Category Archives: Korea

One Year in a Hagwon – Teaching English in Korea

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I’ve written an ebook.

As the title suggests, the ebook is about teaching English in Korea and my experience of it. It’s not always positive, but I’ve tried to be as balanced as I could. It’s sometimes funny, sometimes sad. It’s even somewhat interesting.

You can buy the ebook on Amazon US or Amazon UK. They list it as 79 pages. It’ll take you an hour or two to read.

If you do read it and enjoy it, I’d love it if you could email me (mrdanbaird@gmail.com) or comment here. If you really love it and think it’s the best thing ever, you could send it to a friend (or even review it on Amazon!)

 

One Year in a Hagwon: The Student From Hell

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To understand the problems of a hagwon, you must first understand the impossibility of teaching in one.

In a hagwon, the teachers wield less power than the children. When an especially bad child comes along they can make your life unbearable. These are more than just children, they’re the babies of Satan. The worst I ever taught was a girl named Serah.

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Missing the Comfort of a Home

No matter where I travel, I can never replicate that same feeling of warmth I got in the house where I grew up. The equilibrium I felt upon waking up every morning is gone. After living in the same house for all of your life, you’ve managed to create your perfect home.

The duvet is just the right thickness. Your bookcase is there with all of the books you’ve read. The heating is always at the right setting. Not too hot, not too cold. Everything is as it should be.

Only now do I realise how much I took my home for granted. Only through the lack of a home can you truly appreciate what you had.

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An In-Depth Guide to Visiting a Korean BBQ Restaurant (in Korea)

One of the most daunting things to do in Korea is to go to a Korean barbecue.

I’m ashamed to admit it took us a few months to go to a barbecue by ourselves We were fearing the whole situation because our Korean was so bad and we didn’t know how it all worked. We didn’t want to mess up or commit some major faux-pas so we mostly hid at home.

In the end the only thing that set my mind at ease was doing copious amounts of research so that I was completely prepared before I stepped through the doors. Later – after going to restaurants a few times – I realised we were scared for no reason at all. Going to a Korean barbecue is simple!

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Cultural Differences and Respect in Korea

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It was just my second week of working in a hagwon when my headmaster said we needed to talk.

We moved into a small classroom, large Lego bricks scattered on the floor. The only place to sit was in tiny chairs for toddlers. Our knees were pressed up into our chests as we looked across at each other. I would have laughed if the headteacher didn’t look so serious. She stared at me intently, her lip quivering. She took a deep breath.

“I’ve actually been very upset with you this week. Very angry.” Immediately I was taken aback.  My mind raced, my stomach tightened. What had I done?

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Cute Korean Kids

The greatest thing about being in your 20s is that you still have the opportunity to be a hypocrite. I’ve often thought that it’s fine for me to be wrong about things because I’m still deciding how I feel about them. Once you get older, once you’ve experienced the world, you should probably know better than to have ridiculous opinions. Being young gives you a free pass – you can be as wrong as you like and get out of it later by claiming “I was young and naive back then!”

One thing I was perhaps wrong about is children.

Children. Ugh, children. The only thing worse than children is parents. Parents. Ugh, parents. Children and parents equal one thing: pride. Is there anything more sickening than pride?

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