Back Bone

It’s dead quiet in the office. Just what I need. I’ve been given the period off from teaching because the students are doing a reading activity. This week has been overwhelming, to say the least. I brought my happy-go-lucky, ecstatically happy attitude with me from South Africa and it stuck, for the first week or two.

Starting a new job stresses the hell out of me. This time around, I have a more global view on teaching – having taught at schools in South Africa recently. I’ve made the decision (for now), that this will be my last year in South Korea. I’ve decided that being broke and happy might just be a better good luck charm than having more money and what the rest of Korea brings.

However, as it’s my fourth year in South Korea and I have gained a little back bone, I decided it was time to nip in the bud the way that my co teacher was starting to act (surprisingly like my last co teacher – manipulative and having me do all of the work). For one week, I came home in a panic state, heart beating heavily and feeling so restless. I felt overwhelmed not only because I am trying to get into the swing of things, but I have also got to learn to work very closely with another Korean co teacher. If our personalities or teaching styles don’t fit together, you’re screwed.

She threw work at me as if I had been working here for months, and I took it on with a smile on my face. However, when Wednesday this week came around, I decided to have a chat with her. My main problem being, that she had scheduled more classes than stated in my contract for which I should be getting paid, but am not. She, on the other hand, is being paid for them. I am already working over time most days, which also awards me over time pay, yet nothing has come of it. She used the line that she thought I wanted to participate and “become friends” with the students. I politely told her that I am willing to help with anything and prepare as much as I can, but on principle – I should be getting paid for it.

All of this spiralled into a great conversation where she apologised for giving me a heavy work load and ever since, she’s been taking a fair share of responsibility instead of piling things onto me. I still offer to help and I am happy to, but there’s a fine line between helping/sharing the work and being taken advantage of. I am very glad I did this. I realised last night, that I walked away from all of my previous public school jobs with comments like “You were the best foreign teacher we’ve had” and “please can you renew your contract”, but I realised that it was because I was a pure push over and did everything without batting an eyelid. My attitude grew last year when I was more passive aggressive. This year, I approached it – head on. Either way, in Korea – they like you if you’re a complicit and subservient worker with a smile on your face. This year around, perhaps I won’t be asked to renew.

With intentions of writing this morning, I did not know my rant would go on for this long – but I am glad I did. I am also very excited about this upcoming weekend away in Sokcho, on the beach. I bought a Nikon D3100 camera this week and am so keen to start shooting. Since speaking with my co teacher, I feel 100% more relaxed and calm and now, I can really fit into place.


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