Why South Korea?

I wrote this article as more of a “letter to myself” – type of a thing back in 2019. Obviously, the COVID-19 pandemic threw a curve ball at my plans to move abroad. Nevertheless, I wanted to publish this post because my reasons for moving to South Korea will hold true, whether I accomplish this in 2020 or later.

As some of you may know, I wasn’t born in the U.S. of A. But ever since I was a little kid, my dream was to live in the U.S. Because of that, I knew I had to get busy learning English from an early age.

When you’re a kid from Moldova, you equate in-demand foreign languages to opportunities. Think about it. When Americans meet people from other countries, they’re often surprised by how many foreign languages those people speak. Well, for people who were born in a poor country like Moldova, learning languages was a necessity if you wanted a better life.

  • Want high quality university education? You’ll probably need to study in a foreign country, which means you’ll need to learn a foreign language.
  • Want to apply to college abroad? You’ll need to prove your language proficiency with tests like TOEFL/IELTS (for English) or DELF/DALF (for French).
  • Want a better job? Knowing a foreign language like English or French might help you get promoted.

You see where I’m going with this? This is a reality in many developing countries.

Call me an idealist, but I view teaching English abroad as a way to give back to the international community. I was very privileged to have some amazing English teachers along the way, so I hope to pass down that knowledge to other people in the world.

But why, of all places, did I decide to move to South Korea to teach English? I wanted to outline a few of my personal reasons in this blog post. Besides actually wanting to teach and help students become better English speakers and writers, there are some additional perks of teaching in South Korea specifically.

  • A culture that fascinates me: its lifestyle, food, traditions, Taekwon-Do, and so on
  • Great regional location: I can travel to Japan, China, Australia and many other places in the region easily
  • Money: saving around $1,000 or more after expenses. This will allow me to live abroad for an extended period of time – which I always wanted – and not break the bank.
  • You typically work as an assistant teacher, not the main teacher (which to me translates to less stress at work, or so I hope :))
  • Health insurance from school
  • Special teacher visa: this allows you to stay in the country extensively and have employer-sponsored benefits like days off and health insurance. If you want to teach English in some European or South American countries, you can only do it under the table (I’m not about that life) because you’re just a tourist in that country.
  • Convenience (for example: public transportation, good internet without censorship): this is something that might not be as easily available if I teach English in a developing country as a Peace Corps volunteer, for example.
  • Aligns with my projects: language learning business (Lingo Junkie) and my future nonprofit (Path2CollegeUSA). Being an English teacher brings me closer to those target populations/demographics/markets
  • Extra time to pursue my online projects: the time commitment of the job is not as high as my current job in analytics
  • Tax benefit: Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (click here for more info)
  • Foreign Service Officer (FSO) work in the future: being abroad for an extended period of time allows me to explore regions of the world before I’ll have to commit to them in the future as an FSO
  • In line with potential grad school plans and Fulbright

Final thought: I plan to stay in South Korea for a year. We’ll see where I move after that.

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