Life After Teaching Abroad: My Year After Returning from South Korea

On Teacher’s Day in South Korea, I was notified that my graduate school program had been unexpectedly canceled. I was slated to join a small cohort class of Intercontinental MBA students who would be traveling the world together for one intensive academic year. Unfortunately, the class was deemed too small. I had already booked a plane ticket to the United States to begin the program that summer and had turned down an offer to stay and teach at my elementary school in Seoul for a third year. I had spent the better part of the past year preparing for this next chapter in my life and on that fateful day in my adopted country, my future plans had come to a screeching halt. I didn’t know what life would have in store for me upon my arrival home.

On August 8, 2015, I hugged my friends goodbye at the airport and started the long journey westward. My final destination was Ohio, the state where I was raised and went to college, but somewhere I hadn’t lived in over five years. My excitement outweighed my apprehension on that plane ride. I was elated. I spent the first few months I was home traveling across America, from California to Maine to Chicago to Houston, visiting with family and friends. Everything in my native country seemed so charming, and my confidence was sky-high. While my initial plans had fallen through, I was sure it would be easy to figure out my next steps.

Teach English in South Korea TEFL

After a particularly wonderful weekend visit to Columbus, the home of my college alma mater, I decided to move back to the city that I have always loved. It was now time to start my job search. The only problem was I didn’t know where to begin. My interests had become so diverse over the years. I had studied marketing in college, and pursued this career path in Chicago upon graduation. But, I had fallen in love with teaching while in Seoul. I loved working with ESL students. I had also been passionate about yoga for years and had become a registered yoga teacher while abroad. I couldn’t decide which career path I wanted to pursue next! Not to mention, the novelty of my home country was starting to wear off. I was getting used to the large food portions, hugs, and clearly marked streets. My friends didn’t want to hear about South Korea every day. I missed walking everywhere and hated driving everywhere. Things did not appear to be looking up.

I questioned my decisions. Should I have applied to more than one graduate school program? Should I have left South Korea? Should I have moved to another country instead? Should I have moved back to Columbus after all? These questions plagued me, but there was one thing I was sure of – I was certain that I had made the right decision to move abroad in the first place. No matter what my circumstances were now, I wouldn’t take back my time in Asia for anything. My experiences abroad pushed me outside of my comfort zone and helped me to grow immensely, both personally and professionally. I had chased my dreams, and I had succeeded. I had really lived my life, enough for two lifetimes over.

Life after teaching English abroad

Soon enough, my story began to write itself. I received two job offers on the same morning, and the following week I began a position in marketing for an education company. Shortly after, I started tutoring ESL students at night and shortly after that, I began teaching yoga classes on the weekends. I realized I didn’t have to choose between all of my interests and passions – I could pursue them all! My plans had changed, but not for the worse. While my path looked different now and was not what I had initially expected, it brought with it excitement and surprises.

I am rapidly approaching my one-year anniversary since moving home. While I still feel nostalgic for my second home at times, I am extremely grateful for all of the lessons that South Korea taught me. I know I am a much stronger person because of the time I spent abroad. If I had never set foot in International TEFL Academy, and enrolled in the Online TEFL class, I would not be where I am today. I am a former ex-pat, and I am still moving mountains!


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