Why I stayed in Korea for another year

“It’s an itch, that needs to be scratched.”

I heard myself say the words once again, for what felt like the 50th time.
The metaphor seemed to have taken root in my head and poured from my mouth anytime somebody asked the question.

I have a habit of always looking towards the horizon


“Why do you want to teach in Korea?”

As much as the desire had been burning in me, as long as I had been thinking about giving it a go, the real truth lay below.
The real itch was what is to come after.

Teaching English was a desire, Korea just so happened to be where I could potentially make the most money doing it, and that was the real attraction.

The truth was my real ambition was to travel Latin America and I saw Korea as my golden ticket.

Wanderlust is a curse that doesn’t come cheap and every dream realized is just another step along an ever-growing path.

Korea was never going to be more than temporary for me and as excited as I was to finally have the opportunity to see what all the fuss was about with teaching English abroad, I couldn’t help but look beyond it.

The kids make the job fun, yet sometimes exhausting!

A few months in and I had an inescapable feeling simmering within me.

Once the initial undercurrents of culture shock had been dulled and I had found my feet in the new lifestyle, I started to really put things in perspective and take a moment to really ask myself the big questions. Am I happy here? Do I like it?

For all the pros and cons, what it really boiled down to was a feeling of, ‘Oh my god….I think I might already be over it…”

Could it be? Just a few months in and my curiosity of teaching abroad was satisfied and now inevitably tumbling towards exhaustion. Would resentment for the job, the lifestyle and even the country gradually manifest and define this year?

A beach break helped put things in perspective

Sucking it up, I looked forward to the winter break and the anticipation of a snowboarding trip and some beach time in the Philippines kept me going.

As it turns out, it was just the tonic I needed and the rest-bite allowed me to assess things away from the pressure cooker.

With only 22 “teaching hours” per week – which is actually 22 x 40 minute classes, many of which have less than 10 students – and a very relaxed winter schedule incorporating 2 weeks paid vacation in the middle of a 2 month period with little more than a few easy camp days, I came to realize just how good a deal I had.

Almost everyday is full of surprises, such as a DIY rocket competition!

Perhaps it was turning 30 in January, or maybe it was all the hard falls on the snow slopes of Pyeongchang, but my mindset shifted towards a longer-term plan and I realised that there is no rush on this path.

Latin America isn’t going anywhere just yet and this step in Korea isn’t so bad that I need to run from it. At least not til I’m truly ready to move on.

So after much deliberation, I made a U-turn on my initial decision to leave Korea.

My school were delighted and agreed to arrange a new apartment for me in Yeongju, thus providing me with the city conveniences and amenities that I longed for.

The temptation of Seoul and Busan almost lured me away but the EPIK benefits and the relaxed work atmosphere in the rural schools were too hard to leave.

For now, this is right. The real itch can wait to be scratched for another year.

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