I am finishing up my university degree, and need 60 hours of teaching English experience in another cultural setting. Plus I love to travel so this was a great excuse!
Why did you choose Cultural Homestay International?
I am staying with a host family, so I get the cultural aspects of South Korea without ever leaving the home environment. I am getting teaching experience with children, and I am fed and housed in return. It's a pretty good deal for me! Because I don't have a degree just yet it made sense to volunteer, and this program with CHI was just perfect.
What was your favorite part about South Korea?
I love how many things there are to do in such a small area. I am in Incheon, but Seoul and anywhere else are only short stops away, and each square block is packed with restaurants, museums, heritage sites and more!
What made your experience abroad unique?
I decided to take Korean lessons and it was a great idea. I didn't speak any of the language before, and my host family spoke no English, so while I taught them English I figured it's only fair that I learn Korean. It was really cool approaching my job from a place of complete understanding of what my students are going through as well.
How did local staff support you throughout your program?
I received emails now and then to check up on me, but unless I needed something, or there was a problem (which there wasn't), support was really unnecessary.
What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?
I would have started Korean lessons right away. It was really important to feel motivated to leave the house, and tough to do at first when everything is slightly overwhelming and I have no one expecting me to be somewhere. Getting out and about and into a routine really helped.
Describe a typical day in the life of your program.
I get up at 7 a.m. in order to take the subway to the Lexis Korea school in Gangnam. I have lessons there until noon, and then I go out for lunch with some of my classmates. When we finish eating, I either wander around shopping, explore a museum or other attraction, or attend the school's daily afternoon activity. Then I head back to my host's apartment and prepare a lesson for the two children I am in charge of. We play and I hopefully teach them something, and then we eat dinner with their mom. After dinner we either go to the park, watch tv, play a game or just hang out. The kids go to bed around 8:30 p.m. so I'm free to go out again, or go to bed myself. The weekends are free as well so I usually hang out with friends.
What did you enjoy doing in your free time?
I love exploring different areas. So far I have been to three different provinces, or regions. I also enjoy trying all the different kinds of food. At the right restaurants a big meal can be very cheap.
What was your accommodation like? What did you like best about it?
My host family lives in a small apartment in Incheon. I have my own room, with a desk, wardrobe, and bed, and there is a bathroom designated for my use. I like how it is quite far up in the building, so the traffic sounds are slightly muffled.
What is one thing every participant should know before participating in your program?
Whether or not their host family speaks English, unless they already have knowledge of their host country's language. It was really difficult in the beginning trying to figure out simple things, like when I was expected to be home, and even how to use their toilet! We managed fine in the end, but it would have made a big difference if they spoke English already or if I spoke Korean.
Now that you're home, how has your program abroad impacted your life?
My time abroad has given me a greater appreciation for everyone who learns another language.
It also has impacted my view of generosity; Koreans have no problem sharing everything, it's expected in fact, and this is something I have never really experienced before.
Would you recommend Cultural Homestay International to others? Why?
I would definitely recommend CHI as a viable option no matter where you are hoping to travel, or what you hope to do there. Having a home base is a big difference maker, and so is having people around who know you and expect you back sometimes. CHI is affordable and they offer many different lengths of programs, so no matter how long you want to go for, you can.
Lane Moyer, 22, is from Alberta, Canada. She loves to travel, although she has only been to 12 countries so far. This was Lane’s second homestay program, the first having been in Rouen, France. She just finished university with a B.A. in TESOL. She plans to travel much more in the future with her husband-to-be. In the summer, she works for a vegetation company in Alberta, but she hopes to work as a teacher soon.