Don’t worry, I don’t mean that in the ‘oh my god,’ ‘what a bad idea,’ why am I here’ kind of way, but rather as the answer to a common question I am asked here in Korea. Let me explain, whenever an Epik teacher meets a new Epik teacher, here in Busan at least, there is a general pattern of questions asked of each other. The first is obvious; “Whats your name?” the second is usually “Where you from?” the third is “What age do you teach?” and, at least most of the time, the fourth is “Why South Korea?”
Everyone has their own answer to this question and these can vary tremendously from person to person. Each Epik teacher’s answer is unique and its always interesting to hear about it. I decided to post my answer up here, not so people would stop asking but rather because I guess some of you, my readers, may have wondered the same thing about my little adventure.
After graduation (from Carleton) I had the whole world laid before me; 22 years old, no financial obligations, good health, no dependants – essentially I was a free man. I could go in any direction I wanted, do any of a million things. Briefly I considered becoming a crime fighter, but I decided against that option for reasons I will not go into here. The problem (and best part about) having total freedom to decide what course your life takes is that you always have to pick the most awesome path available. Once I heard about living and teaching abroad in South Korea (from my cousin, from certain friends of the family etc..) there was no way in hell I could pass up that opportunity.
“But why?” you ask, “Why could you not pass up that opportunity?” Because, in my mind, if I passed up this opportunity the only thing I could ever do is regret that decision. My whole life I would ask what if? What if I had gone and taught English in South Korea? What if I had travelled, back when I had the chance? Not taking this opportunity could lead only to regret.
I’m not sure if I’m being clear or not, so to put it succintly: With all the options available to me I had no choice but to take the one opportunity that I could take now that I may not be able to take in later life. The only alternative to taking this path would be regret and retrospective doubt. To quote a favorite song of mine: “Trains not taken are gone, gone and out of reach.”
So I took the option that I thought would have the most impact on my life, the biggest and most awesome option I had, because anything less wouldn’t be doing myself justice.
Right now, those of you who know me well are saying to yourselves “Gee whiz Tom, is that really how you answer when people ask you why you chose South Korea?”
No. Usually I just shrug.
Thats all for now BNBers!