So, my very first blog post. To be honest I’m not really sure where to start! As you may have seen from my introduction I am currently working as an Academic Manager for a business English company in Ulsan, South Korea. I have been back and forth between Korea and Canada since 2009 and each time I have been back for different reasons and because of this, I have experienced Korea so differently. So because this blog is about living abroad and curating a life here that works for you let me tell you about my very different experiences working abroad in South Korea.
As the blog title stipulates…let’s start from the beginning!
There are many different ways to live life abroad and I have lived very different lives here. My first time in South Korea was in a small town called Ulsan (it is so much bigger now) in September 2009 I made my way over. I left my career as an Event planner and only had a little volunteer teaching experience, but had never taught English. I decided to uproot my life because I wasn’t happy living in Toronto, I wasn’t enjoying my job, I felt very isolated and stalled. I was working a lot and not really getting anywhere….so I decided I needed a change, I needed to go out and experience something totally different and do it on my own. I wanted to know that I could be independent and start a totally new life all by myself. So off I went!
After a 13 hour flight, I arrived in Korea a day before I was due to start classes to an empty one-room apartment (I’m talking empty! like no pillow or blanket), and a hungover head teacher in my room waiting to welcome me to Ulsan. What I immediately discovered (and what is so true no matter where you are) is that it is impossible to do everything yourself (which was my idea of independence at that time) especially when you can’t speak the language and have nothing in your apartment. Over the next few days, I was introduced to the expat community and immediately fell in with a rowdy fun crowd of young foreigners who liked to live life to the fullest! The expat community is such a different social community….they become your family here. You do everything together and rely on them to travel, for help, and for a taste of home when you’re homesick over the holidays or just having a difficult day.
I basically spent that year reliving my University life, but with money! I traveled, I ate all kinds of different foods (even live octopus!!!), I swam with sharks, I drank a lot of Korean beer and soju (the local liquor) and lived a carefree life, it was wonderful! But not sustainable. And as things progressed and people came and left, I fell in with a new more relaxed group of friends and decided it was time for a change. I took a look at my life and realized that I wanted to start living life for myself, rather than following the group. So I slowly started to do this. I started to take my job more seriously and really prepare and try in my classes as a teaching professional, I stopped drinking so much and started exercising more, and I stopped feeling obligated to always do group things. I started saying no more and focusing on developing a life that I was happy with and proud of. This is where my real growth began. Since then I have tried my best to learn about living the best life for myself. I have taken the time to really get to know myself and try to cultivate a life that works for me. I want to create a fulfilling life for myself with intention and to be present and an active participant in my own life.
My first trip to Korea lasted for 2 years and each year was a very different life. What I learned is that you can’t run away from your problems, they will follow you wherever you go, you can choose what life to make for yourself and that comes with challenges and sometimes painful growth, and being independent doesn’t mean doing everything single thing by yourself, but it means having the courage to ask for help when you need it and to not be afraid of living your own life no matter what anyone else says. Finally, I understood that I have the power to craft the life I want anywhere in the world and that it is always changing and transforming as I move through my life experiences.
It can be difficult to do this while living abroad as living internationally can pose some challenges. So I’ve started this blog to share my own experiences of living abroad since 2009 and into the future. I hope that people can use this as a reference for their own lives living abroad at any stage. I will continue to share my past and present experiences here and would love to hear from other people about their own experiences living abroad.
Hopefully, we can connect in an online community to help each other live our best lives while traveling and living internationally.
Thanks for reading!