A New Life in South Korea: Alumni Q&A

Kent State alumni Austin Bashore first stepped foot into Korea in August 2017 for a year-long program abroad. He graduated from Kent State University in 2019 with Teaching English as a Second Language degree.

“I knew that I wanted to teach English in Korea before I started college,” Bashore said.

“A few months before graduation, a friend who works as a language recruiter for schools in Korea, contacted me to tell me that he was interested in helping me find a job. Now that I’m here, I don’t currently plan on leaving.”

Q: Describe the Korean culture in 3 words.
A: Vibrant. Historical. Living.

Q: How are locals treating you? Who do you get to meet in your current career?
A: I’m the only foreigner in my district so it can be challenging, but the locals are pretty nice.

Kent State Alumni Austin Bashore taking a selfie in front Hyeonchungsa, a temple dedicated to Korean admiral Yi Sun-Shin

Q: What’s a funny culture shock that you experienced? Do you introduce American cultures to the locals?
A: I have made some bad mistakes with food culture recently, such as improperly eating food by mixing things that shouldn’t have been mixed together and shocking the waitstaff of the restaurant. I try to teach American culture, but the only thing that stands out is teaching dating culture to my adult students.

Q: When did you start learning Korean? What advice would you give to beginners who want to learn another language?
A: I got my first Korean book on April 2, 2014. For beginners, I say just go online and find someone to talk to. Play video games in Korean or download language apps. You’ll make mistakes and that’s okay. Just keep going.

Q: What are your favorite highlights from your teaching experience?
A: There are so many. Some cute ones include my adult students asking how to address transgender people. Korea is an extremely conservative society when it comes to the topic of LGBTQ+. Another one is when my adult students were learning “yet to do…” and one student replied, “I have yet to make babies.”

Q: Name a few things you never thought you’d be a part of in Korea, but now you do.

Bashore taking a selfie with 2018 Seoul Mayor Candidate, Shin Jiye, at the Daegu Queer Culture Festival

A: I never thought I would join a political party in Korea, but now I am a member of the Green Party Korea and helping to plan the Global Greens Summit in 2021 in Korea, where 90 Green parties from around the world will meet to discuss our future. Also, while studying here, I joined my university’s volleyball team and got to play in a game against Korea University. I never in my wildest dreams thought that would happen.

Upon graduation, he was selected as a Foreign Language Teacher at Heva Language Institute, Cheonan, Korea. He currently teaches pre-school, basic and intermediate English classes. He also meets with locals in Korea who want to study English but are unable to afford the academy.

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