Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Social Interactions

My uni, thankfully is not heavy on the mandatory-ish social activities. It usually works out to a beginning dinner every semester, possibly one meeting or workshop and then an end of the semester type thing, either a Thanksgiving dinner or a party of some sort. Some unis have weekly or bi-weekly meetings. I'm not really sure how much there would be to talk about. It's perhaps one of those things you could check on before agreeing to work at a place.

Anyway, my theory about interacting with the powers that be (this could apply to almost any job in Korea I think):

1. Go to all social events with your bosses, if at all possible and it won't burn you out. Even the fun, optional parties. Have a drink or two and enjoy yourself. And the workshops. This will definitely put you in the good books. However, there are limits to the amount I would do. My uni doesn't even approach them, so I'm cool with going to almost everything.

2. Avoid any negative interaction. ANY. NEVER complain to your bosses, international coordinator or English assistants. Have only positive contact. Such as volunteering to teach (paid) classes or camps. Offering helpful feedback when requested. Getting your syllabus and grades in on time. Do not bother these people with trifling things like a dispute with a coworker, a missing printer in your office, or a student who is not happy about a grade. Get some self-initiative. ONLY POSITIVE!

3. Make a good reputation for yourself among the students. At my school, we change classes each semester. I always ask who they had for their last teacher. In some cases, they don't even know their teacher's name, which says a lot I think. I usually ask if they liked their teacher. About the good teachers, the students will say, "He's so funny and cute!" or "Class was very fun." About the bad ones, "He's fat and smells bad!" or "Very boring." So what I'm saying is that there are teachers who are popular and fun and well-liked and those that are not. Be one of the well-liked ones because this reflects itself in student evaluations, which the powers that be see. And the word on the street about you gets back to them, I'm almost certain.

And about coworkers:

1. Try to minimize the coworker bitch sessions. This will only give you a negative attitude about a job that is actually pretty amazing. I've found that when I used to hang around certain people I work with, I'd start thinking my job is actually not that good. However, this is most definitely not the case and by not spending time with these people, it's much easier to be thankful and happy about my situation here.

2.This applies to the Korea haters as well. Stay away!

So these are my secrets for great happiness and success in Korea.


Marko Head said...

This is really awesome! I love reading your blog for a couple reasons, 1. you give great tips on how to make your job more enjoyable.
2. I plan on going to Korea eventually to teach, and your blog gives me some insight about the job (at least more than you are told by a potential employer).
So I just started reading your blog so I'm relatively new to it. Are you from the U.S.? Can I ask you some questions about how you got into this job?
Anyways your blog is fun to read, keep it up!

Bruce Josephson said...

Interestingly I told one of my coworkers to ask for help as little as possible from Korean co-workers today. She wanted our chairman to tell us about our class schedule for next semester.

Since I am on good terms with him, he told me it annoyed him.

Koreans don't like to ask other Koreans for favors since there usually is a price to pay for it.

You might end up paying a price too if you ask for too many favors.

I'm now finishing my second year at BCU, but did not make the magic fifth year at my last Korean university. I'm making less mistakes now than I did last time.

I should add the real jerks only teach a year at a university then their contracts are not renewed, though often they don't only offend the Koreans.

Jackie Bolen said...

Hello Marko...I'm from Canada. I got into it because I was finishing uni, wanted to travel but didn't have money. It was only for a year at first, but I'm still here, 5 years later. Teaching/Korea kind of grew on me I guess. It's easy enough to get into...just search some esl job boards (www.eslcafe.com is the best).

Leopard: you are right about favors in Korea. There is always something expected of you in return, yet most foreigners don't realize this. It's better to wait to ask for a favor from a Korean until you're in dire circumstances and prepared to do a little something for that person in the future.