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Hi - still Stateside - looking for Yeonggwang info
« on: February 28, 2008, 09:30:46 pm »
Hi all,

Hi - I'm a former TEFL teacher (Prague) returning to the trade.

I will hopefully be coming to Korea within a month to teach English, and one of my recruiters suggested, after I made it clear that I didn't want to live in Seoul,  Yeonggwang. 

I would really appreciate any insight anyone could give me into this option, as there doesn't seem to be that much info about the area on the web, other than it has a nuclear reactor, and is known for dried fish delicacy :)

Thanks for your time, and hopefully I'll be in the area soon!



Re: Hi - still Stateside - looking for Yeonggwang info
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2008, 10:13:56 pm »
Hi all,

Hi - I'm a former TEFL teacher (Prague) returning to the trade.

I will hopefully be coming to Korea within a month to teach English, and one of my recruiters suggested, after I made it clear that I didn't want to live in Seoul,  Yeonggwang. 

I would really appreciate any insight anyone could give me into this option, as there doesn't seem to be that much info about the area on the web, other than it has a nuclear reactor, and is known for dried fish delicacy :)

Thanks for your time, and hopefully I'll be in the area soon!



I am currently a teacher in Yeonggwang yearning to get out and teach in Seoul, I would like to compare notes if you are up to it.  I have been here about 7-8 months and it is driving me screaming mad...


Re: Hi - still Stateside - looking for Yeonggwang info
« Reply #2 on: February 29, 2008, 08:13:08 am »
Vessel:

Would love to compare notes... although I must admit to you I know very little about Yeonggwang or Korea.  Is Yeonngwang that bad?

I chose against Seoul because I figured that  if I was going all this way around the world I wanted to be in a place that would challenge me.  I didn't want to be just the expat with the expat friends, who never learned the local language.  (I did that in Prague).  So a place like Yeonggwang seems like the kind of place where I will be forced to learn the customs and language, and the place that will "inspire" me to get out often and explore other parts of the country.

If I were in Seoul, I know I would just end up being in Seoul all year, comparing which Starbucks has the best lattes with my American best friend/drinking buddy, while nursing a hangover. ;)  (Nothing against any of the components of that sentence, except maybe Starbucks). I've done that before... for years actually, just not in Korea.  I've also been living in San Francisco for the last 9 years - while I know this is not exactly anything like Seoul, my neighborhoods definitely have the urban feel - I think the country would be a nice change to that, for a year at least.   Time for a change for me.

Should I look elsewhere in your opinion? 

What are the locals like?  The kids? I have requested to be placed in a high school.  How hard is it to find a western toilet?  This last one is the most truly important thing - coz no matter how hard I figure, I can't imagine a safe way to do a #2 in a squatter while being clothed ???,  ;D

Thanks!


  • Arsalan Lavang
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Re: Hi - still Stateside - looking for Yeonggwang info
« Reply #3 on: February 29, 2008, 01:14:21 pm »
Hey Tman,

Sorry for not replying to your questions sooner, I've been busy with work.

I've taught in YeongGwang for a year, and quite frankly, for what I wanted it wasn't too bad.  The air is clean in this little town, and if you're teaching at the high-school (as I did), you'll find it fairly easy.  The students are really nice, and like to hang out or go to Korean restaurants.  There are a lot of opportunities there to learn the language as many of the teachers, and students, even engineers at the power plant want to do some language exchange.  You can learn the alphabet easily on your own, takes about two hours of dedication to memorize it.  Understanding the language comes with practice, but I got rather lazy myself.  The high-schools, middle, and elementary schools all have regular toilets (with heated seats!!) to accommodate the foreign teachers.  So did my apartment, and I had a fantastic view from the balcony.

That being said, as with any experience that can span a year, there will be negatives (I personally complained a lot).  This all depends on you.  I experienced some negative things, but I think it was mostly my reaction to certain events in my life.  I am glad I went through it though, it was therapeutic (for lack of a better word).  If you're a sociable person who's interested in a quiet town to do your own thing from time to time, and travel to other cities on your days off, YeongGwang isn't bad at all (it's an hour away from Gwangju, and Mokpo, the big cities where people shop and do the Star bucks thing).

I've worked with Vessel for a little while at the English Town (summer camp).  He knows my frustrations had more to do with some of my "unrealistic" expectations, and with the administration at the English Town (I am a little hard headed).  You just need to stand your ground some times, especially with vacation times.  They tend to trick people in staying around when they could head off on a trip somewhere during off time.  I nearly missed a two month vacation opportunity in Nepal and India, but I took it anyway, and it went great.  If they tell you that you "can't" because the government doesn't allow you, just pretend you agree with them, stating you'll be in Seoul (technically I was at the airport for short time), and do your thing out of the country if that's what you want.

