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2 Months in and Stressed out
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Sukisho



Joined: 02 Mar 2014
Location: Suwon

PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2014 8:46 pm    Post subject: 2 Months in and Stressed out Reply with quote

So I moved to Korea to teach English at a Langcon hagwon back in the middle of April. I was excited and maybe a little nervous, but having lived in Korea for 4 months when I was in college, I didn't think I would struggle too much to get adjusted. A little background, I am not completely a "first-time" teacher. I substitute taught in the US for 6 months before my move, and have grown up in a family of teachers. Both my mom and sister teach elementary school, so I have always been able to rely on them for ideas and support.

My first few weeks there were of course some stumbles in which lessons needed to be taught, and getting the kids to respect me, but because we are a small school I feel like I adjusted prety quickly. Let it be known, that generally, my students are not the reason I am stressed. Most of the kids are really good and even when they are noisy or not doing their work, I know they are jsut being kids.

The issue is coming from miscommuncations and misunderstandings with my manager. I was raised to ask why and put forth 100% effort into my work. So over time small issues have begun to arise. My hagwon pays extra for teaching the special summer classes. One issue was about my class schedule. it seemed all over the place, seeing some of my classes only once a week. There is only one other foreign teacher here, and he agreed that it didn't make sense. All I wanted to know was WHY it had to be that way, and why he adn I couldn't switch classes. It took a lot of talking and a lot of frustration with the responses before it came down to "parents". I decided I couldn't let it bother me and just accepted that eh schedule was going to suck.

Three weeks ago, my manager came to me about needing ideas for the classes like a reading class, a diary writing class, a phonics class, etc. I went to work and designed the classes, looking at the materials that Langcon provided if available, and deciding if we should use it or how to use it. It was a little stressful, but I thought about my extra money and making the classes fun. When we finally had a meeting with everyone to talk about the summer special class, my manager had ignored the opinions we had given her about the books and wanted to use the books for the class. There are many other examples of times I have done work, only to be told after that the manager was going to redo said work herself, or that she wanted to do it a completely different way.

On top of all the stress I got sick and lost my voice. But there are no days off in Korea, so here I was teaching class without a voicee. My coworkers are generally nice and even covered a couple of my classes that week. But the stress still got to me. Finally, yesterday I broke down at work, and really just wanted to go home for the day. I couldn't teach while crying and they just tell you, "Calm down, you have class." They even kinda manhandled me, grabbing my arm and surronding me. I finally calmed down (it took like an hour) and I put on a fake smile for the rest of my classes. I am so thankful it is Friday, but I can't live like this for 10 more months. No one, not even the Korean Co-teachers, should have to live in this much stress.

Any suggestions on how to make the next 10 months bearable?
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TheMeerkatLover



Joined: 26 Mar 2009

PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2014 9:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm surprised you haven't realized that by crying in front of your coworkers and wanting to go home, you have proven yourself to be a ticking time bomb.

I would not be entirely surprised if your boss is currently looking to replace you for someone more (in their eyes) 'mentally stable'.

FWIW, being from a family of teachers means nothing in the real world in regards to experience.
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Sukisho



Joined: 02 Mar 2014
Location: Suwon

PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2014 9:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

TheMeerkatLover wrote:
I'm surprised you haven't realized that by crying in front of your coworkers and wanting to go home, you have proven yourself to be a ticking time bomb.


You make it sound like I wanted to totally break down in front of them. I admit I am used to the American way of doing things, so being super sick and still working for 2 weeks straight has only made the stress worse. I am asking for advice to prevent a situation like this from ever happening again. While, I understand your comment, it is not helpful.
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ttompatz



Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Location: Kwangju, South Korea

PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2014 9:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sukisho wrote:
TheMeerkatLover wrote:
I'm surprised you haven't realized that by crying in front of your coworkers and wanting to go home, you have proven yourself to be a ticking time bomb.


You make it sound like I wanted to totally break down in front of them. I admit I am used to the American way of doing things, so being super sick and still working for 2 weeks straight has only made the stress worse. I am asking for advice to prevent a situation like this from ever happening again. While, I understand your comment, it is not helpful.


Truth is, this is not home. It is not for everyone.
Being here as a tourist (your 4 month visit earlier) is NOT the same as being here and working the daily grind.
The rule book is different. The labor code and labor standards are different.
Culture shock is real.
There is no magic answer to make it all better.
The circumstances that distress you are not going to go away.
Your boss is unlikely to change to accommodate you nor are they obligated to.
They will still be there tomorrow, next week and next month.

