Alumni Spotlight: Tessa


Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because as a teacher I wanted to learn as much as I can about the country, their language and culture. I saw it as a great opportunity to learn how schools operate, about their classroom environment, class management, how students are and how different their education system can be. This program gave me the insight on education and their beliefs when it comes to education.

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

My program provider was very helpful when it came to finding a job. He helped me to get on contact with the recruiter in South Korea. He would provide me with information that I needed while applying for my visa, he would give me contact information on people that can help me with my documents and inform me of everything that I needed to do and send to South Korea.

The only thing that I needed to organize was where to apply for my visa and my plane ticket.

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

My advice for anyone applying for this program is to do research on your destination. I did some research and I'm glad but there are somethings I do wish I knew. If you like to explore and travel make sure to know what you need beforehand and plan your route so that it is easier to get there without getting lost. Maps on your phone will help a lot. Do research on their culture and behavior to make sure that you don't offend them. For example when I was in South Korea I learned that some people will push you out of the way to get to their destination, for Koreans it's not offensive. Try to be prepared as much as you can so that you know how to react to certain things.

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

An average day during the week would be to work and do things you like to do after work. Your working hours will differ so what you do before or after is up to you. In South Korea people love their night life so you will see a lot of people our late at night. Most of the stores are open until late so I usually did my shopping after work. Everywhere I went in my town/city I would walk. It is very safe and most places aren't that far.

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 when I was teaching in South Korea was traveling from one place to the next and eating out. I overcame my fear after testing out the bus system on weekends. I used maps on my phone with navigation and would test out different busses to go to places. I would start early to make sure that if I get lost that I have enough time to make a plan. Most of the people are kind so I would try and ask for directions from stores. When it came to eating out I would usually go out in a group or order at a fast food joint. My director showed me how it works and some restaurant have only Korean menus so I made use of a translator to choose but in some cases I would point to a picture if they have.

What did you do on vacations?

On my vacations I would try to go to different places. One time I went to the beach with my sister and some of our friends. We went to Sokcho and it was a lot of fun. The one funny thing that happened was when we went to one of the restaurant and ordered spicy chicken. I was sharing with one of my friends, we did warn her that it would be very spicy but she didn't care. After taking one bite her face switched between red and white. We laughed because of the face she was making. I had to eat all of it on my own.

Anything else you wish to add?

In the beginning it was very hard because most Koreans are very small. I would sometimes get a shirt from E-mart but most of the time I had to buy clothes from H&M. I think that most of the time foreigners will have to buy online.