Waygook Wednesday: Tales from another native English teacher in Korea

Welcome to Waygook Wednesday! For those of you who don’t know,  Waygook is Korean for foreigner. Kenny and I have been sharing a lot of stories about us and I thought some of you might like to get another perspective! So every Wednesday, I will try to feature the tales of another Waygook.

Mr. James Crawley is the featured Waygook today. Like me, James has been teaching English in Korea since the beginning of November. Unlike me, he is British, 21 years old and, in my opinion,  really should have been an actor in the original Mary Poppins. Without further ado, meet James!

Alison: First off, who are you and where are you from?

James: My name is James Crawley and I’m from Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Ever heard of a band called The Beatles? No? Me neither.)

A:  Why did you decide to come teach English in Korea?

J: I was on a solo trip to Beijing in August 2012, when I got speaking to a pair of wonderful Waygookins called Anna and Ashley who lived in Suncheon, South Korea. After telling me all about their time spent teaching, I soon became obsessed with the idea of teaching in Korea and landed myself the job in December 2012. Having to wait over 10 months to fly out was actually a bit frustrating, but at least there was plenty of motivation to achieve best marks in my degree.

A: Where do you live in Korea and how are you liking it so far?

J: I live in Mokpo, on the southwest corner of the Korean peninsula. It is a really, really cool city with such an interesting personality! It is small enough to explore/ get around via bicycle, and generally has lots of character. Perhaps what I like most is the large number of islands floating merrily off the coast screaming out ‘hey man! Come over here and explore us already!’ (No really, they actually shout that – and I can understand what they’re saying because the islands shout in English, not Korean!)

A:  What grades do you teach?

J: I teach grades 3 Elementary School up to Grade 2 High School. Fantastic craicalac, right? (Note from Alison: I have no idea what craicalac means, but I’m definitely going to start using it now.)

A: What does a typical day look like for you?

J: The Desolation of Smaug. (This is actually far from the truth, but the second Hobbit movie just came out and I needed an opportunity to say how very excited I am about this.)

A:  If you had to rate your school lunches on a scale of 1-10, where would it fall?

J: On a scale of one 1 to why are the school lunches not like this in the UK…why are the school lunches not like this in the UK??? The highlight of my day is school lunch. Healthy, nutritious and very, very tasty.

A: Favorite Korean food?

J: Gimbap triangles. They are delicious. I hate the word delicious because my students overuse it so much, but they really are delicious. Ahhh what it means to be delicious. Life is so delicious. Everything in Korea is soooo delicious. Teaching? You guessed it; delicious. The word delicious, is delicious! (Alison’s interjection: Truth. I will never say delicious again.)

Taking a short holiday/lifetime from the delicious word delicious, I need to emphasise something important… the seaweed in Gimbap contains 96% of your daily calcium intake. 96%. I know, right? 96%. Can you believe it? 96%.

A:  Have you been pleasantly surprised by anything in Korea so far?

J: 96% of your daily calcium intake can be gained from eating….

A:  Any downsides so far?

J: Yes, there have been some down moments. But to think of a downside from the top of my head is impossible. Perhaps there is no real event that causes a down; it’s just a feeling you get while adjusting to a new environment. Now that I’ve developed a routine and I’m not feeling permanently tired, I’m starting to feel both healthier and happier for much more of the day. When I feel euphoria here, I truly feel it. An absolute ‘high on life feeling’ I am so very grateful and thankful to have. That feeling has been strongest over the last 2 or 3 weeks, and peaked during my visit to Seoul the weekend just passed.

A: Where would you like to travel to the most while living abroad?

J: I currently have two of my University housemates teaching in Vietnam. They both mean a great deal to me, so I really want to visit them for lots of fun in what I believe to be an incredibly beautiful country. The thought makes me soooooo excited. I really cannot wait for January vacation!

A:  What’s one tip you have learned in your first month and a half of teaching?

J: Enjoy your time in the classroom because if you enjoy your own lesson, your students are more likely to enjoy it too.

A: Favorite Korean word?

J: Kamsamnidaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa (I say thank you like a native.)

A:  Have you ever been told that you should definitely play a part in a Mary Poppins remake?

J: Funnily enough, I haven’t. But I would never turn down the opportunity. Mary Poppins is, for want of a more formal expression, ‘rad’.

If you want to read more perspectives, check out Life’s a Journee to get more insight (I’m featured!).

Do you have any questions for future featured Waygooks that you’re itching to hear the answers to? Let me know!

James

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