As my dream continues to come to life with moving to South Korea to teach, it also brings about many mixed reactions from friends and family. Thankfully my closest friends and family members know me well enough that this was not a rash decision. I have been thinking about this for years now and many responded with “What took you so long! You’ll be a great teacher!” Those reactions warm my heart and help me feel more reassured than I could have ever imagined.
Then there are the exceptional few who have no idea why I would want to move abroad or what in the world I am thinking by moving to South Korea. Their responses range from:
“Are you going to NORTH or South korea?!” – Yes I am planning to move to North Korea…
“Korea…why in the world would you want to move to Korea?!” – For the amazing experience, to get to know another completely different culture, the amazing benefits teachers receive in Korea, to save money and pay off student debt, to teach and work with children, the ability to travel throughout Asia…the list goes on and on.
“Will you be close to the border of North Korea?” – I plan to teach in Gwangju which is 4 hours south of Seoul so no that is not close to North Korea however if it was close I still would not be nervous to move there.
“WHAT! North Korea?!” – No, South Korea 🙂
“Is South Korea safe?” – Like any country in the world it is important to take caution and be aware of your surroundings. Yes, South Korea is very safe and I feel very comfortable moving there after researching many different areas in the world to teach. It will be a huge transition but I will welcome it with open arms.
“Will there be any other Americans to make friends with? Can you speak Korean and how will you teach English if you can’t speak it?” – There is a huge expat community in South Korea. There are teachers from all over the world – The US, United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa, Canada. I have reached out to current and past teachers in Korea and have heard nothing but positive things about teaching there. I cannot speak Korean and I am trying very hard to learn some basic sentences before I move there. And it is tough! I do not need to speak Korean to teach English. I will have a co-Korean teacher who will be my wonderful side-kick and we will only speak English in the classroom. What an exciting adventure 🙂
These people often give me more courage to continue the path I am on. The misunderstandings of other cultures and the fear of moving somewhere unknown sparks an idea to people that the country is unsafe. I have found that most people that say those things have not traveled much outside of the United States or Mexico (nothing against Mexico…I love Mexico…but touristy Cancun is not the real Mexico or a feel for other cultures).
Another misunderstanding is that I am running away from something. I am definitely not running away from anything. I have one of the greatest families a girl could ask for and some of the closest friends. I can assure you I am running away from nothing. If anything I am leaving to find a better sense of myself. Something deep inside me knows that I would regret not becoming a teacher and living my life’s passions. Intertwining teaching, children and other cultures is exactly what I was made for in this world.
A great reference I have used is Nomadic Matt’s website. This article explains it perfectly: http://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/unsupportive-friends-and-family/
And please notice the fear of traveling alone as a female. I am a firm believer that any woman can learn how to travel solo and be confident in themselves to do so. I am a huge supporter of women traveling and hope that I can inspire others to feel the same way.
I am very excited for this journey and appreciate all of the support more than many of you realize and I am excited to share my stories with you all!