For many students, graduation is as scary as it is exciting, but Juliet Demars was not intimidated. Demars graduated from the University of Utah in December, 2017 with a B.A. in theater studies. Not long after that, she packed her bags and moved to Korea. “I think a lot of stress is put on seniors to immediately find a good job having to do with their major right out of university, but I think that’s not necessarily the best option for everyone,” Demars said. “I am glad that I decided to travel and do something different before moving somewhere and starting to audition for shows.”
Demars had applied for a theater design study abroad program prior to graduating, but was unable to attend due to low enrollment in the program. When a friend mentioned teaching English in Korea, she jumped at the chance. “When I was in Utah, I spent a few months teaching acting and other theater classes to children at a children’s theater. I really enjoyed my time there as a teacher and decided that it would be fun to experience teaching other subjects as well,” Demars said.
She now teaches a variety of subjects, including drama, to two age groups: 4 to 5 years old, and 9 to 13 years old. “One of the best parts about teaching is getting to know and form a relationship with all of the kids,” Demars said. “I absolutely love traveling and want to go to many places. I also thought that traveling and teaching would be very interesting, especially in a place where the kids don’t speak the same language.”
The main difficulty in Demar’s transition has been learning a new language. “Before coming here, I studied as much as I could so I would be prepared, although I still barely knew the alphabet,” Demars said. She thought it would be enough, but she still struggles occasionally, even after eleven months of daily study. “It is especially hard to keep kids interested as well when they are having trouble understanding you,” Demars said. Given a chance to start again, she would definitely study more in advance. Language barrier aside, however, her transition from America to Korea has been surprisingly smooth and much like home. “During the week I go to work and on the weekend I hang out with my friends,” Demars said.
Many students suffer homesickness, but that hasn’t been an issue for Demars. “I haven’t had a hard time adjusting at all. There are just some very small differences. I think that Korean culture is more polite than American. I find myself bowing all the time here. Another very different thing about the culture here is how convenient everything is. Stores for the most part don’t close until either very late or they are open 24 hours. Another different but interesting part of the culture is how trendy cafés are. There is a themed café on every corner! I am never at a loss for coffee.” All those Instagram-able cafés that students at the U wish they could visit, Demars has experienced. Plus, Demars hasn’t lost sight of her dream. “While my main job is a teacher here in Korea, I still get to do theatre as well. I have participated in several film projects here in Seoul over the past eleven months,” she said.
Demars discovered her love of theater around the same age as some of the kids she now teaches. “When I was in middle school, I had to take a performing arts class, which I ended up really loving. I was already involved in dancing, and after taking that class, I decided it was something that I really wanted to pursue,” she said. She has found a way to combine her passions of teaching and performing all while living in a foreign country. She plans to sign on for another year in Korea, but who can say say if it’s the adorable children or the adorable cafés that keep her in the country.