*This was written 6 years ago, a year before I left Korea for Canada*
I get asked this question a lot and so here…here is how I ended up in Korea:
Recently, I called a lawyer.
A lawyer in Canada, no less. This lawyer I called was very polite and helpful, apparently it’s the Maple Leaf disposition. He asked how I found out about his company as I was calling all the way from South Korea (‘South Korea, wow!’ ‘Yeah, I get that a lot when I call overseas from here.’). I explained I googled what I was looking for and clicked the first one I found with a Facebook page. Although it is also worth noting I was drinking a vodka and orange in an Irish bar on a school night while calling him….
This morning, I had a visa medical exam. A pretty standard test. One I’ve had a few times for my Korean visa so I knew the drill. Blood, chest x-ray, pee in paper cup, see doctor, deny knowing what an illegal drug is, the usual. On one of the stack of forms I had to fill in to give permission for them to view my medical records, test me for a wide varity of diseases, declare I wasn’t lying in any of my statements, give them custody of my first-born and the rights to name him Bob (one those is not true), it asked for my future occupation in my intended country of residence. Pointing out I wasn’t moving for another 12 months and hadn’t planned that yet, I was told to put ‘housewife’.
And so I did.
I laughed and shook my head and wrote the word on the page.
In a mere 48 hours, I’d called a lawyer, had a visa medical and declared myself a future housewife.
My entire life I’ve just kinda fallen into thing. Not really making conscious life decisions. I’ve just been presented with an opportunity and going with it, confident in the knowledge that it’ll all be fine. It’s no coincidence one of my favourite phrases is ‘Let’s see how this all plays out, shall we?’
I stumbled into going to university in England. I was unsure about what I wanted to do with my life and unwilling to choose computing suggested by one career counsellor and to ‘give up the idea of directing a movie because my teeth were not straight enough. So when I talk or give direction people will not understand me and HOW can I direct a movie if people can’t understand me’ (direct quote that will stay with me for life) by another career counsellor after I said I wanted to write movies.
To the UK I went, to study writing and film (a completely useless degree in hindsight). Unlike universities in the US where you can study many different things in the lead up to your eventual degree, in Ireland and the UK at 17 we have to choose our path and stick to it. Every course I took lead directly to the degree I applied for. I applied to ten universities, got into four, picked the one with the open day that was soon, flew over, looked around and signed up to attend in September.
Graduating at 20, I fell into working as a project supervisor at my previous job.
I was there when the previous project supervisor quit. That’s it. That’s all it took. I just happened to be there in the building. Later, when I moved into human resources, again, it was because I was there when the previous HR girl quit. For a while I was doing project supervising, HR, interviewing potential staff, running training seminars, doing wages (a terrifying month) and flying to Germany to brief new center managers. I took a two week holiday and went to Washington DC. It took three people to do my job while I was gone.
Having gone to Salzburg on a Sound of Music tour with my mother for her 50th birthday, I returned to my job bored and unhappy. I didn’t like it. It was depressing and I could do it drunk, hungover, half asleep, on the tail end of a bar hopping pub crawl (I kid you not!) and could coordinate client documents while talking on the phone, supervising staff and playing on the Internet all at the same time. The challenge was gone and thus I put in for a transfer. To London. My transfer approved, my contract drawn up and ready to be signed, apartment hunting was a go-go and I was packing my house up.
Six weeks later I was on a flight to Korea to start a new life.
It’s funny how these things just….happen.
So what happened?
Nothing at all.
Nothing major or dramatic or life changing. Nothing I can pinpoint on my life map and say ‘this was the event that caused it’. I just woke up one day and realised if I don’t leave now, now, this very second….if I don’t make the decision to leave when I get the chance, when my current contract is up, I’ll never leave. And then I’ll stay. I’ll stay here in a job I don’t like. In a country I really have no reason to be. With a car I can’t drive and a lethargic attitude towards work that ranks it just barely above ‘napping’. I’ll stay and be that person in the bar who stayed too long.
I needed a change. I needed to leave. And I needed to do it now while the idea was new and fresh and I was suddenly motivated. My contract at work was up for renewel. My current landlord was looking into selling off his house and thus, I’d have to move anyway. The stars were aligning and it was my shot!
A quick phone call later and i was offered a chance to either move to Korea the following month or Japan in 6 months. I choose Korea, because it was sooner and hanging around for 6 months would lead to a change of heart, second guessing and I have a short attention span. Left for 6 months to stew and think, I’d back out. I told my job. (‘I moving to Korea.’ ‘Korea…where’s that?’ ‘KOREA.’ ‘Ohhhhhh KOREA….I seeeeee.’) I sold everything that wouldn’t fit in my Opel Corsa on eBay and my mother drove me back to Dublin to await my Korean visa.
A few weeks later, visa and one way plane ticket in hand, large suitcase borrowed from my mother, and a world of opportunity ahead of me, I left on a plane to start anew. It would be a few weeks before I got around to reading the Lonely Planet guide I’d brought with me and a few more before I discovered what ‘Skype’ is…and I worked for eBay when they acquired Skype which made that so much worse.
Oh, how badly prepared I’d been when I arrived.
But alas how could I know that one decision, that decision to pack everything up and start again would change my life the way it did.
I took a shot.
And now, as I prepare for yet another country move, people keep asking if I’m scared, apprehensive, what if it all goes wrong, what if it doesn’t work out…etc.
To them I say, maybe it will. Maybe it will go wrong. Maybe it’ll be great. Maybe it’ll be the greatest decision I’ve ever made. Maybe, maybe, maybe.
I don’t want the ‘maybes’ to rule my life. For every ‘maybe yes’, there’s a ‘maybe no’. For every person that says ‘Maybe it’s a good idea’ there’s another saying ‘Maybe it’s a terrible idea. You should stay here’.
When I moved to England, people said I’d be back within a month. I said ‘Maybe.’ I returned 6 years later.
When I moved to Korea, people said, ‘Ohhh it’s so dangerous there! You won’t be safe!’. I said ‘Maybe.’ I’ve been here 3 years and 4 months. The most dangerous thing that has ever happened to me was almost being hit by a taxi cab when I walked out in front of it.
In less than a year, I move to Canada. People say it may not work out. That couples who meet in Korea and leave together don’t last. That we’ll regret it. That we won’t find jobs. That we’ll have no money. That it’s cold. That I’ll hate it. That it’s a risk.
To them, I say ‘Maybe.’
But for now, let’s just agree on one thing, let’s all sit back, relax and see how this all plays out, shall we?
(Oh and that’s The Canadian One with my Pingu the Penguin in his backpack in the pictures above on the day we moved me from my apartment into his!)