life lessons

My Renewal Decision and 4 Life Lessons That Helped Me Make It

After thinking heavily about whether or not to renew my contract with EPIK, I’ve decided to return home in August. Signing on for a second year would offer me several enticing financial benefits and mouthwatering travel opportunities. And I’ve had a positive experience at my school, where I would continue to work if I were to renew. But during my time in Korea, I’ve learned or re-learned four life lessons, and made some new discoveries about myself, that have persuaded me to wrap things up at the one-year mark.


The Beauty In the Ugly

Gajisan - Yeongnam AlpsWoody Allen is quoted saying, “Eighty percent of life is just showing up.” But after coming to teach English and live in South Korea, I’ve come to believe it’s about much more than that. One-hundred percent of life is about showing up with the best version of yourself.


Floating Villages, Sinking Feelings

IMG_2703Out of all the activities I had planned for myself on my 5 day adventure in Cambodia, one that I was especially looking forward to was visiting a floating village along Tonle Sap Lake. In my head I envisioned weather-worn bamboo huts skirting the edges of the water, boats that have seen better days sputtering by from time to time, and people living in tune with nature. That’s what I was expecting, and it’s pretty close to what I found. But what I wasn’t prepared for was to feel like the biggest, guiltiest voyeur ever.


The Koreans of Europe

No two cultures are the same but every one is similar, right? You could certainly say that about much of Europe, where thousands of years of breeding, trading, warring, traveling, and sharing across ever-shifting borders has caused a mixology of international characteristics of which one can be difficult to discern from the other.

In Asia, it is a little more difficult to separate the differences because the continent has suffered less fluctuation of its borders, and in terms of today’s map, colonialism for the most part decided on today’s borders. But still you can throw in the changes, regardless of actual influence, of international trade, development, colonialism, the sharing of ideas, television, and migration, and the wind at the weekend if you wish, and you will soon realise the stark similarities between peoples and cultures there.


A Lesson in Perseverance

In 2008 I was on the brink of getting married, and I was busy contemplating what to do afterwards. There were plenty of options, easy and less easy, but none painted in any way a clear picture of the future.

At the time I was working in a relatively big language school on the south side of Seoul and I was nearing the end of my third year. I didn’t have any teaching qualifications, but much like today I talked a good fight and fancied my chances regardless of what happened.

Of course marriage was going to change everything. There was the obvious and easier option and then there was the riskier and more exciting option that you don’t hear of many newly-weds taking, at least not in Korea anyway.


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