We Are Essex

Joanna's story

Joanna in Wivenhoe Park

"So long as they love you as you are, everything will be OK"

When I was in secondary school, in year 8, there were some girls, who I was friends with, and they were watching some videos which I could see but I couldn’t hear and I later found out in sixth form that they were K-Pop videos. A few years later, I then suffered from depression and wanted to commit suicide and I went through a tough time during that point. When I was in secondary school I got bullied a lot and felt very outcast but I moved to a different sixth form and at the end of year 13 one of the girls in my drama class introduced me again to K-Pop, in its proper form, and from there I got interested in the music and particularly the lyrics because they’re a lot different from pop lyrics in the West. From there, my sister introduced me to Korean dramas and that showed me the exploration about Korean culture and from that I wanted to go and live in Korea and I thought, what is a good way to go and live in Korea? ‘Ah, teaching!’

When I was a little girl I used to do pretend play at being a teacher and I used to help teach my sister Piano a bit and various other things. It wasn’t a thing, I just did it. That was until I became interested in Korea and wanted to help Koreans. Koreans have their own problems but I really want to be an inspiration to them and thank them because the Korean music really did help me in a way that makes me feel a lot better about myself. They had sad songs with sad lyrics but the way the melody was it was a very happy tune so you felt a little bit better about feeling sad. I mentally felt I should thank the Korean community in my own little way. I just thought how they want to learn English and I can offer that because I’m English and I don’t mind teaching.

I went last November to South Korea for seven months and studied Korean. It was amazing. I thought I definitely want to go back and teach. To teach English in Korea you need a degree and a TEFL certificate and Essex, as far as I know, is the only Uni that does TEFL as a degree along with the certificate.

Another reason I was glad to come to Essex is the support network is really, really great. After having a panic attack on my first Saturday night here I received a lot of support, lots of people came to make sure I was ok and people checked up on me afterward and when I went to the counselling session the counselor was very, very helpful.

When I was in sixth form I felt I needed people to be proud of me and I did certain things but I was never really congratulated for so I didn’t feel completely proud. But, being able to go to South Korea all by myself and one thing that brought me to tears was when my Dad dropped me off here and he said ‘Joanna, I’m really proud of you’ and that was the first time he has said that, I had been waiting 20 years to hear that. I think there are a few things that I am proud of like being able to perform on stage finally in a school production! When I was in sixth form I performed a song from the musical ‘The Inbetween’ called ‘Someone you’d be proud of’ and so I sang that and my parents were a little bit sad because they knew that was something I’ve always wanted, for my parents to be proud of me. However, you don’t have to be loved by everyone to be loved by anyone so as long as they love you as you are, everything will be ok.


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