Return of the Wanderlust

Recently, I’ve had the overwhelming desire to go abroad again. The more I think about it, the more depressed I become about staying in this country. I don’t exactly speak openly about my political beliefs (especially on the internet), but I am truly worried about the future of America; and I feel like I will never have a future here.

I am 26 years old, working hourly as a barista to pay my bills. Overall, I enjoy my job right now, but I don’t feel like it is sustainable even if I pursue a management position. I see that the managers don’t really have lives outside the company. They are always on call, coming in earlier and staying in later than they have to. I don’t want that.

I want to leave work at work and enjoy my life. I want to travel and experience new cultures.

Obviously, I don’t have nearly enough money to make this a reality anytime in the near future. However, it is constantly on my mind. I don’t know where I want to go. Everywhere?

I had a very complicated experience in Korea, but it was mostly due to my particular hagwon. I met so many amazing people and got to see so many amazing things. Compared to what it is right now, my lifestyle was much better in the regard that it felt more financially stable.

Have you been in a similar situation? What have you done/are doing to make your dreams come true?

The Post-Graduate Struggle

When I decided to leave for Korea, I was under the impression that teaching English there would fix all my problems. Namely, my financial instability and my emotional distress caused by my financial instability. However, the stress of my job ended up taking an even greater toll on my psyche despite the fact that I was making considerably more money than I had been at home.

Since returning to New Jersey, I honestly spend the majority of my time watching Netflix in bed and crying about how much money I don’t have, even though I am currently working. Student loans. Car insurance. Phone bill. Gas. After all my expenses are paid, I have very little left for myself and it tortures me. I am officially back to square one.

In Korea, I had more than enough money to go out to dinner multiple times per week, treat myself to some new cosmetics, or even take a weekend trip on a whim. And that was after I sent half my paycheck home to take care of my expenses! Now, an iced caramel latte at Dunkin’ Donuts is hardly affordable.

The state that I (and many of my peers) are currently in is a sad one. What did we go to college for? To be in debt for the rest of our lives and not find jobs in our fields?  To work somewhere part-time and still live at home with our parents three or four or five years after graduating?

It hardly makes me feel better when I see people working in positions which I know they got because their families have money, connections, or both. The system is truly flawed because of this. I am absolutely certain that there are much more qualified people who could be working in so many of the jobs out there, but are not given a chance because of some petty reason.

Then, of course, there are the jobs that expect you to have five years of experience for an entry level position when you only went to school for four. How is anyone supposed to gain experience if employers are not willing to take a chance on a promising individual and teach her or him the skills necessary to do that job?

It baffles me. It saddens me.Please feel free to add your comments, and perhaps we could get a discussion going.


Hi guys!

I would really like to make a monthly budget for myself while I’m abroad. I’ve done a bit of research about how much some teachers in South Korea spend on certain things, but a lot of information on the web seems relatively outdated. So, I was wondering if anyone on here would be willing to share how much they spend on the following per month:

1. Utilities

2. Health insurance

3. Cell phone

4. Groceries

5. Savings/misc.

Any information you could provide would be greatly appreciated and I feel like it could be a very good resource for others interested in teaching in Korea. Thanks in advance!

A Hefty Price Tag

Just for fun, I decided to sit down and tally up all the money I’ve spent so far during this process. And I really wish I hadn’t.

One of my main reasons for going abroad to teach is being able to save money to help pay off my loans at home. I know I’m not going to be making six figures, but for the most part, everyone I’ve spoken to seems to say that people can save a lot while teaching in Korea. I’m frugal and I believe that. However, part of me is scared shitless that I won’t be able to cover costs.

I went to a private Catholic University. Even with government grants and a pretty decent scholarship, I still have about $120,000 in student loans I need to pay off. Disgusting.

I also work two part-time jobs. Another reason I’ve decided to go to Korea is that even though I graduated two years ago, I haven’t been able to find anything full time in my field. The market sucks right now, I know. I just work so hard and feel like I’m not making any headway at all. One of my checks goes directly into the bank to cover expenses. I literally do not even see it. As for my other check, I don’t keep more than $100 to last me two weeks – that’s including gas to get to and from work, food, and recreation. The rest goes straight into the bank.

I really hope this next year provides some respite for my poor wallet. As well as adequate experience to help me get a job in my field when I return to the States (which happens to be art history/museum education).

So, the following is a list of everything I’ve spent so far to get me to Korea, and I’m not even in the country yet:

TEFL certificate – $559.98

Background check – $25

Fingerprints – $3

State apostille for background check (because I had no idea I needed to send it to Washington, D.C.)- $40

Federal apostille for background check – $8

State apostille for diploma – $40

Sending documents USPS for EPIK (which I later withdrew from) – $10

Having documents sent back from EPIK recruiter – $22

FedEx-ing documents to private school I signed with – $53

Visa fee – $85

Vaccinations – $293

Total – $1,138.98


Apologies for the rant. I really just needed to get that off my chest.

The Wealthy English Teacher?

I came across a really interesting article on Ulsan Online. It’s an interview with Jackie Bolen, a Canadian woman who’s been teaching in Korea for about 10 years. She talks about becoming financially independent while teaching English abroad.



The article can be found here.

I think this is really interesting because one of my biggest concerns before going abroad is money.

How am I going put aside enough to take care of my student loans? Savings? Travel?

Obviously, I know the salary for an English teacher isn’t going to make me rich. However, after reading this article, I feel a little more confident that I can become comfortable and secure in my finances. It might take a bit of planning, but I think it’s part of the whole “growing up” thing.

Did anyone else have financial concerns before they went abroad? What did you do/are you doing to make sure all your bases are covered?