What Challenges and Limitations do I expect?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009
This is another post in my Questions and Answers series, this time from Ivan.

I see challenges and limitations as somewhat separate entities, so I'll break this down.

What do I expect my biggest challenge to be?
Well, I believe that I'll have many challenges. Living in the country you've been raised in is challenging enough. When you move to a new country, it becomes even harder. While I have 23 years of "life experience" and some "Asia experience", I don't have a whole lot of "Korea experience". And yet I'm expected to enter into this new society and act like an adult. That's the expectation, but the reality is that I'm really much more like a "Korean baby," so to speak. I don't know the language, and while I understand a few customs, I certainly don't have them internalized. It will take me awhile to adjust to these things, and "grow as a Korean," but they will be expected of me from Day 1. Yes, I do get some leeway because I'm a foreigner and I should have some support from my school to help me with things, but largely I will be on my own. It'll be a challenge, but one that I'm ready to face.

Additionally, I worry about how things will go at my school. EPIK doesn't tell me what age group I'll be teaching or where in Daejeon my school is located until near the end of EPIK Orientation. Like many people going off to Korea, I don't have any formal teaching experience. I think it may be a challenge for me to conduct a class properly. I do enjoy working with kids, but usually I've worked with kids in an environment where they're energized and motivated. English education is mandatory in Korea, so the motivation may or may not be there. To most of these kids, English will be just like any other boring school subject, yet it'll be my job to keep them engaged. We'll see how it goes.

What do I expect my greatest limitation to be?
I kind of answered this above, but I expect my biggest limitation to be my unfamiliarity with Korean culture and language. Right when I get over to Korea, I'm basically going to be like a deer in headlights...and there really isn't anything I can do to change that, at least initially. And since I don't really know any Korean, I'll be somewhat limited in who I can befriend, and who I can have meaningful interaction with. I'll also have trouble dealing with day to day things that would be simple in the United States. I've already had some experience with this in Japan, but it was a year ago and the memories are already a lot less distinct than they used to be. I'm sure they'll be revived soon enough...I suspect I'll have more to right about this subject once I actually get to Korea and realize I have no idea what the person behind the fast food counter is saying to me!

That's all I have! Hopefully those answers provided some satisfactory insight.

I only have one more question left to answer, and while I'm aware of the issue, I'm not sure if I know enough of the details to give it a good answer. We'll see.

Feel free to give me some more questions! Otherwise I might have to resort to answering my own, and we definitely don't want to see that! ;-)


Pa said...

You're so silly! You know I'm here in Korea! Why didn't you just ask me?? 1. Get used to the fact that they (Koreans) will inform you things last minute. 2. It's all conversation. They have a book (hopefully) for you. You just have to read and have them repeat after you.