Korea or bust?

I have received very few positive responses since I started telling people that I’m planning on moving to Korea. A lot of people think it’s dangerous and don’t realize the difference between North Korea and South Korea… I am NOT heading to the land of Kim Jong Il (I always think of Team America when I hear his name). Others think that I won’t be able to cut it since I only lasted three months in Prague (more on that below). And most of my dear friends and family will just miss me, since I only recently moved back home.

So, in January 2006 my boyfriend Daniel and I moved to Prague in an attempt to get jobs teaching English. (We got TEFL certified online with Bridge-Linguatec and even paid for job placement – luckily the company refunded all of our money when we didn’t get jobs in six months!) And yes, I hated it. But those were completely different circumstances. We moved there with no jobs and no visas… not to mention in the dead of winter in possibly the least friendly country in the world. I spent a little over 90 days walking around in the freezing cold, feeling lost and hopeless and broke, getting yelled at by mean Czech people, and sitting in my apartment playing Scrabble or watching movies. One good thing that came out of that bad situation was losing almost 30 pounds without even trying! No car + foreign food with labels I can’t read = easy weight loss. One of my hopes for moving to another country again, since I have gained that 30 pounds back and then some.

Anyway, there are other reasons I would like to give Korea a try. I deserve a second chance, right? I love to travel, I have never been to Asia, and after doing some research on South Korea it sounds like a great place. Four seasons, beaches, modern cities, mountains for hiking and skiing… Also, English teaching jobs pay well, especially in comparison to the cost of living, so I could save a decent amount of money in a year. My airfare there and home would be paid for, in addition to my apartment, an extra month of pay at the end of my contract, and plenty of paid vacation days and holidays (so I can come home for Christmas?).

I thought that I was done moving around for a little while. After Prague, we moved to Charleston for a year, and then Texas for two years. I missed my family and friends, having a big enough group of acquaintances to throw decent parties, and the beautiful fall weather in WNC. And I thought I would surely be able to find a decent job, so I had no qualms about quitting the one I had in Texas…

Well, I was wrong. Yes, I am glad to be able to see my family regularly, and a few of my friends, but the job situation hasn’t been so kind. Damn economy. I have been applying for hundreds of jobs since July (it’s almost November) and have had fewer than five interviews or even call backs. I was working part time for a minuscule amount of money, but after a fiasco with Polk County Schools (pay me already!), I quit that and am now searching furiously again. Hopefully I can get a retail job since it’s almost the holiday shopping season, but it still will be barely enough for me to pay off my debt and continue living with my mother before I leave for Korea next summer. Yes, I am a 27 year old unemployed loser who lives with her mother… my boyfriend does too. Four month ago, I had a good job, thousands in the bank, and my own apartment. Now… Korea keeps looking better and better.

As Daniel said, I’ve done a little research and have a list of companies that I want to apply with. I know that I want to live in a big city, preferably Busan since it’s on the beach but Seoul would be my second choice. I also want to teach in a public school, it seems much more favorable to a “hagwon” or private language school (fewer working hours, another teacher in the classroom with you, more job security, no pressure to retain students, etc.). I am looking forward to chronicling the adventure as we plan, prepare, and travel to Korea.

-Jen Pace

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Korea or bust?

  1. Marie

    Not that you asked, but I was thinking Incheon when I was looking. It’s also on (or near?) the beach, and not far from Seoul. And it’s big enough that more people will speak English–a plus for monolinguals like myself.

  2. Jen

    Yeah I finally got the Lonely Planet Korea guidebook and Incheon sounds awesome! We’ll see what offers we get…

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