I’m Leaving Korea

It’s almost July. Where did May go? Where did the past three years go?

On April 30, I turned in my papers to say that I will not renew my teaching contract another year. The document sat on my desk for two weeks before I had to make the difficult decision.
It would be easy to stay. I love my students and co-teachers. I love designing creative lessons and pouring energy into the classroom.  I don’t take work home.  I have free time to pursue hobbies and side projects. I travel abroad every few months and on weekends. I’m close to my birth family. I can study Korean. Life is stress-free.

It would be easy to stay.

Recently facilitated English Immersion Camp. What a fun week!

Recently facilitated another week-long English Immersion Camp with 27 middle-school boys. What a fun week!

But I don’t want to take the easy way. I need a new challenge and to build new skills and pursue more work with meaning.

It was perfect while it lasted, but I’m ready for change.

Adam and I are leaving Korea on August 31 to pursue the next adventure.

We have our flight booked to Kochi, India and will be in southern India for a month. There are so many places I want to visit in India, but one month is not enough. I would not recommend someone to go to both California and New York in one month in America, so why would I go to the Lei, Rishikesh, Agra, Rajasthan, and Kerala all in one month? So, we decided to just stay in the south for our first trip to India. I have a feeling we’ll go back again anyway.

From there, we’ll traverse around Southeast Asia for a handful of months seeking volunteer opportunities such as farming and building. Adam and I both have deep desires to help and connect with people, but also understand that short-term volunteers can be more harmful than helpful, so we will be careful in making those decisions.

To prevent burnout, we will travel slowly, soaking up a few destinations for longer periods of time; we don’t want to see the world from a train window. From living abroad, I’ve learned that no amount of time is enough to fully understand a new culture. Those two-week trips were not enough, not enough at all, in one country. But you could only do so much in trying to understand by interacting with – and living like – locals. The most meaningful experiences I’ve had were through CouchSurfing and just wandering around until stumbling upon something interesting. But it is important to keep in mind that we will usually be treated like tourists because well, we are tourists. We have the luxury to travel in that particular destination, so paying an extra dollar or two to the friendly woman at the market will go further for her than me.

After that, we will fly into Australia, our first English-speaking country in three years, with a work and holiday visa in hand. I almost forgot how to interact and converse in English, so this will actually be a challenge for me.

Some places we've been and will have been.

Some places we’ve been and will have been.

We don’t know what’s after that, but there are a few ideas brewing in our brains. The old me would be anxious, but I learned to relax. My mind has always been set in the future, but in trying to be more present, I cannot make a decision for a year from now because I will have changed again and new opportunities will come about.

Time is a peculiar concept. The only time existing right now is now. Oh wait, now it is. Darn it, I mean NOW. Really, the time is now.
Don’t let those seconds slip away.

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5 thoughts on “I’m Leaving Korea

  1. Anna V says:

    Gwangju is going to miss you (both) so much!! You’ve left a remarkable and beautiful legacy here, and I’m inspired and challenged by your example. ❤ I'm also interested to hear more about how short-term volunteers can be harmful – we're starting to plan a long trip ourselves, and I'm keen to do plenty of couchsurfing and hosteling and WWOOFing! I'll message you 🙂

    • LB says:

      I am the one who is inspired by you and the Gwangju community! I didn’t do much – just initiated some things and let the community take over! It’s awesome how that works.

      Adam and I would love to get together with you two and talk about long-term travel planning and hostel business. Also, do you have a Kindle? I can loan you a book called The Volunteer Traveler’s Guidebook which I found decently helpful. I signed up with HelpX rather than Workaway or WWOOF. There are lots of opportunities around the world in different sectors – WWOOF is just farming and you have to pay a membership fee for different countries for each person. HelpX is just $29 for two years and you can have a couple profile.

      Some resources I need to get on reading to better understand the “developing world”
      http://blog.grassrootsvolunteering.org/why-the-developing-world/

      I want to hear more about your epic trip coming up!

    • Lianne Bronzo says:

      Wow, that would be incredible!!!! I keep hearing nothing but “heaps” of good things about Melbourne. I will actually take you up on that. I love meeting and staying with families 🙂 I bet yours is just as awesome as yourself.

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