The first days of Summ… er Winter ;)

by Mike Still
The first days of Summ… er Winter ;)

Have you ever walked around with a grin that just won’t leave and an unfaltering positive attitude?  Ever since I started teaching in 2008 I’ve had the good fortune of long vacations and a smile glued to my face on the first day of each one.  I love teaching (I’m even getting my masters in it) but I’d be lying if I told you vacations didn’t play a part in my decision to become a teacher.  Today marks my 2nd day of a month-long vacation; one of the many perks of my job teaching English in South Korea.  Most Korean schools have a break in the winter & summer rather than one long summer break like you see in America.  The school year ends in February with another short break before the new year begins in March.  One benefit to a good school is that you will actually get vacation; unfortunately most hagwons (like my first job) only give 1 week for the summer and 1 week for the winter.

Best Vacation Teaching Jobs in South Korea
University Professor (Master’s Degree Required) ~3-5 months/year
Private School (like mine) ~1-3 months/year
Public School ~1 month/year
Hagwon/Private Academy ~10 days

Yesterday I woke up at 8:00am without an alarm.  I couldn’t fall back asleep; my mind was ready to go have a productive day.  On the other hand it was my first day of vacation and in spite of an ambitious set of goals for this break I decided to just let the day evolve.  I stopped over for brunch at my Mong’s, favorite sandwich shop before heading to a PC bang and playing some video games for much needed R&R.  A little holiday shopping afterwards convinced me to head home and wrap presents to put under our tiny tree.

The point is I was free.  Completely and unequivocally free of all responsibilities.  If I wanted to go get drunk in the park on a Thursday afternoon or bring a book to the puppy cafe (or raccoon cafe!) it was all possible.  I no longer had to check homework, watch the clock and deliver students to music or gym class.  My grades are in, lessons planned and I won’t need to even think about them for 4 weeks!  Truth be told I’ll probably take a few hours to prep every few days anyway but the point is my daily schedule consisted of exactly what I wanted it to be.

Thinking back on my other first days of summer I recall a childlike enthusiasm that my office-worker friends simply couldn’t comprehend as we left for a long weekend in Martha’s Vineyard.  I’m reminded of the adventurous spirit that thrilled me as I embarked on a month-long trip through Vietnam into the world’s largest cave or when Brian and I shipped off for a month in Thailand ready to bike the Mae Hong Son Loop.  Upon careful introspection I start to wonder if I am in fact schizophrenic because my demeanor and personality changes so drastically on these breaks.

Schizophrenic or not I know that this vacation will lead to some great things and the best news is when my break is over I teach for 3 weeks then have another 3 weeks off!  So what’s in store for this unparalleled freedom?  I’m a planner so I’ve definitely got a list and what better way to keep myself to it that publicly make it known.

  1. Post every 2-3 days: I’ve got a huge backlog of posts from Cambodia/Thailand and everyday life in Korea.
  2. Get a head start on my next masters class
  3. Hike a few mountains
  4. Top 10 Photos of 2015
  5. Write a presentation on Genius Hour (for my students & Taiwan Google Conference)
  6. Write 20 minutes everyday
  7. Go to the gym ~5days/week
  8. Enjoy the Philippines!

In 2 weeks Ronda and I depart for the Philippines but until then its time to enjoy life here in Korea and for me that means crossing off items on this list..  What are you plans for vacation?  Any suggestions for me to take on?

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Mike Still
Mike is a travel enthusiast, photographer and teacher. He loves adventure travel, meeting the locals and exploring new culture. As an outdoor enthusiast you can often find him hiking mountains or exploring forests trying to capture the beauty of mother nature. In 2013 he founded as he left his home in America and has been teaching or traveling around the world ever since!

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