Perception is Everything

(written almost 2 years ago)

The lens I view the world has changed since boarding a plane two and a half years ago. I envisioned a transformation while living in another country. However, chipping off the societal garbage to rediscover the core of who I am was unexpected. The journey within is just as interesting as any weekend trip to Shibuya crossing in Japan, island hopping in Bali, or circumnavigating Taiwan. I would never have come to this conclusion sitting in the “safe” comforts of corporate America.

Having said that, can I go back?

Sure, which is why the risk of leaving to teach English in another country isn’t large.

Every person who boards a plane with a work visa stamped on their passport is seeking an experience. Many people want to become an ESL teacher for the thrill of travel. Many are very interested in a specific culture. Some are very interested in foreign languages. Some are running from obligations they don’t want to deal with back at home. Some are searching for the meaning of life. Some are life-long English lovers and are passionate about the subject.

No matter what the reason, everyone finds themselves a unique experience that will shape the rest of their life.

If you have not started the ESL journey yet and you have any itch to do it.

Do not hesitate.

Do it.

So many cliche lines I could drop right now. The risks once taken don’t feel like risks. So interesting talking to people from home and they can’t believe I have done this “amazing” thing. Then I talk with my friends in South Korea and people who have been teaching for over ten years in various countries and they laugh at how easy life is in South Korea. They say it is the easiest and most comfortable to live in. While people back home in the USA think I am on the front lines of war because of the media pinning North vs. South periodically.

Part of the reason I left was to challenge myself and leave the rat race. I was searching for meaning.

I was searching for a change in perspective that would allow me to look at the world differently.

I was searching for the ability to make a difference and provide unique meaningful value that I wasn’t feeling in the corporate world. I could provide unique value stepping into a completely homogeneous countryside city in South Korea.

Here is where the change in perspective is all that matters in your world. Somehow classes instead of meetings now fill 50% of the work day. I stare at a computer screen inside a cubicle but it doesn’t feel like I am trapped anymore. Reason number one and maybe the only one; a change in perspective.

Teaching English was a momentary pause in the rat race. I separated myself from the comfort zone of home and everything I had ever known. However, as time passed and I grew comfortable in a foreign land I became apart of a bubble infinitely smaller than the one I left.

If travel was the number one reason to live and work in another country then I WOULD BE MISERABLE. It might work for some people, but it doesn’t for me. Sure, you have tremendous journeys but in a normal week so much looks just like it did back home. The big journey most days is a 30 second walk to school and battle to get to the gym after work.

Everyday and every moment is the possibility of a learning experience. However, everyday back home could of been a learning experience as well.

Becoming comfortable in another country is why it is extremely important to develop yourself for the next step on your own time. I have met many people that are “too” comfortable and when the comfortable life dries up they will be left in a world of hurt.

Enjoy the process and enjoy each step of the journey. The only thing for certain is that things will change. Somehow you will get comfortable in your routine half-a-world away and the bubble that you left will be infinitely smaller in a country where 99% don’t speak your language fluently.

If you take the risk and hate it, what is the worst thing that will happen? You come back with a few stories that you will be able to laugh about with friends and family for the rest of your years.

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