Adi Wiggins is a South African entrepreneur living and teaching in South Korea. When she isn't avoiding Korean food or struggling with the overly-polite culture, she is exploring the natural beauty of Korea and attempting to learn the language.
Personal relationships in Korea are very important. It is not often that one's work life and personal life are kept completely separate.
I have started teaching Business English to a group of adults and have certainly experienced this. In my first session with them, I told them a bit about my professional life - what I studied, what my previous jobs were etc and, of course, a bit about South Africa. Thinking they would have a million questions about South Africa, I then allowed them to fire away with their questions.
All their hands shot up - First question: How old are you? Second question: Are you married? Do you have a boyfriend? Do you miss him? Do you have any plans to get married?
I realised it was only going to get worse so quickly got the lesson started.
For my Saturday class - a logistics team - I started the class by asking them to introduce their partner to me.
“I want to know your Korean name, English name if you have one, your position at the company and how long you have worked here”. Then, obviously, I repeated the instruction seven times as that's what you do when teaching ESL.
First response - This is Pak Sang Ho. He is not married and does not have any children. He would like to marry one day.
Then on the drive home I was asked: "Ah Miss Adi, can I ask you a personal question?" Thinking I'd heard it all - and having been asked my age twice that day already - I said "yes, of course."
"How much do you earn?"
"You mean what does the average English teacher working at a public school earn or do you mean for these extra lessons?"
"I mean in total for the whole month - what do you earn?"
Needless to say I slyly dodged answering the question and then continued to find out exactly what everyone in his company was earning. Hell why not? When in Rome…
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