“Why do you want to teach English in Korea?”

“It’s an itch, that needs to be scratched.”

Me standing on diving board at cliff jumping in Boracay
I have a habit of looking beyond what is right in front of me!

I heard myself say the words once again, for what felt like the 50th time.
The metaphor seemed to have taken root in my head and poured from my mouth anytime somebody asked the question.

As much as the desire had been burning in me, as long as I had been thinking about giving it a go, the real truth lay below.
The real itch was what is to come after.

Teaching English was a desire, Korea just so happened to be where I could potentially make the most money doing it. That was the real attraction.

The truth was my real ambition was, and still is, to extensively travel Latin America. I saw Korea as my golden ticket.

Wanderlust is a curse that doesn’t come cheap and every dream realized is just another step along an ever-growing path.

Going to teach English in Korea was never going to be more than a temporary thing for me. As excited as I was to finally have the opportunity to see what all the hype was about teaching English abroad, I couldn’t help but look beyond it.

Me with some happy 3rd grade students at my main school
The kids make the job fun, yet sometimes exhausting!

A few months in and I had an inescapable feeling simmering within me.

Once the initial undercurrents of culture shock had been dulled and I had found my feet in the new lifestyle, I started to really put things in perspective. I took a moment to really ask myself the big questions. Am I happy here? Do I like it?

For all the pros and cons of living in Korea to teach English, everything really boiled down to the feeling of, ‘Oh my god….I think I might already be over it…”

Could it be? Just a few months in and my curiosity of teaching abroad was satisfied and now inevitably tumbling towards exhaustion. Would resentment for the job, the lifestyle and even the country gradually manifest and define this year?

Two friends and I on a beach in Boracay
A beach break in Boracay helped put things in perspective

Sucking it up, I looked forward to the winter break and the anticipation of a snowboarding trip and some beach time in the Philippines kept me going.

As it turns out, it was just the tonic I needed and the rest-bite allowed me to assess things away from the pressure cooker.

My working week consists of 22 “teaching hours” per week – which is actually 22 x 40 minute classes, many of which have less than 10 students.

I also have a very relaxed winter schedule incorporating 2 weeks paid vacation in the middle of a 2 month period with little more than a few easy camp days. Suddenly, it dawned on me just how good a deal I had.

Perhaps it was turning 30 or maybe it was all the hard falls while snowboarding in Pyeongchang, but my mindset shifted towards a longer-term plan.
I realized that there is no rush on this path.

Latin America isn’t going anywhere just yet and this step in Korea isn’t so bad that I need to run from it. At least not til I’m truly ready to move on.

Science class outside where the students launched bottle rockets
Almost everyday is full of surprises, such as a DIY rocket competition!

So after much deliberation, I made a U-turn on my initial decision to leave Korea. I decided to stay and teach English here for another year.

My schools were delighted. They even agreed to arrange a new apartment for me in Yeongju. This provided me with the city conveniences and amenities that I longed for. All I had to do was renew my E2 visa.

The temptation of Seoul and Busan almost lured me away but the EPIK benefits and the relaxed work atmosphere in the rural schools were too hard to leave.

For now, this is right. I can wait to scratch the real itch for another while.


Have you renewed a contract with EPIK? Was it the right decision in the end?