Over a year and a half ago, I walked away from South Korea as a happy person, saying that I would never ever go back to teach there again. But as the flight confirmation above shows, before the year is out, I will be back in the country I once happily left. I never EVER would have thought that I would be going back to South Korea.
Does this make me a massive hypocrite? Maybe.
In most places I go, I get itchy feet. I did not enjoy the last few months of Teaching English in Turkey and I also had difficulties when teaching English in South Korea. But I am very excited to go back: Life is transient and ever-changing. My original plan was to continue my cycle / raft journey eastwards to Korea by land. But then I thought, why battle all the way to a place so far away from anything I know? Why not travel the other way? Plus I love Asia, the weather will be (slightly) warmer than in Europe, Asia is very cheap, and there are good reasons to be in Korea at this time.
I will stay on Jeju for some time and work on my own projects instead of teaching. I will walk around the island (a week long 250 km walk I believe), then maybe I’ll do it again to see how it feels second time around. After that, I will wander into Asia and enjoy the sunshine and a world very different from my last year and a half in Europe.
There were five main reasons why I said that I would never go back to teach English in Korea (and I am going back to do something else, not teach). The reasons why I never wanted to go back and why I think that this time things will be better are as follows:
The food is terrible: This remains true and I am not looking forward to Korean cuisine. Korean food is particularly unfriendly for vegetarians, such as myself.
Lack of architecture and culture within cities: Living in Daegu, I may not have given the country a fair chance. I will now explore the supposedly beautiful island of Jeju and try to travel slowly across the country, exploring the small, magical places, not the cities.
Difficulty of connecting with people: This time, I will make the effort. Living on the road and on the kindness of strangers in the past couple of years has taught me patience and understanding (although I still have a LONG way to go).
It’s not real: My life and experience will be different as I will not be teaching and living the life that I lived before. An experience is what you make it.
My friends are gone: Some are still there, but importantly, I will make new ones in a new place and have a completely different experience.
Despite saying I didn’t want to teach in Korea again, I did finish off my original ‘No More Korea’ post with a nostalgic sentiment, “Sometimes I Miss It.” And it’s true. South Korea was my home for a full year and I had some wonderful experiences there. I am very excited to go back. I swallow half my words and look forwards to a place I thought I had left forever.
See you soon Korea, old friend. Let’s start over.