Insanely Busy Working in a Korean Uni: How to Deal With It

Insanely Busy? How to Deal with It

First of all, always remember to say to yourself, “Serenity now.” This will help you a lot. But, keep reading the rest of the post for lesser advice, if you must.

A couple semesters ago, I felt like I’d over-committed myself with regards to all the overtime I was doing, as well as keeping up with my regular classes. Here are some things I did to deal with the insanely busy while working in a Korean university.


You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Use the same old lesson plans if appropriate and just modify it for the class in question, making it easier or harder. This is often way faster than making a whole new lesson. Your students will never know the difference, assuming they vary from class to class.

Use the textbook

While I generally don’t love to use textbooks and will often use my own material for class, if you’re pressed for time, do the book-warrior thing for a couple weeks until you have some breathing room. You’re not a bad person or a terrible teacher. In fact, you may be even better than me since you are following some sort of comprehensive plan made by someone a whole lot smarter than you or I (Possibly? Me for sure, I don’t know about you).

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Breaking News English is your best friend

Ready made lessons at a variety of levels, on a variety of topics. They’re amazing for any sort of conversation or discussion class that you might have. The two page mini-lessons are the best because the 20 pagers are overwhelming and contain too much filler.

Grading-minus the stress

While giving helpful feedback is important, I simply have too many students (over 100) to correct every single grammar mistake on a 500 word essay. I will just circle some of the errors and make some general comments. If the students are actually interested and don’t realize their mistake, I encourage them to ask me after class, by email, etc. Nor do I do endless cycles of feedback on written work. I simply teach them to self-edit and then they give me the final copy. Does it hurt me on student evaluations? Maybe. Do I care? No.

Keep up with lesson planning/grading

Just because you’re busy, don’t get into the habit of doing stuff right before class starts. That just amps up the stress and does nothing to help you maintain your serenity. Try to have things done at least a couple of days before, even if you have to use a weekend day to do it.

Insanely busy? Just breathe

Exercise. Eat healthy food. Drink less. Sleep more. Make the time that you have to spend on planning/ grading productive time and avoid a shared office at all costs if you can’t work there. Set aside 2 hours with no Facebook or cellphone to do what you need to do.

Just Say No

Having some boundaries and just saying no helps too.

Live in South Korea?

It’s the book you need: How to Thrive in South Korea: 97 Tips from Expats

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