437 COMMENTS

It’s been three years since I first opened the door to my classroom at Bucheon Girls’ High School. I still remember how awkward and disoriented I felt because of the strength of the language barrier, the newness of the Korean school schedule, and the difference in the school curriculum. At first, both the students and teachers were extremely shy and reserved. To be clear, they were very welcoming and polite, and they were always greeting me in the hallway and smiling excitedly, but most of the teachers were unwillingly to really open up and talk to me due to their shyness when speaking English (and probably because I was a bit intimidating as well).

In turn, I felt extremely isolated and alone at first, especially for that long hour at lunch time when I ate at a table surrounded by nothing but Korean conversation. I knew many of my co-workers and students spoke English, yes, but I didn’t know how to get them to speak English with me, and I knew that I just had to figure out a way, somehow, to make them comfortable with me.

I tried my best to open myself up to my fellow teachers and students and ask questions about Korean culture, language, and pronunciation. My mistakes in speaking Korean and eagerness to learn allowed them to feel less nervous around me about their mistakes in English. This in turn led to me telling them little details about myself and my life, to show them some pictures, and tell them some stories. Slowly, they too reciprocated in kind.

I wrote little notes about the students I talked to. “Third student from the left at the third desk: has round glasses, likes Big Bang. Spoke with me Tuesday after class, smiles a lot.” I made sure to look up all the music they suggested, even if I wasn’t into it (YET!), so that I could bring it up with them next class. My eagerness to communicate with a few students from each class trickled over to other students and classrooms. They all soon began suggesting their favourite bands, inviting me to their club activities, and openly stopping me in the hallway to chat about TVXQ and the recent American drama they watched.

Within a couple of awkward and hard-working months, I felt totally at ease with my school. As a result, in my three years at my school I attended graduations, entrance exam cheering sessions, sports days, club activities, school festivals, school plays, school trips, band performances, teacher team-building trips, and made a new best friend who I’ll be friends with forever…석복…(if you’re reading this, that’s you!) ^^ All of these memories are filled with laughter and smiles from the most excellent co-workers I’ve gotten to know, and my super-awesome-funny-clever-amazing-talented-warm-hearted students.

My lesson plans got better each year; I learned what worked and what didn’t, how to keep my students interested, and how to help motivate disinterested students. My teaching style became smoother and more confident each year, and my new students’ shyness didn’t bother me, because I knew how to eventually overcome it. The positive and negative reactions my students had to my lessons were the clearest indications as to whether I succeeded or failed, so I really have to thank the students for teaching me what a good teacher should be like. I’ve grown a lot because of them, and for that I am grateful.

During my last week of school, everything my students did made me cry like a sucky baby sissy pants…”Martina, here is some chocolate” *sob* “Martina, we wrote a song for you” *sob* “Martina, we got a cake for you” *SOOOOBBB*. I know I’m moving on to a different career path now, and that I won’t be teaching at my school anymore, but teaching is something I’m going to miss and fondly remember. Many of my students said to me during that last week, “Martina, don’t forgot us, okay?” As if I could! It is totally impossible for me to forget my experience at Bucheon Girls’ High School as they have forever changed me in the most positive way. I’ll really really miss you all.

Thank you for letting me be a part of your lives and don’t forget me! ^^

*sob*

ToFebruary
  1. StephanieKlein

    Hi Martina! I know this is an old post, but! I’m a former ESL-teacher expat, current US public school English teacher looking to have an experience at an all-girl’s high school over summer break to bring back to my students. I’m looking for a contact at such an organization but alas, all sites are in Korean and my Korean language skills suck! Any email addresses, names of current teachers or the like to share? Pleeeese? ;)

  2. Hi That’s really great! Congratulations on your new career path! I’m sure no one can replace the amazing vibe you set forth for the Korean staff and students. I’m also a teacher in Bucheon and I have a very difficult time finding ways to get them comfortable with me. You should be very proud! Cheers! =)

  3. What if i told you, you didnt censor the face of the instructor properly? kkkkk

  4. SWalkerTTU

    For those concerned, Martina and Simon have become full-time bloggers and cultural conduits. They make a living at it.

  5. imanftislandfan

    after seeing how school there is like all i can think is THAT’S how school’s supposed to be 

  6. SpressLoves WonderGirls

    Martina, this brought back memories of my time teaching in Taiwan. The warmth and kindness felt was unforgettable. Thanks for sharing this. Btw, saw you and Simon at Korean Music Wave in Google – wish I had said hello. so… “Hello!”

  7. bri nguyen

    Someone tell me what she does now?? D; I wanna know, is it just her youtube videos now???

  8. This is so touching!! You are so loved at your school!! I’m totally jealous! :D

  9. Grace Burtman

    Watching you and Simon teaching and doing fun activities with your students has really made me think about becoming a teacher. It seems like a ton of fun! :)

  10. teniya marie

    I’m so proud of you guys! I have wanted to teach overseas for the past six years, and am working hard in college to achieve my dream! When my family discourages me, I watch your videos (silly and serious) and it makes me work harder and continue to strive forward. You will never know what happiness your site/videos bring into my life. Good luck with the website~ I will continue to support you!

