Friday, August 3, 2012

BEDIA #3 Leaving Korea

It's a little surprising that I'm sitting in an apartment in Cedar City right now. I watch the Olympics as much as possible while searching for job openings on the internet. It sounds normal enough, but as recently as the end of May I was planning on staying in Korea until the end of October.

Teaching English in South Korea was a great opportunity. There was no rent to pay and Chelsea and I were each making a first-year teacher's salary. We enjoyed our jobs, for the most part, and we enjoyed our fellow teachers.

So what changed? Well, there were several factors. Poor decisions on the part of the administration of the English Village had caused the working conditions to go steadily downhill. The head teachers were trying to make things better, but weren't succeeding, mostly because they were mostly just saying "Yes" to whatever admin said. Due to a change in supervisor, Chelsea was dreading her job most days. And to top it off, my mother needed to have her hip replaced by the end of June, which meant my father would have to go into a care center for a while, as she could not take care of him while convalescing. 

Admin had dropped the ball and not had us sign contracts for the time we were planning to stay, so we told the HR guy that we would be ending our contracts on the original date, July 8. He asked if we could stay longer, even just to the end of July, but, citing my parents respective conditions, we said we couldn't.  That decision started a whirlwind of preparations. I had to open my position to election with enough time to train my replacement. Suitcases  had to be packed. Extra items shipped (literally, the six boxes sent home will arrive in October, roughly, as they were sent super-cheap by boat). We had to present our top three choices for flights to Admin so they would buy our tickets as specified in the contract. Once we had our tickets (straight from Seoul to Las Vegas!) we had to buy a ticket for our dog. We had to arrange to get our pensions. And much more. So much to do, while still working full time.

As word spread that we were leaving, we were approached by many teachers saying they wished we weren't going. I had joined an A Cappella group that was devastated by my impending departure as it left them with one bass voice. As we explained why we were going (my parents were the primary reason), people wished us the best. 

Coming home when we did has been a great decision. Chelsea found out she needed four semesters instead of three to finish her teaching degree. Now she can start in August. We got into a really good apartment. Chelsea got her old job back. 

As far as the English Village goes, I think we escaped just in time. All teachers are now required to work 9AM to 9PM two days a week, as admin oversold the programs and has not hired enough teachers to meet the need. Two foreign (non-Korean) teachers were fired because, well, it's a long story. Suffice to say it was not justified and proved to all other teachers that administration will not stand by their employees, even when the employee did nothing wrong. Everyone there is scrambling to make ends meet and try to make the best of it. I wish them the best, but I feel my early departure was fortuitous. 

In spite of the stress of moving across the Pacific and trying to find a job, I am glad to be back. I like where I am right now and I have high hopes for the future. Plus, I get to watch the Olympics while I search the internet for jobs.

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