***In recent weeks, I’ve been a wee bit down on Korea and teaching in universities here. Some have even said that I don’t really present a balanced view of things. In order to appease the masses, I’ll interject some positive goodness and talk about why working abroad, in general, is awesome and why everyone should give it a go, at least once in their lives***
I’ve been working abroad for 10 years as an English teacher in South Korea. I got my start teaching kids at hagwons (private institutes) for a couple years but then moved up in the world to university jobs, which have been really good to me in terms of pay, vacation and time to get websites like this one up and running as well as self-publish books on Amazon. For tips on getting a job here, check out this book: How to Get a University Job in South Korea: The English Teaching Job of Your Dreams, or all my projects that I have on the go: www.jackiebolen.com.
Here are a few reasons why I think everyone should work abroad if they get the chance (and if you don’t get the chance, make it happen for yourself!).
Reason #1 Working Abroad is Awesome: You Can Really Experience a Place
When you travel, sure you can experience the culture, and meet a few of the locals but nothing says really “knowing” a place than living there-for a year or more. You get way beyond the honeymooon phase where you see everything with rose-colored glasses into the actual reality of a place-both its ups and downs. You experience all the shades of gray and not just the in your face black and white like you do when you’re traveling.
Reason #2 Working Abroad is Awesome: The Expats
By far the best thing about living in Korea for me has been the other expats that I’ve met. Maybe it’s that we all have similar backgrounds, aspirations and political views (college-educated, adventure-seeking wanderers, left-leaning), but I’ve met some amazing people during my time here.
Reason #3 Working Abroad is Awesome: It Makes you Tough
When you can’t speak the language, everything around you in unfamiliar and you don’t know a single person, it’s hard. Like really, really hard. But once you get past that and then the million and one other challenges that you face while living abroad that you’d never experience in your home country, you get tougher, and tougher, and tougher. After 10 years, I seriously feel like I’m ready to take on any challenge. Move to Canada with 2 cats and nowhere to live? Sure, no problem. Survive without a job lined-up? Okay! Make a network of friends in a city where I don’t know a single person? Easy! Everyone speak English so how hard is it really going to be?
Reason #4 Working Abroad is Awesome: Networking Skills
Speaking of networking, working abroad teaches you networking skills like nothing else. People are always coming and going so you’re always having to say goodbye and make new friends. You really learn how to talk to people, how to connect, how to just chill out and be cool. Long, long gone are the days when I used to feel scared walking into a party with 50 people I don’t know.
Reason #5 Working Abroad is Awesome: The Memories
I think that every single story I’m going to tell to my friends and family for rest of my life is going to start with, “In Korea…” Sorry everyone-I know it’s going to get really annoying, so I actually promise to restrict it to maybe once a week. Okay? But, seriously, so many memories of my time here-it’s been wacky, wild and wonderful, sometimes all in the same day. And, I’ve got to travel the world-to so many countries that I’ve lost count at this point. This awesomeness surely would never have happened had I chosen to stay in Canada all those years ago.
Anyway, work abroad. It’s awesome! Try it out for a year or two and see how it fits. Fits well? Power on to even more awesome.