Our story takes us back to 2007, in the buzzing neighborhood of Itaewon, Seoul, a meeting ground for international cultures and the spot where I met a woman with a unique proposition. A Korean lady with a firm belief in global connectivity through language, she recruited English teachers from the U.S., U.K., Australia, and New Zealand to ignite linguistic curiosity in the young minds of her nation. Little did I know, this chance encounter would later become a lifeline for me in the face of personal and professional adversity.
In the years that followed, I maintained a connection with the recruiter, mainly through the lens of social media. Meanwhile, I continued navigating my career as an IT executive, a role demanding high intensity and strategic leadership. Despite the distance and our vastly different worlds, the bond formed in Itaewon endured.
Crisis struck when I lost my job. Yet, like a beacon in the darkness, the opportunity to move to Seoul emerged. My relationship with the woman from Itaewon was instrumental in securing a job at a private school, teaching English to elementary students. With little more than faith and determination, I embarked on a journey that was as daunting as it was exciting.
Arriving in Seoul, I was greeted by a new home—a cozy studio apartment—and the comfort of knowing that a round-trip ticket to Southern California sat securely in my pocket. This was to be my new life, at least for a while, and the novelty of the experience was both thrilling and overwhelming.
At the start, I was a little out of shape, carrying with me the stress and sedentary habits of my previous corporate life. But Seoul, with its vibrancy and blend of modern and traditional culture, inspired a desire for transformation. I fell into a productive routine, devoting a few hours each day to learning Korean before taking a leisurely walk to and from my gym. Fitness and learning became a staple of my daily life, serving as a precursor to the teaching hours that would follow.
Teaching in Korea was unlike any professional experience I had before. While I did teach English, I found that my role often resembled that of a babysitter, overseeing a group of enthusiastic and energetic children for hours on end. It was a delightful and, at times, humbling challenge, bringing with it laughter, frustration, and an abundance of learning experiences.
But my time in South Korea was much more than just a job; it was an immersive journey into the heart of a culture rich in history and tradition. I cherished every opportunity to learn about the Korean language, delve into the annals of the country’s history, and immerse myself in the customs that make Korea unique.
The year I spent in South Korea was an eye-opening adventure. It was a departure from the familiar, a break from my career trajectory, and a dive into a world entirely foreign to me. In teaching English and learning Korean, I not only bridged a linguistic divide but also forged a personal transformation. From an IT executive to an English teacher, my journey was about more than a geographical move—it was a testament to resilience, adaptability, and the surprising beauty of life’s unplanned detours.