show.  I only had one contact number, which was locked away in my dead phone, and after about a half a pack of cigarettes and a lot of hand gestures I communicated this to a sweaty cab driver, who took my phone, sniffed it, disassembled it, then walked away.  The owner did eventually show up about an hour later, and when I asked him about the phone he said, "Don't worry.  Korea phone number one."  (I eventually got it back.  Turned out the cabbie took it down the street to charge it for me.)

I'm not sure if it was the first day exactly, but it was difinitely the first week, when a kindergarten student presented me with a welcoming balloon.  His face was just glowing.  And just as I reached for it another kid popped it with a pencil.  Poor little guy started weeping and he peed himself right there. 

I don't know how other experiences at hagwons were, but I only remember the actual teaching as a blur.  Seems like everyday it was, "New students, here's a book, go teach."  Preparation wasn't even an option.  Just had to wing it.


Mostly my transition went smoothly.  Since I went through KorVia, I got a free ride to my apartment.  I got in at the airport at around 7 or so.  Since I always get to the airport quickly, my baggage goes on the plane first, meaning that it always come off last, so I had to wait a while.  I got picked up by a cab driver that was all paid for and he drove me for about an hour to my new apartment, where I was met by my co-teacher.

It was extremely quick-- I was expecting for her to take me shopping, 'cause everyone had told me I'd get a shopping trip to get things that I needed.  The apartment was a mess.  Not as bad as some of the stories here, but it was pretty bad.  Everything was broken, there were used tissues, shoes, garbage and wet towels all over the dusty floor.

My co-teacher left after giving me a pamphlet on Korean apartment survival.  I called my mom and just started crying, thinking of how I'd just made a huge mistake and that this was my reality for a year.  I fell asleep crying and woke up to the city sounds.  I found that my co-teacher had bought me a juice box and I had some animal crackers from my plane trip, so I feasted while I rearranged the furniture.  After a little love, my aparment looked worlds better!

I was angry at first that the apartment sucked so much, but later found out that my predecessor was a slob.  Apparently, my co-teacher hired two cleaning ladies to clean the apartment and they refused to touch it unless she helped.  She says they filled eight large garbage bags with junk left behind.  And it was STILL messy when I got there!  According to my co-teachers, she would also leave coffee cups and ABC gum on (not under) her desk for months at a time.  Nasty.  Compared to her, I must look like the cleanest person in the world!

I got a few hump days at school where I watched the co-teachers teach as I sat in the back of the room, smiling at any students who looked my way curiously.  After a few days, I helped teach my first class ever and easily grew comfortable in front of the little whippersnappers.  Now it's just natural. 

It's always a good feeling to know how far I've come since I first landed in Korea.  Even though I feel like I'm barely keeping my head above the water sometimes, at least the waters are not as shark-infested as they once were.  :D


  • orangeman
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1768

    • September 01, 2011, 09:56:35 am
    • Seoul-East Side
Well, if we're going to talk about our accommodations...

I stayed in a love motel for my first week.  As I said, it wasn't so bad.  Except that I found a used condom under my bed one night.  As gross as that is, I actually checked the room pretty thoroughly when I got there, and it wasn't like this thing was hiding in the shadows.  I noticed it almost right when I walked in.  So, like, was someone in my room doing it while I was gone?  My best explanation was that the cleaning lady 'swept' (as good as they 'sweep' here) and pulled it from a corner or something, not noticing it. 

When I did get to my place I learned that I would be sharing with two other guys.  My room consisted of a stained tiny mattress on the ground, with ants marching in every direction.  Of course that mattress was the only thing that cell could fit.  But whatever, I was in my 20s and up for adventure.  I had a great, if not hectic, year there.  I've worked my way up, but you really have to lower your standards on lodging here.  Invest in a good bed, prioritize hygiene and safety over space, and it'll be fine. 

One thing I think is funny is that I've been told by Koreans (the same ones) that a) It is the Korean way to clean your apartment before you leave; and b) It is the Korean way to leave the apartment dirty and for the new people to clean it.  Like most things here, the "Korean way" is incredibly flexible yet undeniably rigid depending on the needs of who's speaking. 


Had a few hiccups, but overall I couldn't complain with my first days.

Flew from Manchester-Doha-Incheon with Qatar Airways, arriving on the Thursday night. Due to a delay I ended up having to run like a mad man to catch the connection flight. Didn't care, I'd been in Doha airport before and knew it wasn't really a place to stay very long!

Caught the flight, didn't sleep as I knew I was arriving into Korea in the evening so could sleep then. Got off the plane...waited for my luggage...and waited...and waited. Nope, off I went to the customer service desk to be informed that my luggage hadn't made the connection and would be delivered the next day. Called my recruiter (Jean at Korvia) who was amazing, gave them my address and basically sorted the whole mess out for me.

