Reflection on My Journey and Life in Korea

<<Reflection on My Journey and Life in Korea>>      <By: Joel Mojica> 

Living in Korea for 2 years as a public school English teacher was the most enriching, mind-opening, and interesting job I ever had. I grew to love the country through my daily interactions with my students, co-teachers, new friends, and strangers. Specifically, the focus on collectivism (group culture) in Korea stood out the most for me.

One specific event that exemplified this was during my first week in Korea. My landlord Mrs. Hong invited all my fellow residents and me to a welcome dinner. Surprisingly, Mrs. Hong paid for all 30+ residents plus friends (whom she encouraged to attend) to eat a full-course Korean meal.  I found out that all my fellow residents were foreign teachers in Korea and this was our landlord’s way of creating a family environment since we were far away from our relatives. Our landlord was very warm, encouraging, and pleased that we were staying at her apartment complex and encouraged us to contact her or her husband if we ever needed anything or had any facility issues. Later, I learned that group culture is important in Korean Society since family and shared needs are more important than individual needs.

This was my first experience with collectivism since it is uncommon for a landlord to interact or introduce new tenants to current residents. In the U.S., most landlords are focused more on business (e.g. receiving timely rent payments, getting new tenants) than on personal relations with residents. Most importantly, this experience made the transition to living in Korea easier as I was able to build a supportive personal and family-like relationship with my landlord and my fellow apartment neighbors. This single event helped reduce homesickness and culture-shock since moving to Korea. I’m grateful and fortunate to have experienced acceptance and hospitality during my 2 years there.

Joel Mojica is an ESL teacher at LSI San Diego. He previously lived and taught English for the EPIK Program in Seoul, South Korea from 2011-2013. He enjoys Korean food, music, dramas, and language. Joel is passionate about travel, food, and art. His travels across 30 countries have taught him to appreciate and adapt to different cultures, customs, and cuisine.

PHOTO CAPTIONS:

Samgyeopsal,삼겹살 (Pork Belly BBQ)  – February 2015_Joel Mojica1.jpg

Banchan, 반찬 (Korean Side Dishes)  –  February 2015_Joel Mojica2.jpg

My Landlord Liz and I  –  February 2015_Joel Mojica3.jpg

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