I could (and do) prattle on about experiencing Korean culture, loving my students, or the low cost of rural life. I could tell you that the pay in Korea is among the highest for foreign English teachers, and that you get cash bonuses for flights, re-signing, and completing your contract. I could even talk about how I’m learning to snowboard for only 170,000 won a season or how LASIK surgery in Korea fixed my astigmatism without eviscerating my bank account.
All of those things are true, but they aren’t the reason I signed on to teach English for a second year.
The five most compelling reasons why I am still in Korea can be summed up by my travel plans for 2012:
Seven weeks of paid vacation followed by four months of travel, all financed by my teacher’s salary.
Oh, and did I mention that I’ve nearly paid off my grad school student loans?
Teaching in Korea is the way forward.
Here are the destinations that you’ll read about in Lateral Movements in 2012, and my five reasons why you should consider teaching English in Korea.
On December 31st, Jared and I fly to Shanghai. Certain foreign visitors, including Australians and Americans, can spend up to 48 hours in Shanghai without a visa. (Note: there are some conditions on transit visas, so please check out the details before taking my word for it!) After a whirlwind 23 hours of New Year’s Eve celebrations, we’ll continue on to Delhi.
We’re in India from Jan. 1st – 22nd. We’re focusing on Rajasthan, with a few days in Varanasi and a tiger safari in Madhya Pradesh thrown in. All of our train tickets and hostels are booked – with a limited amount of time, we wanted to take care of all that in advance. It’ll be sleeper class all the way, whether the journey is 14 hours long or 2 hours. According to India Mike, sleeper class presents an ‘interesting challenge’ and is a ‘great way to meet the locals.’
I hope ‘interesting challenge’ doesn’t mean ‘you will regret this decision, idiot.’
Less than three weeks after we return from India, we fly into Honolulu.
This is when the vacation part of our winter holiday begins.
On arrival, we’ll meet up with Jared’s parents, my parents, my two sisters, and Alex, my sister’s boyfriend.
Yeah, I called that a ‘vacation.’ The planning part was a nightmare, but luckily we found a 7 bedroom holiday house in Hau’ula for a great price. 7 days there, then 4 days in Lahaina, Maui. Now that the flights, cars and hotels are booked, I am really excited about this trip.
Have you ever noticed that when you start thinking about going somewhere, that place suddenly jumps out at you everywhere you turn? It was like that with Hawaii. Suddenly, I kept stumbling across travel blogs full of information and photos about Oahu and Maui. Must be the universe’s way of telling me that I made the right decision.
Whatever it is, bring on February.
I cannot, in good faith, miss out on visiting Japan. It would be like growing up in Connecticut and never making it to New York City.
Our summer holiday is likely to fall a few weeks before we finish our contract in Korea. We didn’t want to go somewhere extravagant, because there’s a much bigger trip right around the corner (see #4!). That’s why it seems like a perfect time to take the two-hour flight to Japan. I don’t know where we’ll go – at the moment we’re thinking Tokyo and Okinawa.
I have to admit, Japan sort of feels like it’s on the to-do list, but I’m looking forward to doing it.
4. South America
August 26th, 2012 is the day we start our four-month backpacking adventure around South America.
I haven’t booked flights, but I can’t stop stealing guilty clicks on Kayak, ‘just pricing’ flights to Rio or Buenos Aires. My mind wanders about possible stopovers: Johannesburg? Oman? Frankfurt? Depends on prices and routes, but a girl can always dream. I’ve abandoned my Korean studies and am blatantly studying Spanish online at work. Sometimes I forget that this trip isn’t just around the corner – it’s 9 months away.
But it’s been three years since I’ve been backpacking for more than 3 weeks, and the anticipation is growing. We may have to stop and look for work along the way, but that’s all part of the fun. At this point, another job can only enhance my resume. What’s 36 jobs when you’ve already had 35, right?
Don’t answer that.
You read that right. It says ‘Indiana.’
I was last in Indiana in August of 2010. It’s my home town. It’s where my parents live and where my oldest girlfriends are. It’s where I can walk less than 1 mile to reach a SuperTarget, McDonald’s, Starbucks, KFC, Wendy’s, Subway, or Dairy Queen.
I won’t walk, though. I’ll drive.
Because I can do that, there, too.
But most of all, I’m ready to be home for Christmas. I am so sick of missing the holidays, and it’s time to do something about that.
After that – who knows?
There are a few ideas brewing, but that’s a plan for later. What I do know is that none of these trips would be possible if I wasn’t a public school teacher in Korea.
Out of all the jobs I’ve had, this one definitely has the most perks.