Tell us a little bit about yourself?
(Places you’ve lived, where you went to school, jobs, etc…)
Well, my name is Angelo M.. I am a 4th generation Mexican-American. I was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. I am the first person in my immediate family, and third in my extended family to attend a university. I graduated from the University of Colorado-Boulder with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology. I’ve been working since I was 14 years old, so my work experience is quite vast. Ranging from a fast food worker, cashier at a toy store, clothing store, and K-mart, environmental assistant, electronic salesman, teaching assistant, resident advisor, secretary, computer teacher, and now an English teacher. Also, through a university program called “Semester at Sea” I was fortunate enough to travel to 12 countries around the world and begin considering myself a “global citizen”. As a result, I felt compelled to spend time living and working in another country to completely immerse myself in a foreign environment. However, Korea just happened to be the country that offered the best financial opportunities and since I’ve been here I haven’t genuinely regretted my decision to come here.
How long have you been in Korea?
I have been in Korea for a mere 6 months, but intend on being here for at least one more year. Maybe more if I enjoy my new teaching position, continue to learn the language and make lots of friends I will prolong my stay in Korea. Since I’ve been here I’ve managed to make Korean friends in quite a few cities, travel throughout the country, and grown to appreciate and understand Korean culture (something which I knew next to nothing about back home).
Where have you worked in Korea?
I spent my first 6 months in a small town of 40,000 people but it didn’t take long for me to realize that I would much rather live in a big city, which is how I ended up in Seoul. Soon I will be working at another private English institute in Apgujeong.
What is your fondest memory of Korea?
I have plenty of unique and interesting experiences but I will get back to you on this one….haha.
What is your worst of Korea?
During one of my weekend trips to escape my small town I went to Daegu (the fourth largest city in Korea). My friend and I were looking for something to do so we went into a place called “Kenzo” there was a speaker playing someone singing an English song…so we wandered downstairs into Karaoke bar and saw a large room full of Korean people (a few of which turned there heads towards us curiously) and the person on stage was singing the song we had heard from the speaker outside. It seemed like it was going to be a fun place to hang out so decided to stay. As we waited by the entrance to be seated, immediately one of the employees ran up to us. More people who were sitting and enjoying there drinks stared in our direction. The young Korean employee handed me a sign. I grabbed it from him curiously. In big black letters the sign stated “KOREAN PEOPLE ONLY!” and “ONLY KOREAN SONGS HERE.” (The irony was that the song being sang by the Korean guy on stage was an American song, in English). Needless, to say I didn’t respond in a respectful or appropriate way. But this was the only time I experienced such a blatant incident of xenophobia, racism, or discrimination since I’ve been here.
Do you have any advice for future English teachers in Korea?
Unless, you are a very independent, old, and willing to spend a lot of time bored and alone. Don’t move to a small town (just my opinion). Also, learn the language if you think you will be here for a while, not only does it show Korean people that you want to understand their culture (since language and culture are intertwined) but it is also a practical task to undertake. Research exactly where you will teach before you come so you don’t make a hasty decision about where you will live, work, and spend a year of your life. I guess most importantly, be open-minded, don’t limit yourself to the expatriate community, and prepare yourself to live in this little, but interesting, country named South Korea.