Before I came to Korea, I was in an abusive relationship that I needed to get the fuck away from and that helped me take the clunge. But, I certainly still had my fears about moving to Korea to teach English. I had two in particular that are shared by just about everybody, and tend not to get talked about. The emotional hurdles like moving half a world away from everyone you know, and living as an outsider who can't speak the language get discussed much more. But to me, those weren't nearly as hard to get over.
The first reservation, assuming you don't want to teach English for the rest of your life is delaying your career and depreciating your degree. You can explain a year teaching English to an interviewer. They understand the tough job market and will respect that you had a full time job. But two years? You'll still be ahead of the jobless bums smoking weed in their parents basement, but well behind the second-tier graduates who landed an unpaid internship or went on to finish a Master's degree. And after those guys, there aren't many spots left. Don't fool yourself- whatever your skill set is, it'll be heavily depreciated after even a year of disuse. Who you know is more important for getting your foot in the door, but forgetting half of what you know- it's not gonna help get the other one in the building.
I'll be unemployable by the time I'm done here. Obviously this job doesn't provide relevant work experience. Worse, it doesn't even teach you relevant skills to do anything but babysit, let alone marketable ones you can put down on a resume. And now I'm too ripe for a paid internship, too spoiled for an unpaid one.
So what can you do if you're in this position like me?
Well, if your degree is a useless one, you still can't do anything. You'll probably throw good money after bad and go to grad school or travel South East Asia hoping to 'discover yourself'. Hey, I'm not knocking the latter choice, I'm all about enjoying my youth. My tits get saggier every year, might as well show them off while the milk's still fresh. Just make sure you don't blow all your ever-depreciating KRW, or you'll be in for a hard landing.
If your degree is useful, i.e. a STEM or prestigious, I don't know what you're doing with the rest of us bottomfeeders to begin with, but you guys will always be way ahead of the liberal arts majors anyway, I have nothing useful to say.
As for me, I bet all my chips on myself over a graduate education. Instead of taking a year after Korea to get a Master's degree or worse, the rest of my youth for a PhD, I can educate myself while working. It's much cheaper, and all it takes is discipline and motivation. Discipline: How many times did you check Facebook today? Motivation: How many times have you touched a book this year?
I hear about academic inflation and I just laugh. “More people are getting bachelor's degrees, and more employers are requiring them even for entry level jobs. These days a 4-year degree is mandatory, a Master's is preferred.” This is true and the trend isn't reversing either. Most people see it as the safe, logical choice. I see it as insanity. Why would I invest in a rapidly inflating, this depreciating asset which can't be liquidated for value? Maybe it's the best choice you have, but I'd double check before taking out a loan and committing a year of my youth.
The second reservation is related to the first, assuming you have any ambitions at all: How productive are you in your free time? You would expect people who arrive at this overpaid job with low standards and workload to be grateful. Many are, and yet others find something to complain about. Most often, they complain about deskwarming, being bored by not being worked hard enough. Sometimes they complain on Facebook in between uploads of filtered camera photos and status updates about how the world has wronged them. Do you see where I'm going?
Deskwarming is the first-worldiest-problem ever. Boredom in the absence of work is not a reflection of the job; it is a reflection of the worker, a deficiency of the mind. Usually a lack of creativity, ambition, or both. You're not in college anymore- you can learn anything you want online, at your own pace, and you don't even have to pay for it. You can literally learn how to suck dick from hundreds of step-by-step tutorials supplemented by video instruction, and discuss and share techniques with men and women from around the world. How incredible is that? Thousands of intelligent people want to teach you what they know- for free!
It should be obvious by most of what is written on this blog that I'm not a Koreaphile. Korea is a massively flawed country nowhere near as accepting of foreigners as many of its neighbors. But I like my life here. This job comes with so much potential, but it's up to you to exploit it. If you think delaying your career to do this isn't an option, you may very well be right, and you should not listen to a single word I say. However, if you're already here and you can't see how good your own hand is, good luck finding happiness somewhere else. You can move a thousand miles anywhere, but you'll never escape yourself.
After I came here and thought over all the doubts and fears I had in America, I realized that they had nothing to do with teaching English in Korea, and everything to do with myself.