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Should you take a Gap year: Teaching English in Korea (Part II)

My Korean Notice of Appointment

My Korean Notice of Appointment arrives…FINALLY!

My work contract for South Korea arrived in the mail today! I’m booked to leave for Korea mid-February and this week I’ll be picking up my E-2 work visa at the Korean Consulate in Nu’uanu. Things are moving like clockwork…

My homebase in Korea:     Daegu,  South Korea
Employer:     EPIK (a government program)
Job Position:      English Teacher
Grade Level:    TBD (Elementary was my first preference; after spending the past 3-4 years working on teen reality shows, I listed high school as my last choice)
Duration:     One Year (tentative)

As I said I’d do just about anything for the opportunity to live abroad… up to a point.

If you ask me, after you pass 35, it’s all downhill because you’re pretty much 40.

This is a sobering wake-up call for many Gen-Xers like myself, who feel tethered to a time clock still beating with youth’s romantic ideals. At this point, Time is certainly,…of the essence. In following winged dreams, you feel your feet chained, balancing risk with wisdom; you can play but you must also make your choices count! A teach English abroad program through EPIK seems like the perfect plan for merging travel fun with a respectable live/work abroad situation.

My Wishlist for a ‘Job Abroad’ :

1.    Paid work with benefits and a vacation
2.    Sponsors a work visa
3.    Supports a basic, yet comfortable lifestyle
4.   Pays travel expenses and accommodations
5.   Strengthens current career tools and skills
6.   Gains possible skills & experience towards “a secondary profession”.
7.   Entails: creative & innovative problem-solving, psychology, communication, people skills
8.   Job goal: Empowering and inspiring others

An English Teacher with EPIK fits the equation of a full package.

Why did I choose South Korea?

Why didn’t I pick one of the popular destinations on the traveler’s map, such as Thailand or Japan? Despite the fact, I have a step up on some of the language, Japan was too competitive and equated glamorously high expenses. Alternately, Thailand’s low cost of living also stipulated a salary where I’d eventually return home with a feeling my dollars had turned into dimes. How much is popularity worth?

Truthfully, I know very little about Korea other than what I know of kimchi and K-drama; yet mystery and the unknown always works well with travel. Aside from the fact it offered one of the highest pay scales with a low cost of living, first world accommodations and B-boy culture, I also feel like it’s a country on the rise.

From my job application essay:

Korea is a young country but it is quickly catching up with the rest of the world powers to define its own standard of achieving excellence. Teaching abroad enables me the opportunity to share and empower Korean youth with a practical and working knowledge of the English language and to assist this youth in gaining confident leadership skills to apply towards building relations for their future. For myself, the opportunity to teach in Korea grants me the privilege of exploring the Korean culture, traditions, people and the progress it has to offer.

Better brush up on my K-drama and hip hop moves!

A Gap Year: 10 Ways to Gain a Year (vs. Lose One!) Part III >>

Related Posts:
A Gap Year: The Advantages of Taking One Part I
A Gap Year: Teaching English in Korea Part II
A Gap Year: The 3 Steps to Moving your life abroad Part IV


  1. Although this is a pretty old post but since google showed this in the first 10 results about teaching English in Korea, I am forced to ask you about your experience of teaching in Korea. The reason I am asking this is because I am supposed to work in Korea from September onwards and I need few more details before I actually leave for Korea. Any help of your will be appreciated.

    Steve Brown

    • @Steve: Apologies for the late response. Am currently traveling and internet access has been spotty…

      Wrote a bunch of posts on teaching in SK this past 2010-2011. Also, some of my posts about teaching in a classroom setting is on MY CRAZY KIMCHI as well. Hope this answers some of your questions.

  2. Loke says:

    Christine, try to make an effort to drop by Malaysia when you are in Korea, you know you have got friends here, ok.

    • @Loke: Sure thing! I would definitely love to find the opportunity to get out there! 😉
      @Katja: LOL. definitely *flees*. Sometimes it feels like you’ve hit a wall & you’re like “How did I that old? This must be a dream!” But you’re still a young’un in my book!
      @ Jimmy: Sounds like a plan. Will give you a call. I know I sound pretty intense about the goal making- I’ve spent a LOT of my young adult years “finding myself” (like many Gen Xers I know…) thru art. I found myself late so I’m playing catchup. But I’ve always created goals to direct my life. The big ingredient I forgot to mention: Always make it fun for yourself. Medicine only tastes good and works well when its sweet… In goal-making, you have to learn where to add the sugar.

  3. Katja says:

    Favorite self-awareness-part: “Entering a mid 30’s-40’s age range bracket is a sobering period for Gen-Xers like myself, who feel tethered to a time clock still beating with a few of youth’s romantic ideals.”



  4. jimmy borges says:

    Christine…Let’s go to lunch before you go…and talk about your journey and interpretation of time and of goal-orientation…if you’re interested…aloha, jimmy

  5. Wonderful! This post put your dad at ease. 🙂 In all seriousness, you sound crystal clear on motives and goals. That’s half the battle. All we can do in these endeavours is proceed with a true, honest intention, then take it from there.

    You’re going to be leaving very soon! Very exciting!

    • @nomadic chick: In all honesty, I think part of me was initially inspired by the need to create “good excuses” to validate my break-away decision! ha ha… Then I keyed into real objectives which created a clarity of intention. The decision was born from the idea of an extended traveler’s vacation so I could take photos and video…the “smart” came after.

  6. Your Dad says:

    WATCHING you putting all these things together is a nightmare to live with, but now reading and seeing your goal have everything in perspective; that tugs my heart with admiration. Whew!

  7. gringation says:

    Sounds like you’re going to have an interesting year! I wish I were as motivated as you were. I’m happy just to work regular office hours and hang out around Cancun the rest of the time.

    I like that you’re considering coming up with some sort of travel reality show. I am obsessed with The Amazing Race, so anything travel-related is awesome to watch!

    • You’ve a job and a possibly permanent lifestyle abroad- I consider that “motivation”. We all have our own process and personal dream objectives- there’s no right or wrong. A lot of travelers like the vacation approach and that’s been a consideration for me as well. But then, I thought- what happens when return to the States & find I’ve a half eaten plate for a career? I can deal with the inevitable later or troubleshoot it now.

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