Whiny Expat Bloggers

I did it, didn’t I?

I can’t even make metaphorical eye contact

I became one of those people who keeps one of those blogs that makes people nervous about coming to Korea. It became a place where I whine about how hard my life is, how difficult it is to live in Korea and how much I miss home.

And then I post that I’ve decided to stay on for another year, you ask yourself “Why doesn’t she go home? She seems so miserable…”

Wait… what?

So when I write this, I am pointing at myself first and foremost.

Why do new EFL teachers start blogging? A large part of it is to recount our adventures, update our loved ones on our lives, and hopefully help out others who are considering doing what we’re doing. This is our big adventure, moving into the unknown, and we want everyone to know.

And then we get here… and things are not what we expect. We don’t want to complain at work, and sometimes complaining to your friends doesn’t help, but all the stuff we’re feeling still wants to be heard. So… we vent online. And slowly, but surely, our blogs become those blogs. The ones that you read before you move overseas, and you think… “Yeah… but my experience won’t be like that.”

I first realised how much I whine on here when I found my new coworker on Tumblr. When I realised that my Tumblr would link her to this blog, I panicked.

“… shit.”

I didn’t want to scare her. So I posted this, where I tried to explain that it’s not that I’m unhappy in my school, it’s just that it’s tough sometimes. These Facebook responses amused me. Especially the first one.

The respondents here are both fellow expat teachers. Thank you, darlings.

I tried to reform after that post… but I failed. Because, you know, my life kept happening. My workload stayed the same, I was still tired all the time, various things kept going on in my head, and I did suddenly find myself with a lot of extra work that I didn’t think I could say no to, and yes… I did start to get increasingly homesick. And my blog remained a place where I could vent. And so… when another new coworker told me she’d been reading my blog… well… oops.

All she had to say was “I’ve been reading your blog…”

I don’t say this is true of all expat bloggers. There are plenty of people out there blogging about how much they love their work and what a great time they’re having. And there are some people out there who are blogging about how much they hate their jobs who genuinely do hate their jobs (given that my two most popular posts, by a wide margin, are the one where I talk about hating my old job, and the one where I talk about how to stop hating your ESL job, and that the WordPress stats tell me that many people have found my blog by searching for ‘midnight runs’ and variations of ‘I hate my job’).

But what I am saying is that when you come across whiny expat blogs about teaching in a foreign country, be wary. And I am pointing all my fingers at myself first when it comes to this. Some people are genuinely miserable… but I think a lot of people just need a place to vent.

(In other news, I guess this is as good a time as any to announce it, and hopefully I’ve alleviated some of confusion that this announcement will cause, I’ve decided to spend at least another year here at my school. IMOE has been slow on all their processing, because the budget only just got finalized, but the whole renewal process will be starting soon.)

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