Gabbing With Mr. Gall

Come on a Long Run with Our New Math and Computer Science Teacher


Mr. Gall and Luka, his son, love being at DIS. Photo by Lisa Seok.

Meet Mr. Gall, our new math and AP Computer Science teacher from the U.K. As a passionate runner who loves to take chances, Mr. Gall started at DIS this school year. However, it’s not his first gig in Korea. Get to know our new STEM instructor as we delve into his background story and hobbies.  

Life in DIS & Korea

What brought you to DIS, and how has your time here been so far?

Well, someone actually recommended I come to Korea. I went home, researched, and thought, “yeah, that’s a chance.” There was a balance of everything. You can travel, work, and get a job that might finance your living, but also some traveling too. I think it was a really good starting point. You never know who you’ll meet, or what you’ll do, so I came with an open mind. 

I’ve been teaching in Korea since I first came here in 2006. I worked in different Hagwons in Busan, and then I went back for a period of time to England to get my teaching qualification. I always wanted to get back to Korea. I absolutely love it here. I ended up getting a job on Geoje Island and worked there for ten years. And so I just needed a new challenge. I wanted something new, and obviously, I was aware of DIS through SKAC (South Korean Activities Committee) and some of the staff here too. 

What aspects of Korea made you want to come back here?

There are a number of reasons. I think it’s just that living abroad and living in a different environment constantly challenges you each day, and you just get to experience something totally different. I think I like it here just that everything here kind of runs so smoothly as well. I also met my partner here, so you see that’s the reason why we wanted to live here. Korea is amazing. I love the outdoors, everything here, like much of the country, is mountainous. Also, it’s safe, so it is a great place to raise a child compared to back home. 

Luka bears a striking resemblance to Mr. Gall’s younger self. Photo courtesy of Mr.Gall.

Is there any specific reason you chose to become a computer science teacher? 

I feel very passionate about computer science and math because it just gives you a great understanding of the world. For computer science – if you don’t understand programs, you can get to the stage where you kind of lose control of your life a little bit because all the systems are running while you don’t know how they work. That is the real world: nature. We obviously impact it, but it exists by itself. Anything else is man-made; we’ve created it and can be taken apart.

What makes it special to teach in DIS?

I love working in an international school. Everyone is so accepting and just wants to get to know each other no matter where they’re from, what they look like, how they dress, and basically anything. I’ve been made to feel welcome, too. Everyone is very supportive and friendly. I think because this environment is set up, we can do great things.    

Do you ever get homesick?   

I think I did, the first time I came to Korea. Busan in 2006 – there was hardly anyone that spoke English. In the area I lived in, either you go to shops or go to markets, anywhere you are kind of forced into speaking Korean. It got me to learn the language. I’m far from fluent, but I know enough to do my daily business. All I want to see, and those that I miss the most, are my family there and some friends. Though I won’t say I really have something I miss, Cadbury chocolate is really good. It’s like Americans saying they like Hershey’s. That’s what I kind of miss. 

While he was in secondary school, Mr. Gall lived in Scotland until he entered university. Photo courtesy of Mr.Gall.

What’s your favorite experience in Korea?

My favorite episode would be about my first year in Korea. I think just that year of working, traveling, and finding out who I am was the best thing. And I really liked football and soccer. We had a team, and we played lots and lots of tournaments. We developed really good friendships and bonded. You really grow so much as a person and get to challenge yourself all the time.

What other places did you travel to, other than Korea?

I did a lot of traveling before I came to Korea. I got to go to Southeast Asia for work – like  Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore. 

What kind of foods did you try in Korea? Which are your favorites? 

I love Korean food. In my first week, I actually went to Homeplus and did some shopping. I felt hungry, and was like, ‘We’ll just go to one of those little cafeterias that operate. I’ll choose something random.’ I think I had some cold noodles called Naeng-myeon, but cold noodles just don’t sit well with me. But after that, I tried everything. There is nothing like the restaurant I go to for sundae-gukbap. It is perfectly mixed with the right amount of ssamjang and meat. 

