This piece was written for Enchanted Serendipity’s Expat series by Natasha from Live Learn Venture Blog.
Moving to South Korea to live and teach has greatly impact my life. I moved here 16 months ago and have had the experience of a lifetime.
My husband and I decided to make this move for a number of reasons! We wanted to explore a new culture, travel as much as possible, experience new things, and have a better chance to save our income so that we could pay off a large chunk of our student loans.
Here’s my story…
Years ago, my husband and I had discussed possibly living and teaching somewhere in Asia. We both had an interest in Asian culture and thought it would be a great experience with many benefits. You know how it goes — life happened – we both continued to finish our schooling and then worked various jobs. We then focused on planning our own wedding. Once we tied the knot, we realized it was now or never! We didn’t want to keep putting off this plan due to everyday distractions.
We spent many months researching, applying for jobs, and then finalizing the visa process to make our big move. In October 2014, we landed in South Korea! We got to experience new sights and sounds, a new language, a totally different culture, and got to meet and interact with many great people. Since moving to Korea, we’ve both worked in two different schools – we are now in our second contract. It’s been great!
Adjusting To Life In South Korea As Teachers
During our first year, we lived out in the middle of nowhere, completely in the countryside – which was so gorgeous, but sometimes lonely! This gave us a lot of time to focus on our individual hobbies – and it gave me an excuse to really focus on my travel blog and learning as much as possible about the travel industry.
If anyone who is reading this ever finds themselves in a very rural location, I recommend keeping as busy as possible to keep your mind in a good place!
We now live in a small city on the Southern coast of South Korea. We teach a different grade level (high school students – much more fun than I originally imagined!) than we did last year and have a new place to explore and many more other expats to interact with. It’s been a great second year full of many experiences!
Why did we choose Korea? We’ve always had an interest in Asia, but comparing various countries and their teaching opportunities helped us realize that Korea was the best fit for us. My husband is a certified, but I have no teaching degree and instead have an unrelated bachelor’s.
We were both able to teach in Korea. In addition, the cost of living and extra perks are amazing. We don’t pay for our apartment and our schools paid for our flights to come to Korea and will do so again when we leave. We also get a lot of vacation time and the lower cost of living makes it easier to save. To us, it was a no brainer! We are incredibly thankful and appreciative that we are able to work here.
The Hard Part To Being Expats
Do I miss family and friends – yes! Absolutely! But, you can’t focus on that too much or it can put a damper on the experience. We are visiting home this month after being away for almost 1.5 years – so that will be great! It also helps that we have met so many wonderful people on this journey.
We have adjusted to Korean life very well. We gave ourselves about 2 weeks to explore Korea before starting our teaching jobs. I think this helped us soak everything in a bit. We’ve both learned how to read the Korean alphabet (hanguel) so that helps us get around and find what we need more easily. Experiencing Korean food has been interesting – but we both have found dishes that we really enjoy and are willing to continue to try new foods.
Life isn’t always perfect abroad. There are times where you’re lonely. It can be confusing and stressful. Sometimes you will be misunderstood. Sometimes you’ll even wish you were back at home for just a few moments – but with the challenges come amazing opportunities and experiences! I would recommend living abroad to anyone – at least once in his or her lifetime.
Where To From Here: What Comes Next?
What’s my plan for the next year? I have 8 more months left in my second contract. My husband and I plan to head back to the United States to establish a home base there.
We left our fur babies with family members so it will be nice to have them living with us again! My goal is to work as hard as possible on my travel blog and writing during the next 8 months so that I can explore other travel related careers and opportunities once I’m settled back at home.
Looking back at this experience, I’m so thankful for the chance to live and teach abroad. It has allowed me to explore new opportunities, travel the world, and grow as a person in my personal and professional life. If you’re ever given the chance, I recommend living in another country!
If you enjoyed this, you want to read Alicia’s story about her time in Thailand.