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I kept delaying this for months...



Life has been just ridiculous since about October. Something really difficult happened to me 3 months ago, and it was so painful I was afraid to write about it even once I thought I was over it, because I was afraid it would upset me again.

In mid-October I moved and started a new job at a cram school in Anyang. I traded a relatively laid-back and secure public school job for a stressful, busy hagwon job whose only advantage was that it paid better and was located in a much better area. I had to because the province is eliminating foreign English teachers from the public schools, and my school had no choice but to let me go.

I observed for one week and then started teaching all my classes in my second week, and I was overwhelmed, at that time particularly with the kindergartners. I'd never taught such young kids, and with no co-teacher and literally no curriculum for most of the classes, I was on the verge of crying mid-class. When I'd interviewed for the job, they said there would be a supporting teacher there for the kindergartners, but they didn't honor that promise, and not allowed to use Korean, I was expected to teach these kids all by myself.

Then, the weekend after that first hard week, I found out my then-boyfriend's ex-girlfriend was pregnant with his kid. I talked to her on the phone and everything, and it was like a nightmare come true. This was the kind of thing I thought only happened to other people, or in soap operas. And it hurt like hell.

The play-by-play is not really important at this point, but I was horribly depressed for at least a month, and I was still crying about it in January. We'll see how February goes. The first week after it happened I was crying during work, which I'm sure made a wonderful impression. My co-worker asked me if anything was wrong and I started to cry. Some first grader started to cry over whatever first graders cry about, and I started to cry with her. I've never been such an emotional wreck, and I didn't think it could happen after a relationship that only lasted two months. I'd never had a difficult break-up before, and this one was so sudden, dramatic, and beyond anyone's control it was more than I could bear. The ex-girlfriend was not a sympathetic character either; she'd been unhappy about their break-up and seemed wildly happy that she could take him back.

The worst part of it all was that it turned out she was probably not going to be able to have the child... the fetus didn't settle in her womb right or something, and she was going to have to have an abortion. On one hand, that's good; neither of them was ready to have a kid. But he still had to go back to her, to take care of her. And that's where I feel like the whole thing was so perverse. She wanted him back, and she got him back, but there's no baby anyway. Here I had my first relationship in four years or something, and for two months I was so happy... and then the rug got completely pulled out from under me. Why?

I was fortunate to have two wonderful girlfriends who helped me get through this, especially at the very beginning. Really, I realize how ridiculously fortunate I am in life to be able to say that this was one of the hardest things I've ever experienced. I guess I'm a light-weight and I could never endure life's real tragedies. I mean, this was the first time I was so upset I couldn't sleep and couldn't eat... two things God knows I can never get enough of normally.

Not two weeks after the break-up, I found out I was accepted to Seoul National University, my top choice for graduate school. I told myself given what I had just been through, I should have some kind of consolation, and here it was.

In addition, at this time I kind of threw financial caution to the winds. That iPhone I was waiting to buy in case I couldn't afford it on a student income? I said "fuck it" and bought it anyway. I've never cared about expensive cosmetics, but I suddenly had a desire to buy them, and I did. I figured I deserved it.

I got to a point at the hagwon where I was actually hating my job, for the first time in my life. There are so many classes that have literally no curriculum; the schedule just says "activity class" or "story time". They're too cheap to provide me with a computer, and their physical resources are rather limited, so I am literally making the bulk of my lessons by hand, to the point of creating my own worksheets with a pen and paper and photocopying them. I bring in my laptop to play music. And it's not like I have a ton of break periods to plan stuff. It's like they think that since I'm a native English speaker, I can pull lessons full-formed out of my ass.

The kids here are a mess, too. Maybe it's because I'm in a more urban area now. Maybe it's because I'm around them all day. Maybe it's because I'm at a cram school and not a public school. Maybe it's because I have no co-teacher. But the vast majority of them are brats. They misbehave and complain and make me want to take back everything I ever said about loving kids.

I think I may have come out the other end of hating this job, though. The situation hasn't really gotten better; it's more like I'm just numb at this point. If they're raising hell, so what. I'm leaving. If I'm doing a bad job and they fire me, I think I'd be thrilled. I just have to bide my time 'til the the end.

