It’s been roughly a fortnight since I finally boarded the plane with two suitcases and a hard-fought visa to start teaching in Seoul, South Korea. I’ve visited my brother (who I’m living with) here on several occasions, so the city itself didn’t scare me. I have, however, never taught children before. I have no education degree, no relevant qualifications from back home, but most other foreigners who come here to teach are exactly the same. It’s nuts.
So what have I been doing with my time? Learning, mostly, about a variety of different things. I don’t speak the language and consider myself to be largely defective when it comes to any other tongue than my native English, so delving into that has been challenging. Luckily though, every Korean I’ve encountered has been really accommodating and, to my surprise, keen to try out their English on a foreigner. Their English trumps my Korean any day of the week, so I’m pretty dedicated to matching them as soon as I can.
Learning to teach has also been top of the list, since I’ll be doing it full time in about two weeks. I’ve been shadowing teachers at the academy (mostly my brother, who teaches kindergarten) and getting to grips with the processes. The structure for lessons doesn’t cater to a lack of preparation and I’m going to have four classes to take care of, so here’s hoping that everything falls into place soon.
And finally, unsurprisingly, I’m learning how to take a damn photo. My brother and roommate, Alex Finch, is a pretty well-respected street photographer over here and has been shooting for almost three years. The apartment is pretty minimalist, more through spatial restrictions than anything else, but the clean-cut 27″ Mac desktop and the Nikon camera perched comfortably on the window ledge are a constant tribute to his work. Why wouldn’t I take tips?
Street fashion photography is a bit out of my jurisdiction with an iPhone 5s, but we spent some time shooting bits and pieces that we saw on the way through Gangnam and Sinsa, on the way to get some shopping and to where he normally shoots, respectively. With such a small camera, there isn’t really any nuance to it other than getting your focus right and making sure there’s more light than you can shake a stick at.
In the weeks ahead I’ll be pretty busy, but so far a simple pass-time has ended up being a lot of fun. As a media degree student I always like experimenting with social media anyway, but this has been extra fun – Instagram doesn’t support the written word well, so I’m forced out of my comfort zone a bit. Not a bad thing to try every now and then.