This month I’m hosting the Reach To Teach Teach Abroad Blog Carnival, a monthly series that focuses on providing helpful tips and advice to ESL teachers around the globe. Check out the articles from our participants around the world! If you’d like to contribute to next month’s Blog Carnival, please get in touch with Dean at firstname.lastname@example.org, and he’ll let you know how you can start participating.
This month’s topic is:
“Write a letter back to yourself when you were just planning your trip. Give advice, forewarning, hopes and encouragement.“
Look at you go! Mere days until you board a plane and head off into yet another international adventure. You’re stressing out, trying to soak up every last moment with the people you love, wondering if this is the biggest mistake you’ll ever make. This might be one of your wildest ideas yet!
It’s not going to be easy. Should I even be telling you this? I don’t want you to change your mind at this point. You’ve put so much time, money and thought into making this goal a reality. It’s something you’ve wanted to do for years. Don’t back down now! It’s going to be a difficult transition sometimes. You’ll spend a lot of your time questioning this decision, struggling with loneliness, culture shock, and uncertainty as to whether you’re even cut out for this.
But you’ll persevere, oh yes, you will. From a vantage point of halfway through your adventure I can tell you- you’re doing better than you thought you would!
Here’s a preview of what’s to come:
You’ll conquer a whole new alphabet, and learn to navigate your way around a totally foreign country. You’ll even master the use of Korean-only apps like Yogigo through considerable use of Google Translate.
You’ll meet good people. Yes, your weekdays might be isolating and it might be hard to see past that, but the people you’ll befriend are the best kinds of individuals. They’ll help ensure that you always question life, that you explore new ideas and continue to grow as a person.
As for teaching? You’ll definitely fuck up a few times. You’ll accidentally make a couple of students cry, you’ll forget to collect the Flying Pen books (GASP!), you’ll have your decisions questioned. Fortunately, you’ll work with some seriously dedicated and capable teachers. Learn from them! And just wait until your students run up to you in the hallways, yelling “HOLLY TEACHER!” with overjoyed expressions on their faces when they discover you’ll be their teacher for another semester. You’re giving these students something to really look forward to, and that’s something to be celebrated.
After months of extreme laziness when it comes to culinary pursuits, you’ll come into your own and start to master scrumptious Korean dishes, including sundubu jjigae and kimchijeon…aww yeah.
And you can’t know this yet, being only a few posts into your blog journey- but this is going to be a hobby you will keep up with! Appreciate that, and watch with pride as your blog readership grows.
So, hang in there when things seem bleak. Yup, culture shock is inevitable, and when autumn days become shorter and shorter things will seem pretty bleak for a while. Think about it, though- every experience you encounter will shape your life in some way, and what seem like insurmountable challenges at the time will nearly always be looked back upon in appreciation of everything you’ve been able to accomplish.
There are some incredible experiences in your near future. New Year’s celebrations in Beijing, gorgeous hikes, millennia of history to explore- don’t let those opportunities pass you by!
One last piece of advice? Pluck up the courage and go to the jjimjilbangs earlier. Seriously, you’ll fall in love with the experience, and the locals won’t stare at you as much as you think. Besides, if you don’t wear your glasses, you can’t tell anyway!
Stay strong and true to yourself, but open your arms to the new world soon to be surrounding you.
All the best,