We all make mistakes and we will continue to do so for throughout life.
Mistakes are a essential for growth and boy, have I made plenty of them.
I guess that means I've grown a lot ;).
Here are 5 mistakes I've make on my journey to teaching English in Korea. Read til the end to figure out how you can turn my MISTAKES into your WINS!
1. Ignorant to my options in Korea
The first program that introduced me to the world of teaching in Korea was the ONLY program I applied to and knew about.
When I saw the flyer advertising the TaLK Program, I was fascinated by the idea of moving to another country and starting a new life there.
I read the TaLK program website through and through and started obsessively searching for blogs about life and teaching in Korea.
But I'm embarrassed to say that I never looked into other programs, I wasn't aware that I had options! I had no idea that I qualified for much higher paying jobs and various locations.
I was limited in my knowledge and blissfully ignorant.
Now, it all worked out, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the TaLK program, however I do sometimes wonder what my experience could've been like if I had known ALL the options available to me.
Would I have chosen differently? Where would I have lived? How much more money could I have made? How much more could I have saved? Who would I have met?
2. Allowing a recruiter to pressure me
Shortly after renewing my contract at a job in Seoul, things took a nasty turn. In short, the job became a nightmare and I wanted OUT a soon as possible.
I was in a bit of a bind and I explained this to a recruiter I was working with, however I did stress with them that I had certain standards for jobs I wanted.
Regarding visas, I was in the clear since I was planning to transfer to a visa that gives you 6 months to look for work in Korea.
The recruiter on the other hand, was pressed to fill a position and kept urging me to take a job that wasn't what I wanted.
I caved in and took it.
Six months later I had to quit the job. It just wasn't working, I knew from the moment I opted in, yet I let fear of not finding something better push me to make a hasty decision.
I now live by a rule- never make decisions out of FEAR.
3. Being too nice
This is something you may have heard other English teachers in Korea write about in their blogs.
It is natural, you arrive to a new country, enter a school, and are surrounded by wide-eyed kids.
Some instantly love you, some are frightened by the sight of you, some simply won't talk to you and others are inquisitive about every detail about you.
You want them to all like you!
You realize you'll be at school every day for a year or more and your biggest wish is to become a loved member of the school family.
These were my thoughts and so I ignored much of my orientation training and conducted classes full of fun, smiles, games and freedom!
The kids warmed up fast, too fast.
It wasn't long before I realized I had created a class of chaos and had very little respect as a teacher.
Fixing this took twice as long as it did to create such environment.
4. Worrying about this not being the "right" move
From the moment I first saw that TaLK flyer I KNEW instantly that I wanted to apply and move to Korea.
I labeled it as a Plan B if job prospects didn't work out after graduation, but deep down I wanted it to be my Plan A.
I didn't give myself permission to wholeheartedly want this because it didn't seem like the "right" move. I had just graduated college with a Bachelor's degree in Spanish and Arabic, why in the world would I move to Korea?
Eventually this strange desire was too much to bare and so I applied to the program and got serious about taking advantage of this opportunity.
But during the journey I worried that I was making a mistake, wasting time and not making an "adult" decision.
Gosh, I was so wrong!
Moving to Korea brought so much positive change into my life, some of that being- a newfound love for educating, reintroduction to my dance passion, life-long friendships, a different outlook on life/habits/norms, and I found the love of my life!
5. Trying to "blend in"
I know you are reading this and probably saying to yourself, "Really girl?!...blend in?"
Yes, yes I know! How could a black girl with an Afro puff think Korea was a country where she could blend in??
Obviously I knew I stood out, but in the beginning I thought dimming my light would deflect the attention.
For instance, I was mesmerized by Korean fashion and adored the ways girls dressed, but I wouldn't dare wear something too bold or eye-catching.
Even during a night out, I tried not to look too "fierce" and was frustrated that my most flattering makeup and hair looks made me look so sassy.
Weird. I know.
Nowadays and after a year or so in Korea, I embrace the hell out of a huge fro-hawk, bold lip and statement earrings!
It wasn't until about halfway through my second year in Korea that I decided to TRULY embrace my differences and let my light shine.
It was when I decided to really SHOW UP for dance classes.
And let me tell you, after that, opportunities started throwing themselves at me!
THERE YOU HAVE IT- my five mistakes.
BUT, those mistakes (along with plenty more) taught me so much and grew me personally and professionally.
I think it is super important to give yourself room to make mistakes, especially if you are about to move overseas and start a new life in a new culture!
Be gentle with yourself and know that there will be plenty of bumps on the road.
There's no AVOIDING bumps all together however why not take a good portion of them off the road and smooth out that pavement, eh?
But first things first, let’s actually get you to Korea! Download my Roadmap to Korea Checklist here & stay organized and sane as you navigate the application process!