Although I had been expecting a call from the Korean Embassy after mailing off my E-2 visa application, I was in a state of shock when my phone rang late on a Monday afternoon and was asked “Can you come for your interview on Tuesday?”
“Tuesday? You mean tomorrow?”
“Yes,” with an exasperated addition of, “or next Tuesday….. if you have to.”
“Uhhh no.. I can be there….”
“Okay. 3 o’clock. Bye.” *click*
I laughed nervously over my blundered conversation, then walked, still tittering, into my cousin’s office to tell her I was due in Washington, D.C. in less than twenty-four hours.
Little did I know, this first encounter with the embassy would set the tone for my life in Korea.
It’s truly nothing to find out you have new students, a new class, a new textbook or a new schedule five minutes before these changes are set to take place. My American senses of planning and etiquette will never become accustomed to this which is why the beginning of this week left me more than a little flustered.
Monday around 4 pm I found a new student was to join one of my morning kindergarten classes the very next day. “She’s behind the others and her mother is very worried so you will also teach a 1-on-1 with her Tuesday at 3.”
Tuesday was (oh, how I hate using the past tense right now!) the best day of the week–I taught from 10 to 2:30 then was free to leave, but usually spent around 3 hours planning for the week. Having such a huge chunk of uninterrupted work time made me so happy. Sadly, it only lasted for 5 weeks. Our time together was sweet, Tuesday afternoon.
Fast forward to Tuesday morning, where I discover that my student is a little behind but polite and delightful and catching up to others, if a little weepy on her first day of school. During lunch I was approached by our head teacher who tells me I have yet another new 1-to-1 class which will begin that very afternoon and the student (one of my 7 year olds) doesn’t know about it. Oh geeze. In the span of about 20 hours I’ve gained a new student, two classes, and have to stay at work an extra two hours.
If you decide to become an English teacher in Korea, expect things like this. Neither of the classes ended up being arduous nor is it really asking a lot to have someone be at work from 9:30 to 4:30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays (I work until 6 on MWF), but on principle, I’m still miffed about the short notice.
However, my standard response to changes like these is always a smile and an “Okay. No problem.” Because, really, what else are you going to do?!