On to year 2

November 29, 2010 § Leave a comment

At the beginning of my first year of teaching in Korea (aka Year 1), I had some really high hopes for all I would experience and accomplish. Learn Korean. Make a bunch of new friends and master expat life. Make amazing illustrations. Find a renewed sense of purpose and direction in life. Run a half marathon. Travel a lot. Save lots and lots of money.

And, surprisingly, some of those things happened – I was generally successful at getting adjusted to Korea, ran a FULL marathon, traveled to Japan, China, Malaysia and several places in Korea, saved a bit of money, had a a generally good time. And, not surprisingly, some of those things did NOT happen – mostly learning Korean, but also the illustration and life direction stuff to some extent.

This year is going to be different for a number of reasons. Namely, my new job is a world apart from my old job. My old school, English Channel Junior (now known as Language Cube), was a one-on-one academy for kids of all ages. I sat in a small room with a student and drilled them on vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, and comprehension. The curriculum was dry and irrelevant, and there was no room for creativity or fun. If I didn’t have a student, I could sometimes get away with socializing with my co-workers but usually was cooped up in my office, behind the computer, pretending to to busy work to avoid glares from the manager. Now, I work at YBM ECC in Daechi. In the mornings I teach kindergarten classes and in the afternoon I teach elementary classes. Kindergarten is fun – not too much pressure to cram material down their throats, time for games and art and science experiments, and cultural activities like the Thanksgiving meal we had last week. Elementary is considerably more dry, but not as painful as the one-on-ones I used to teach. The trade off is that I probably spend twice the hours teaching per week at ECC, and I have quite a bit more preparation to do. At English Channel I could get away with writing emails or blog posts or updating my flickr at work, but no way that will happen at this job. The best I can manage is to head for a coffee shop on my break and get out my sketchbook. That said, when I look back at my job last year I realize that I spent most of the year feeling bored and demoralized, and I developed a negative attitude toward work. Adjusting to the class load at ECC has been tough but I’m generally happier, so I’m hoping that has a positive influence on other areas of my life.

Since last year I did realize that I want to pursue illustration and design after Korea, the most important thing for me to do this year is to establish a rhythm of sketching, making finished work, seeking inspiration, and blogging so that I don’t find myself falling off the wagon and having to painfully get back on it, or deal with a back log of projects to finish and images to post. At some point this year, I want to set up a *real* website and redesign this blog to better suit my needs. And naturally, I want to keep running, traveling, enjoying Seoul, saving money, and as time permits start learning Spanish in anticipation of my South America tour.

One thing I’ve learned about myself is that I tend to have unrealistic expectations about what I can accomplish, but then again, I quite often manage to accomplish a lot, so maybe it’s not such a bad thing to keep the bar set high. Cheers to year 2!



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