50% of the reason I ended up in Korea is because I had no direction after graduation. I never pictured myself teaching as a career, and I still don’t. I love and admire instructors being the heroes that they are, but I know my limits, and teaching is beyond them.
“How long are you staying in Korea?”
That question is a tornado among rainbows. It is a reminder that sooner or later, I will have to get myself together and start getting serious about my career and future. Otherwise, I’ll die a bum. Not only is it annoying, it’s unavoidable. It’s mosquito-like. I can’t ignore it because it’ll come back to bite me when I least expect it. I sincerely enjoy my time here in Korea, but occasionally, the question will disrupt my joy and haunt me like the texts I used to ignore from my mother when I was out past curfew. I find myself in positions which lead me to meet new people every week, and one of the most common let-me-get-to-know-you questions most expats hear is, “how long are you staying here?” Buzz. Smack.
Trying to answer this question brings to realization that I am (in my perspective) wasting time. My occupation as a teacher is a mask that covers the truth: In the big picture, I have no idea what I’m doing here.
Or so I thought.
Today, I was called to the principal’s office to discuss contract renewal. You might have guessed that I denied extension. I accepted. Here’s why:
As an English major, I used to think that I didn’t have a lot of options when it came to career choices. Most people almost always jump at the assumption that I have nothing else for me besides teaching. For a while, I had a difficult time believing there was a way out of this. Well, in case you didn’t catch it the first time, teaching isn’t my thing. I was blinded by a misconception which was revealed to me by the blog, selloutyoursoul.com:
The problem is that academia organizes the world by subjects. But the world isn’t organized by subjects. It’s organized by skills.
My advice is to stop obsessing about the content of your degree. What skills do you have?
Fortunately, I’ve become somewhat of a Yes Man in Korea. I dove into a lot of opportunities as they came at me, even when I wasn’t completely sure about them. Doing so has landed me in a handful of communities that involve media, publicity, and international networking. These communities along with my employment as a teacher offer work environments in which I can develop myself as a professional. In other words, I’ll be doing a lot of skill-building. In addition to the atmospheres that Korea provides me with, I have managed to meet some people of genuine quality, and frankly speaking, I’m not ready to part with them. But we’ll save that for another time.
Let’s go back to the question: How long am I staying here? As much as I hate to even imagine leaving the inside-and-out beautiful people here, I can say with confidence and definiteness that another term will be enough for me to gain what I need in order to move on. One more year, and I’ll be flying out.
I have a lot to be grateful for, and as much as I despised it, I can’t ignore the fact that the mosquito-like persistence hasn’t pushed me forward. So without further delay, I’d like to thank the annoying pests for driving me in the right direction.
Q. You’re selfish. How can you use teaching as a money maker on the side while benefiting yourself outside of school?
A. Let me put your dainty heart at ease. My children’s time is not being wasted. My teaching has been praised by my co-teachers, principal, and vice-principal. They brought up contract renewal before I had a chance and I don’t half-ass my lessons. Most importantly, my students love me, and I love them. I’ve met these kids just this year, yet some of them have become my favorite people. So rest assured; my adored padawans are still on their way to becoming full-fledged jedis.
Q. So, you’re not going to be a teacher. What are you going to do?
A. I would love to do something that involves writing and pokes at the right brain. I’m currently researching internship/starting positions for advertising agencies (primarily copywriting) in Hawaii. I’m also looking into and considering editorials. I’m also reworking my resume and cover letter templates.
Q. If you hate teaching so much, how are you going to put up with it for another whole year?
A. I can see why you might think I dislike teaching, but I don’t. I simply mean that I don’t see myself instructing as a career. Teaching has its moments, and the children are absolutely wonderful.
Q. Why don’t you just develop yourself professionally back in Hawaii? I’m sure you can find similar communities there.
A. True, I could. But I love the organizations that I’m involved with here in Busan, and it would be a waste to just throw them away after a couple of months. I would like at least a full year with each of them. Also, a few of these communities are currently undergoing considerations of new projects and relaunches very soon, and I wouldn’t want to miss out on the excitement.