By Evan Gorr Contributing Writer
Tori Lands, a 2017 UMF graduate, has started a second year of teaching at Daegu International School (DIS) in South Korea and is immersed in the Korean culture.
Lands graduated UMF with a degree in Secondary Education, and also holds a minor in International and Global Studies. Lands completed student teaching at DIS, which is operated by Maine’s Lee Academy, and really enjoys the experience.
When Lands was offered a full-time position teaching 5th grade, she couldn’t resist. “I highly recommend taking advantage of studying or teaching abroad,” said Lands, who believes that the opportunities to travel and meet new people are the most satisfying parts of teaching abroad.
Lands believes that teaching abroad has had positive impacts on her perspective of the world. “Prior to moving to South Korea, I had never traveled out the U.S. or Canada,” said Lands.
Lands learns something new everyday and is starting to feel at home in her new environment. From bowing when greeting someone, to using Korean language, Lands has become more comfortable with the culture.
Lands is getting to live in and explore parts of the world that some people never visit. During her first year of teaching, Lands took students on a weekend trip to an island off of Korea. Lands said, “It was really cool to see a new part of Korea with my students, most of whom are Korean.”
In addition to the trip with students, Lands takes advantage of her time off of work. “Most weekends and breaks I am exploring either in Korea or other countries in Asia,” Lands said. “Korea has some awesome hiking and biking trails and being active is a huge part of the culture here so I also try to take advantage of that.”
Lands has had some great experiences in South Korea. “I am constantly surprised at the environment I have the opportunity to work and live in,” said Lands.
Lands has learned that education in Korea is one of the highest priorities for families. The support Lands receives from her community is helpful and gladly accepted. Lands was also pleasantly surprised to find out that her students put in an immense effort towards their education.
Lands finds that the hardest part is being away from home. “With anyone who moves away from where they grew up, you realize that life doesn’t stop just because you aren’t there anymore,” said Lands.
There is a 13 hour time difference between South Korea and Maine, so communication with family and friends can be tough for Lands. In addition, the flight back to the US is at least 24 hours, so it becomes difficult to make it to important events like weddings or birthdays.
It is custom in Korea to have the youngest person pour all the drinks at a table. Lands is the youngest teacher at DIS, so she finds herself participating in this tradition often. She has also had to learn parts of the Korean language, as it is a necessity to get around certain places. “The Korean language is very different from English, and for myself, very difficult to learn,” said Lands. Although Korean is hard to master, Lands has begun to feel more at home each year.
Education is very important to their families so it becomes important for the kids, too.