I am 27 and I have traveled to 29 countries. I’ve lived abroad in three. I’ve traveled by car, by bus, by rickety airplane, by ferry, and by foot. I’ve been places I loved and yearn for every day and places that I have no interest in going to again. Since I graduated college in 2009, I haven’t lived in a single place for more than a year.
It’s been a very exciting and fulfilling few years. I’ve seen so much and have had some of the most amazing experiences. But I’ve had to deal with a lot, and I’ve had a lot of setbacks. All in all, it’s been truly amazing and I feel very lucky that I’ve been able to see so much in a relatively short period of time, but it has also been exhausting. Picking up your life into suitcases and boxes and shipping them all over the world, finding a flat, getting a job. It wears away at you. But really, I wouldn’t trade it for the world because the pros so outweighed the cons at the end of the day.
Part of why I loved London so much was that I could run off to Europe for a weekend. I was my own travel agent, my own boss, and I was independent and curious. The US isn’t a great jumping off point for travel. It’s expensive to get anywhere by plane and takes about five thousand years if you want to drive.
Having lost my battle with trying to get a job in London, I came back to the United States telling myself it was time to settle down. I’m 27, that’s what I should do, right? I should be a proper adult. I needed to be grounded, to start a career, put down some roots finally. And the whole time I told myself this, a part of my heart ached, really ached, at the loss of being able to jump around the world.
And then I received a job offer to go back to Asia.
I had applied to teach again because I knew I could do it. The money was good enough, my housing would be taken care of, and it’d be another adventure. It was something in the back of my mind and has been. I had actually turned down a job offer to teach in South Korea last year and instead became a nanny in New York City. It was a safe fallback plan for me, and something that I would enjoy as well. So when I got the email with the offer, I had a roller coaster of mixed emotions.
Job hunting in radio and various media positions hadn’t turned anything up (I’ve been back in the states for around a month) and I was growing more and more disheartened. Part of me wanted to knee-jerk and say “YES!” because 1) it was a job, and 2) yes, I want to travel again. And then I doubleback and was like, no, you need to settle down Kristina. But at the same time, who is to say I will be able to go do extensive travel in Asia again anytime soon? If I do get a career I get what, two weeks of vacation a year? That’s it. I’d have to ration, I could jump around.
Least to say. I had a lot of restless nights. I agreed to a phone interview of sorts where they wanted to get to know me and ask where I wanted to go, what age of children I wanted to teach, where I wanted to live, etc. Everything was tailored to me and I felt more than overwhelmed.
Originally it was China, but I’ve since asked for South Korean placements.
I should get them in the next few days and if I choose one and sign the contract, I could be in South Korea as soon as the end of January.
When I lived in Japan, working as an English teacher for the government, I took a weekend trip to Seoul. I think it was just three days, four nights to be honest. That’s all. But ever since I’ve been desperate to go back. I don’t even know what it is about the city. It was interesting. That fantastic mix between the ancient and traditional and the fiercely modern. It’s what I love most about a lot of Asia. They don’t destroy their history, they keep it, they keep that traditional aspect of their lives and culture while still embracing the new. You can wander from a sea of skyscrapers to an alleyway of old school restaurants and stands that seem to transport you back hundreds of years. It’s enchanting and intoxicating and has remained a strong fixture in my memory.
South Korea has always had a very distinct place in my heart. My late grandfather was a medic in the Korean War and when I went to Seoul, he had been so excited and apparently talked my mother to death about his stories there. We talked about Seoul only a few times before he died, but for me, that city, that country, and him are so interconnected.
I’ve made a compromise with myself. I shall continue to job hunt until the end of the year. If nothing comes up, I’ll move ahead with South Korea. I get vacation, so I’ll be able to travel and get to SDCC in particular. Also, at the end of the day, the contract is a year. It’s just a year.
What’s another year of adventure?
Will I really miss out on that much? Maybe. But, I’ll still podcast and blog from abroad, just as I always have. I’ll make new friends. I’ll miss the ones I have now. I’ll feel horrible for not being with my family for the holidays for yet another year. I’ll get homesick and kick myself and I’ll have amazing experiences and praise my decision to take the leap once again.
I don’t know what’s going to happen, and that’s part of the adventure itself, even if it is infuriating.
뜻이 있는 곳에 길이 있다
Korean Proverb: In a place where there is will, there is a road.