Deciding that is it not for you and going home is not a bad thing.
Pay back the plane ticket and head home at your convenience.

.
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raewon



Joined: 16 Jun 2009

PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2014 10:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry to hear you are having such a hard time.

In my opinion, if you stay positive about things and are willing to be open and embrace Korean culture (the good, the bad, and the ugly) - you can do it.

The stress at work is not going to go away. It may get better, it may get worse - but rest assured - it will always be there. You said that you are used to the American way of doing things. To what degree do you express that at work? Think carefully about what you do/say and how you react to everything that is thrown at you at the last minute.

Get used to the way things are done here as fast as possible. I'm not saying the way things are done is necessary the right way, but unless you accept things, you are virtually setting yourself up for conflict each and every time - and that will only make things worse for you.

As soon as you are feeling better (hopefully next Monday), buy a snack your staff likes, something that can be shared easily, or some cold drinks. Apologize for your outburst, blame it on your miserable condition, and let them know it won't happen again. And make sure it doesn't. Thank everyone for being understanding. And no, I'm not blaming you for your situation. Just try to create a light/friendly atmosphere for starting over. If that is in fact what you wish to do.

As to directly address your question, that is easier. Make the best of your time outside of work. Get involved in whatever is you enjoy doing and that makes you happy. Make plans to do things you will look forward to.

Good luck to you.
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Beeyee



Joined: 29 May 2007

PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2014 10:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

TheMeerkatLover wrote:
I would not be entirely surprised if your boss is currently looking to replace you for someone more (in their eyes) 'mentally stable'.


This.

If you want to keep your job, I'd start by immediately picking up my game and coming in early, looking busy and show your boss that you shouldn't be replaced.
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mike in brasil



Joined: 09 Jun 2003

PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2014 10:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

another one bites the dust
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sweetrevenge



Joined: 24 Dec 2013

PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2014 11:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Finally, yesterday I broke down at work, and really just wanted to go home for the day.


Thats pretty scary, I wouldn't wish this on anyone. What triggered this did a student say something to you or one of your coteachers?
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Sukisho



Joined: 02 Mar 2014
Location: Suwon

PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2014 12:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

sweetrevenge wrote:

Thats pretty scary, I wouldn't wish this on anyone. What triggered this did a student say something to you or one of your coteachers?


I was upset because I didnt understand why we were REdoing some flyers that were made, and when the conversation finally ended, one of my coteachers kinda went off on me for being frustrated, she was very rude about it and treated me like a child, saying things like, "Just stop it." and "This is work, you just do it."

Like I said most of the issues arise because of miscommunications and misunderstandings about what is wanted/expected of us.
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nicwr2002



Joined: 17 Aug 2011

PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2014 1:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is sad to say, but hagwon owners won't use your ideas because it isn't their ideas. If they were to use your ideas then they wouldn't seem like an owner in the owner's eyes. So, while he/she will listen to you about ideas for class, the owner will ultimately choose their ideas even if it is stupid. Also remember that a hagwon isn't a school, it is more like a Sylvan Learning Center type thing or a SAT prep course in the States. It is a business and unfortunately most hagwon owners only care about $$$$ and not the quality or even the improvement of the students.
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nicwr2002



Joined: 17 Aug 2011

PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2014 1:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sukisho wrote:
sweetrevenge wrote:

Thats pretty scary, I wouldn't wish this on anyone. What triggered this did a student say something to you or one of your coteachers?


I was upset because I didnt understand why we were REdoing some flyers that were made, and when the conversation finally ended, one of my coteachers kinda went off on me for being frustrated, she was very rude about it and treated me like a child, saying things like, "Just stop it." and "This is work, you just do it."

Like I said most of the issues arise because of miscommunications and misunderstandings about what is wanted/expected of us.


Also to add, Koreans don't question anything at work. If they are told to do something by the owner, they just do it. So, if you were to complain or continuing asking, "Why do we have to do this?" The coworkers won't and can't understand that attitude and will feel like you are just complaining. They are thinking the same thing as you, but they won't voice it except at an after work drinking get together.
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Sukisho



Joined: 02 Mar 2014
Location: Suwon

PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2014 2:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

nicwr2002 wrote:

Also to add, Koreans don't question anything at work. If they are told to do something by the owner, they just do it. So, if you were to complain or continuing asking, "Why do we have to do this?" The coworkers won't and can't understand that attitude and will feel like you are just complaining. They are thinking the same thing as you, but they won't voice it except at an after work drinking get together.


