South Korea, like so many things in life, follows the standard cliche. It is what you make of it.
If you want a hermit life running between school and your apartment with nothing but Netflix and Youtube in-between, sure, you could do that. Perhaps you’re more of the party boy looking for a multi-day bender. Sure, you could probably do that too. Of course, it’s best to avoid both. Especially the latter, because, c’mon, you’re more professional than that. Instead, shoot for something tucked nicely between the two. Take spontaneous bus trips. Explore the country. Share some soju and make new friends. With an outgoing personality and an penchant for new experiences, South Korea will happily deliver that sweet spot.
On a more personal level, I feel blessed to have met so many great people in the four very short months I’ve been in “comparatively small but hardly insipid” Jinju. Between a friendly director, friendlier young Koreans, and a diverse set of like-minded expat English teachers, I found it pleasantly easy to adapt to this new country. There are those certain things I miss and just as many things I don’t, but they’re all rectified with those memorable instances that leave me thinking “wow…that’s just so…um…Korean!” Exploring local temples, adjumas, and couples in matching outfits (yes, that’s a thing) are just the beginning of jovial list that keeps on growing.
And then there is teaching which is a big part of my life. The students, for the most part, are fun and lively who can laugh with a slightly goofy teacher trying his best to make English less complex. I’m thankful for a position where it’s common to walk into work with a smile on my face.
In full disclosure, teaching in a hagwon does bring “business like” qualities I wish didn’t exist, but those small frustrations are far from overwhelming. Sure, the system is not perfect and there are those brief moments of frustration “I just wanna rip my hair out piece by piece because it would probably be less painful,” but brushing off the minority of negatives is just part of the process.
And finally, I owe a nod to SayKimchi Recruiting. From the beginning they were very helpful, direct, and responsive. My recruiter, Anne, always gave complete and timely responses to any of my questions. In short, thank you.
So take the plunge and discover Korea. I’m glad I did.