I wrote this post with the intention of having it published by the Daegu, South Korea city blog, but after careful consideration, I decided to publish it on my own.
If you don’t live in Korea, that’s okay. Instead of reading it like you’re in Korea, insert your own life circumstance. It could be your physical geographical location, your job, or whatever you want it to be. But no matter “where” you “are” in your life right now, take a good look at your surroundings and consider what you’re doing with your opportunities. If you’re not happy, where can you make a change?
As we exit the first month of our new year, to me, it always seems as though people (myself included) lose sight of the goals and aspirations we had when we broke into our new calendars. This year, reignite that flame you had. Chase after those dreams you dreamt. Pursue the things that matter most to you.
Make this your year, Reader.
If you’re like me, you love living in Korea. The day I arrived in Seoul, I was scared out of my wits, but I knew I had made the right decision – literally the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.
I decided to come to Korea to teach because I was tired of being in dead-end jobs that I loathed. I have an undergraduate degree in psychology and like so many others of our generation, I realized too late that I didn’t want to work and retire in my chosen industry. So, what did I do instead?
I worked in sales. And I was really good at it. But I effing hated it.
There is nothing in life quite like doing a job you hate. I was always stressed, always sick to my stomach, and I watched as the companies I worked for turned me into someone I wasn’t. I was tired of standing on the sidelines of my life and whispering to myself that there had to be “more out there.” I decided to do something about it.
I came to Korea to teach for a year. And lo and behold, a year has turned into nearly 3.
Maybe you’re like me. Maybe you had a decent, good-paying job back in your home country. Maybe you didn’t have a great job, but you still hated it. Maybe you didn’t feel like you had many options (American economy tank, anyone?). Maybe you’re a recent university grad and didn’t know what else to do and your knees were buckling under the weight of your student loans. Maybe you didn’t have a choice and the American military sent you here and you’re just trying to make the best of it. Maybe you’re here to study at a Korean university.
It doesn’t matter what got you here; what matters now is what you do while you’re still living here.
Check Your Balance
Regardless of how long you plan to stay in Korea, the reality is that you’ll likely never have another opportunity to live your life the way you’re living it here.
I look around at the teacher community in Daegu and I think to myself, “Is this like some kind of weird continuation of college, where everyone is drinking themselves into oblivion and taking someone new home every Saturday night?” Because sometimes it feels like it.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had my nights of throwing up in the noraebang bathroom and playing beer pong at MF. I’ve taken shots with my girlfriends and sashayed along Bar Street with a Kiki’s bag drink in my hand and not a care in the world.
The soju and beer are cheap and the good times are free. When your monthly bills add up to about $600 a month (and that’s a lot), you’ve probably got a lot hanging out in your bank account. It’s no wonder we spend so much time (and money) downtown and in our neighborhood bars.
We have the opportunity that so many people dream of. We don’t make a ton of money, sure; but we make enough to cover (more than) our meager living expenses and have a little fun. But does having “enough” money mean we should have nothing to show for it – with the exception of a few minor hangovers and a Tinder horror story – at the end of the month?
Making the Most of It
Maybe you’re thinking you should be working to pay off debt in your home country. (I certainly am. I’ve got a ton of credit card debt and you know what? It was fun getting into it, but not so fun getting out of it.)
Maybe you want to travel. We all have this awesome opportunity to save more money here and plan epic trips to countries all over Asia. We’ve got better access here than we’ll ever have in our home countries. Maybe you want to see the Philippines, Japan, China, or all the Southeast Asia has to offer.
Since being in Korea, I’ve traveled to Thailand, Japan, and Indonesia, not to mention several cities within Korea. I’ve gone on cool trips with Adventure Korea and Enjoy Korea. This past Christmas, I went to party in Bali and spent New Year’s Eve in a giant suite four times the size of my Korean apartment at the Ritz Carlton in Jakarta. I made awesome memories and when I finally head for good, my opportunities to see and do more are going to slow down real fast. I don’t plan to leave for another 18 months and I’m already disappointed.
We’ve got an opportunity to pay off debt, see the world, or save like our lives depend on it.
So what are you doing with your “Korean” life? Are you having a good time? I hope so. But are you thinking about what comes next? Are you thinking about seeing all that’s outside of our tiny Korean bubble?
As we break further into the new year, take control of your opportunity. Grab your life by the balls and see this time for what it is: the best time of your life.
Take some time to think about what life looks like after Korea. Make a plan. Then go downtown and celebrate with your friends. And have a beer for me, will you?
Cheers, Reader. Here’s to making this year count.
What were your plans at the start of the year? What goals did you make? How are you staying “on track”? Share in the comments!
If you’re in Korea, share your Korean story! I’d love to hear from you.
*Update: You can also see this on the city blog, Touch Daegu.