My name is Ian Morris. I am 26 years old and I will be moving to Korea to teach conversational English for a year starting in June of 2010.
I have never actively pursued traveling to another country before, either for a career or a chance to just get away. But since finishing college in 2006 I’ve felt the nagging desire to see as much of the world as I can with what youth I have left.
Northern Europe always had tremendous appeal to me. Being the Anglo-Saxon mutt that I am, Germany and England were a big draw. I have also been fascinated with Russia since my first world history class. But my ambition to actually visit these places never got any further then making a mental list of the sites I would someday like to see.
In the three years since I had graduated I had been content to just scrape by as a substitute teacher. In those three years, as I taught students only a few years younger than myself about the history and culture of far away places, the nagging to travel grew more incessant.
Then, perhaps by fate or merely chance, I reconnected with Daniel Daugherty, an old friend from high school. He had previously gone to the Czech Republic to teach English, as well as studying abroad in England while in college. After catching up on lost time, Daniel told me that he and his girlfriend, Jen, were strongly considering going to another foreign country to teach English. I told them of my own interest in getting away and they encouraged me to go along. As it turns out, those years spent substitute teaching may help out in securing me a position. It seemed like this was my chance to start tackling my goal and experience a bigger portion of the world. With a friend, no less. It seemed too good to be true. Then they told me they were looking into Korea.
To be honest, I had never considered visiting Korea, in fact I had never given much thought to traveling to the far east at all. I wasn’t even sure if I could find Korea on a map. Maybe it’s because my grandfather’s tired old stories from World War II instilled in me a general disinterest in Asia. Or maybe it was simply because I was more interested in Korea’s northern neighbor, Russia.
I lazily researched Korea and — surprise! — the more I found out about the place, the more I liked the idea of going there. Not that it matters. Whether or not I like the country didn’t have much to do with my decision to move there. Experiencing the unfamiliar is why I felt called to travel in the first place. The adventure. The unknown element. The surprise. Maybe I can rediscover the excitement that I once felt in ninth-grade World History, of an ancient country’s long and complex history unfolding before me. I hope my grandfather can forgive me.