Nobody understood our decision to move to South Korea, until we got there.
Few people back home could understand what would make us want to pack up a few bags and move to the other side of the world. “Won’t it be hard since you don’t know the language?” Yes. “Do most people speak English over there?” Not really. “What about the communists???” What about them??? I’d had already asked myself all of these questions, and more. Would I be able to pay my bills back home? Would I show up in Korea to find there was never a job in the first place? And seriously though, do I really want to be that close to lil’ Kim (Jeong Un)?
The truth is, we were unsatisfied with our lives in New York. I found myself getting so angry over the littlest things. Things that just came with the territory, like traffic, and high taxes, and low paying jobs. The real problem was that I couldn’t find my culture; the section of society that I fit into just right. Most aspects of American society either bored me to death or inspired hopelessness for the future. I had to find a life that would excite me. I had to get out.
After weeks of research online, watching videos of other expats, reading blogs, trying korean food, and brushing up on the history and politics of Western Asia, we were committed. Nobody was going to talk us out of it, but that wasn’t going to stop them from trying. No matter how excited we got, it felt like everyone we talked to was full of negativity and doubt.
We started to actively look for jobs online. As a couple, we sought out schools looking to hire couples. Having two teachers who live together means only one rent payment for the boss, although it does add in the potential risk of a catastrophic break-up. We were quickly hired, had an interview and found out that our bosses would be a Canadian man, and his Korean wife. This gave us a bit of confidence knowing that there would be few communication issues in that department.
After three months of preparation, finally the time came. We had a lawn sale to get rid of the stuff we couldn’t take with us, and didn’t want to store, strategically packed a few suit cases with extra shoes, razors, and deodorant, and a year’s supply of tampons, handed in our keys to our apartment, and headed for the airport.
My dreams came true the day we got off the plane. I was living in another country, I had a job to support myself, and the possibilities were endless. Every street was new, every face was new, all the food was new. This was what it was all about. Within weeks I couldn’t believe how different I felt as a person. I was happier, and more excited about life.
We started meeting other foreigners immediately. People from seemingly everywhere who all start out with one BIG thing in common; we all packed our stuff into a few suitcases and moved to the other side of the world. This makes a huge difference in the way you make plans. “Meet you next year in Australia? Definitely, I’ll be there.” When you make friends with these people, you don’t just daydream about the places you’ll go, you make plans and you go there. This was the culture I was looking for.
All it takes is making that one huge step. Get out of your life, do something crazy! The people in your life might not support you right away, but the people you meet along the road will make up for it. You’re going to meet amazing people around the globe, develop close intense relationships with them for hours, days, weeks, or months. Then eventually, you’re going to go your separate ways with the full understanding that one day in the future you’re going to be sleeping on that person’s couch instead of staying in a hotel.
If you have any questions about teaching English in South Korea, or stories of your own to share, please leave them in the comment section of our page. We try very hard to respond to as much as we can and we looking forward to hearing from you!