Interview With An EPIK Teacher ft. Jim Halpert

After my last post with an EPIK Teacher was successful I decided to do another one! Let you know the different types of people that come here (Even if they have the same name).

So let’s start with the basics. What’s your name?

Jessica Sealey

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Where are you from?

A little town called Bewdley about 45 minutes away from Birmingham in the UK.

How old are you?

I’m 22 but 24 in Korean age *looks at the camera like Jim from the office*

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Where do you live in Korea?

Daegu (or “daefrica” as the locals call it). It’s the hottest city in Korea and I’m slowly dying. I love Daegu though, and I think I could see myself staying here for longer.

What did you do before you decided to become at Korean school teacher?

I graduated from uni and did a bit of retail work and a bit of teaching assistant work.

Why did you choose Korea?

I was researching about teaching abroad for ages before I actually applied to Korea. I was looking at the usual (Thailand, Vietnam etc) and then my friend told me he was interested in doing TEFL in Korea. I looked into it and was hooked from the minute I started reading about it. I’m not gonna lie, the money and benefits you get in Korea was definitely a huge pro for me, but it also felt like it was really different and somewhere that I’d be pushed out of my comfort zone more.

What do you miss the most about home?

My dog and family, v cliché sorry. Moving away has made me appreciate my family even more & reminded me how lucky I am to have such amazing parents.

Language, food, immigration, all expected challenges. What’s been the biggest unexpected challenge so far?

I’m honestly struggling with this one. I can only think of petty things like shops not stocking my shoe size. Sorry for the s****y response.

Has your time in Korea changed your worldview on anything? Or is everything pretty much the same?

It definitely has, but I’m not sure how. I think my political/societal views have grown stronger because I’m living in a country that puts a much, much higher emphasis on tradition than what I’m used to.

What has it been like to observe your home country from abroad through a multicultural lens with everything that has happened there since you’ve arrived (the concert, the election, the fire etc etc)?

It’s been quite weird. I watched the general election live at work, which I’m not used to because normally I have to stay awake all night to watch it (so yay for time zones?). With the terrorist attacks and Grenfell fire, it was the first time I realised how far away I was from home. Normally I watch these events unfold on TV and now I’m just scrolling through the twitter news feed trying to figure out what happened whilst being handed rice cakes and icecream by my colleagues.

What is the best part about working with Korean kids?

The constant compliments that boost your day. Watching them grasp things like intonation and feeling so proud of them. The unexpected things they come out with like “IT’S NOT A SKY TRAIN, IT’S A MONORAIL”, and quietly singing “we’re going to the zoo, zoo, zoo” to themselves.

The worst?

Not having full control over them due to language barriers. When they start misbehaving, my colleagues have to explain what they did wrong/what their punishment will be, etc. I’m used to disciplining children and having them understanding every word I say, so it can be a challenge.

5 years ago did you ever think you would move to Korea to be a school teacher? If 5 years ago you didn’t think you would be here, what did you think you would be doing?

No, no, no. Definitely not. I thought I would be getting a teaching qualification and teaching in the UK.

What’s your favorite Korean food?

Bibimbap. All day everyday. I’m vegetarian so I’ve become quite good at telling restaurant workers to leave meat out of my dish.

Any final thoughts? Or anything else you want to share?

Before I made the move to Korea, I had a couple of moments where I thought about backing out and not going through with the final part of the application process. I’m SO SO glad I did. Always push yourself to do things that you think are going to make you feel uncomfortable.

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