Want to have a positive work-life balance as a Hagwon teacher in Korea? Here are some pro tips to help you enjoy your daily life in Korea!
Work-Life Balance as a Hagwon Teacher
If you are reading this, I am assuming you are either living and working in Korea or want to. You may want some realistic advice and tips on tricks to make the most of your time here. I am an English Teacher at a chain Hagwon in Seoul.
My Work-Life Balance Before the Change
The job is rewarding, the kids are hilarious and enjoyable most of the time, and the work isn’t too stressful. Plus, in my situation, my colleagues and manager are about a 7 out of 10, if you think it is fair to rate people (I’m a solid 6.5). The issue with working at a hagwon is that your hours are strange and in a foreign country. Things can get a bit lonely and boring if you’re not careful. So, I will specifically tell you how to make the most of your weekdays. Weekends are free for all’s -which need no help. After all, there are more options than Baskin Robbins in Gangnam.
The one issue I found myself experiencing was fairly self-inflicted. Wake up, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. Make lunch, make dinner, clean up, and go to work. Come back home, Netflix, and sleep. The recipe to an empty life.
Over time I realized that I am missing out on Korea, just getting sucked into people’s polished lives online, and wondering why I am not on a Yacht in Malta. So, I decided to make the most of my mornings and evenings to become less of an NPC. I’ve got a couple of ideas to help.
Pro Tip #1: Walk
Walk. Where? Anywhere. In the mornings before work and lunch, I was filled with a couple of hours of just moving around in my flat like an animal in a cage. Walking became an option, and doing this will add some accidental experiences to your life. Now you might be worried about wasting money. However, my trick is to go to a CU and buy a cheap coffee or hot chocolate. Drink in hand, pick a direction. There is so much on offer that you would never knowingly search for but when you find it – oh it is sweet. My experiences were especially great when I eventually found the public gym areas and all the elderly are doing the most outrageous and strenuous exercises with the ferocity of a lion on Red Bull.
Pro Tip #2: WalkArcades
Arcades. Where? I don’t know where you live, look for it. If you ever feel bored and unfulfilled, I promise you, 30 minutes in an arcade will fix you up. I really think if everyone were to be humbled by Dance Dance Revolution, we all would be more caring and appreciative of our lives.
There is nothing more humbling than knocking your knees together trying to hit the arrows while an elementary school kid is spinning around on their head on the hardest level and not breaking a sweat. If you have not been extremely interested in the dance option there are other games. There is everything from hitting basketball shots to smashing buttons to getting your frustration out. This really brings out the inner child in me and allows me to be less focused on reports and my phone.
Pro Tip #3: WalkTop Coin
Top Coin. Where? Probably within 100 meters of wherever you are standing right now. This is a budget bit of fun that is extremely liberating and unique. One thing Korea has really mastered is Karaoke. Coming from a country where Karaoke is few and far between, I never realized how amazing small Karaoke rooms are.
Now I admit, going into a Top coin at 10 am and hearing some man belting out the most emotional song is a bit strange at first. However, once you are in your room you’ve put in your 500 Won coin and you’ve chosen your two songs, things change. The lights go off, the disco lights go on and you are transformed into Freddie Mercury for 8 minutes. During your two songs, it really just helps you sing out all your stress and frustration and is honestly much better than I care to admit. The only issue though, you can hear how bad your voice is when it is amplified through the speakers. Worth it though.
In conclusion, the change from your old way of working to this can sometimes be a hard and daunting task. But the main takeaway is don’t get absorbed by doing anything, do things that are strange, and do things that you don’t usually do. 83.2% of the time you are going to be enriched and gain joy from it.
Want to learn more about teaching English in South Korea? Click Here for more information!