So, it’s official. The contracts are signed and I will be staying in Korea to teach at my school for another year.
This was actually a very difficult decision for me to make, and I changed my mind about a thousand times. One week I would be 100% sure that I should stay, but the next week I would be just as sure that it was time for me to go home. There were so many things to factor into this decision, including my family, friends, whether I could stay at the same school, etc. Finally, I decided to just do a good old-fashioned pros and cons list, and it helped me to make the best decision. Here are some of the reasons that I decided to renew my contract. FYI, they are in no particular order.
●The process of applying to EPIK and getting the necessary documents took so much time and money that it didn’t seem worth it to only stay for 1 year. Once I’d made the decision to come to Korea, began the application process, did the interviews, got all of the necessary documents, got my visa, and physically began packing and getting ready to move halfway across the world, it had already been about a year. (And the struggle was real when it came to getting my documents together). In order to get my money and time’s worth, it made sense to stay for at least 2 years.
●The first year literally flew by, and there’s still so much on my list that I haven’t done. When I came to Korea, I made a list of things that I wanted to make sure to do before it was time for me to go home. But about 6 months in, I realized that there were more things that I hadn’t done than things that I did. It wasn’t that I’d wasted my time, but I realized that I’d spent a good portion of my time exploring, meeting new people, and doing things that I hadn’t even thought to put on my list. I was enjoying myself, and I want to make sure to continue to do that while I am fully experiencing all that Korea, and Asia, has to offer. I’d hate to leave when they’re still so much that I haven’t done, and giving myself this extra year gives me the chance to do all that I’d planned to do.
●It took me a while to adjust to my school and get into the groove of teaching here. It was as if the first semester was the trial period, where I was experimenting with many of the techniques that I’d learned in EPIK orientation and seeing what worked for me and what didn’t. I was learning how to function in an environment where communicating with those around me was difficult because of the language barrier, while also still trying to do my job and develop relationships. By the second semester, I’d gotten into a groove and adjusted better to my school. I’ve learned how to adjust to the changes in coteachers (seriously, I’ve had 8 different co-teachers this semester alone) and I’ve begun to understand my students a little more. I’d want to continue to see how I can grow and improve over the next year.
●I want to save a little more before my next move. If you know me, then you know that I’m big on saving money. Yes, I’m a saver. And although working for EPIK allowed me to save a good amount of money in my first year, I still want to have a little more in the bank before I embark on a new journey, whatever that may be. And living rent-free and tax-free isn’t so bad either.
●There’s still so much of Asia I want to see, and I might as well see it while I still have the time. Although I was able to visit different parts of Korea, as well as Thailand and Malaysia, I still have a bunch of places that I want to visit, both inside and outside of Korea. The fact is, I can’t guarantee that I’ll be coming back to Asia once I leave, so I might as well take the opportunity to travel and explore now while I’m here. ●Now that I’ve settled in and gotten a little bit more used to where I live, I’ve grown to like my little area. There’s always something new to see and explore, and there are a good amount of western spots near my apartment if I want a little taste of home. (Shout out to Subway, McDonald’s, Smoothie King, Auntie Anne’s, etc. that are right around the corner). It’s not the party spot, but it’s not too far away from the party areas either. And since it takes me about 6 months to settle in and get a feel of a place once I move there, I’m much more comfortable and I wouldn’t mind staying a little longer.
So, while I’m going to miss my family and friends soooo much, it seemed best to stay in Korea longer to ensure that I’m getting the most out of my experience. Considering the cutbacks in the EPIK program and how difficult it will be to reapply in the future, I’d hate to go home and wish that I’d done more here or feel that my experience was somehow incomplete.
Let me know your thoughts below. Why’d you decide to stay in Korea for another year?And, if you decided to leave, what made you feel like your time in Korea needed to come to an end? Talk to you later!!