One day, on a chilly spring afternoon in Milwaukee, I sat at my desk in the newsroom for the online paper I worked for, and stared at my computer. I wanted something different.
I was a young woman unattached with no children, and still searching for her career that must have gotten lost somewhere down the drain – shirt sleeve rolled up to my elbow, hands grabbing desperately, blindly as I turn my twisted face of disgust away hoping to take hold of something soon. Any luck? Nope. So in April 2012, I made a choice to leave the life as I knew it behind.
My life wasn’t so bad. I had a potpourri of nonprofits I’d worked for over 10 years before turning to fate and working as a freelance writer and hip hop dance instructor. I loved what I did, and although I had food to eat, the starving artist lifestyle was making me question my career choices. Reluctantly, I began looking at 9-to-5 gigs: Boring. Not qualified. Boring. Over qualified. Boring.
Then I came across some information about teaching in South Korea. In my mind, I immediately replaced Korea with Costa Rica, but alas, the program that offered these benefits that attracted me were exclusively for Korea. Time passed and emotions fluctuated. After a few months of tossing around how strange life would be, how alienated I’d feel, and contemplating if my ‘real life’ would be suspended for a year, I neatly packed my fears and suspicions in a box and buried them.
I decided to go to South Korea to teach English. It was my last hope. (Well, not really, but this story needs a little dramatic language to make you feel my despair.) And it was a chance for me to spend a year traveling and saving money – rent free.
Six months in, and life is quite ordinary (aside from the monthly travels). Work is work. The people are… all Korean, but, quite frankly, as a black woman living in the U.S.A., all the people there were white, so my minority status hasn’t changed; it’s remained the same (minus the racially-driven discrimination and violent history towards blacks in America). I teach in Daegu, the third largest city in South Korea, and the transportation system here runs quite smoothly – buses, subways, taxis, and inter-city trains are all quite plentiful and convenient. Oh, and then there’s the language. That was different. I’m still stuck on survival Korean, but working to be upgraded to conversational Korean, per a little self-determination.
But this is still just the beginning. I’ve created this space to document my experiences while in Korea, and to post travel writing pieces from my discoveries and adventures. As I move forward, the posts you see here will be stories of my first six months and beyond.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned!