For the past couple of weeks I’ve been in a very sentimentally reflective mood. It’s impossible to explain how I feel about Korea. The truth is, my opinion about Korea changed almost weekly. Looking back, I can see what a truly exceptional time we’ve had. We thank our lucky stars for making the decision to come here.
As ineffective as the EPIK program is for students, for many of us who chose to work in it, it has given us more than we ever expected.
Aside from the heavier bank balance, my job has introduced to me a wealth of people whom I’d never have met otherwise. I bumped into one of my students the other day. When I told her I was leaving she quickly grabbed me and gave me a big hug – it was heart warming. You couldn’t buy those experiences.
Despite a couple of problems, my co-teachers were tremendous. I hear this rubbish all the time about it being a lottery as to whether or not you get a bad co-teacher. It’s simply not true. The lottery is random (or as close as random can be in those circumstances), meaning every single ball has an equal chance of being selected. I’ve had 15 co-teachers, all of whom were supportive. If that’s random then I’m extremely lucky. On the other hand, I’ve met a good number of EPIK teachers whose social skills were absurdly low.
That’s not to say that there aren’t poor co-teachers out there – rather, EPIK teachers need to take more responsibility in building those relationships. My first co-teacher, Maria, was a superstar. She was a constant professional who never stopped supporting me and giving me advice. I’m proud to call her a friend and I’ll miss her.
Anyone who has followed this blog through the years will know that I’ve had occasional temper tantrums where I’ve found aspects of my life or work a bit difficult. The vast majority of these rants weren’t justified. I was doing nothing more than spitting my dummy out when things didn’t go my way. Korea and I are not compatible, I know that. But I still have massive affection for the place.
The free time afforded to me by my job allowed me to explore and develop hobbies and career paths I’d never considered before. I’ve learned more languages, developed a passion for, and a good level (still way off where I want to be) in, photography, and have become a self-employed blogger.
I’ve met exceptional friends who’ve inspired me and improved me as a person.
I’ve travelled around a beautiful country.
I’ve watched a lot of movies.
I got married.
I enjoyed, then disliked teaching.
I became addicted to coffee.
I realised that I quite fancy Korean girls (although, Rachel’s still the best girl in the world of course)
And above all, I’ve been happy.
This little 2 year bubble is about to dissolve and will most likely become like a surreal dream, but the future it has allowed us to create will be very real, and serve as a constant reminder of the fantastic opportunity this welcoming nation has given us.
This blog will continue to get stronger over the next 2 years. We will spend 6 months in each country (Indonesia, France, Italy, Germany, & somewhere in South America) learning languages and hunting out inspirational experiences. We hope you’ll stay with us along the way and say hello.
To the people whose paths we’ve crossed during our time here, we wish you the very best of luck and a very happy future.
Click on the images to enlarge.