Interview with Justin at Chonnam National University
Justin is a captivating individual who enjoys life and what he does. He has a blunt yet calming personality that’s perfect for teaching in Korea. His advice is worth gold and I was lucky to get an interview with him.
What is (was) the name of your school?
Chonnam National University
What city and province is the school located?
Are you still teachingthere? Please enter Yes or No.
What is (was)your motivation for going to South Korea?
A complex interplay of curiosity, unemployment, love of travel, confusion and a strange sense of belonging that I always remembering feeling in relation to Korea.
When did you realize holy crap what am Idoing?
Since I experience this realization on an almost daily basis, it is difficult to respond to what I assume is a question specific to teaching in Korea.
I definitely remember a sense of deep crap when I was shown to my “accommodations” at the hagwon I first worked at. It was an officetel that had been converted into an officetel with a bed thrown into the corner: no kitchen, no refrigerator, no washing machine, no heat, no shower. Yeah, that was definitely a “holy crap what am I doing” moment.
What is the one sentence or word you have to know in Korean? Please spell in English!
“Nae hoebuhkeurapeuteuneun changuhro kadeuk chaisseyo.”
My hovercraft is full of eels.
(내호버크라프트는 장어로 가득 차 있어요.)
No, but really – learn kamsahamnida (thank you) and use it often.
What should you definitely bring to Korea?
If you don’t conform to standard Korean measurements, then you will want to bring all the clothing and footwear you can. Guys: condoms andunderwear are on this list. Ladies: Bras, panties, and assorted feminine care products.
Also, if anyone could please bring some fresh mozzarella cheese, I would be greatly appreciative.
What is the most disgusting and favorite food you have hadin Korea?
Most disgusting: A living shrimp platter on Jeju Island. Yeah, you heard me. The poor little things had had their shells ripped off and I was expected to just fire ‘em down my cakehole- the whole time their little eyes and appendages wiggling in terror of death. Ugly stuff.
Favorite food: The is like asking who is the most beautiful woman in the world. Impossible questions result in inadequate answers. Nevertheless, I love mool naeng myun (a coldnoodle soup) in summer and kimchi jjigae (a spicy cabbage stew) in the winter.
What is (was) your favorite place in your city and why?
My mother never told me that if I didn’t have anything nice to say that I shouldn’t say anything at all, so, as far as Yeosu goes I have places I like to avoid (yeah, I’m talking about you Mipyong!) but few I would identify as “favorite”.
Hmmm. I’v had good experiences at LSG – a local expat watering hole. You come for the open mic night, but leave because of the singing.
How many years have (did) you teach at this school? If less than 1 year, why did you leave?
Three years now.
Can you tell us about your school? How is the moral quality, working hours, benefits etc? And would you recommend this school, why or why not?
Moral quality? Uh, no one has been raped or killed at my school to my knowledge…?
As far as working hours, benefits,and the rest of that ilk go, I would rather get to know you better before I go spilling my fancy guts all over the place.
Any advice for newcomers or anything else you would like to add?
As a part time adherent of the International Guild of Dilettante Philosophers, I would like to impart this little pearl of wisdom:
For the most part we live our lives in tiny bubbles of assumption and perception. Culture is one such “doxa”. It shapes you in ways you cannot possibly imagine…until, that is, you leave the confines of your culture and venture out into the holy crap of other people’s bubbles.
That’s where the good stuff is.
Justin’s message, get out there and see the world. No matter where you choose to go and teach or whatever drives you there, have a little fun, enjoy, live and be prosperious.
Thanks for a great interview Justin.
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