To some people,a lot actually, the thought of packing up your life,and things and moving to another country seems amazing and frightening all at the same time.Leaving everything behind ,your family and friends to a place you’ve never been sounds scary…
…but you know what’s really scary…
Waking up one day,and realizing that all you’ve really done was pay bills.It’s the realization that you never even attempted to make your dreams come true, and looking down at a bucket list with not a single thing marked off.
Now you don’t have to live abroad to do that,but that’s the focus of this post.
I get what you’re saying, you got bills, no your not doing what you went to school for, but you got loans to pay off and ….. … etc etc etc. But you know what, bills and student loans are always going to be there.It’s like the old saying says nothing in life is certain but death and taxes.So if you want to go abroad ,do it,just do it….
… … I hear you I hear you…. …
A lot easier said then done right,well..not really I wanted to teach abroad, so while finishing up my degree I got a TEFL(Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate. And beside a clean background check and my B.A. was all I needed.So what’s stopping you…
Ahhh so you have a place in mind,but …..
…..You heard bad things about the country you want to go to,and how they may treat people differently….
Ehhhh,that’s the thing ,everybody has a really different experience even in the same exact place,there are too many variables that can totally change ones experience. The disparity between good and bad experiences sometimes can be huge.Like when I was coming to Korea I felt like there were only two kinds of experiences, really great ones of people who utterly loved Korea and never wanted to leave, or those who found it a horribly racist place and wanted to leave immediately.But with people’s experiences you really have to take them with a grain of salt.Just because someone has had a great experience doesn’t mean you will ,likewise if they had a horrible experience that doesn’t mean that yours will be.
Now firstly I don’t want to discount anyone’s experience whether good or bad people are entitled to see the world as they want.But the biggest factor in the way you experience a country is the way you see the world.Now let’s be clear there is no per se bad place to go travel(unless you know the country is currently at war ETC ETC ETC),but what you always have to remember is that your attitude effects your perception,and the fact that people tend to talk more about bad experiences is because more bad things happen.It’s mainly because bad things to stick with us a little better than good ones(not always but if you ever burn yourself,got in a fright, or got in trouble as a child those experiences tend to stick with you;even into adulthood.)
Here’s an example
In my first week of being in Korean while walking with friends during my orientation,a random guy tells me that my skin isn’t good here(I’m black by the way). Did I mention the staring everyday or when one of my kindergartners just sat in her teachers lap and cried out of utter fear of my existence.Or in my last months an older woman walked up to me and told me I needed skin cream(sun screen).Not to mention how overwhelming it can be to be black in a country in which the ideal beauty deals with being as light as possible.
Now that does color my three years in a very negative light .Now I did get stared at everyday, and you know what being a black woman scared a lot of people(which is really funny to me because I’m a super small person).Now don’t get me wrong the staring and the comments did bother me,the saying that it takes a 1000 ‘atta boys to make up for one negative comment is totally true.But if I were to tell you just that,I would be leaving out so many of the good things.
The time that one ajumma gave me handfuls of snack when she realized that I had gotten lost and taken the wrong bus.Or that one time on the bus I saw the cutest set of sibling who kept turning around and staring at me,and then the boy gave me oranges,or the time I saw a monk play a giant tradition flute on top of jutted rock formation.Did I mention taking a gazillion of pictures during cherry blossoms season.Seeing the phantom of the Opera anniversary in Seoul,or seing the Studio Ghibli,One Piece,Tim Burton and Doraemon exhibition.Now don’t let me forget the the Beast and Cube E. concerts.Or having random conversations about life with strangers,or making friends from all over the world.
Now between these two paragraphs gives totally different impressions,the thing is between the good times and the bad times people like to focus on the bad.Now that I’m back at home,I have so many really great memories to think on,maybe I’m just being nostalgic, but the more I think about it,the more I think about all the fun I had.
Now the thing is you hear a lot of people constantly complaining about countries they’v immigrated too and have been living in for 3+ years.What does that tell you, they may not like some things about that country but you know what,if things really were that bad.I assure you that they would have left by then,and went back to their home country.
… but I hear that this country was racist….. …
Yeah, many countries that are homogeneous don’t tend to be very PC when it comes to people who aren’t like them.I would be lying to you ,if I didn’t admit that European Imperialism doesn’t have an effect on the way that people think of beauty.I definitely can’t promise you that people won’t judge your beauty based on skin color.Or that it’s going to be easy learning a second language.But you know what, I can’t promise you those things anywhere not even in the U.S.
You know what though, out of all the things I’ve done this has been my most exciting experience of my life.Living abroad seeing new places meeting new people,teaching kids,these are experiences are those I wouldn’t trade for anything.And not only is there the fact that I got to live abroad, by doing so I had the finances to travel to other countries.I got to visit Inari Shrine in Japan and the Great Wall of China.Not to mention walking through cherry blossoms,and getting my black belt.
So the time is now,there is nothing to stop you back but you.I can’t tell you what to do, but what I can warn you against is regret.I refuse to not live a life as full as possible because of fear for how some people may or may not treat me.You never really hear anyone look back on their life and regret traveling around the world.Life isn’t all sunny days,there are storms and rain.But you know what if it weren’t for the storms you really would never know how much you appreciate the sun.
Happy travels my fellow blerds.