Why I Moved to Korea and Why You Should Too

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While I’ve touched upon it here and there, I haven’t yet developed a complete list of all the reasons behind packing my bags and I figured a proper break down could be constructive for those contemplating the move. Perhaps one or more of these will resonate with you… If so, then get your bags ready and start packing!

1 | Discover my roots (in all capacities). Before teaching in Korea even became a preliminary thought, I had submitted the paperwork to begin the search to find my biological family. Fast forward a couple months and I was in full deliberation mode trying to decide whether or not this move was for me. Because the search was underway, it definitely weighed heavily on my mind and certainly influenced my decision. I knew that physically being in the country would dramatically increase my chances of Eastern continuing to actively work on my case and knew it would make everything going forward a whole lot easier.

Apart from my “Finding Seoul” quest, there are many instances that have enabled me to connect with my roots and delve deeper. A simple one is teaching my Korean students. I guess for me it’s imagining what my life could have been like if I were in their shoes. In a broader sense, the physical contact with Korean soil and land alone is enough to feel an intense connection with my roots. That’s the extent of which I can explain it; it’s an indescribable feeling, that’s for sure.

If you’re a Korean adoptee or any type of gyopo (Korean that grew up elsewhere) and feel as though you’re missing a part of yourself, then chances are you’ll find it here.

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2 | Experience the culture. Being a Korean adoptee, I had particularly unique motives for wanting to experience the culture and I suspect they differ from the large majority. As I mentioned above, I was intrigued by this environment I could have grown up in and was yearning to experience it for myself. What better way to experience it than to immerse myself in the country for a year long adventure?

For the rest of you, Korean culture is utterly fascinating. Since you’re reading this, I’m assuming you must have some interest in exploring Asian cultures and more specifically, Korean culture. Whether it’s the history, festivals, K-pop, food, or beauty industry that draws you in, there’s 10x more on top of that for you to explore once you get here. Something will appeal to you; I’m not lying when I say, there’s truly something for everyone!

Kimchi is key and rice is life. You’ll get used to it, I swear.

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3 | Career change. Are you stuck in a place where you just don’t fit in? Are you exposed to toxic people or is the work itself toxic? Are you feeling restless? Do you feel like you’re settling for less than your potential? Are you unsatisfied with the current path you’re on? Are you looking for a change of pace? Yes x 6, I was too.

Unfortunately I was in a work situation that just wasn’t good…in any conceivable sense. And I should have considered parting ways much earlier than I did, but because this was my first job in business out of college, society had convinced me that I must stick it out for, at minimum, a year to gain experience and besides – a girl’s gotta pay her bills.

With all that being said, moving to Korea was the best possible decision I could have made for myself.

If you’re finding yourself in a similar “stuck” scenario, then there’s absolutely nothing stopping you from taking power of your situation. Grab the reigns, research your options, and make moves – it’s that simple.

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4 | Do meaningful work. When you’re in an environment where you feel as though your soul is literally being sucked by the work you’re doing, you know it’s time to seek out work that will have the complete opposite effect. The business sector I was working in was sales, specifically inside sales, which is basically the worst possible field I could have been in due to my empathic nature. Despite the challenges, I don’t believe that any of my time there was wasted because I learned an incredibly valuable lesson: sales is not for me and we do not compliment each other in any way, shape, or form. I knew I needed to find a job where I could make a difference. I had never seriously considered teaching as part of my future, but when a family friend suggested teaching English in Korea, the thought of helping Korean children excited me – so I honed in on that gut feeling and went for it.

If you’re looking for meaningful work, then Korea could be your place. The best part is…you don’t need a degree in education to do this job! All you need is a bachelor’s degree, a desire to teach English to non-native speakers, and a TEFL certification (most programs are requiring it at this point).

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5 | Travel. Traveling is something I’ve always been passionate about. Even as a youngster, travel exhilarated me. Knowing I could escape my current work path, do more meaningful work, AND travel, instantly put me in a euphoric state. Since being here, I’ve been able to travel all over the country (thanks to superb and inexpensive public transportation and accommodations).

I don’t think Korea gets enough credit for being the beautiful country that it is. I think it’s beginning to gain more momentum as a tourist destination, but it still isn’t receiving the publicity that Thailand, Bali, or any of the other mainstream destinations are. Point is: be excited about traveling Korea. There’s so much to see and I promise you, you will be surrounded by spectacular places. A colossal portion of the land is covered by mountains, so that means hikes galore. And during vacations, you can easily travel to other countries. Once you’re out here, airfare is extremely economical. For my winter vacation I traveled to Australia with my mom and sister, which is a bit more expensive, but still doable. Getting virtually anywhere else within the region is a piece of cake.

I feel like wanderlust has gotten the best of us lately. If you’re catching the wanderlust bug, then why not take advantage of a traveling opportunity that’s at your fingertips? It’s easily within reach! All you need to do is put forth the effort and successfully obtain the required documents and you’re well on your way to endless adventures.

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6 | Save a large sum of money. The money was definitely enticing. I knew I’d be able to save a nice chunk of money and I wanted to capitalize on that. The school takes care of your housing for the duration of your contract as well as your initial flight entering the country and the one leaving at the end of your stay. So here’s what you are responsible for: minimal bills (cell phone included), likely teachers club (you can read about it here), food and groceries, transportation to and from work, whatever activities you choose to partake in, and travel.

Let me put it this way, it’s not difficult to save $1,000 USD per month. And depending on your spending habits, you can save more or less. Is this interesting you in the slightest? If so, then…need I say more?

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7 | Next steps. Since I found my previous job vastly unfulfilling, it left me pretty confused about my future. The notion of having a sliver of time away from the constant demands of adulting was alluring, to say the least. I was confident that this temporary break from the path I was on would grant me ample time to think and plan. Additionally, I was very much hopeful that I would cross paths with people, places, and things that would expose me to new ways of thinking and inspire me to expand my horizon. The potential to prosper from the experience and time to decipher next steps was highly promising and the fact that I was overflowing with exuberance, just thinking about it, was enough confirmation for me. So I dove in head first and began taking the necessary steps to get here.

If you’re unsure of where your path is headed, then why not take some time to rediscover yourself? Use this opportunity to soul search and figure it all out. By the time your contract is up, you’re guaranteed to leave a changed person and (hopefully) know what your definitive next steps are.

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>>>The truth is, none of us really know what we’re supposed to do. But the trick is to stay present, listen to your intuition and all of the brilliant wisdom it has to share with you, and trust that your intuition will guide you to wondrous places where everything is weaved so perfectly that it catches you in the exact moment of where you’re meant to be at that time.<<<


This article was created for EPIK e-Press.

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  One thought on “Why I Moved to Korea and Why You Should Too

  1. June 3, 2017 at 5:34 am

    I spent about 3.5 years teaching in Korea. I also taught in Taiwan and China. Korea is good for saving money, that’s why most teachers go there.

    Like

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