It took me a week to get used to the environment, as even though I liked the food, I struggled to eat much, though I soon got my appetite back to its usual size once I had adjusted to the climate and my malaria pills. Anyway despite my lack of energy I still enjoyed the quick intro into PADI (I found that I was at a slight advantage as I had already started working through the book).
I earned my teaching certification over a year ago, and at first, I was so excited to teach; now, after seeing all of the political and bureaucratic bullshit involved, the idea repulses me. Teaching summer school the past couple of years has been kind of alright because there aren't any standardized tests or government dictates involved.
Living overseas is not just an admirable endeavor, it is a complete lifestyle change. Back in 2008, after my third lay off at the ripe old age of 25, I chose to take a position teaching English in South Korea at Yang Yang Girls' High School. Now here are some things you should know about teaching in South Korea...
It is the last taboo. Talking about it is not something a nice girl does in mixed company, it is indelicate, unfeminine. Many women have been raised to believe that men are "naturally good" at money matters and women are "naturally bad" at money matters. It's not said directly, little girls pick up this idea by osmosis. Outside the home, for a man to say he wants more money or ask for a raise is acceptable; it goes with the hairy chest and the company car. But women can't say that, they won't even admit it to themselves and they don't want to think about why.
A passing idea to keep my mind occupied snowballed into something bigger and I now run one of the most popular Psychology A level blogs on the internet. If I have learnt anything in the last year or so, it is that anything is possible if you put your mind to it and you're will is such that you wont take no for an answer, even from yourself.
One of the rewards of helping to track global education over the past decade has been watching progress in getting more girls into school. But as we mark International Women's Day, I'm more conscious than ever that the glass is still not even half full: 31 million girls have never set foot inside a classroom, and half of them are unlikely ever to do so.
Six episodes later, 16 months into teaching and although I'm still exhausted, I'm perpetually rewarded by the incredible students that I'm fortunate enough to teach and learn from. There are moments where students tell me to "go write a song about it in the bathroom", but on the whole, I'm happily rebranded as the Marilyn Gandhi-loving, red chino-donning, Inbetweener-impersonating, over-zealous, Scottish, eccentric teacher.
In Year 10, I didn't have one English teacher; I had six - a new supply teacher for each half term. I remember asking myself why it was that nobody wanted to stay at our school, but looking around me it wasn't that difficult to see why. Our school building was old and crumbling, we were oversubscribed, and classes were packed.