It has officially been a little over a month since I’ve stepped foot into South Korea. I still wake up every single morning and think to myself how unreal it is that I am here right now. I am living my dream of working and travelling abroad. I made it happen all on my own.
Two years ago, I was still in school and had a strong desire to live and work abroad. I wanted to immerse myself in another culture, meet people from all around the world and make a positive impact in the lives of others. I wanted to step out of my comfort zone, challenge myself and grow as a person. I wanted to live life a little differently and become more self-aware—all while continuously learning and enhancing my skills.
I wanted to immerse myself in another culture, but I never thought that I would be brave enough to live overseas.
However, I didn't think that I would actually pursue it. I knew that living overseas meant facing dozens of challenges, including homesickness, culture shock and language barriers. I never thought that I'd be brave enough to live abroad on my own for an entire year.
After graduation, I landed a permanent full-time position in the field that I studied in. It was a valuable experience, but it also reminded me of what I really wanted. I knew that I didn’t want to stay in my nine-to-five soul-sucking job much longer. So I applied to teach at the competitive government-sponsored public school program EPIK (English Program In Korea). Unfortunately, I didn't get past the interview.
That didn't stop me, though. Several months later, I reapplied and was accepted! The entire process took a good six months; from applying, completing my TESOL course (Teaching English as a Second Language), gathering my documents, the interview, and obtaining my visa. The waiting game was intense, but it was definitely worth it.
Fast-forward to today and I’m loving it here. Korea is so breathtakingly beautiful. I love learning about the country's culture and history. Everything here is so new, fascinating and different compared to my life back in Canada. I absolutely love my school, my incredibly caring staff and co-workers, and my adorable and bright students. I developed a passion for teaching. I’ve also met some of the kindest and the most welcoming group of expats in my neighbourhood.
I'll admit that my first week was rough. I had a fever on the first day of arrival, lost money, and was left behind at 4 a.m. in the morning while I was still finding my way around. However, every time I struggle, I remind myself why I’m here in the first place and why I need to stay positive.
I refuse to allow fear to get in the way. I don’t know how my year will go, but I can only hope for the best and make the most of my experience. My intuition tells me this may be the best decision that I could've made for myself. I promised myself that I will be strong for my family and friends who have been nothing but loving and supportive throughout this entire process. I came here knowing all the challenges that I would have to face, and I came here knowing that I am strong enough to overcome it. Subconsciously, I knew that I would come back even stronger and this is why I'm here.
Originally published on Verge Magazine (May 24, 2016)