Believe it or not, I just finished my eighth week in Korea. Those oppressively hot summer days during orientation feel a lifetime away. The cool air is moving in, the leaves are starting to change, and there is no doubt about it, autumn is upon us. In some ways, it's only been the changing of the seasons that has made me truly feel like this is where I am living now. At first, when everything was new and exciting it felt like a trip, or a place I was just visiting. I've never seen the seasons change any place besides NH, but admist the blur of the beginning of my time in Korea, nature is reminding me that life is continuing, just as it always has, despite the fact that my entire daily life has changed tremendously.
My routine is pretty much solidified at this point, and I think it's safe to say that honeymoon stage at school is coming to a close. I don't quite have my rock star status like I did in my first weeks at schoool. Don't get me wrong, my students still treat me way better than my students in America did (well, mostly), but some classes are now having more behavior issues. Actually, I should clarify, it's really just my second grade boys. The majority of my classes are the first grade boys, and they are pretty good, but I don't know about those second grade boys--they can give me a run for my money.
However, I can't even begin to complain because I know that my students are WAY better behaved than the students in the other schools. I get almost daily reminders about how my school is the best in the area, so I know that I am lucky to be there, but sometimes teenagers are teenagers, regardless of their academic abilities or ambitions. Just because my students can study and get good test scores doesn't mean that they're always perfect angels.
I've been enjoying teaching, but it is very clear to me that teaching EFL is not my passion. I still like teaching, but my passion is definitely teaching social studies. I'm really thankful to be here, and I have no doubt that this is where I was called to be to learn about myself, the world, and teaching. However, is this what I want to do with the rest of my life? No. Does that mean I don't enjoy teaching here? No. I've learned a lot in a short amount of time, and it's been extremely eye-opening to teach in a country whose educational philosophy is on the other end of the spectrum from my own.
I remember when I started teaching at Nashua last year, I would talk to my friend that I interned with, who was also starting her first year at a different school. In the beginning, we would talk about how we almost felt homesick for Marshwood--we missed the comfort of our old teaching routine, knowing the other teachers, and having our intern support system. I feel like I'm going through a similar process now. I enjoy being here, but I miss the comforts of my old classroom. I miss having students who could understand what I was saying to them. I miss being able to read school e-mails and knowing what is going on. I miss knowing what is expected of me. I miss being able to communicate with my co-workers.
Having teaching experience is obviously a great asset as an EPIK teacher, but it can also be a little bit of a curse. My brain constantly wants to compare my experiences even though they are in completely different realms. It's essentially like comparing apples and oranges.
I'm sure it won't take long for me to become completely attached in my new job. I'm sure in a few months I will look back and laugh at myself for being so confused at school. Until then, the seasons are changing, life goes on, and I will continue to learn more about how to be a better ESL teacher.