08 May From Hanoi to Korea, Fears and Future Plans
This first phase of our adventure is hurtling towards closure at an alarming speed. Our trip back to the UK in June signals an end to this initial 15 months of travel and with that end looms the knowledge that we need to start working in the autumn. What lies ahead is a scary, uncertain path – the only thing we know for sure is that on the 21st August we will board a plane back to Hanoi, Vietnam.
Planning for the Future
We decided months ago that the best way for us to earn money to continue travelling is to teach English in Asia for a year, but where? We buckled down to investigate our options: Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Thailand or Vietnam. The findings of our research make for a whole other blog post, but the short answer is: we’ve decided to teach in South Korea for a year.
Money-wise, Korea is our best option; once we land a job our schools will pay for our flights out there, cover our accommodation costs for the year and give us money to settle in with. We can each be earning up to $2,000 a month with lots of paid holiday, half our medical insurance will be covered and we’ll pay very minimal taxes; at the end of the year we’ll get a completion bonus and flights home. In addition to the potential for saving money, Korea is a country we’ve yet to explore; as a city-lover I’m intrigued by Seoul and after experiencing perpetual summer for months on end we’re ready for some cooler weather.
The night Andrew and I decided on South Korea we giddily started emailing recruiters. We were too excited to sleep and stayed up for hours talking, Googling and imagining new lives in Korea; our minds too full of possibilities to settle. The more we talked about it the more I wanted that temporary home, a working routine and the changing of the seasons. I couldn’t wait to watch our savings account grow and be in one place long enough to start craving the open road again so we can head over to Canada and America afterwards with a renewed sense of excitement.
The next morning, however, our bubble well and truly burst. The recruiter emailed to say that positions were closing for September and we’d have to apply to start in February instead. This news sent me into a huge tailspin of panic; we’ll have less than £5,000 left in September, how will we last until February on that?
Fears and Frustrations
Hastily, we devised a back-up plan: fly back to Vietnam in August and try to find casual work in a language school for a few months. We visited Hanoi last year and loved it, we know we can live cheaply while we’re there and it seems like the best place to get short-term work upon arrival. My heartbeat races along with the possibilities of this new plan; we can rent an apartment and work in Hanoi for three months, then go trekking in Nepal, finally visit India and still have time to spare before moving to South Korea in February. It could be incredible, if it works out.
The only problem is that I’m terrified. Lately, I wake in the night and my feelings about the future oscillate from abject terror to pure exhilaration. I’ve signed up to teaching courses in England over the summer but I have no idea whether I’ll be any good at them. Unlike Andrew, who taught back in England, I have no experience to call upon and will be thrown into the unknown when we touchdown in Hanoi – will I sink, or swim?
Money is another worry – will we have enough to see us through until February? I’m worried how much we’ll spend in England over the summer and the more we try to plan the more uncertain things seem to get. The house sit we thought we’d snagged in London fell through and the teaching supply work Andrew was pinning his hopes on for July has yet to materialise.
What if South Korea isn’t the right place for us either? While some bloggers rave about the country, I’ve also heard some disconcerting stories about racism, particularly in Seoul. Then there’s the cultural obsession with appearance, the freezing winters, naughty school kids and the fact that Andrew and I won’t be housed together by our schools if we’re not married.
Sometimes I can’t help but wonder why we’re putting ourselves through all this stress, but the answer that always comes is:
Because we need to travel.
Back in England the happiness I felt living in London was always tainted by restlessness and a worry that every day I spent in an office was another day my life was slipping, unlived, through my fingertips. Since we’ve been travelling this restlessness has abated, now our lives are filled with discoveries and possibilities, challenges and joy. As worried as I am about the future though, a huge part of me also relishes the uncertainty and challenge. If I’m scared of doing something, I know that means it’s worth pushing through the fear and doing it. Plenty of people may think that this life we’re living is pure lunacy but we can’t stop now, there’s still too much of the world we need to see.
All we can count on is that a new phase of our journey will begin when we step off that plane in Hanoi and whatever happens, it’ll be one hell of an adventure.