This is something I learned yesterday, when I was talking to a coworker and my director (not the manager) and it was admittedly a little shocking. I am used to understanding the reasoning behind the way something is done (I come from a very science centered education) and to just do odd or illogical requsts without questioning is very foreign to me. Looking back, a couple issues have come from trying to understand the reasoning, and I think it will help me move forward if I just stop asking, and do it. (As much as it pains me to.)

raewon wrote:
Sorry to hear you are having such a hard time.

In my opinion, if you stay positive about things and are willing to be open and embrace Korean culture (the good, the bad, and the ugly) - you can do it.

The stress at work is not going to go away. It may get better, it may get worse - but rest assured - it will always be there. You said that you are used to the American way of doing things. To what degree do you express that at work? Think carefully about what you do/say and how you react to everything that is thrown at you at the last minute.

Get used to the way things are done here as fast as possible. I'm not saying the way things are done is necessary the right way, but unless you accept things, you are virtually setting yourself up for conflict each and every time - and that will only make things worse for you.

As soon as you are feeling better (hopefully next Monday), buy a snack your staff likes, something that can be shared easily, or some cold drinks. Apologize for your outburst, blame it on your miserable condition, and let them know it won't happen again. And make sure it doesn't. Thank everyone for being understanding. And no, I'm not blaming you for your situation. Just try to create a light/friendly atmosphere for starting over. If that is in fact what you wish to do.

As to directly address your question, that is easier. Make the best of your time outside of work. Get involved in whatever is you enjoy doing and that makes you happy. Make plans to do things you will look forward to.

Good luck to you.


Thanks so much for the advice! I am going to try to be more flexible about the things that my co-teachers and manager do, especially the things changing last minute. Also, I think the snack/cool drink idea is great and plan to make use of it on Monday. Thanks for the encouragement. I don't want to give up and go home, because I love it here so much. It was nice to have a helpful comment and not just people telling me I was going to be fired, or should go home.
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MedellinHeel



Joined: 16 Jan 2014

PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2014 3:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am confused.....

Where are the issues to warrant being stressed?

No parental complaints.

No contractual violations.

No manager scolding / micromanaging.

No wages unpaid.

No out of control kids.

The only thing you have mentioned that could warrant any after thought is the loopy schedule but is it not the summer anyways? ie intensives, extra classes, etc

I dont want to sound harsh but you are being WAY too sensitive.

You need to learn to go with the flow and not stress the small things.
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Sukisho



Joined: 02 Mar 2014
Location: Suwon

PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2014 3:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MedellinHeel wrote:
I am confused.....

Where are the issues to warrant being stressed?

No parental complaints.

No contractual violations.

No manager scolding / micromanaging.

No wages unpaid.

No out of control kids.


I did not mention everything in my post. I have had out of control kids. I did have contract issues (asked to teach a class for a company I don't work for but my Director also owns). As for the parental complaints, parents are why the schedule is wonky, even my manager didn't want to make it that way (I found this out eventually, jsut took a while). Don't think that just beacuse I don't list every issue ever that these things didn't happen. I feel the kind of break down was due to "the straw that broke the camels back". The lots of little issues seemed to pile up and become one BIG issue.

I mentioned in response to another user that I am going to try to focus on not asking why, which I belive will help me go with the flow more.
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le-paul



Joined: 07 Apr 2009
Location: dans la chambre

PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2014 4:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

nicwr2002 wrote:
Sukisho wrote:
sweetrevenge wrote:

Thats pretty scary, I wouldn't wish this on anyone. What triggered this did a student say something to you or one of your coteachers?


I was upset because I didnt understand why we were REdoing some flyers that were made, and when the conversation finally ended, one of my coteachers kinda went off on me for being frustrated, she was very rude about it and treated me like a child, saying things like, "Just stop it." and "This is work, you just do it."

Like I said most of the issues arise because of miscommunications and misunderstandings about what is wanted/expected of us.


Also to add, Koreans don't question anything at work. If they are told to do something by the owner, they just do it. So, if you were to complain or continuing asking, "Why do we have to do this?" The coworkers won't and can't understand that attitude and will feel like you are just complaining. They are thinking the same thing as you, but they won't voice it except at an after work drinking get together.


+1

Id also say it would make a person look like a trouble maker
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