Have you ever contemplated taking a different path? Growing up I’d always been told, “study hard in high school and get into a good college”. College, job, family; that was the order of how things went. Those were the only three words that my parents, teachers and even television had always told me mattered. Once you got into a good college you’d be set, getting into college is the hard part. So what did I do? I studied hard and I got into a good college.
During my four years at school I did everything I was suppose to do: I joined extracurricular activities, I studied, I got part-time jobs, I even got internships every summer. By the time I finished school I thought I was set. I didn’t have a job straight out of college but I wasn’t stressed; I was graduating from a great school with multiple internships, extracurricular activities, and part time jobs already behind my belt; finding a job would be easy. It wasn’t.
A Different Path
I joined every job site I could find; Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Jobhat, and more, yet four months out of college I still didn’t have a job and was living with my parents. I got a part time retail job that I hated and an unpaid internship at a small start-up. My social life wasn’t much of a life. While I’d made life long friends in college they were all dispersed through out the country, and my high school friends were more, high school friends.
I spent hours and hours applying to jobs I didn’t even want, just to get out. I began to get so depressed that insomnia kicked in, or my insomnia made me depressed. I couldn’t really say which came first. I would spend the hours that other people spent asleep obsessively planning fake vacations I would never go on; because anywhere was better than where I was.
Six months into my search and still no job my insomnia was going on four days with no sleep and two weeks with maybe eight hours total. During one of my wistful, fake vacations I saw a picture of Seoul, South Korea and imagined how nice it’d be to go there. Then it hit me. Why didn’t I? I’d had a coworker who’d gone to teach English in Seoul and loved it. That night I began looking into teaching English in South Korea; by the time the sun had risen I’d already decided that I was going to South Korea.
Three months later I was on the airplane to teach in Gangnam, the Beverley Hills of South Korea. During my year in Seoul I experienced living and working in a culture very different from my own. I was able to travel to Hong Kong and Thailand during my year in Seoul. Through my work I met other ESL foreign teachers from all parts of the wolrd; South Africa, England, Australia and more.
While Seoul wasn’t without its downsides, a stressful boss and tough working environment, it was one of the most rewarding years of my life. I loved Korean culture and I loved the kids that I taught. I had friends, that just months prior I had envied for their jobs, messaging me how they wanted to visit me and how jealous they were of my life in Seoul. Looking back now I can’t imagine not having spent a year in Seoul. If I had gotten those jobs that I had applied for, the kind of jobs my friends had, would I have been happy? In all honesty, no. While my friends are happy with their jobs and their success, I’ve come to realize I wouldn’t be. What I really needed and wanted was to travel and not just visit a place but live there and experience it.
I think with social media now we tend to focus on others happiness and compare it to our own. While we can be happy for our friends it’s hard not to compare their happiness to our lack of happiness sometimes. For me traveling across the world was what I needed, while not the traditional path it was a path I made for myself.
About Caroline Pearson. She is a 2017 graduate with a major in Communications. She currently runs a beauty and fashion blog called Illicit Fish. She is looking to move to New York City to pursue her passion for communications.