I made my official decision to move to Korea during Thanksgiving break of last year. This came at the end of a long internal battle between the side of me that felt like I’d be cheating on my first true love, South America, and the other side of me that increasingly knew that Korea was the right choice for right now.
When people ask me if I am afraid I sometimes don’t know what to say. Do I worry about making a fool of myself? Yes. Do I worry about the fact that my Korean sucks? Yes (and increasingly so). Do I worry about meeting people, liking my job, finding community, and adjusting to a new culture? Absolutely. But amidst all of that I don’t know that I feel any true fear. I know that the God has set me down this path and I know that I will be okay. It will be challenging in ways I never imagined and I’m sure quite lonely at times, but I will learn and grow and I will be okay.
All of that to say, I have thought about this decision, at length. I’ve invested hours into looking for jobs and only to be told to wait a little while longer. Still I know this is my path. I know what I’m getting myself into. So people’s responses when I tell them my decision are often rather comical. There are generally three responses. (Varying levels of sarcasm accompany them.)
- The first response is a comment about North Korea. The people who think they’re hilarious make some joke like, “Oh Korea? Which one? HAHAH.” To which I generally respond, “South Korea, of course South Korea.” And then some people are genuinely concerned about the Northern neighbor and usually say something like, “but aren’t you afraid of North Korea?” And to that my answer is usually something like this, “I have a lot of Korean friends and I’ve had a lot of conversations about how people who actually live in Korea feel about the whole thing. And as they’re not concerned at all, and they will live within 200 miles of North Korea their entire lives, I’m not too concerned either.”
- The second possibility is that the person immediately wants to know, “Why Korea?” This is a long explanation and one that I almost never have time to fully explain in person. So usually I just go with, “I have a lot of friends there.” Which is 100% true and the main reason I want to go but it’s more than that. I am attracted to Korea for many reasons, my friends, the culture, the food, the respect for teaching, the job opportunities, the fashion, the potential for personal growth, the list is endless. If you want to read my full detailed explanation click *here*
- Another response I get, usually from people over a certain age, is, “Oh your poor parents!” As if this decision is my purposeful attempt to break my parent’s heart. And that one actually makes me a little bit angry. My parents are amazing. My whole life they have supported me in everything that I’ve tried and I believe that I have been confidant enough to make the decisions that I have in my life because of that unconditioned support. They know me, they know this is what I want, and how much I will learn from it. Would my mom prefer I lived close enough to grab lunch every so often, of course. Would my dad prefer if I lived somewhere that wasn’t technically still at war with North Korea, of course. But I’m not doing this is spite of my parents, I’m doing it because of them, because they gave me the courage to do so.
- This is another common one. “Oh yea I have a friend/cousin/acquaintance/distant relative who did that!” This one isn’t annoying per se it’s just difficult for me to then respond to. Usually I go with, “did they like it?” As far as I can recall the answer has always been yes. I also know a lot of people who have done this before and I’ve spoken to them at length about the process. Yes a lot of people have done this before, many people who really cared about teaching and many people who don’t give a crap about teaching but just wanted to travel around Asia while getting paid.
I know that sounds like a lot of complaining, that was not my intention. I genuinely love when people ask me the, “what are you doing post graduation?” question because I’m proud of my answer. But after having answered it many times not I’ve started to notice some patterns. And since my plans have shifted a little, I’m going to have to continue answering that question for a few more months.
If I start getting some more creative responses I’ll be sure to update you. As always, thanks for reading! Hope this post finds you well!