An Unexpected Journey
Updated: Jul 20
Moving back to Asia was not in my original plan...
I didn't intend to move abroad again. I assumed I'd stay in the UK, and I was trying to make that happen...but nothing seemed to be opening up in my job hunt. I had been made redundant from my previous role during the pandemic, and now, as well as trying to figure out my career, I was cleaning and sorting out my things -- as one does during a Covid lockdown! One day, I came across an old prayer journal from my time in Laos. Opening the colourful pages, I found an entry expressing a desire, a pull, to move back to Asia someday, somewhere. "Aw!" I thought. "Such nice memories! What if I actually moved back?"
I immediately dismissed the idea as nostalgia.
I was also cleaning out my inbox, deleting emails from years ago. I found one from an old friend. We had been discussing whether or not I should admit my feelings for a particular guy, and she had reminded me that I felt a call to Asia, and he didn't. "Did I feel a call to Asia?" I thought. "Huh." I had forgotten that. But again, I put the thought aside. Still, the idea was there now, planted a little more firmly, even if it was just in the back of my mind.
Then a few weeks later, I got a job offer from an American organisation. It had come to me suddenly and was something I could easily do. A heaven-sent opportunity? Maybe. Yet something didn't feel quite right in my gut, and I wasn't exactly excited, even though I believed that, logically, I would enjoy the role. Besides, there were some unsatisfactory details in the offer that we were negotiating. So I wasn't completely sure if this was the right opportunity for me. "God," I prayed, "if this doesn't work out, then I will seriously consider going back to Asia."
A couple of days later, I got the notice: America had decided to retract their job offer. Somehow I wasn't surprised. And, strangely enough, I started to feel excited for the first time in months.
However, I knew that moving abroad would probably entail teaching again, and I had mixed feelings about that. I didn't intend to teach again. I had realised that the typical teacher lifestyle, with its work/life (im)balance, wasn't healthy for me. It didn't give me chance to regain my energies. So I continued looking for UK jobs and doing different online courses to boost my CV. But again, there was nothing that seemed to suit me or really draw me in. And what I did apply for, I didn't get.
"Maybe it's worth the risk to go back to teaching after all," I thought. "Even if it's only a temporary step. I can follow the dream, test the call, and have the adventure while I'm free to do so. I'm as free to go somewhere as I'll ever be...and if I don't try this now, I might regret it later."
Around the same time, I was chatting with a friend about her future plans. "I'm seriously considering returning to Asia in some capacity," she messaged. What?! I sat up at that. I hadn't told her any of my own thoughts. "Funnily enough, I've also toyed with the same idea," I wrote back. As we talked, it turned out we were walking similar paths, researching similar things, and feeling the same kinds of fears. That felt like an extra confirmation to take this seriously.
As I was researching countries, one kept popping up and standing out above the others, for various reasons. Friends recommended it. And I kept feeling mysteriously drawn back to it, even when I read about other good options. Something was nudging me towards Korea.
After more research, lengthy deliberation, and prayer, I finally decided what I wanted to try first. I would follow a piece of classic advice from my grandma: Push the door and see if it opens. So I pushed a particular door...and it opened.
This time, I had peace. Peace that stayed like a deep undercurrent in spite of the anxious "what if's" that bubbled up. There were fears, but there was also a sense of compelling excitement. There were nerves about going back to teaching after a long break, and I knew there would be challenges and frustrations ahead. But I also felt that this was truly the next right thing.
Now, after some stressful weeks of paperwork and preparation, I am finally about to begin this new chapter as an English teacher in South Korea. Pray for me! I'm curious to see what God has for me in Korea. I hope my time there will not only be a meaningful experience, but that it will clarify some things about what I should do beyond 2022.