Anywhere but Here

It’s been eight months since I’ve been living in South Korea. I must say that I could have never imagined this happening to me. I remember a classmate from my college days discussing her post-graduation plans of going to Japan to teach English. I thought it was brave and fascinating of her, but never would I dare to do something as risky as that.

Eleven years later, here I am, teaching English in South Korea. Before coming here, I was living the dream… the dream of a starving artist: a freelance writer, part-time reporter, hip hop dance instructor and yoga teacher who had to have at least three of those gigs to live comfortably in minimalism. I saw Korea as an opportunity to reset my trajectory of my life and deficit mindset. The former has definitely taken course, the latter is still in question. I also knew that I would be able to travel to the surrounding Southeast Asian countries while here, and achieve some financial goals. I’m on track for both thus far.

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EPIK’s “Welcome” sign for EPIK teachers at Incheon International Airport in South Korea.

But so many friends and family members questioned my country of choice. Why Korea? Why not. But to be honest, my confidence in Korea came in time. When I first learned about the opportunity, I immediately asked the EPIK (English Program in Korea) recruiter if they had these programs in Costa Rica. Of course they did. Just not under the EPIK program. Still a babe in the woods to this land of teaching ESL in foreign countries, I decided to opt out of searching for programs in Costa Rica, and go for the sure thing. Not only that, in terms of perks and salary, South Korea was, and still is, one of the leading countries for ESL teaching opportunities.

So now I’m here, and I’ve had my misconceptions of Korea dispelled, eyes open wide to things I never expected, and been turned off by some cultural differences here. The journey begins. In the next blog, I will share my first impressions of Korea – the good, the bad and whatever else I can remember from eight months ago.

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