Alumni Spotlight: Catherine Waple


Catherine Waple is an EFL Teacher currently living in South Korea. She is an enthusiastic new teacher who began her career this year. She loves teaching English and learning about other languages. She likes watching her students learn and master the difficult English language. She is enjoying her time in Korea and hopes to see more of Asia during her vacations. In addition to languages and travel she also enjoys gaming and holds a degree in Game Development from Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Why did you decide to teach abroad through AdventureTeaching?

When I finished college, like many recent grads, I felt lost. I didn't know what to do next in my life. I couldn't get a job in my major and my loan payments were looming around the corner, and I was stuck at my parents’ house. So I fell back on my next interest: the Chinese language and travelling. I always wanted to see Asia, and what better time than now?

I searched online through job boards and found an ad from Adventure Teaching. I applied and was admitted. I got lots of help and directions on what to do next, like taking an online TEFL course and the visa application process.

Although I originally applied to teach in China because I have some experience with the Chinese language, Adventure Teaching informed me that I must be at least 25 and have at least two years of teaching experience, so they suggested I teach in South Korea, a country in which they have a lot of experience with placing teachers. So I kept an open mind and agreed, and here I am in Korea, happy as a clam!

What made this teach abroad experience unique and special?

The most special thing about this teaching abroad experience is that it is the next chapter in my life. It is the first thing I did, and am doing, after finishing school. It’s the first thing I really did with my adult life. I have everything I wished and hoped when I was just a few years younger. (Well, except a cat, but someday I will be able to have a cat!) When I look back at how far I've come from where I used to be, I feel really good about myself. I feel like I succeeded at something.

I never thought I’d be good working with kids. And I didn't know any Korean. I still don’t, but hopefully that will change! But I kept an open mind and tried anyway. And the kids love me and I really enjoy my job, my school, and my coworkers. The most important thing about this experience is that I get to pass on my love of learning languages to other kids, and hopefully inspire some of them. When I finished college I missed the comfort of the classroom, it’s really no surprise I ended up back in school, on the other side of the desk!

How has this experience impacted your future? (Personally, professionally, academically, etc.)

This experience basically begins my teaching career. As it’s the first job out of school I have, I can gain experience in this field, and begin a track record that future employers can see sets me apart from other applicants.

I can continue teaching or perhaps go into a related field. Employers really look at the number of years of job experience you already have, and this experience was a blessing for me because now I can start racking up years and begin my professional life.

I hope to never feel the pain of a fresh college student with little to no experience trying to apply for jobs again.

Now that I have the experience I do, my future career and job outlook seem brighter.

In the long run, this experience helped me grow a lot. I tried new things, did things I swore I’d never be able to do, and learned as much as I taught. You never really do stop learning. I've gotten braver and am more focused on accomplishing my dreams in life, even if they take a while or seem scary to do.

I’m so glad to be able to sit here and say, “I've been to Asia” rather than the alternative, dreaming and never doing. But I’m not done here yet, there’s still a lot I want to do here! I’d like to stay in Korea for another while at least!

What is one piece of advice you would offer someone considering teaching abroad in South Korea?

My first piece of advice is that, if you've never made a major move before, moving is expensive! Especially if you are moving internationally! Moving is also a pain. Especially if you are moving internationally! Be prepared for the stresses of moving (even with only a few bags), a new country (The culture shock isn't quite as strong as I thought it would have been. However it may affect everyone differently.), a new job, new people, etc. Have more finances than you think you need because settling in will be more expensive than you think it is. It’s not really a fortune, just be prepared and have some extra money to help get you through those first few months.

My other piece of advice is that Korean cities aren't as different as internet searching might make it seem. Like any city, it’s pretty up to date. There’s tons of chain stores you’ll recognize (Well, at least if you’re American. I’m not an expert on other international chains, but I wouldn't be surprised if you see something familiar too!) There are only a couple small things like learning to control the water heat or the washing and drying machine or how to pay your bills (mine are super easy I just hand them to the front desk and they take the bills out of my paycheck). For me, setting up a phone and internet was WAY easier than trying to do the same thing in the States. So don’t sweat it, stay calm, take things one day at a time, and you’ll be fine! Oh, and it's possible, depending on how things work out, you may go the first month without internet in your apartment. I wasn't expecting that, so just a heads up! Thankfully I was able to use the internet at work on my smart phone. And of course my phone didn't work upon landing so you won't be able to make calls either until you get hooked up with a Korean phone!