I heard your son attends DIS as well. Have you ever met him in the hallways? 

Yeah, sometimes I talk to him in the hallways. He’s always really cute. He says hello. I know everyone is friendly here, but you also don’t want to overstep the line. So sometimes, we just kind of wave. There was one time in the first two weeks when he gave me his hand, so I gave him a high-five. At school, he’ll call me Mr. Gall. Outside of school, the way he calls me has changed multiple times. These days, he calls me by my first name. He calls me Steven instead of calling me dad or daddy. And then sometimes he even shortens it down. He’ll go, “Hey, Stee!”  

Personal Life 

Do you have anything you’d like to introduce about the U.K.? 

I don’t miss the weather, that’s for sure. The weather here is completely the opposite. Completely flipped here. Every day is sunny here. It is basically a rainy, cloudy day in Scotland. I spent my high school and middle school years in Scotland. My university is also there. It was quite different. 

How is life different from being a dad and being a teacher? How do you manage to keep your identity strong and stable?

I think you have to have a balance no matter what. I mean, I love teaching and I always give my all to my job. But you need a balance. I need to take my son to places and work at the same time. He loves doing stuff outdoors so we’ll go out hiking every weekend and explore. But at the moment, it’s the first year of school so it’s been really intense.

What do you do in your free time?

Being outdoors is a great thing. I played football and soccer my whole life. It was really rewarding. I’ll play any sport at any time and always try something whether it is tennis, badminton, volleyball, or basketball. I’m quite into trail running in particular. I started, I think, when I came to Korea. I know Mr. Lipsky loves trail running, too! They’re awesome experiences because when you are outside, you can detach yourself from everything else. I find running on the roads really boring and tiresome, but on the trail, everything changes. It can be on dirt, mud, or tarmac. You can see amazing things changing constantly through different times of the day and seasons.

Mr. Gall enjoys trail running in Jeju around Hallasan. The mountainous terrain is just too refreshing! Photo courtesy of Mr. Gall.

What is a favorite memory of yours?

There are so many phases, but if I have to choose one, I’ll have to choose the birth of my son. At that moment, I realized how unique and precious life can be. Sometimes people take it for granted until they realize that it is their child. I think that the first few months were like, “Yikes, we are responsible for this person.” And then it was also this realization, like, “This is what my parents did for me.” Once you become one, you come to understand your folks more. I already had a good relationship with my parents, but it went even deeper.

What is your favorite food?

My mother’s roasted dinner and her homemade trifle. I can’t find it anywhere else.

Do you have a pet? If not, have you ever had one?

We don’t have a pet in Korea, but I always had cats. I had a cat called Minky, a white cat called Daisy, Figaro, a black cat called Zola (named after the Italian footballer), another white cat named Lily, and there currently is another cat back home in Scotland called Toby. I wouldn’t keep a cat in an apartment, though, so that’s why we don’t have a pet currently. I think my son would really like to have one. 

If you go back in time, will you change anything in your life?

Oh, that’s a tough question. I guess I’d spend more time with certain people in specific situations which is what you have to value each day. I think as you get older, meeting friends and traveling becomes less frequent as well. So, you should try to make the most out of it. I still think I won’t really change anything because if I change one thing, I’ll want to change another and then another!

What advice would you like to give to all the students in DIS?

Make sure you find your passion and pursue it. Try taking out a year or something unless you’re actually sure of what you want to study. I would say travel and find your passion even if it changes later. Don’t close doors. Make your passion your job if you can. Also, don’t turn things down to someone’s suggestion. Try as many things as you can.

Talking to Mr. Gall served as a great pleasure. Jets, take a visit and strike up a conversation with our new teacher. Follow in his footsteps: stay open-minded, pursue your passion, and seek out adventures.