Things That Start to Happen During Your Second Year in Korea

1. It is very clear you are no longer “new”

Once new batches of teachers start to come in to town, in awe of everything around them, almost in a “Korea daze”; it is then you realize how far you’ve come. Sometimes you forget what made this place so magical in the first place. Newcomers are a friendly reminder of this, despite how annoying their newness may be at times.

2. All things get increasingly easier

Buying bus tickets on a Korean app, chatting with taxi drivers, ordering from a coffee shop, going to the doctor. They all get easier. And it starts to make Korea feel even more like home.

3. You say too many goodbyes

If you’ve stayed a second year in Korea, chances are you like it (somewhat, I would hope) and have made a decent amount of friends. Especially if you’ve stayed in the same city. However, many do decide to leave after their one year contract is over, and this usually calls for some goodbye celebration/mourning. Not only does the quantity of goodbyes increase dramatically, but the quality of the emotions attached to these people also increases, making goodbyes significantly more difficult.

4. The thought of a 3rd year sounds either really repelling…..

There are always going to be little struggles living in a different culture than your own. After living in a foreign country for almost two years, things that used to bug you a little bit are magnified. (Or in some cases, maybe you have completely adapted to them). There are just some days where the spitting, stares, and crazy driving get to you, and leaving seems like the clearest option for your sanity.

5. ……..or really tempting

After almost two years you also realize how much this country has to offer. On all fronts. Outdoor activities, festivals, food, people, learning, etc. You could go somewhere every weekend and still not run out of things to do, and it’s not a big country! You also start to realize how lucky you are to be here. Relatively stress free, no rent, an apartment to myself, a great social life. When you start thinking about leaving and the realities that come with it (e.g., paying rent like a normal person), this makes you appreciate the present even more.

You may be able to tell based on this list that I have some tough decision making coming up. This month I have to decide if I want to renew my contract or not. The school board makes the November intake teachers (myself) decide at the same time as the August teachers, which is very difficult because it is still so far away. Never in a million years did I ever THINK a third year would even cross my mind. But somehow it has. The only thing I know for sure, is that Korea will be a very difficult place to say goodbye to, whenever it is that I decide it’s time.

Wish me luck in the process! Words of wisdom always accepted and encouraged 🙂 xo

One thought on “Things That Start to Happen During Your Second Year in Korea

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  1. Hey Kiddo!

    Very well said! After only my brief 2 week stay with you in February, I can appreciate all you've mentioned in dealing with the dilemma of staying for a third year VS returning home to the Western narcissistic, entitled society we have here in Canada. I know where I'd rather be!

    I am envious that I cannot come to South Korea and teach English (or fish!) for a period of time. My greatest memories in the short time I was with you in South Korea: 1. the well dressed woman who went WAY out of her way to help us find the subway stop in the Shinsegae underground, and 2. the elderly man who nudged me at the crosswalk in the rain, only to hold his umbrella over me, and 3. the lady who invited us into the Temple sanctuary to have afternoon coffee/tea with friends, and 4. The hospitality extended to us by Mr. Jang who took 2 days out of his work schedule to provide us with a guided tour of Suncheon Bay, Songgwangsa Temple, the fort (name escapes me) and Damyang, and 5. The affordability, efficiency and cleanliness of the public transit system, and 6. The food! Dumplings, steamed or fried, and 7. The beautiful countryside dotted with rice fields, makeshift cemeteries and traditional houses, and 8. The respect for tradition, and 9. The food-dumplings especially, and pork bbq with wonderfully salty condiments! Oh, I said food already! and 10. The flair and dramatics of the television programming!….and 11. Anna (formerly Sally), meeting Anna on the Subway and exchanging enthusiastic huggs with her and hearing of her excitement to come to Vancouver!

    Cabbies who drive too fast and regularly burn red lights, scooter drivers who drive on the sidewalk, people who park and stop their vehicles wherever they choose…..Geez, almost feels like I'm talking about Ottawa here! I think you'd be quite shocked and unpleasantly surprised at the changes that have taken place here in just the past couple of years.

    I have just a couple questions for you Kiddo: If you make the decision to leave South Korea, when October 30th/November 1st 2016 arrives, will you have done and experienced everything you would have liked to during your time there? Do you anticipate the potential for regretting not staying for a third year?

    Whatever your decision, I will support and encourage you 100 percent, because I know you are thoughtful, compassionate, loving, kind and respectful. You will make a decision of this importance for only the very best of reasons!

    Love you Lots,

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