1.4 Spring 2020 (COVID Archives)

May 6, Hi

I have to be honest– I’ve written and erased several posts. I want to keep positive for you instead of falling into a black hole of speculation.

So let’s focus on the accomplishments this week.

My Hong Kong tutor told me I have a talent for writing quickly. Most of her students need three hours to churn out the same essay I can write in under an hour.

I agreed with her and added that when I studied Korean 1 at Hankuk University last summer, I was also very quick in writing compared to my classmates. It’s easy to write in any language when I have a lot to say.

I can’t say I’m fast at educational or persuasive essays, but writing diary-like entries about my drama or the cute trainer at the gym is deceptively easy. In fact, after our lesson, I was so inspired that I started on tomorrow’s entry– the first paragraph is dedicated entirely to describing that PT. Let it be a true diary entry!

(He’s married, y’all, calm down. He’s nice… and nice to look at.)

Okay, aside from objectification I have achieved something that remains out of reach for the woman new to the gym. The elusive chin up… is mine!

For the past two months I’ve been training for chin ups (pull ups are next but baby steps) by doing static hangs in a chin up position. It’s hard and I shake and get out of breath in under a minute. Today on a whim I decided to see if I could jump into a chin up from the ground. I looked side to side– okay, the squat rack frame is open and the other three men around are absorbed in curls so let’s give it a try.

I jumped and pulled myself so far past a chin up that I actually said “F*** yeah!” in happy shock looking at myself smiling a head above the pull up bar. I dropped and walked away… then thought, I should try one more, so I got off the exercise bike and stalked towards the pull up rack again. And… another one! And one more! The fourth one didn’t meet my rigorous standards so we can say I’m able to jump into three chin ups.

I’ve decided since I can’t leave the country and don’t have vacation time I’ll just get really fit instead. My four pack is coming in and this three dozen pallet of eggs says I’m well on my way.

This was a great high to a morning of lows: C never actually alerted security about the man since it would create a situation that would require VP and Principal involvement. She offered to alert them anyway but I declined; I understand but a part of me thought, I have nothing to be ashamed of. It was one of yours who took a crazy turn and threatened my safety. I can’t be silenced!

Well, I suppose I was since I didn’t ask her again to tell security. If he does find a way to contact me again, I am unleashing my Korean army on him.

C brought up again that S had me plan and lead grade 4, and we can do the same right? Of course, I told her, but how far are the students along in their online studies? I have no access to the system which once again reinforces the assistance aspect of my job. This is of course at odds with leading a class: I want to, of course, that’s why I’m studying for my teaching license, but the strange divide between my job description and duties confuses me.

Some schools ask their foreign teachers to lead all the classes– even though we don’t have access to the grading system, homeroom teachers, parents, school system…

But as my mother reminded me, the disappointments of this semester are of course just an arrow further pointing me in another direction. Right now I have the office time to work towards my teaching certification and study Korean.

As the end is nearing, I took up the job search again. My hesitation is that with my lack of qualifications (hard requirements: teaching license), I’m still in the “entry level” bucket with all the recent poli-sci majors who only came here to travel and meet BTS. Wading through the piles of depressing entry level jobs whose sole requirements are “speak English, be alive” can make my job feel useless. Y’all, I really like teaching English and I’ll wax poetic about uncountable nouns until you stop me.

But the desired timing of my next contract, October, is an off month so private schools won’t be hiring. I don’t want to work at an afterschool academy; though they are plentiful they fall into that “any warm body will do” job category. That leaves me with private kindergartens, many of which went under during the virus, or public schools that hire outside of the national EPIK system.

As we’ve discussed, there are some that hire monthly: Gyeongnam, which is my top choice at the moment, and the newly-occurred-to-me Jeollanam Office of Education. Because these areas are more rural (and pleas remember South Korea has 50 million people in a country half the size of Florida so “rural” means something different to Koreans than Americans) pay is higher and there are more over time opportunities such as host English class for other Korean teachers, help out at the senior center, etc.

Korean Cities and Korean Provinces Guide | Gone2Korea
I work in area 1. Gyeong(sang)nam and Jeollanam are the two provinces in the south. Image source: https://www.gone2korea.com/korean-cities-and-provinces-guide/

I still won’t be the lead teacher– I’ll need a different visa and my teaching license in hand to get to a position like that.

So I’m in a strange limbo. I’m not qualified for the jobs I want but (feel) overqualified for the jobs available. I could wait and apply to jobs in March but hanging out somewhere for almost 7 months with no income doesn’t pan out for me, especially since I plan to move to China after this next Korea contract.

(Can you imagine how strong I’ll be by next year with my Korean skills, my soon-to-be-acquired Chinese skills, and of course four pack? Unstoppable.)

In any case, I’m starting to talk to recruiters and am keeping an eye out for my next contract.

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