On Deciding to Leave Korea

As the last six months of my teaching contract sped by, I had a decision to make: Do I leave Korea or stay in the country seeking new employment? The two main factors in my decision were my desire to return to college and earn my PhD and some uncertainties over whether our teaching program in Korea would be dismantled.

After taking the GRE for a second time and earning a score that made me happy I studied so much, I started to look forward to the journey of returning back to school. I began to think of a life after Korea and what kind of things I would do with my career in Education. I looked forward to returning to the world of research, studying, learning, presenting, and working towards my ultimate career goals. It didn’t  take long, however, for me to realize how lacking I was in real professional experience that would come from working in the U.S. As I read about the types of students who attended PhD programs in Education, I didn’t feel like I was one of those students yet. Sure, I had lived abroad, but what else? I didn’t have any real world experience to draw from .

Of course, there were other things that helped me decide it was time to leave as well. One of my biggest issues about living in Korea (at least where I lived) was the severe lack of dating. As a 25 year old woman, I feel that if I desire to date, I should be able to and I feel that with no shame. There was also the issue of simply being an afterschool English teacher with no hope to progress further than that. No one wants to be stuck in one role for years and year, with no hope to advance further.

Eventually the final decision was made (the uncertainty of the future of our teaching program definitely made the decision easier) and I knew that rather than struggle through an additional six months in Korea, I’d leave on a high note. The process of leaving made me really consider what I wanted to do when I returned to the U.S. and as I stood in my English class one day, I knew that I would want to continue teaching. So I decided to put off my return to the university/grad school scene and apply for an alternative teaching certification program. For the next two years, I’ll be dedicated to helping students learn Social Studies and hopefully building up my own professional network.

It isn’t easy to know when you should leave Korea, but the day comes when you know that even if leaving will be sad, it will be the right thing to do.




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