I’ve now been here two weeks. It’s slightly easier than it was at first, but teaching is still neither easy nor enjoyable.

I went to a chabad last night with Tony, who is Jewish. I’m not Jewish and I had no idea what a chabad was. Apparently it’s an international outreach thing for Jews in foreign lands. He assured me I would be welcome, and the impression I got from him was that it was a dinner in a community hall with maybe fifty or sixty people. It was actually a dinner in a small suburban home with about six middle-aged American businessmen/women, and at first it felt like we were intruding upon a private dinner party. They were really friendly and welcoming and it was an interesting experience. Never in a million years did I imagine I would sit down to a Jewish religious dinner in South Korea.

One of the men there taught English at a university, and winced when we told him we worked at a Wonderland. He’s the only person I’ve met thus far who has heard of the chain’s terrible reputation. He also said our working hours were shocking, which I’d actually figured out on my own! But it was nice to have someone agree. It’s endlessly frustrating to work with a bunch of people who think it’s the norm to work from 9 to 6.30. Every day. Oh! And we only get paid for half those hours. And it’s a very meagre salary. For stressful, exhausting work.

In fact, it’s not so much the working hours that bother me now – it’s the job itself. I’m not a good teacher. I’m a crabby, grouchy, irritable teacher who regularly snaps at his students and doesn’t want to be there any more than they do. I had plenty of teachers like that in school, and always held the opinion that if they didn’t enjoy their jobs they should quit. Anyone can be a teacher. But it takes a specal kind of person to be a good teacher, or even an adequate teacher. And teaching is not like any other job – it’s important. Teachers shape children more than anyone else they come into contact with except their parents.

This feels like a pretty rambling and disjointed entry, but that’s how my thought process is at the moment. I’m wavering between wanting to stick this out as long as I can to see if it gets any better, and wanting to pack my bags immediately. Sometimes I switch between the two in a matter of hours.

Wonderland has a holiday period between the 24th of July and the 2nd of August. If I want to leave surreptitiously, that would be a good time for it. But I’m still torn on whether I should do that or whether I should give notice. It’s not taking their money that makes me feel guilty – it’s abandoning my coworkers to cover my absence until a new foreign teacher can be found. It’s walking out on them in the dead of night without a word, when they’ve all been really friendly and welcoming. But a) I want that damn airfare money and b) I don’t want to endure the 20 days of notice I need to give them in my contract.

I should be getting an alien registration card next week, and a bank account. I almost hope they refuse to reimburse my airfare. That would at least give me some moral ground to stand on when I pack my bags and leave at 3.00 am.

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