Name: Rowan Hudson
Currently Living: Jihaeng- Dongducheon
Job: Hagwon teacher – Multi – English hagwon
What are you doing right now?
Reading Maupassant short stories and playing guitar – getting ready to go teach a class soon.
And what’s your typical day?
I wake up at around ten and begin teaching at 2:30, so before that I go walking on a route near my apartment and learn French or Korean.
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in the north of England.
Why did you decide to move here?
My sister had previously taught for a year in Seoul and she told me to. She only stayed for a short time but I've already been here for over three years. So I guess I've appreciated my time here a lot more than she did.
Why do you teach?
I sort of assumed I'd be terrible at it and, though I'm definitely not the best, I'm endlessly surprised by the fact that I'm not that bad and so have just kept going. About nine months into my first year my boss called me into his office and I expected to be told that I'm awful and that everyone hates me. Instead he asked me if I wanted to re-sign for another year and said everything was fine. I'm still coasting on the surprise from that meeting.
If you weren’t teaching, what would you be doing?
I would hopefully be studying something. My aim has always been to teach in order to eventually study and move away from teaching in future – the teaching world would not miss me a huge amount.
What separates the good teachers from the bad?
It's good to create personal connections and be able to treat students as interesting individuals with their own views and ideas rather than as receptacles for facts. You can become a good teacher just by sticking at it for a long time I'd think though. It's good to get into the rhythm of teaching and just stick at it day after day. After a while you really have no choice but to do something engaging because there's nothing else to do.
What were the hardest life lessons you had to learn while here?
I suppose it taught me to be flexible and to expect the unexpected. When I first arrived here in January 2013 I was told to teach the day after my eighteen hour flight and not given a bed. I didn't sleep for about three days because hard floors and intense cold do not agree with me for some reason. I had to adjust to things and just accept that things are the way they are. I try to change my mind and not change the world.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking about teaching abroad or living abroad?
When people have asked me about coming to teach and live in Korea I have mostly just shown them how to do it and advised them on what they should be looking for. Everyone has a different experience of living abroad so it depends. When I lived in Holland people found it slightly ridiculous that I would want to speak to them in Dutch whereas here people are much happier that I want to speak to them in Korean. I would generally say that being abroad isn't particularly tough but it could depend on where you are – if I had a friend who wanted to live in Syria I might advise against it.
Do you have any passions or hobbies that you pursue abroad?
Since I got here I've been learning guitar from a Korean teacher who teaches me entirely in Korean. It's probably my favourite time of the week. For two hours I sit in a room playing and occasionally get mocked for doing something wrong. I have travelled a lot around Korea too. I've seen all of the major cities and a hell of a lot of giant Buddhas.
What would you be doing if you were still in your home country?
Trying, by any means, to get out.
Do you want to add anything else?
If anyone wants to live and work in Korea I would say go for it. It's good to stay for more than one year too.
What the best thing has Korea has going for it?
Korea is a country which is constantly on the move and there's so much going on all the time. You're never far from a major city no matter where you are and you can always find something interesting if you care to look.
If you had to guess where Korea would be in 20 years, what would you say?
I would hope that it would work more closely with Japan and aim to become a regional power. A lot of people from places like Thailand and Vietnam really look up to Korea right now because of the power of Korean culture and the huge influence it's having. There seems to be a feeling inside of Korea that the country is falling behind but it still has a lot of love elsewhere.
What’s the hands down, best experience you’ve had here?
I would say my best experience was going to Sensation Seoul at the beginning of my second year here. I danced all night with two thousand other people - all dressed in white - and my best friend who'd been here for a few months at this point. We got back at about 6am then went back into Seoul to watch a film at 10am. It really showed me how remarkable a city Seoul could be and how interesting life is here.
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