My first vacation as a teacher in Korea was for a week in August. I spent that time on Jeju Island, which I highly recommend. If you go, you’ll see why it is called the Hawaii of Korea. 

My second vacation was for 10 days in January, which I spent in Thailand. I also highly recommend visiting there. 

Although the contract clearly stated that there was only two vacation periods, summer and winter, I made the mistake of booking myself another vacation when my co-teacher told me that the final two weeks of February is Spring Break. 

I booked a flight to Ho Chi Minh, and my return flight from Siem Reap. My vacation consisted of two days in Vietnam and twelve days in Cambodia. 

The day before my flight, my co-teacher said, “You know that Spring Break is just for the students, right?”

I answered him with the details of my non-refundable flights.

According to my contract, even though there were no classes for those two weeks, I had to show up to school anyway. Not to work. Just to be present. 

My co-teacher said the vice principal would have to give me permission. 

I assumed we would go to the VP together so he could translate since the VP didn’t know any English. But my co-teacher said he was too afraid to speak to the VP because he’s so scary. This didn’t make the prospect of me speaking to him alone any less intimidating. 

The next day I went into the vice principal’s office. I explained my side of the story and then left. I only spoke English. He only responded, very confused, in Korean. I didn’t understand him. He didn’t understand me. 

When I returned after the break, my co-teacher said the VP was very upset that I didn’t show up to “work” for two weeks. He covered for me by lying that I was severely ill. 

This miscommunication could have resulted in me paying hundreds of dollars to cancel my flights and accommodations. It could have resulted in me getting fired. Instead, I had an amazing vacation, and just had to play along with my co-teacher’s story.