Alas, I had signed a year contract and gave them the required two months' notice that I was leaving early, but they've asked me to continue part-time while I study. I really, really want to be out of this place but. Despite everything, I feel guilty. The people there have been kind for the most part, if completely oblivious to how damn hard they make my job. In their defense, because I felt guilty about breaking my contract, I never complained about anything. The thing is, I calculated everything and it would take me 20 hours of part-time work there to make the same amount of money I would get in 7 hours of private tutoring. As a student, I really do not want to be putting so much time into a part-time job, especially one that demands so much preparation.

I went looking for an apartment today near the university, with the same two friends I mentioned before. I have a lot of math to do. If I stay at my hagwon I'll have to pay half the rent for my current apartment, which will be cheaper than one in Seoul, but I'll also be working a low-paying hagwon job and having to bear the cost of commuting. If I move, I can take on private tutoring and eliminate commuting expenses, but will be paying maybe twice as much in rent plus a large deposit. There's a TA position I just found out about that offers full tuition plus a monthly stipend. If I am lucky enough to get that I have to factor it in as well.

The other crazy thing? One of my closest friends here recently found out her boyfriend is married. This after he had pressured her to have an abortion even though he is very well-off and she is independently financially capable of supporting a child. Shed new light on that situation. It's gotten even more complicated since then. But. Why the hell is life such a fucking K-drama? I told my mom what had happened to me last year and to my friend and she wondered what the deal was with all the drama over here. I'm for one rather discouraged about ever meeting anybody after what happened to us. It's just so demoralizing. Maybe I am over the guy, but I'm not sure I'm over the experience. I wish I could just be one of those people who finds a comfortable relationship and can hang on to it for a while. Why is it so difficult for me? That same friend is close to 40. She looks very young and is very pretty, smart, and such a nice person, but has not been able to meet anyone.

And when the hell did I start caring about these kinds of things? I am worrying less about my career and more about whether I will ever get married. That's just the reality of aging, I guess.

So I hope graduate school will be a turning point. Career-wise. Relationship-wise.

Comments

I'm so sorry, Monica :( That sounds like just an impossible situation. But it's not like your life is over, and your love life isn't either. This is a bullet dodged - you don't need that kind of drama in your life. As for your friend's boyfriend, some people are just selfish and shitty. Who knows why they do what they do? I can only hope that karma hits him hard.

I can't impart any wise advice about work, as my current job is similarly horrible. I just hope we both get out and move on to better things soon.

Wishing you all the luck for grad school and your career in the future ♥
I really appreciate it Allison. I feel pathetic about being down about this stuff for so long... but if nothing else at least I get people now when they go through difficult break-ups.

Thank you for the support, it means a lot. Hoping for a better school year for you and even better things when the semester is over!
ahhhhhhhhhhhh I'm glad to finally know the whole story after you hinted at it but WOW that is so insane and ridiculous! I'm really sorry you had to go through that D: But yeah, it just means you were better off without it. I'm really glad you got into grad school and I'd say put the cram school behind you. You'll be in grad school; it's not worth the stress. I saw your FB post about house-hunting with your friends; hopefully it goes well and I'm glad you have such supportive people around you! But ahh, you just filled my heart with terror though at the thought of taking the (somewhat lower-tier as these things go) English teacher position I've been offered so far, should I have to take it simply to get to Japan!
What kind of position did you get offered? I don't want to scare anyone off from teaching; at least in Korea it totally depends on the school you get into, and even with the bad apples most people seem to be happy with their jobs. My first job was an overwhelmingly positive experience, and I enjoyed it even though I have no intention to teach long-term. So don't resign yourself to misery yet.

Everybody is telling me to just quit, but my school is making it really hard. When they asked if I could part-time, I said maybe, that it would depend on my schedule, but they took it as a yes and haven't bothered to look for a replacement for me. So they will be high and dry if I leave completely. I guess I'm just gonna part-time for a bit then let them know it's really not working out and leave for good.
Well, like I said, it's really lower-tier. Obviously JET is the best but I missed the deadline so I applied to this and two others and the others haven't started interviewing yet but they will probably pay more and be better quality. This one pays not very much and seems more disorganized/less supportive of teachers, though it does place you close to Tokyo guaranteed. I know someone who did it and she didn't have a good experience. Plus, I don't want to teach, I want to go as a student anyway! So fingers crossed I don't have to take it but at least I have it as a backup. One way or another I'm moving to Japan this year...