Wednesday, November 17, 2010

It's Over-Why I'm Leaving Korea

Well it is official my time in Korea will be coming to an end after only one year. Less then a week ago I was prepared to re-sign with my school for another year as the English teacher. I won’t lie I was apprehensive about doing it particularly after I discovered that my co-teacher, who is great, will not be returning. I’ve heard lots of horror stories about bad co-teachers and what a difference that makes in one’s experience here in Korea. Further the idea was difficult because I’m currently in a long distance relationship and miss my girlfriend. But in-spite of those things I was going to re-sign for another year because the money is good, the living expenses are low and I have been paying off large amounts of debt since I’ve been here.

Then last Friday I was called into one of the classrooms with my co-teacher and two other Korean English teachers. They told me that the principle was not going to offer me an extension for next year but rather was going to hire a new teacher. The reasons why were never very clear. But the one thing they were clear about is that the principle intended to hire a woman for next year. Now that’s fine but I found it odd that they told me that and that that was the only detail they all conveyed to me as certain and clear. Now I’m not saying I could be a totally new person for them but if they had some real issues that they could tell me about at least I could offer to work on them but when it comes to my gender there’s nothing I can do to change that or at least there’s nothing I’m willing to do to change that. Despite the constant embarrassment and shame that comes with being a man the fact is I am a man and will continue to be one. But all that aside the news was a real surprise to me. Ever since I got here I had been working on the assumption that they would want me back and that the decision about whether I would work there again would be all mine.

Korea is filled with schools that need teachers and my credentials and experience all but assure me the ability to get a new job and fairly quickly. Still it is never fun to feel rejected even from a job you don’t particularly like and I can say I don’t particularly like this job. Really the only thing I really like about this job is the schedule. Over all it is very light as I never teach more then 5 classes in a day leaving me two to three hours everyday which I can use as I please. Obviously lesson planning has to be done but still compared to many jobs mine is fairly easy. So basically what I like about this job is the fact that I don’t have to do it that much, it’s truly all the “not working” time that this job provides me that makes it worth having.

Later that evening after I got home I shared the news with my girlfriend Angelina. She and I have been friends for years but we only started dating a couple of months ago. Since that time we had talked about me coming back to the United States so we could be near one another but we talked about it more wishfully then seriously pretty much assured that it was not going to happen. I was going to be in Korea for another year and then we would see where we were in our relationship after that. But within a few hours of talking we started really examining my options and began to seriously talk about me coming back to the US. We talked about the logistics, the implications and the difficulties entailed in that decision. There of course was a list of pros and cons on both sides but the key issue for me really was our relationship. If I moved back to the US I would be moving to Sacramento, not to Denver or LA or anywhere else but to Sacramento so I could be near Angelina and we could give our relationship a real shot. Now this potential opportunity brought with it both excitement and fear because while we both really want to be together we both know being together will make our relationship “real” in a way it hasn’t been yet.  

Long distance relationships are known for being difficult and in many ways they are but Angelina and I have also seen that there is an often over looked easier side of being far apart from one another. The distance creates a sort of shared difficulty in the relationship and prevents rifts from forming over personal issues and annoyances. The few moments I get with Angelina in a week are spent enjoying one another’s company and complaining about being apart. There are no fights or quarrels created by sharing space with one another, dealing with daily issues or functioning in group settings. In a way it’s easier to be in love when you’re far apart. So all the excitement and joy that comes with this opportunity of getting to be together and to really commit to our relationship comes with pangs of fear; What if we get tired of one another? What if we end up wanting different things? Basically, what if it doesn’t work out? By nature I worry about these things and I know Angelina thinks about them too but at the end of the day I decided, actually we decided that this was a risk we should take now instead of wasting another year waiting to take the risk then. This decision comes with certain difficulties but none that worry me enough to not come (run) back home to be with Angelina.

Ah the silliness of love, don’t you love it? 


  1. That's us, when your hair was long and you still lived in Pasadena and all was right with the world... but we weren't together! It is a great picture! :) And yay for this blog entry... gotta get stuff ready for you! :) Love you hunny!

  2. Wow, Z - I had no idea your year was up already! It's funny that moving "home" will be such a big step. I'm sorry to hear they won't rehire you (I do find that strange), but I wish you all the best in your continuing journey! :-)