Korea will change you. That's a given. How? There's no one answer, and it will vary greatly from person to person. For some, it'll be little things like mannerisms or habits, for others, maybe larger things like your entire perspective or self-confidence. As the summer term comes to an end this week, my friends and I have fallen back into a recurrent discussion: What will it be like to go home after living in Korea? While my own repatriation is still at least a year away, I got a taste of it this past spring. And I have to say, going home was definitely a little weird, but not in a bad way. What I found was little pieces of Korea came home with me, in ways I hadn't quite anticipated...
Teachers Share their Experiences While Living Abroad!
So, I’ve wrapped up my one year teaching in Korea; I’ve spent three days and two nights in Japan and after a 7 hour layover LAX, I’m back in Miami with my relatives here trying to decide what’s next. Although I’ve lined up a great vacation plan for the next two months, I will have to go back to work sometime soon. I’m not worried, something will work out.
In precisely two months, I will be back on U.S. soil; it’s been ten months that I’ve been living and teaching English in Korea and I must say, I’m ready to go! I’ve already begun the process of packing and shipping things home as well as selling some household items to new teachers arriving in Korea in February. Shipping boxes home can be incredibly costly if you ship via airmail; a large box will run you about 140,000 KRW (weight 10 Kg). However, shipping via ship (sea) is much more cost effective; about 40,000 KRW. A big difference!! As for selling (and giving) household items, the waygooks (foreigners) in Pohang created a local group on fb dubbed “Pohang Bazaar” which is useful for buying and selling used (but useful) items for relatively low costs while packing up to leave Korea. This one thing has been immensely helpful to me as I’ve already sold many of my things there.
The decision to leave at the end of my contract wasn’t an easy decision. I’ve been contemplating what to do next since January. It’s not an easy decision to make and anyone who’s spent a year in Korea exploring and experiencing so many new things, will agree. Having acquired a hunger for adventure, I looked into options to teach elsewhere, including China, United Arab Emirate States and even Japan. Having relocated to Miami in late 2011, teaching elementary education in Miami was also an option. Renewing with Chungdahm Learning for a second year was another good option. Honestly, I’ve been able to make enormous strides in terms of paying off debt and with a second year round with Chungdahm, I’d be completely out of debt with quite a bit of cash saved up.
Having contemplated all of this, I thought that staying a second year with Chungdahm was the best and most responsible decision. Getting our of debt would give me an enormous sense of satisfaction. Afterall, how many people you know can say that they’ve gotten completely out of debt in two years? No one I know, that’s for sure! Still, I missed my family and friends and the comforts that go along with that.
While packing up to leave Korea, I hadn’t fully made up my mind when a fellow teacher suggested EPIK. After some consideration, applying with EPIK would allow me the freedom to head home for three months during the summer and head back to Korea in August. EPIK is a government run program in the public school system in Korea; teachers teach English at the public school system. While there are significant differences between teaching at a private school (academy) and public school, I decided that I was willing to take a chance. I had made a decision, and I was excited! I am excited!!
I’ve already made plans for the summer. I intend to spend my summer in the caribbean. Being a natural planner, I’ve mapped out most of my summer vacation. Definitely on the map, Japan, St. Vincent, Tobago and then Trinidad. I may also spend a little time in Key West, Florida with a good friend before I head to the West Indies. I’m so looking forward, it feels like I’m already there. Nevertheless, I will miss Korea. I’ve been looking over some old photos and it’s been quite an experience; I’ve haven’t been able to complete my bucket list but I’m sure that my second time around will give me the opportunity to do so much more.
Teaching with Chungdahm has been an incredibly rewarding experience. The students are bright and eager to learn English. Problem behaviors are at a minimum, the curriculum is already set for you, great hours and great pay. I can’t complain. I would encourage anyone to apply with Chungdahm Learning; it’s sure to give you immense job satisfaction. Wish me luck!
Nailah Rivers was born in Trinidad and Tobago. She moved to the United States with her family at the age of seven. She graduated Rutgers University in 2011 with a degree in psychology. Her sophomore year in college, she knew for sure that she would pursue a teaching career with a focus on elementary school. After a risky move to Miami, Florida in 2011, Nailah decided to take a chance and apply to teach English in South Korea with Chungdahm Learning. She is currently teaching in Pohang, South Korea and is having a good time teaching and learning. Follow her blog to get the inside scoop on teaching abroad.Follow Nailah on Pintrest!
Time is running out. Please stop saying, "Yeah, we will have to do that some weekend." I have exactly 6 weekends left in Korea and each is pretty much full from 8pm on Friday until late Sunday afternoon. I am lucky in that many of my friends in Korea are also leaving close to my departure date. We are all in a rush to eat lots of kimchi, find Psy socks to bring home and most importantly soak up each others awesomeness before we depart for homes scattered all over the globe. And oh yeah, I still have to find the confidence to make a jjimjilbang date. Umm, a little help please?
Tags: a year in Korea, seoul, Korea, kimchi, events in Korea, what to do in korea, hanging out with friends in korea, life in Korea, leaving korea, Activities to do in Korea, Weekend activities in Korea