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Should you take a Gap Year: Life-Changing Decisions

Photo from Positive Thinking For You

Making a life altering choice is never easy…

Yes, contract renewal time is here for all public school English Teachers. This past Tuesday, my school wanted to know if I’d be renewing my EPIK contract to continue teaching at my school. They wanted to know my decision… in two days!

Shotgun decisions aka…

“I thought I knew what I wanted until you asked me.

Usually we can see the fork in the road at the start of every undertaking; and thus, have time to prepare for it.

To say this news came as a surprise was my wish to delay the inevitable— that being a stressful life-altering decision, which will result in a short-term prison sentence to an unpredictable future!


Isn’t every decision a game of Russian Roulette?

I knew this day would come but it was difficult feeling out an answer.

Invariably, there are times when you’re 90% certain of your decision, until you’re given an indelible marker with only two days to sign your life on the dotted line. Suddenly, a tiny K-drama love triangle ensues…and your life seems to have gotten better overnight!

What’s up with that?!

For instance, “I Love…”

• my students (read here) (& know at least 50 names…NOT an easy task in Korea)
• my school and principal.
• my fellow teachers, who now feel comfortable with me, enough that I occasionally sit in the middle of the teachers lunch table (vs the end)
• my awesome apartment  (although I didn’t initially feel this way).
• my Hobbit town of Singi— everything I could ever want is within a 6 block radius (including a new Lotte Plaza!).
• my new friends and the fact, I have people to do things with.
• my relationship with my co-teachers are great (albeit it wasn’t always like that).
• how each day I enter my workplace, I’m excited to challenge my potential and find exciting discoveries to inspire learning in my kids.
• my travel life!

Many “right” s, strangely, doesn’t automatically mean it’s right

My life is now perfect. I’ve gotten through the uncomfortable and sometimes, horrible growing pains and I found another career that I’m good at.

My life and work is rewarding.

… And yet something still didn’t feel right.


This life was my fun fail-safe plan.

My real dream is to move towards a career around travel, working in media and living (and uh,…eating) in city which inspires possibility.


I want to be in Seoul.

Sorry Daegu, the answer to my contract renewal had to be  …



The only person who will live your life is you.

And that counts for regrets.

Everyone has to follow their own truth  and do what feels right for their life. Me? I seldom pursue a back-up solution as my first action (*it’s a fail-safe for when my plans don’t work out)!

I’ve made a career out of ‘gambling on my dreams’ . I take risks for things I’m most passion about, despite the high level of competition in a talent/performance based field. Why? My passion is so strong, that pursuit is ever the only answer. And head to the grind,  focus and hard work usually paid off~

• I’m an NCAA championship collegiate athlete.
• I’ve been a fine arts and performance artist career, exhibiting internationally and in the U.S.
• A professional dancer in a dance company for 3 years.
• A TV producer and cameraman for some top national and international TV shows.

… Today I’m an expat living in South Korea teaching English! (A bit of an odd choice, as it’s the first 9-5 career job I’ve had… in my life!)

Living your dream and the nightmare it creates for you.

No one ever said chasing your dream is easy.  If it were, I suspect more people would do it.

To act on one’s dreams requires risk and a stubborn leap of faith, followed by a rigorous hustle to make it work!  There’s no certainty of success; only trial-n-error frustrations and occasional backlash of self-doubt.

Yes, pursuing dreams are an uncomfortable nuisance! Why attempt them at all?


When you finally get to living your dream, you’ll be super glad you did. It’s the most enviable life to have and you get to feeling like a rockstar when it turns out.


Accepting the consequences

While I’m not quite convinced that I love Korea, I want to give it another year. But the road ahead holds no guarantees. If I want to live and work in Seoul, I have to re-apply to jobs, reference letters,… jump through hoops! Truthfully, it doesn’t seem easy; yet, upon my arrival to Korea, Daegu life didn’t feel easy-breezy at first, either.

I won’t lie to you. Making a life-changing decision to follow an unpredictable future feels terrifying. It’s littered with too many unknowns and the ultimate question of whether you’ll be able to survive:

  • How will I make money and sustain a lifestyle?
  • How will I find that magic door to opportunity?
  • Do I have what it takes to make it happen?

I have four months to get to that next step or go with an incubating plan to travel for few months. Until then, think I’ll be checking out Dave’s ESL Cafe to see if there’s any university job in Seoul offering an apartment and hiring… If anyone knows of any job openings, feel free to throw them my way!

Sidnote: Sometimes, a GRRRL just needs her dad for some helpful advice:
*Thanks Dad, for your thoughtful questions and talk. It helped me see my path clearly


How do you deal with life-altering decisions? What do you think it takes to live your dreams?


  1. Corinne says:

    Daegu, the small city of 4 million, is chump change compared to Seoul. I agree…go there and enjoy! I lived in Daegu for three years, but would have loved to be in the big city instead! Good Luck, you’ll find something.

  2. shotgunkorea says:

    I have made a million life altering decisions, or, appropriately, shotgun decisions as you called them. I too am considering leaving my school for a university, though I find the application process daunting, and I’m not sure if I want to spend another year in Korea, or go back to the “real world”. I am also lived in a glorified closet in Manhattan before we (my husband and I) came here, and I’m liking the new digs, but if I leave my school I will have to abandon the apartment as well. I’ve heard it’s now really difficult to get a university position, do you know what the qualifications might be?

    • @shotgun: Sorry for the late response. I agree, sometimes it can feel a little nerve wracking knowing that you eventually have to go back to the real world..unless you find you want to make Korea your new home or your ESL teaching job a career. Some people do it. Depending on how much experience or certification you have, the uni jobs all have different requirements . You’d probably want to check out Dave’s ESL Cafe for job postings to get an idea. Good luck! 😉

  3. Gray says:

    I hoped this would be your decision. Seoul feels like it might be a better fit for you in the long run.

  4. Laura in Cancun says:

    I’m not surprised by your decision 🙂 This next step is going to be awesome, you’ll see!!

  5. Gina says:

    Congratulations on making your decision. I’m sure it will all turn out for the best in the long run.

    PS – what sport did you play in college?? : )

    • @Chris: Yes, I want all of it please…except for the underwater basket weaving. 😉 LOL. You totally shocked me w/ what you said about Dave’s ESL though– you’re scandalous. I’m actually a bit honored you have such confidence in me- ha ha… I guess I still feel a bit new to Korea, just starting to get to know some cool peeps, and some support folk in the K-blogospheres, like yourself & Brian in Jeollanamdo…. The idea of networking actually didn’t even enter my mind.
      @Gina: Thanks lady! Fingers crossed. I played volleyball.

  6. Seriously? First comment?

    Dave’s ESL is for people without connections. Make some connections and network like you used to and you’ll find something. E-mail me and I’ll throw a couple your way. I’d consider what GRRL might become and plan accordingly – teaching university requires a lot more planning than you think.

    Start by answering the question: what the f*** do you want? Travel? Work? Pay the proverbial rent? Make money through underwater basket weaving?

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