  11. This post/Video was incredibly heart warming and touching! :D Everytime more i’m addicted to you guys videos and I have so much fun watching you two ^_^ What career will you pursue now?

  12. What career are you taking now? 

  13. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. So beautiful and touching. Now I’m sobbing too. 

  14. awhh tis is thats so sad, wait y r u leaving…maybe it says somewhere but i.can.not.read.idk

  15. Christina Shandro

    Hello Martina (and Simon)…
    I’m teaching at a middle school and I’m wondering about the little caricatures at 4:03-4:05 in your video. Did you have all your students make them of themselves? of a partner? during summer camp? on the first day of school? the last? How did you use them and how did you get your students to make them?

  16. HI!! Martina!!  Do you remember me? I’m not sure about that. I’m Gaeun. I will never forget camping with you during summer, winter vacation. I really miss you. 

  17. VBNinja

    Cute…sad…very cool memories.

  18. 부럽다 저런 선생님있었으면 
    매일같이 즐거웠을텐데. 근데 부천여고 선생님이었다니 믿기지 않는군..
    나도 부천에 ì‚´ê³  있구만…으흑 ã…¡ã…¡

    • bri nguyen

      Ain’t even goona lie.had to use google translate to read your comment…and I still didn’t get it.

      • He said he’s jealous that they had a teacher like Martina and how they had fun everyday. and the rest… “But it’s hard to believe that she was a bucheon girls high teacher… I live in bucheon too.”

  19. I was a student of this lovely school about 20 years ago and currently away from Bucheon. So, it’s been a great time for me to see this video clip. Thank you for posting this and hope you had wonderful time there.

  20. O gosh, I hate entries / videos like this, because I always tear up. T_T This is a really cute video, and your students seem to be amazing!

  21. Copying Error

    You know what’s funny? I think an all-girls middle school in Bucheon is where I got assigned to after the  whatever test it was I took as a sixth-grader in Korea.  I moved to the US after finishing elementary school in Korea and started middle school here. This video made me wonder how different my life would have been had I stayed in Korea. I know things turned out better for me in the US, but I often wonder about how different my life would have been.

  22. Wait, why aren’t you teaching anymore?

  23. Vincent Kukua

    Really great video. I wish you both luck on your new adventures in Korea. Does this mean Eat Your Kimchi is going to become 2 Days 1 Night foreigner-style? It’s be awesome to see you guys finding your way across different parts of the country.

  24. akonasitiem

     Ahw .. this made me sad , but now im thinking abouth being a teacher because of you guys.. im just 3rd yr. high school and planning on teaching .. but can you give me some good ideas or professions that i can do ? because i want to work there in korea .. what are some good professions ? pls . suggest some ^^ i really really love your couple :)))

  25. Have fun back in Canada. I hear Toronto is lovely this time of the year. 

  26. This video almost made me cry! >.< 

  27. jazzyfish

    OMG! the jonghyun tiger suit… *jealous glare*….

  28. Green_rose_1010

    what are you going to do instead of teaching im confused

  29. Joanna jakway

    It’s so touching, I’m going to cry!!!!
    Martina, fighting!!!!

  30. Anonymous

    Anyone happened to know the name of the song?

  31. Nathan1011

    학생들에게 참 좋은 추억이 되었으리라 믿습니다.
    만약에 저의 학창시절에 당신같은 선생님을 만났더라면… ã…Žã…Ž
    지금과는 달리 영어를 아주 아주 사랑하고 있겠죠^^

  32. Geun Young Park

    I became your huge fan!!!! You are so talented!!!

  33. Good to watch it, actually, when I was a high school student, there was an American English teacher though, she didn’t enjoy her life like you. I think your persnality is quite good match with Korean and the culture. 
    it is a very funny and nice video!!   

  34. 와 ~ what a lovely video! plenty of funny moments ^^ Martina you’re lucky to have had such wonderful time while you were working! I’m sure you won’t forget this adorable students xD And I wish you a lot of success in the next step of your life and work! Fighting! 

  35. 와 ~ what a lovely video! plenty of funny moments ^^ Martina you’re lucky to have had such wonderful time while you were working! I’m sure you won’t forget this adorable students xD And I wish you a lot of success in the next step of your life and work! Fighting! 

  36. 와 ~ what a lovely video! plenty of funny moments ^^ Martina you’re lucky to have had such wonderful time while you were working! I’m sure you won’t forget this adorable students xD And I wish you a lot of success in the next step of your life and work! Fighting! 

  37. 와 ~ what a lovely video! plenty of funny moments ^^ Martina you’re lucky to have had such wonderful time while you were working! I’m sure you won’t forget this adorable students xD And I wish you a lot of success in the next step of your life and work! Fighting! 

  38. 와 ~ what a lovely video! plenty of funny moments ^^ Martina you’re lucky to have had such wonderful time while you were working! I’m sure you won’t forget this adorable students xD And I wish you a lot of success in the next step of your life and work! Fighting! 

  39. funnnnnnnnnn!!! what are you going to do in korea?

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