Prior to coming to Korea, I researched ESL locations to death….honestly, I think some webpages may be dead from all the times I hit them. The internet police may well be looking for me.
Japan was an attractive location for a while but the super-conservative rules and restrictions were a little off-putting.
One such aspect was the fact that male teachers in Japan are expected to wear a full suit and tie everyday.
That’s a suit….everyday….in a tropical country that climbs to nigh 40 celsius some days.
I’d imagine that would be like working in a swamp, swimming around the classroom handing out gas masks to the poor suffering students trapped in the class with me and my floods of perspiration.
Korea won out in the end for various reasons, however as D-day approached I realised that in order to hide my tattoos, I would be wearing basically a suit anyway, minus the jacket but definitely with the long-sleeves. Tattoos are still quite a taboo issue in some Asian countries, with the older generation of Koreans frowning upon body art and lumping it together with criminal gangs. Ergo, I haven’t been too keen to flash the ink thus far.
In the interest of putting my best foot forward and seeing as it never hurts to look professional, I came armed with a wardrobe that any lawyer would be proud of.
I have four schools and the staff have showered good remarks down about my appearance, leaving me hesitant to tone down much.
My chinos and trainers are there and at the most rural school they get a run out, but here I am, almost eight months in still regularly knotting up the tie in my quest to win the coveted title of Bonghwa’s best dressed man.
Truth be told, I like the style and the through the colder weather, it was quite comfortable. If ever my lesson plans or teaching methods bomb, at least my presentation will earn me some brownie points.
I know for sure that I’ve done some horrible classes that were nothing short of a disaster but no reprimands or criticism has come my way. Perhaps the staff are too scared to say anything bad in case I take them to court.
Summertime is on the horizon though, already the winter jackets have been downgraded to a light cardigan, it’s only a matter of time before that too is banished to the far reaches of my wardrobe. The ties will surely follow as the heat rises.
Will they care? Will they finally speak up about my over-zealous use of PowerPoint games and the potentially disturbing game ‘Hangman’, of which I have joyously polluted the young minds of their students?
Worst case scenario, I can rip my shirt off to reveal the tattoos and pretend I’m in a gang. That oughta’ scare them silent.