Your First Week As an English Teacher: Day 3

Amanda Segal, an English teacher living in a small town in South Korea and a world traveler, continues onto Day 3 of her 5 part series on advice and tips your first week on the job as an English teacher in South Korea.

This post is a continuation from yesterday from our friend Amanda Segal. She hails from Glen Ridge, New Jersey and is currently teaching English to high school students. While not representing the Western world, she enjoys making people laugh, going on spontaneous trips, taking long walks to new places, and going to the movies just to eat the popcorn. She blogs at:

The Arrival Store - Amanda Segal4) Gifts – many people recommend bringing small gifts, something unique for your home country, to give to your principle and co-teacher. However this can be difficult if you don’t know how many co-teachers you’ll be working with (sometime you’ll have more than one) before arriving. While a gift for the principle or director will always be appreciated, initial gifts are not as important as partaking in the culture of sharing. Instead of worrying about individual gifts, bring cookies or fruit for your co-workers one morning. No teacher in my office will ever eat something without offering a bit to everyone else. This one will definitely help win over your co-teachers!

However, if you’re invited to a teacher’s home (or any Korean’s home for a meal, party, etc), definitely bring fruit or a bottle of wine. No thank you note is required but it is customary to bring a small gift.

NOTE: When you give someone a gift always give it to them with two hands, don’t just hand it over casually. Also accept gifts with both hands. Same goes for pouring a drink (Soju or otherwise) for an older person/superior/stranger. You may get taken out to dinner with your co-workers the first week; make sure to pour all drinks with one hand on the base of the bottle and one hand on the top. Koreans always pour drinks for one another, do not let the person’s cup next to you get empty!

Do this! Though hopefully your gifts won’t be as tiny…

5) Sharing –  On that note, let’s talk about sharing – if you don’t like it (especially when it comes to food), get used to it!! Koreans share everything, I’ve even seen teachers taking food from other teachers’ and students’ trays during lunch (they give it away sometimes too). Most restaurants serve dishes meant for two or more customers.

Typical Korean restaurant meal. They love side dishes!

Click here to check Part 4.