English Teachers of South Korea: Vicky Lee
Name: Vicky Lee
Hometown: Madison, WI
Currently Living: South Korea
Job: Dojewon Elementary School
What are you doing right now?
I am at school on a lovely Friday afternoon. Definitely my favorite day and time of the week.
And what’s your typical day?
I wake up and do my thing. I catch the bus around 7:50am. I have a 20 minute bus ride and walk about 15 minutes to school. I arrive a little early to settle in. I am required to be in school from 8:40am to 4:40pm. I teach mainly in the mornings. I have lunch around 12:20pm. After I just lesson plan for the next day, participate in school/ teacher activities, or just have time on my own. I later leave work and I usually work out after school. After working out I have some dinner. After dinner, I have some me time to be productive or relax, and then I go to bed and then repeat. I like repetition.
Where are you from?
I am originally from Madison, Wisconsin. Yes, that’s where I’m really from.
Why did you decide to move here?
It was originally a high school goal. I watched “eat your kimchi” and was inspired by that. I also studied Korean as my language requirement in university. Even though I considered doing something else after university, I didn’t want to regret a goal I had made in high school. Therefore I decided I had nothing to lose because I could improve my Korean language skills as well as fulfill a high school goal with no regrets.
Why do you teach?
I teach because I was given the opportunity to. I teach because I enjoy seeing the light bulbs going on as I observe my students. I teach because it gives me a sense of purpose (as cliché as it does sound). From teaching, I realized teachers are amazing people and I could never do what they do long term, but I understand why they teach. You indirectly affect people and it’s an amazing feeling.
If you weren’t teaching, what would you be doing?
I’m not sure. That decision is yet to come. But what I would like to be doing is helping people. Just not sure how yet…
What separates the good teachers from the bad?
A good teacher is honest with their students and does not set them selves in a high, unreachable position. A good teacher communicates and makes sure no matter what obstacles may occur, what is being communicated is comprehended. A good teacher will provide constructive feedback and will also be open for constructive feedback for self-improvement. Bad teachers will only want to feed the students knowledge in a one-way direction, setting themselves in a position of high all-knowing power.
What were the hardest life lessons you had to learn while here?
Don’t lose yourself and encounter things openly but cautiously. I believe I would have learned these lessons not just only in Korea, but as I aged as a human being. I learned being yourself will make you the happiest. No matter what other people think, if you’re not happy internally, outside factors can’t do much to improve yourself. And for the second lesson, in general, I like to think people have good intentions, but you can’t do that all the time. I learned of course you could see the best out of everyone, but also be cautious and trust in your gut.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking about teaching abroad or living abroad?
I would say this kind of life style is not for everyone, but do it if your gut tells you to. Put yourself in a position different from your usual. Be open and be curious. Understand people do things differently, and it may not seem right to you but it happens. Also understand, you will be alone a lot of the time, but it shouldn’t turn into a depressing feeling of loneliness. Enjoy every moment. When you feel it’s time to change, then change.
Do you have any passions or hobbies that you pursue abroad?
I did buy a guitar. Learning on my own, but it’s not going very far. Unfortunately my passion for shopping has shot out the roof… It’s too easy to shop in Korea.
What would you be doing if you were still in your home country?
Helping people. Not sure how, but in a positive manner. Probably also thinking hard about a grad major. I want to enter grad school once I have a better idea of what I want to pursue.
Can you tell us a few tips or tricks to help improve our classes?
Have fun and relax. Take a breather between activities. I sometimes shoot through every activity too fast. Let the brain rejuvenate. And always cater to your student’s likes and levels. Makes class fun and benefits their learning.
What websites or books helped you when you first started? Which do you still use now?
Definitely waygook as any NET in Korea knows. I sometimes use pinterest for camp projects etc. Google will also be your best friend when finding anything. I’ve found many things by just googling what I needed.
We'd love to interview you!!! If you're a current English teacher living abroad, shoot us an email at Steve@HalAndSteveEnglish.com