Korea has been a huge part of my life, and in February 2018 I will be leaving for good. I’m excited to return home to America, a world that is familiar to me, but I know I will miss expat life. Part of me wants to get a permanent home and job in the US. That’s the part of me that wants to be like all my friends and get married and have kids. But I’m afraid that I’d feel trapped in that life. There’s just too much left to see. We’ve been given access to our entire planet. Why not visit as much of it as you can?
I used to be jealous of my high school and college friends who are now married with children. I felt like they were all moving forward in life, being real grown-ups, and I was falling behind. I told myself when I got laid off that I’d just move abroad one more time to save money. I remember telling myself that I’d get all this traveling out of my system because this lifestyle won’t be possible when I’m married with kids. I used to see living abroad as taking a break from real life. Now I see it as taking the world in my hands.
My perspective has changed drastically in the past year. Every new country I visit feeds my wanderlust. The more I travel, the more I want to travel. As an expat, I’ve become accustomed to having three international trips per year. I can’t go back to my old life. At this stage, getting married, buying a house, and having kids would make me feel like a caged bird. There’s no reason this nomadic life ever has to end. Although… when I’m not researching flights, I sometimes fantasize about my future wedding. Maybe I’ll get lucky and marry a woman who will travel the world with me. It’s funny… when I was twenty I thought I’d be married by the age of 25… 30 at the latest. But now that I’m 3 months from turning 30, I no longer feel like I’m too old or late for anything. I think I’m finally becoming comfortable with the idea of taking control of my life. My life isn’t normal, and that’s fine. My life is interesting.
Having a big trip planned is what keeps me going (at work and in life). Here’s what I’ve got coming up. I’m going to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for a week in January. I’m going to see a hockey match at the Winter Olympics in February. A week later, I’ll be in Beijing for four days. The next week I leave Korea. I’m going to treat myself to a four-day vacation in Tokyo before continuing home to the US.
In April I plan to see my favorite band Foo Fighters live for the first time in Texas. Then I may use my Southwest Airlines points to fly somewhere new. As of now I’ve accumulated over 66,000 points. The average one-way flight costs about 8,000 points plus tax.
Two years ago I was expecting to have nearly $30,000 saved up by now. I have less than half of that. My original plan was to leave Korea and backpack completely around the world. That is no longer realistic. Maybe one day…
I have no job prospects for after my contract in Korea ends. I’d be willing to teach ESL in another country even though the process of moving to another country is long and stressful. It took me six months to move to Korea. I don’t have a dream job. I just know I want a job that is either in the travel industry or allows me to travel. Traveling gives me a sense of meaning and purpose in my life.
“The world is a book, and those who don’t travel only read one page.” — Saint Augustine