Burned out. Stressed. Just all around unfulfilled at times. From the outside, looking in, my life was great. I was a lawyer, I had my own apartment, my car was paid for, and I was personal training on the side. I was taking trips and, to others, I was #goals. But your girl was tired.
I always had the desire to move abroad, but I didn't know how people would react and I didn't know what steps to take to do so. I knew that practicing law abroad was out because I would need to take an overly expensive exam to do so. I was good on that.
I had several friends that moved abroad after college to teach English in Asia. Again, this was right after college when most people are still trying to figure out life but still put money in their pockets. So, it made sense. But what about someone who has been in their career for the last 7 years? A career that you put so much time, money, and effort trying to get?
I knew I would get several side-eyes for my decision, but I could no longer stand to be in the rat race that I was in. After lots of research, praying, and chatting with friends who had done it—I knew it was what I wanted to do.
I settled on going to South Korea because I didn't have a teaching degree that other countries require and they had the best benefits package for those without credentials. Yes, it was a significant pay cut from what I was used to but the cost of living made it worth it. Plus, my apartment, utilities, and healthcare were covered, which was something I definitely wouldn't get at my regular job. I would make about $2,000 each month plus receive a nice pension for each year that I carried out a contract.
I initially went through a recruiter, but that didn't work out. I posted in a Black expats in Korea Facebook group, asking if anyone had any other leads and, minutes later, another woman messaged me about a program she was working for that had a great reputation. I reached out to the rep and somehow, someway within weeks I was hired to become an English teacher in Korea.
It took some time to explain this to my mother, mostly because she's never been one to understand my need to travel the world, but after a few months, it clicked that my mind was made up and nothing could stop me from going. Lucky for me, the time that I would need to be in Korea to start was right around the same time that my lease was up at my apartment. Talk about divine order.
I officially left the states on July 20, 2017.
I was anxious, nervous, and excited. So many emotions were running through me all at once. I had watched several YouTube videos to get an idea of the Black experience there, but I took it with a grain of salt because each experience is what you make it. I was assigned to teach in two elementary schools in a city about an hour outside of Seoul. I instantly connected with the kids and knew that I was where I was supposed to be.
Sure, there were rough days and the language barrier was tough but prior to going, I spent time on my own learning their language too so that I could show them that me being there wasn't a one-sided thing; it was for us all to learn from each other.
During my one year abroad, I was truly my happiest self. I was refreshed and glowing. I traveled often, bonded with an amazing group of Black women who kept me sane, and learned more about who I was as a person.
The plan was to stay longer than a year, however, I had a minor situation with a racist business owner that left a bad taste in my mouth. This happened around the time that we had to give notice if we would renew our contract. As things go, I was over the situation within days but it was too late to change my decision.
I moved back to the States on August 8, 2018. I've been back a little over a year now. I miss my life abroad often. While I'm not 100% back in the rat race I was in before, I miss the freedom and peace of mind that I had while being there. Not having to worry about bills, or keeping up with the latest styles and trends. I could unapologetically be myself there.
I am making the most of my time at home, but I also see myself making a move abroad again. Something keeps calling me back and I just can't stay away!
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