The Differentness of Things (Part 2): What Matters Now


You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
Jim Rohn

Every year, my school gets new teachers – both Korean teachers and foreign teachers – and every year, things change.

Every year is different.

No year is ever a predictor of what the next one will be like.

And yes, I’ve signed up for another year, based on how much better things were for me last year than they were when I was at this school before.

Though what guarantees do I have?

The legacy of those who have been here before

Due to my history with my school, I know why certain things are as they are, and who is the originator of these things. What methods and expressions have I learnt from the teachers I have worked with before? What are others learning from me, not knowing that they are (perhaps poor) imitations of others?

For instance, there are nicknames and jokes that are now being used and absorbed by the new teachers that my coworkers and I don’t realise need explanation. There are verbal habits that I’ve picked up from teachers who are now gone. There are teaching methods, tips and tricks that they spoke about and that I then adapted for my own classes that I now suggest to others.

Every person who passes through those halls leaves parts of themselves behind, and this is something that I currently find fascinating. Especially as it affects the way that things are done now.

Knowing why something is done- and not just going along with it because that’s how it is – seems to be a crucial part of making it better. I know the foundations of certain situations and once those foundations are exposed, I can better explain why a thing needs to change. Or, perhaps, why it shouldn’t change.

But does this matter?

Some people like to walk into a place or position and change things simply for the sake of changing them. This – it would seem – is the nature of the working world.

But there is a legacy now of teachers who once stood in my shoes. Some of them accepted  bad changes or kept things the way they were because they didn’t feel like they had the power or authority to have their say.

And there were those who did not.

If I have learnt nothing else in the last year, it is that I am able to have my say. And that this is not wrong or unreasonable of me, and that it can be done (contrary to some lifelong lessons I’ve had to unlearn) without being unpleasant, or being a doormat.

This matters because I feel like this is a lesson I ought to have learnt long ago.

This matters because, however long it took me learn this, it is something I’m happy to finally understand.


So what happens now?


A new academic year, with a host of new changes that make some things harder and some things easier, has finally begun. Teachers have left and new teachers have arrived. Things – it feels – are finally in full swing.

And what happens now is anyone’s guess.

But I have learnt an important thing – I have a say in what happens, and I will shape this year as much as I can. And this is what is different.



Apologies Matter

My school has a history of fucking up.

Information isn’t given to us – or is given to use too late for it to act on it effectively – and each of these fuck ups is followed by an apology.

After all of the apologies I’ve heard, I’ve learnt a few things about apologies.

A good apology can soothe ruffled feathers, but a bad one can cause irritation to get under someone’s skin and fester. An apology starts with I’m sorry, but it’s what comes next that can make it or break it.

Continue reading “Apologies Matter”

The Differentness of Things: Korea Round 2

About a week ago, a friend from home asked me whether or not Korea was treating me better this time around. I didn’t give a particularly good answer, but I did promise to blog about it when I’d had some time to think.

While it’s difficult to determine offhand whether it’s worse or better, I have found that there are some key differences between how my life is now, compared to how it was here before.

Continue reading “The Differentness of Things: Korea Round 2”

And So The Blog Returns To Life

In a point entirely related to the things I created this blog to blog about, I have returned to Korea, to the same city, to the same school I was teaching at before.


The feeling of “But why?” was strong before I left SA (again), and is strong among the people who are still here.

Well… in short:


Well that wraps that up.

Ugh. Fine. If you want to know more… Continue reading “And So The Blog Returns To Life”

Money Can’t Buy Happiness?



I think the two years I lived in Korea were the first (and perhaps only) time in my life when I felt financially secure. In the two years between my father’s death, and my departure for Korea, I needed to help support my family. We lived paycheck to paycheck, and I have never tried to pretend that money was not a part of my decision to apply to EPIK and be an EFL teacher.

The out of money experience

During those two years, money was a constant worry and source of stress. It plagued me during my waking hours and kept me out of sleep at night. I would like awake, going over  my expenses and the money in my account again and again, trying to find ways to make it stretch just a day or two more, hoping that nothing unexpected would come up, because we couldn’t afford it.

Continue reading “Money Can’t Buy Happiness?”

Reality Hits: When the Elation of Returning Home Starts to Wear Off

I love to sing. I sang in choir when I was in high school.

But I didn’t like being in my school’s choir. It was a rather notorious organisation – infamous for the fact that once one joined, one was unable to leave. It wasn’t until my final year at school that we were allowed – expected – to leave. For a long while, the thought “I don’t have to go back to choir!” made me unrealistically happy. No matter how shitty it was being in matric, I wasn’t in the choir anymore.

Part of me wanted the choir to tank when that the people who had been forced to stay had finally been allowed to leave. Another part of me – a more magnanimous part – hoped that it would do well and that the new members would be happier there than I had been.

Sometimes, I missed singing in the choir.

I railed so long against something, I couldn’t wait to leave, and leaving made me so happy, but sometimes I still missed it.

Coming back home is starting to feel like that Continue reading “Reality Hits: When the Elation of Returning Home Starts to Wear Off”