I've started teaching English here in Calgary, it's been a month, and it has put things back in Korea into perspective.  I had it pretty good when it came to my salary and responsibilities.  If I do go back to S.Korea however, it will be in a bigger city, since I've done the small town thing.

If you do decide to go to YeongGwang, I hope it all goes well for you.  Give us an update :)

I have posted some photos of my old apartment in the "Teacher Accommodations" Board.

p.s.  Vessel, the CDs are on the way :)
« Last Edit: February 29, 2008, 01:16:50 pm by Momo »
My heart is bursting into starlight


Re: Hi - still Stateside - looking for Yeonggwang info
« Reply #4 on: February 29, 2008, 09:08:21 pm »
Thanks Momo!

I'm curious about what you mean about about "unrealistic" attitudes? And what the negatives were - not that I want to pick at a scab or anything  :)

The recruiters all seem so... slimy for lack of a better word.  Like they're selling a used car to a blind little person.

Its just so hard to find info you trust - though the view from your balcony seems priceless.

Have  you heard of Sinju High School?

And how do these camps work? Can I get out of them?

Thanks!


  • Brian
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Re: Hi - still Stateside - looking for Yeonggwang info
« Reply #5 on: February 29, 2008, 09:27:27 pm »
I'll add my two cents on rural living.  I wasn't in Yeonggwang, though I was in a town pretty similar. 

After spending a year in urban Korea I decided to move out to the country to practice my Korean, experience some Korean culture, and make some Korean friends.  And while I had a decent year overall, and I learned a hell of a lot, I think I had some unrealistic expectations, too.  First of all, when somebody---whether a teacher or a recruiter---talks about "go to _______ and experience Korean culture" that usually means "there's lots of old people."  Jeollanam-do has a lot of farming and fishing, and is obviously a slower pace of live than Seoul.  Just be aware that "Korean culture" also means computers, cell phones, shopping, neon lights, tall buildings, and traffic . . . not just the bucolic stuff recruiters tell you.

On the one hand, life in my town was very slow and very quiet.  It was quite scenic and I enjoyed hiking, visiting local villages, and travelling around to nearby towns and counties.  The townspeople were generally quite friendly, and as there wasn't much of a foreigner presence or any English-speakers, I got to speak Korean 99% of the time.  Can't say I learned as much Korean as I hoped, but I did learn quite a bit of this part of the country, and did get to experience a part of Korean life very few Americans will ever see. 

On the other hand, the loneliness could be quite tough.  Weeks or a  month would go by without me speaking or hearing any English beyond what went on in the classroom.  And, a mistake my dumbass made was that I wanted to make some Korean friends, but it never occurred to me that going to an economically depressed area would make it really difficult to meet people my age.  No jobs meant no young people.  I was 25-26 last year, and there was no one my age, no one to really talk to.  The townspeople were all nice, and I never had any problems for them, but social options were really limited because people much older or much younger than me obviously led really different lives. 

I also walked into a sh*tty situation at one of my schools.  That made life pretty tough at times.  I would have been keen to re-sign in that area were it not for the sh*t I'd have to deal with at school. 

Momo and Vessel---and I think there are 2 other Yeonggwang people here---can give you more specifics on Yeonggwang.  But I like the rural areas of Jeollanam-do.  While you'll have to make some sacrifices, it's not like you'll be living in a tent on a rice paddy.  I just wanted to add that there are plenty of people down here out in the boonies who spend all their time at the many Starbucks clones, eat nothing but Western food, and do nothing but hang out with other foreigners.  And, there are people in Seoul who successfully combine Western and Korean ways of life.  Anyway, so long as your school seems on the up and up, life here will be fine.  The locals are nice, transportation is good, and there's quite a bit to see and do.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2010, 08:58:07 am by Dayle »
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Re: Hi - still Stateside - looking for Yeonggwang info
« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2008, 11:47:14 am »
I currently live in Yeonggwang.  I live in Momo's apt and "teach" at the middle school and high school.  If you like the outdoors, there is hiking nearby.  Malmusan is right behind my apt.  A 20 minute bus ride will get you to Bulgapsa.  That mountain has parts that are challenging.  Also Mudong is in Gwangju.  In town, I found a little coffee shop with couches (a little expensive) but nice to hang out in.  I also enjoy wandering around town walking down the alleys and discovering little restaurants therein.  It's like finding a hidden treasure...  My co-teachers are really nice, very helpful, kind and all speak English very well.  I have made some friends with some Koreans who live here and have nothing to do with school or ESL.  I also have made friends with some migrant workers from Phillipines and Nigeria.  It is lonely sometimes as the opportunity for Western interaction (meaning not having to speak slowly or explain yourself) is limited.  The kids are pretty entertaining.  Except the first grade middle school.  Bunch of brats!  I love seeing my kids outside school when I'm out shopping or something.  Even though Yeonggwang is small, you can get almost everything you need.  Like to sing?  Plenty of norae bongs.  Like the public bath?  Lots of those, too.  Coffee?  Soju?  Beer?  Lots of hofs and restaurants.  (You'll have to go to Gwangju for Western food, except pizza and fried chicken.)  There are only a few grocery items I can't get in Yeonggwang.  But clothes, shoes and beauty shops abound.  If you don't like being alone, Yeonggwang would be a bad choice.  It is a small town, and so does have the limitiations of small towns.  I have lived in small towns most of my life, so it doesn't bother me.  As for the comment by someone else that they didn't have anyone their age to hang out with, why does it need to be someone your age?  We are foreigners in a foreign country.  We need ex-pat support and some kind of social network, even if it means talking to someone not your age.  Despite the occasional loneliness I like Yeonggwang very much.  I do know a couple of other English teachers here who do not share my opinion.  So I think the main question is:  What lifestyle are you used to and most comfortable with?  How well you get along in any city is not really the city, but your attitude.  Maybe I'll see you soon....:)


