Graduate Experiences…

To be honest, I didn’t know any better.  We were new in town.

(….well, new to the Eastern Hemisphere.  But that goes without saying.)

My wife and I had only recently moved to the small South Korean town of Yeongju. Just two months out of English For Life Academy, and we were on the field. Living it up with the locals. Our tiny one-room apartment had no bed (Koreans sleep on the floor). We had no dryer for our clothes (Koreans air dry their laundry). We had no one to tell us where we could find Mountain Dew, Chick-fil-A, or any of the other essentials.

Life had changed.

The principal of my little countryside school had invited us to dinner. I was excited. But, then again, I didn’t know any better. We were, after all, new in town. My co-teachers generously offered to let us ride with them to the restaurant, seeing as though we couldn’t read any road signs or maps.

When we finally arrived, the restaurant was decorated with pictures of cute, fuzzy lambs frolicking in the fields. They were enjoying sunshine, butterflies, and each other’s company. Beside this picture was another. This picture featured the lambs once more, but…slightly different. Raw. Sliced up on a plate. Appetizing.

There were three things my principal enjoyed: 1. Being someone’s (anyone’s) authority figure; 2. Soju (19% Korean liquor); and 3. Awkwardness. Little did I know, on this night we would be lucky enough to experience all three.

After we all had our obligatory shots of soju, the principal announced that we would all (like it or not) be enjoying ourselves at a nearby karaoke bar next. Not knowing any better, my wife and I accepted the “invitation”, put our shoes back on, and exited the restaurant. I suppose what happened next was completely innocent. Like I said, we didn’t know any better. We were new in town. My principal, sensing he should get to know me better, and urged on by a very high blood/alcohol level, decided we should hold hands while we walked to our next stop. Not wanting to be rude, I obliged him, and on we walked. For 15 minutes….hand in hand.

For me, life as a foreign English teacher was often awkward, difficult, disorienting, and above all, one of the most memorable experiences of my life.

About The Author


Jake Hollingsworth is a 2010 graduate of English For Life Academy. Find him at