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  • littlebird
  • Explorer

    • 8

    • March 12, 2014, 01:26:57 am
    • Ohio, United States
Should I stay or should I go?
« on: March 07, 2015, 10:29:52 pm »
I just passed the 6 month point of my contract, and I have been thinking about leaving for a few months, but I haven't really been able to decide if it is the right or the wrong thing to do.

The first few months of my job were absolute hell. My boss didn't treat me well and took out his stress on other people, making for a toxic and highly stressful workplace. I pushed through and as I gained experience, it seemed to get easier and I adjusted to working in a hagwon as best I could.

Now with March and the new school year starting, classes have increased drastically, but no new hires were made and everyone got more hours added to their schedules. I know that some people have far more oppressive schedules, and I can appreciate that my situation is not as bad as others, but the increase has been a source of immense stress and exhaustion.

My Korean co-teachers are a bit hard to get along with, and act like a high school clique most of the time, which has left me feeling really isolated, upset and resentful of them. They also work fewer hours and complain about how busy they are so that the NET's have to help them. Usually I can understand, but it has gotten to the point where if they ask, I just end up feeling used and annoyed and it adds to the dangerous cocktail of negative emotions that just keeps getting stirred.

I am also worried that perhaps the stress is making me physically ill, as well as messing with my mental and emotional state.

I'm torn because as much as I dislike my job and being so stressed out, I don't want to feel like a failure, and there are things that I enjoy as well as things that worry me about leaving.

I really love the kids, and enjoy most of the classes that I have with them. My apartment is nice, my area is nice, Spring is coming. One of my Korean co-teachers is pretty great. My manager who was terrible at the beginning of the year is much kinder than he ever has been before.

If I were to go home, I would lose out on my severance, and would have to buy a car almost as soon as I land. I have to buy my own ticket home anyway, so that's not a thing I am losing, but is still contributing to my stress at this point.

I suppose I just feel completely lost and confused, and I am not sure what to do. I'm terribly sorry if this comes off as rambling and incoherent. I just would really love some help in trying to decide what I should do. I know that I'm the one who has to choose, but I'm having so much trouble with it that it's gotten me stuck in quite a rut.

  • taeyang
  • Moderator - LVL 4

    • 5507

    • September 08, 2010, 08:35:10 am
    • daejeon
Re: Should I stay or should I go?
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2015, 11:18:47 pm »
in times of uncertainty, it helps me to make a pros and cons list. have you tried something similar?

weigh out the positives and negatives of leaving - is it worth it to you?

at the end of the day, you have to make a decision that is good for you. you say you are past the halfway point ... in a few months you'll be finished the contract and able to leave. how do you feel about holding on for a little while longer? if it's something that you really cannot do, then leave.

good luck!
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  • Hitchens
  • Adventurer

    • 60

    • February 05, 2015, 04:26:15 pm
Re: Should I stay or should I go?
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2015, 11:34:34 pm »
I'm torn because as much as I dislike my job and being so stressed out, I don't want to feel like a failure, and there are things that I enjoy as well as things that worry me about leaving.

Getting out of an unhappy situation definitely does not make you a failure.  And if you choose to leave because of your treatment at work, do not feel guilty about it.  When bosses treat their employees like sh*t, the employees might quit.  That's just common sense.

Sadly, what you described is pretty common here.  Extra work, bitchy boss, and cliquey co-teachers are just par for the hagwon course. 

But if it were me, I would try to stick it out until the end of your contract.  Not out of any sense of loyalty, mind you, but just for the money.  Save up some cash and have a concrete plan for your future.  Don't go home (or anywhere else) unless you know what you want to do, because although working here can be stressful, at least it comes with a paycheck. 

Of course, if there are payment issues at your school, that is another story.

Good luck and think it through carefully before you make any decisions. 


  • KoreaBoo
  • Expert Waygook

    • 572

    • May 25, 2014, 04:00:42 pm
    • Korealand
Re: Should I stay or should I go?
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2015, 10:00:09 am »
I'd suggest you ignore the advice concerning lists.  Lists try to provide a logical and numerical approach to making a decision with the missing reality that each variable has a greatly different value.

I would suggest you try not go ignore the warning signs that you are experiencing, but are trying so hard to pretend they are not affecting you.  You're talking about stress, mental and physical health being affected.  THAT is a huge problem.  You're talking about being isolated and you generally don't like your hostile working environment.  You like kids, but for some reason you seem to act as if you won't be able to find a combination of kids + pleasant working environment.

That is absolutely possible.   

In short, trust your gut.  If you are at this point where you really want to pack it in, then pack it in and find a more suitable working environment.  It's not failure to leave a bad place, it's actually the smart thing to do (I've quit jobs on the spot in the past and never regretted it).

6 more months of additional stress is not worth whatever you think is coming to you at the end.  You have read more than enough stories about not getting what is owed to you here.  Open your eyes, look at yourself from an outside perspective and see if you would be willing t accept this BEFORE you were hired while knowing what you were getting into.  I'd suspect you'd refuse and find another place.

Quit, move on and be happier.  Hogwans are NOT worth your health (mental or physical) it in any sense.

Re: Should I stay or should I go?
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2015, 01:20:59 pm »
I too am extremely stressed in my job as new semester has meant more lessons and new co-teachers. I believe it will get better with time though, although this week I have not been happy.
You are not a failure if you leave, success can often be defined as the ability to go from one failed project to another without any loss of enthusiasm.
Also you came here and tried, if it didn't work out for you, you have still come further than most people.

Re: Should I stay or should I go?
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2015, 02:30:12 pm »
I know how you feel. I worked at a hellish hagwon 3 years ago and it also gave me stress including insomnia which I still haven't fully gotten over (before that job, I never had trouble sleeping). I thought about quitting as well, but somehow was able to stick it out. Really the only reason I did it was because I wanted to apply to public school after the contract, and it wouldn't look good reference wise that I quit my job.

It definitely wasn't easy and I was counting down the days until the end of my contract. You've just gotta decide what is best for you. If you are getting so stressed to the point it makes you physically ill, it may be best to move on.

  • tamjen
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1180

    • June 19, 2013, 08:08:14 am
Re: Should I stay or should I go?
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2015, 07:30:22 pm »
Quit, How much is your mental health worth to you?

I've quit a few jobs and the pleasure I have gotten over seeing the look on the boss's face when I walked was worth every penny.

Don't give notice, you're not legally obliged to. Walk into your boss's office, say "I quit.", and walk out.

10 years from now you'll look back on it fondly. You're teaching English in a Hagwan in Korea. It's hardly a golden nugget on your CV.
Hail Caesar

Re: Should I stay or should I go?
« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2015, 09:24:49 pm »
I've had a couple of bad jobs in Korea. I've experienced difficult co-workers, hectic teaching schedules, and other things that created a toxic workplace environment. In my case, I endured each contract because I wanted my severance payment and I wanted to continue working in Korea without any problems. I decided to just focus on teaching my students well (or, the best that I could under the circumstances), and to just accept that there were certain things out of my control. What I could control was my reaction to things, so I tried my best to become less stressed out over my situation. Whenever my schedule changed at the last second, I would just tell myself to do the best I could under the circumstances. When unpleasant co-workers tried to give me some of their work to do, I said no (in a pleasant way). I also tried to enjoy my free time as much as possible by traveling, hiking, meeting friends, etc.

I think a bad job is endurable, but only if you feel it's worth it (for severance pay, etc). It's certainly possible to quit and find another job. Just be sure to get a release letter... it may be a good idea to find a replacement so your boss will be more willing to give that to you.