  • Brian
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Re: Hi - still Stateside - looking for Yeonggwang info
« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2008, 12:31:51 pm »
Good post.

Quote
As for the comment by someone else that they didn't have anyone their age to hang out with, why does it need to be someone your age?  We are foreigners in a foreign country.  We need ex-pat support and some kind of social network, even if it means talking to someone not your age. 

No, I meant that there were no Koreans my age.  There weren't sociable foreigners in town either, but I was more interested in making Korean friends.  Like I said, the townspeople were friendly and there's nothing barring somebody from being friendly with Koreans of all ages, and I met plenty of delightful people young and old . . . but most people'd agree that as a young person it's nice to meet Korean young people.  Hanging out with older Koreans, in my experience, pretty much always led to me "practicing English" with their children, which can be tiring.  Anyway, just my opinion.

« Last Edit: March 01, 2008, 12:41:58 pm by Smee »
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Re: Hi - still Stateside - looking for Yeonggwang info
« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2008, 02:46:11 pm »

I'm curious about what you mean about about "unrealistic" attitudes? And what the negatives were - not that I want to pick at a scab or anything  :)
...

Have  you heard of Sinju High School?

And how do these camps work? Can I get out of them?


My problems were related to things that were happening back home, and my inability to do anything about it while here.  So, it was always on my mind.  The "negatives" I experienced from Koreans, aren't isolated to the part of Jeollonamdo I lived in.  It had to do with me taking my religion more seriously, and still getting pushed by others to stop behaving this way.  I never had a sip of soju with the teachers, didn't womanize as was expected from me (oddly), and didn't do full-bows to people as I never accepted their subservient attitude towards any form of authority.  I don't agree with the phrase "when in Rome, do as Romans."  Part of the agreement is that the exchange taking place includes me coming with my identity, and the willingness to teach and get something positive from their culture (which I did at the end).  So, they didn't like me much for my hardheadedness, but I am glad I stood my ground.

I am not sure about the name of my high-school, but perhaps wattawoman can help you with this.  The school gave me the option to do the camps or not.  They strongly suggested I do, since they needed me.  However, be careful with the English Town in YeongGwang.  If they need to step all over your scheduled vacation time, they will.  I told them ahead of time that I needed to leave on a certain day, yet as a last minute thing (for the convenience of the administration), they shifted the first day of camp a day or so, and it messed my travel plans.  The tickets were already paid for, so I just told them that I couldn't make it on that final day of camp for ceremonies (a couple of hours of smiling and pretending you understand Korean as certificates are handed out).  They didn't like it, but hey, I am not letting people step all over me.  Had they told me I had absolutely no choice, I would have still not showed up, and called sick from the airport.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2008, 02:48:12 pm by Momo »
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Re: Hi - still Stateside - looking for Yeonggwang info
« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2008, 12:46:45 pm »
Thanks Momo!

I'm curious about what you mean about about "unrealistic" attitudes? And what the negatives were - not that I want to pick at a scab or anything  :)

The recruiters all seem so... slimy for lack of a better word.  Like they're selling a used car to a blind little person.

Its just so hard to find info you trust - though the view from your balcony seems priceless.

Have  you heard of Sinju High School?

And how do these camps work? Can I get out of them?

Thanks!

Wow.  Different people really have different experiences here.  I can give you my opinion and examples of what I have suffered here, but only in private message or email me if you want.


Re: Hi - still Stateside - looking for Yeonggwang info
« Reply #10 on: March 02, 2008, 04:00:47 pm »
Hi all,

Hi - I'm a former TEFL teacher (Prague) returning to the trade.

Whats funniest about this whole deal is I would absolutely KILL to work in Prague.  I want to see that place so bad I have dreams about it.