Life After ESL: Interview with Rachel Yoo

Rachel and I used to hike the mountains around Busan!

Hi everyone, it’s Jackie here. Thanks to my friend Rachel Yoo for agreeing to do this interview with me about her life after teaching English in Korea.

We met while teaching in Busan through some mutual friends and then ended up leaving Korea right around the same time. It was really, really nice to have a friend going through the same thing I was, with all the fears and anxiety and hopes and dreams for life back home.

Plus, we used to Norae-Bang and eat Korean BBQ like pros together. Ahhh..the memories!

Let’s get to it! Here’s the interview with Rachel about life in the USA.

Can you briefly tell us about your experience teaching English abroad?

I first moved to Busan, South Korea September 2010. I had never taught before, but had the traveling bug and was ready to go on another adventure after studying abroad in university.

Why did you decide to move back to your home country?

I decided to move back to the states after about 6 years of living and teaching in South Korea. I wanted to move back because I missed my family and felt like I was missing all these big life events of my family and friends. I wasn’t enjoying teaching and wanted to figure out what I really wanted to do with my life.

If you can’t speak Korean and you don’t want to be a teacher, there aren’t a lot of career choices for you in South Korea. Whether that’s true or not, it’s how I was feeling at the time.

(Note from Jackie: This in indeed true for South Korea—if you don’t speak Korean fluently, you do have limited career choices beyond teaching English).

What are you doing for work now? Did things go according to plan, or did you have to change directions once you got home?

Today I’m a manager at one of my favourite retail brands. I definitely wanted to work in fashion and for this particular brand, but I didn’t think I would be living in my hometown state. Things in life rarely go as planned, but all you can do is keep working towards your goals and staying positive.

Did you make any mistakes with regards to moving back? Or, any advice for teachers looking to go home?

Save, save, save, save. Save as much as you can and keep saving after you get a job.

(Note from Jackie: It’s very easy to burn through a ton of money when you move back home, it happened to me too! Be cautious about big purchases and get some frugal living going on).

What was the most difficult thing about returning home? Was there anything you thought would be difficult, but it wasn’t?

The most difficult thing about moving home is adjusting to your new/old life. Old friendships may have changed, but new ones will be formed.

In Korea I had an F4 visa because I’m married to a Korean. This visa allowed me better teaching jobs with less hours and more pay.

In America I’m working twice as much for the same salary I was making in Korea. That has been an adjustment, but I enjoy what I do more today than when I was a teacher.

I thought it would be difficult for my husband and I to get jobs, but that was surprisingly easy. However, we are getting ready to move to a much larger city in the next few months.

Anything Else You’d Like to Mention?

At the end of the day, you have to do what’s right for you. Home will always be there and for me, I can always go back to Korea. I’m very grateful and lucky that I can continue to travel and visit Korea.

If you want to move home, but it’s not what you thought you wanted then continue your journey. If you’re ready to move home but nervous what will happen, have faith in yourself and persevere.

Comments? Questions?

Any thoughts or comments about this interview with Rachel Yoo? Leave them below and I’m sure she’d love to hear from you.

If you’re planning to make the move back home yourself, be sure to check out this book over on Amazon: Life After ESL: Foreign Teachers Returning Home.

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