Went out to arrivals where I was met by the driver Korvia send to pick you up. He was nice enough. Weather was really gloomy, grey sky, kinda what I had imagined before I came but didn't think would be the reality...thoughts went through my head is it like this the whole time!? Luckily the next day was a nice clear blue sky day and my mind was at ease. Anyway, driver brought me to Bucheon which didn't take long, I sat in the car in the street while he went to try and find my coteacher.

Met my coteacher about 20 minutes later. Seemed really nice, took me to my apartment and then walked me to school. It was at night, very confusing. Then went to eat dinner, tteokboki and kimbap, welcome to Korea! Loved it, to be fair. Then back to my apartment and she went home. I decided I'd go outside and walk to school myself, writing the directions down in my phone so I wouldn't get lost the next morning.

Next day arrived at school. Found my coteacher who introduced me to the other English teachers, Vice Principal etc, all who found the fact I was wearing a hoody and tracksuit bottoms pretty funny. Met the Principal who was a bit more concerned, I felt like an idiot but hey it was the airlines fault! Basically sat in my classroom for the whole day making my lesson plan for the next week. Spent most of the day bored. Had a meeting at the end of the day with other English teachers and realised they were all pretty cool (pretty hot, too!).

Had a walk around the neighbourhood, got lost, found again, home, had my luggage delivered around 10pm. Talked on the phone with a Korean friend I'd met on a trip to America a month or so before. Slept!

Next day my recruiter called me, gave me the phone numbers of some other new teachers in my area so we could arrange to meet and go to Seoul for their welcome party. Met about 10 people who are now like my family here. Got back to Bucheon around midnight, into the foreigner bar they'd been to. Few drinks, and then had the manager helping me get a cab home as I didn't have a clue where to go.

Sunday I don't remember, I guess a hangover day, maybe met friends for lunch or something. Scared myself silly over my lesson plan.

Into school Monday morning, taught 5 classes and loved it.

Pretty stress free and enjoyable welcome to Korea!


  • rocketeerjoe
  • Expert Waygook

    • 769

    • March 08, 2012, 07:52:35 am
    • Jinhae, South Korea
Re: what was your first day off the plane like? and/or your first day teaching?
« Reply #31 on: November 05, 2012, 03:31:14 pm »
I asked my co-teacher in advance if I needed to prepare anything. He said no, don't do that. You don't need to do anything.

First day comes along and I'm looking to him and he looks at me and with wild panicked movements of his arms, says "Say something in English!"

He didn't have anything. And neither did I. I wound up just grabbing objects from around the room and making a lesson plan impromptu out of whatever I found. It was supremely awkward!

My first day in Korea I had a special toilet in the hotel that squirted me in the patoot. That's all I remember.
"If you want to change your direction. If your time of life is at hand. Well, then don't be the rule, be the exception. A good place to start is to stand. Just put one foot in front of the other." - Rankin Bass Santa Claus


Re: what was your first day off the plane like? and/or your first day teaching?
« Reply #32 on: November 05, 2012, 06:27:55 pm »
I asked my co-teacher in advance if I needed to prepare anything. He said no, don't do that. You don't need to do anything.


Most of the Korean teachers I have worked with are not familiar with the concept of lesson preparation.
"The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do."  Steve Jobs


  • Jeff619
  • Expert Waygook

    • 816

    • May 26, 2011, 08:12:52 am
Re: what was your first day off the plane like? and/or your first day teaching?
« Reply #33 on: November 06, 2012, 07:05:49 am »
I arrived on New Year's Eve.  The woman I was replacing at my hakwon was still in the apartment so my director put me up in a motel.  A love motel.  That was a shocker.  Pornos in the hallway and the room was really strange.  I started to wonder what I got myself into.  The next morning I was to move in to my apartment.  The woman I was replacing got drunk the night before and completely wrecked the place.  Smashed the windows, destroyed the bathroom, just about any damage she could do.  My director tried to keep this secret because he didn't want me to have any seconds thoughts about working there but I found out later from the other NETs that they called her Crazy Wendy because she was really batshit.  Anyway I finally moved in and started class on Monday morning.  One student offered to take me out to dinner.  We went to a nice shabu shabu restaurant and it was very pleasant.  Then he took me to a bar and we had a couple of drinks and said he'd take me somewhere special afterward.  The special place was a room salon.  Now, I have nothing against strip clubs and have visited a few in my life.  But room salons are another story and I just wasn't into it.  The whole situation seemed very inappropriate, especially given that I was his teacher.  This was my first night teaching and I still had illusions that this might be a somewhat professional job.  So I politely declined and we left.  He never came back to my class after that.