When in Korea

Mrs. Baia’s story

The brains behind Mrs Baia’s Classroom.

Half Samoan, half Canadian. Falelatai village. New Zealand born.

Meet Ardyn Janelia Santos Baia.

A young woman who will share her goals in education, the truths of teaching and the realities of living in a foreign country.

Ardyn spent three years living and working in South Korea, so she has a fair bit of experience when it comes to teaching abroad.

However, when looking for teaching jobs, Korea was not necessarily the plan.

“Sadly, because Korea wasn’t where I saw myself teaching, I came to the country so misinformed. I was terribly ignorant. I didn’t know they had winter or snow. I assumed they were similar to Japan, and that is really offensive to a lot of Koreans.”

It was not just the country that Ardyn was not prepared for. Ardyn thinks back to her first day in the classroom.



Ardyn has always wanted to become a teacher, following in the footsteps of her mother and aunty.

Living in the county of Buyeo (부여), in the south Chungcheong province (충청남도), Ardyn taught in three elementary schools.

Over the years, Ardyn has realised two things with teaching. The first being, she is not made for younger children.

“The elementary kids are cute and I enjoy playing ESL games, making sure they are having fun while learning. However, I’m exhausted by the end of each class. I’m also naturally strict and stoic, so to save the little kiddies, I would prefer high school students. I’ve taught adult English classes and I have a natural rapport with them in comparison to younger students.”

The 24 year old has come to the conclusion that she wants to be teaching more than English as a second language.

Being an English literature and language major, Ardyn wants to try her hand in teaching literature.

On top of that, Ardyn enjoys theatre and hopes to one day become a drama teacher.

“I feel a little brain dead some days teaching ESL, especially when you have to teach “Where are you from? I’m from Korea” for three years, it can become a little mundane for the teacher.”

"The staring in Korea! You don't feel like a celebrity. You feel like there's something on your face."

Outside the school gates, the day to day life for most native English teachers is not all roses and daisies, as one would expect.

Ardyn shares the one thing about living in Korea that has frustrated her these last few years.

“The staring! You do not feel like a celebrity. You feel like there is something on your face. I lived in Brunei and the people there would stare. It was understandable though because at the time, we were one of few foreign families in town. Brunei was nowhere near as developed as Korea. I never expected Korea to be similar when it comes to staring at foreigners.”

Ardyn recalls a time when the staring in Korea was unbearable.



Ardyn Baia and her mother

Mrs. Baia farewelled Gyuam, Naesan and Yongdang elementary schools at the end of August 2016.

Being a passionate teacher, Ardyn shares a few words for those aspiring to teach English in Korea.



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