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I’ve been living in South Korea for a decade and I started out by living in Cheonan, which is a medium sized city south of Seoul. If you go south on subway line 1, and keep going, and going, and going you’ll eventually get to Cheonan! Or, you could take the high-speed train (KTX) and get there in about 40 minutes.

After five plus years of teaching I no longer consider myself a ‘rookie.’ I’m not yet a ‘veteran’ teacher—someone who has taught for decades, but still, I feel a bit more seasoned than the average teacher, simply because my experience has been so unique.

If you’ve ever been to South-East Asia, or a place like Vancouver or Hawaii, you’ve probably seen people out on stand-up paddleboards (SUPs). You know, those things that look like over-sized surfboards that people propel with a paddle while standing up.

I wanted to write a post about being a solo female living and working in South Korea. I usually give a re-cap of my experience in South Korea, for any new readers: I lived and worked as an ESL teacher in South Korea for one full year before my husband joined me and we lived the next two years together as an expat couple.

A Short Disclaimer

Please note that I am not an accountant, nor am I an international tax expert. I’m an English teacher in South Korea who is interested in personal finance and did a ridiculous amount of research for a book I wrote (The Wealthy English Teacher-find it on Amazon). Heck, I’m not even American!

I got married in the summer of 2009, and less than a year later I moved to South Korea to teach English the following spring of 2010, leaving my husband, step-son, family and friends behind. I’m sure some people secretly thought I was crazy. Maybe I was, just a little. I was desperate to stay in career that I had invested so much hard work and money into, and the economy wasn’t cooperating.

When you first make the decision to move overseas and teach in South Korea, there is a sense of euphoria and adventure. You start to wonder about your new apartment, the weather, the language, the amazing food and how you will be able to get all your documentation together in time to leave. But, what about teaching?

Most of us remember those first few months of teaching abroad and the highs and lows we experienced. The initial excitement, disillusionment and frustration, adaptation and finally, our adopted country starting to really feel like home. When we return home after teaching abroad, especially after many years, reverse culture shock is a reality that most of us will face.

When I moved to South Korea to be an ESL teacher, I only intended to stay one year.


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