Today’s article is written for the Reach To Teach Teach Abroad Blog Carnival, a monthly series that focuses on providing helpful tips and advice to ESL teachers around the globe. I'll be posting a new ESL related article on my blog on the 10th of every month. Check back for more articles, and if you'd like to contribute to next month's Blog Carnival, please get in touch with me by leaving me your details in the contact form, and I'll let you know how you can start participating!
Living abroad can be challenging and the adjustment may take more time than you may have anticipated. I knew I was ready to leave my home country and explore living overseas, specifically Korea, and I thought it'd be so simple; just pack my bags and go, the rest will figure itself out....right? Not that I'm impulsive (maybe a little) but too much planning robs you from the fun of your encounter with the unknown. Not knowing what lies ahead or what you may discover is what traveling is all about! The people who have the best experiences are the least planners....
or so I've been told.
This is my third week in Korea and it hasn't been a walk in the park. I love my job and I fell in love with my students on the first day but my life outside of work became isolating and often times frustrating beginning my second week. The frustrations of not being able to communicate with people or buying the wrong items because the only thing you can understand is the price and pictures become overwhelming. Everyday I felt like I was playing a guessing game and up-to-date I still feel this way. Stories of others' experiences here as teachers created false expectations because in reality your experience will be entirely different from their's. You may not necessarily have internet in your home (just got mine today) hooked up waiting for you or the awesome apartment you imagined you'd have in comparison to the ones you saw on YouTube and you may have to pay for unexpected expenses, things that will put a dent in your budget.
Truth is, all these minor inconveniences have not taken away from my positive experiences thus far. I truly like it here. Not having enough money to cook every day leaves me no choice than to eat cafeteria food. Eating in the cafeteria allows me to bond with my students and co-workers, although most times we exchange no more than friendly smiles. Making friendships and building relationships is far more rewarding to me than being able to check my Facebook messages and browse the web. I have re-evaluated my life more times in the three weeks I've been here than I have in all of my 25 years and I am constantly discovering new and sometimes exciting things about me.
Apart from the inevitable growth in number (age), wisdom and maturity are also a part of growth that lie in your hands if you allow experiences to teach you. If you have read some of my posts you must know that I am very keen on being introspective, personal growth and development. Living abroad teaches you to let go of idealistic expectations, adjust your dependency to material things and adapt to changes much more quickly. I know my life here will change me for the better and I can't wait to come back to this post a year later and see how far I've come!