As you know, I am currently teaching the world’s cutest kindergarteners, and it’s great. So many funny moments happen every day and I feel really lucky to have my job, and the perks that come with living in Korea as an expat. I feel really lucky in general. But… sometimes, the whole full time thing gets a bit much. I don’t know if anybody is made to thrive in a full time setting (certainly not in an open-plan office, yuck) but I do know that it kills me a little bit every day. And it hurts!
So in honour of all this pain and suffering I thought I would bring you a few truths about working fulltime that no one really tells you. Ever. Enjoy!
1. Your lunch break becomes sacred.
Before I ever worked full time (which was the whole rest of my life), I was interested in food, sure, but never clung to my breaktimes the way I do now. Seriously, those little morsels of downtime in the workplace are sacred. Of course, I work in a Korean kindergarten, so there is no real down time per se, but there is time when I am able to leave that tinny, terribly acoustic-ed building and sit myself down in the nearest cafe/enclosed area serving food. If I don’t have these breaks, I will possibly die. If I have to talk to someone on my break, I will, also, die.
2. Your interest in your appearance at work decreases as time goes on...
Or is that just me? I know for sure that when I started work at my hagwon, I was interested in maintaining a professional appearance that one would expect of a teacher. I was quickly wisened up to the fact that Korean teachers are less about dressing “professional” and more about dressing “perfectly”. So, last year I would wear dresses and bows and it was fun, etc etc. But these days, or at least recently in my current crazy state, I just don’t have the time/effort/wherewithal to rustle up an outfit containing more than 4 separate pieces. It’s just not gonna happen. If I have to add tights into the mix? You’re joking, mate!
My preferred method is in fact rolling out of bed, into the bathroom, onto a chair to eat breakfast (how does that even work? Wouldn’t you like to know!), then over to my tiny wardrobe and, eventually, out the door. All rolling. It’s a nice routine.
3. You spend your weekends recovering from the week that was.
I know recently I have been a bit poorly, but my job is very tiring and requires a 2-day period of recovery. Conveniently, I am given but 2 days each week to myself, and this is what I spend it on. You will often find me sitting on my couch in my pyjamas, drinking a caffeinated beverage, watching Youtube videos or reading a psychology book, or trying in vain to cultivate my poorly plant collection. It’s pretty riveting stuff. Except you won’t find me because I never leave the house (it’s my weekend “thing”).
4. Doing anything after work is practically impossible.
It always starts out well, and then it turns sour real quick. I don’t know about you, but after a full day of demanding, fun, ridiculous work, I don’t really wanna do anything in the evening. Granted, I have been making some concessions and dragging my butt to pilates class a few times a week, but that has ended in week-long recoveries and now visits to the studio are few and far between. In general, even if it’s not what I end up doing, I just want to stay home and relaaaax.
5. You put on weight.
This is something that I have found consistently through my various incarnations in the working world. If I am at the workplace from 9-6 (or whatever it is), or especially if I am commuting (thank goodness there is none of that now), it is a pretty sure bet that I will put on weight. It just happens so easily! How exactly does this happen? Generally if I am working every day, I feel “entitled” to indulge in a snack
or three. This includes, but is not limited to: iced cafe mochas (although I am now milk-free!), muesli bars, green tea iced lattes, McDonald’s, pizza… you get the gist. Please note that these aren’t consumed at the same time – well, not always, anyway.
6. You get sick a lot.
This might just be a “shout-out” to anyone who works in a school/kindergarten/hagwon, but ever since starting full time I have been getting sick at a rather increased rate. Of course, if you work around kids, you become aware that they are, in fact, snot factories with no real idea of personal hygiene. That’s fine (well, not really), but it does take its toll on you. Namely by passing these viruses onto your poor, unsuspecting, overworked immune system. Kids, hey?!
7. Basically, you have no time for yourself.
This is my main gripe with the whole full time “thang” and something I have struggled with for the past 18 months. As a self-confessed introvert, being surrounded by screaming children all day isn’t always the easiest thing to deal with. Don’t get me wrong, when I arrive at work early and then get accosted by excitable children who are really happy to see me – it ain’t the worst thing in the world. In fact, they are ridiculously cute and I really am trying to appreciate it all before it’s gone. In four and a bit months, I know I am gonna be reeeally sad not to see those munchkins every day.
However, sometimes I just need a liiiittle bit of time, and in the life of a hagwon you don’t really get that. It’s nothing about the kids, it’s the whole system and that’s just how it is when you work full time. I’ve really appreciated my time here, and everything that it has afforded me (*cough* my amazing Korean life *cough*)… but I am really excited for the next chapter in March. Details soon!
With all that being said, the kids also give me notes like this:
… which makes it all worth it and everything okay. Bless their tiny hearts!
And that’s it for today. I hope this wasn’t too whingy because I do appreciate all of the good to have come for working a full time job: money, security, socialising, free lunch (not necessarily in that order). I am so glad I’ve done it, but there are definitely some things that “society” doesn’t let on when it comes to full time work. Either way, I hope you enjoyed it and if you can relate, I’d love to hear about your FT experience in the comments!
Until next time,