The food in South Korea is very different and takes time to enjoy it. When I first moved into my apartment in Seoul, I could hardly bare to the open the refrigerator door for fear of the aroma that would pour out and linger in the room for an uncomfortably long period of time. Fortunately enough, I would soon become very familiar with the stench of Korea’s national dish, kimchi. There are a few variations on this delicacy, but the basic idea is white cabbage with hot chili pepper paste, soaked in vinegar and left to ferment for several days in enormous clay pots. It is reportedly good for digestion and very high in vitamin C. For many, this dish has an acquired taste, but if you are eating a truly Korean diet it will be served at 3 meals a day, every day, and you will learn to distinguish homemade from store-bought, which ratios of garlic and chili pepper you prefer, and so on. Personally, I wasn’t too enthusiastic at first, but after a little while I learned to love it, to the point that I now make it at home in New York City.
I still remember waking up after my 16 hour flight from Vancouver to magnificent views of bright blue sea mixed with large expanses of lush greenery, sprinkled with coral coloured rooftops. I remember feelings of pure excitement and joy. My fears experienced prior to my departure (and again halfway over the Pacific – there was a moment when I awoke mid-flight with feelings of panic and dread, thinking “WHAT are you doing, Meg?!”) were completely overcome by that warm comforting feeling one gets when arriving home after a long journey.
After deplaning and clearing Australian Customs, I made my way to the guest house where I’d be spending the next 2 weeks. A friend of mine from Canada would later meet me in Sydney, and we’d attempt to find a flat to rent for the year. Both of us had work permits enabling us to work in Australia for a period of 12 months.
Why did I come to New Zealand to teach English? Ten years ago, at home in Colorado, I answered an advert that was for a job in Human Resources. It read “Live and work in an English speaking paradise”, I would never have guessed that ten years later I would be teaching British English and Business English here in New Zealand. My first work visa was for a Human Resource specialist, now I can’t imagine doing anything but teaching. I have been fortunate to work for the same London owned school for ten years. Read more
My TESOL Career – ESL Teacher in Mexico
In the summer of 2002, about a month after graduating university and a week after the first ever Bonnaroo music festival in Tennessee, I flew to Korea to teach ESL in an industrial suburb of Seoul. Possessing only about 200 cash and a backpack full of clothes and camping gear, I was fortunate to work for a good school run by an honest, helpful boss – not the case for many in the same circumstance.