Alumni Spotlight: Malayna Hasmanis


Malayna Hasmanis is a recent college graduate with a degree in Special Needs Education, who has recently moved to Daegu, South Korea to pursue an opportunity to teach English. Although she has traveled and taught abroad before in Tanzania, she has found Daegu and her students here have taken a special place in her heart.

Why did you choose this program?

After I taught abroad in Tanzania, I knew that traveling abroad to teach was something that was a distinct passion of mine. Being able to travel to an entirely different part of the world and commit your time to teaching and enhancing other people's educational journey is a privilege like no other.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

The program provider was an absolutely amazing resource. With teaching abroad, there are a variety of steps in obtaining a work visa, which can be an overwhelming process if you are not walked through it properly. My program provider did an excellent job of being transparent in this process and helping to prepare me for this transition.

I explored the cultural and language aspects on my own by doing a lot of independent research and studying on my own, all tasks that made me that much more excited to hop on the plane and move to Daegu!

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

When you move abroad, many things are going to go wrong, but it is imperative to remember that you are having a once in a lifetime chance to make an impact not only in your life, but in other people's lives too.

It is so important to embrace every hardship, every frustration, every confusing cultural clash with the utmost optimism and excitement for the journey ahead.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Monday through Friday are our working days, where we are expected to be to work at 9 am and finish the day around 7 pm. While these are long hours, they are no different than the expectations of a teacher in the United States.

Throughout that day, you get two breaks, where you get to plan and prepare your lessons, have some time to recharge, and jump into your next lesson. Your classes are 40 minutes long with about a 5 to 10 minute break in between. You are teaching ages from 5 years old to upper elementary throughout the day, but the constant change and class load allow you to build so many wonderful relationships with your students!

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear was that I was going to be alone. Moving across the globe fresh out of college is a bit of shock. My whole support system was being left in the United States, and I was petrified that I was going to arrive in Daegu without any possibility of friendship with those around me.

Since coming here, I have made sure to decorate my apartment with little tokens from home and schedule frequent Skype dates with my friends and family to accommodate the time difference. I also was pleasantly surprised how quickly friendships blossomed with my coworkers, who have allowed me to see that there are other people like me who are eager to travel and make an impact in the world.

What do you wish you would have known prior to going abroad?

When moving to South Korea, many of my friends and family would make comments regarding what a huge shock the culture was going to be. I wish I knew what I do now and that is, when traveling abroad to any place, there is going to be a level of culture shock, but what is important is what you choose to do with that. You can shy away from it or you can completely embrace it. I chose to embrace it entirely.

While you are here, be proactive in your learning of their unique holidays, in their customs, in what they value. Make an effort to show respect and honor in your community. Keep some of your paycheck and use it for trips all over the country to explore their famous landmarks and festivals, so you are able to appreciate and explore what they hold true to their hearts. That is the true meaning of traveling and exploring the world anyways.