Growing up, my family moved around a lot. When I tell people, their initial reaction is usually something along the lines of, “Oh! that must have been hard for you.” And sure, sometimes it was. Leaving people behind is always hard, but I loved the adventure.
Even as a child, I was always excited to start a new school, make new friends, soak in whatever experiences I could. Not all of them were great, but it gave me a taste for change. To the point that, if I stayed in one place too long I would get restless. Which was what was happening before I decided to move half way around the world.
Before the big move, I had been stuck in the same place for 7 years. That’s the longest I’ve ever been in one area. And although, I wasn’t necessarily in the same home for the whole 7 years, I was surrounded by the same people, the same experiences, it felt like time was standing still.
Every day seemed like the one before. I was sinking into depression and I started picking up some less than ideal habits as a result. After graduating from University, I decided to take a trip to Europe, I needed to get out of Ohio for a while. It was an amazing experience.
I was only there for 5 weeks, but I visited 7 different countries, met countless wonderful people, and I had a blast.
But, so did my wallet.
In that… it exploded, and not in a good way.
I didn’t save up enough money before I left on my excursion and was forced to use credit cards while I was there… If you can take away one thing from this article, it’s that using credit cards on travel is not the most brilliant plan. I was already not in the best place financially. I never have been, but I made it so much worse. I’ve been supporting myself since I was 17, I was usually working 2-3 jobs at a time to put myself through school and keep a roof over my head. So you would think I would know better than to do something reckless. But honestly, at the time, I didn’t care at all. I needed an escape and I got it.
The plan was, I would go to Europe, have the experience of a lifetime, come home, stop waiting tables (because I had been doing it for 6 years and it was getting to me), get a steady corporate job, in a pretty good company, that my friend worked for, so I could pay off my debt and become a normal, functioning member of society.
That was the plan.
And it’s what I did. I started working a regular 9-5…. well technically 7-3. And it was interesting for a while. I met some new people, learned some new things, both of which are things I love to do. But, after 6 months….
I hated it.
And I wasn’t making enough money. I had student loans, rent, utilities, a car payment, car insurance, gas, a phone bill, credit card payments, health insurance, dental care payments, and on and on and on.
I felt like I was sinking.
I was working 3 jobs again. I would work from 7am-3pm at my friends company, then I would go straight to my side job at a tattoo shop from 4pm-10pm, and in my free time I would pick up shifts at a restaurant I used to work for.
I had virtually no social life. I would occasionally get out on Saturday, but I was so drained from the week behind me and the thought of the week to come, that I just wasn’t any fun. My life consisted of paying bills, and I absolutely hated it. Something had to change.
So I made a change.
A big change.
Being in Europe was the happiest I had felt in a long time. I knew I wanted to travel more, but I also knew I did not have the financial capabilities to do so for leisure. So, I did a quick google search for “Jobs that let you travel”. Bing-Pot
A couple of options came up.
Working remotely-don’t have the necessary skills (I have a bachelors in psychology..???).
Travel blogger – intriguing but not reliable.
Flight attendant Strict schedule
And then I found it: ENGLISH TEACHER!- necessary qualifications for most of these jobs… is to just to be a native English speaker??? It sounded too good to be true.
I had wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember, but somewhere along the line, people got into my head with the “teachers don’t make any money”, “teaching is hell” rhetoric, and so I went into psychology instead.
In my third year at university, I realized that I did, in fact, still want to be a teacher, but by that point I had almost completed my Psych degree, and would have had to add on 2 more years of schooling and many thousands of dollars, which I did not have, in order to get an education degree. So, I toughed it out, completed my degree with the thought that somewhere in the future I can get a Masters in Education, when I’m financially sound (hahahahaha).
But, now I didn’t have to do any of that. I looked into it for many months before making my final decision. Non-English speaking countries are always hiring native English speakers, and for some that’s their only requirement as far as qualifications go, but those countries don’t necessarily offer the most benefits to their teachers. And I am a University graduate, with a degree dealing with the study of minds, specifically child development. Which had to be worth something.
It was as it turns out. Mostly it’s helpful because the country I chose to teach in, Korea, requires their English teachers to have a Bachelor’s degree. Just a Bachelors degree. Doesn’t really matter what it’s in. But, I’m still pleased with my area of study, because it gives me an edge in the teaching field.
So there I was. I had my goal. I just had to figure out how to reach it. It took a lot of hours of research, anxiety, organization, communication, and so much confusion. Honestly, everything moved so quickly it’s a little mind-boggling, how much I was able to pull together in a few short months, but that’s a story for another time.
What’s important is that I made it. I’m a full-fledged teacher and I could not be happier. Sure, nothing is perfect. But I love my job, on the good days and the bad. My students bring something new to the table every single day. They’ve made me laugh. They’ve made me cry. They’ve made me want to rip out my hair and bang my head against the wall. All in the same hour.
I feel like I’m always learning. Sometimes it’s a struggle, but it’s a struggle I’m willing to go through, because I get to make a difference in someone’s life. Teachers are so much more than the subject they teach. I’m a confidant for these kids. I’m someone who cares for them, when they feel like no one else does. They come to me with their trouble and their heartbreak, just like they come to me with their triumphs and successes. I can’t think of a more tumultuous or a more rewarding profession.
But it’s not just the kids. Yes, they are a huge part of my life, and I love them to piece, but they’re not everything. I’m not sure what you know about Korea (I know I didn’t know much before I decided to move my life here), but it is a rich, and vibrant cultural epicenter. I live just south of Seoul, which has a booming fashion and entertainment industry. There are skyscrapers right next to 600 year-old palaces. My apartment is a 10 minute walk to a fortress built in 1794, that surrounds my city. It’s a beautiful blend of historical and modern life. And the best part, I have the option to travel to numerous surrounding countries, without spending an arm and a leg.