Before I actually took the plunge, moving to South Korea sounded like the worst idea in the world to almost everyone I spoke with. Now, two years in, they've totally changed their mind. But I can't blame them for thinking this was a wild idea.
That's because the average American does not travel very far, nor very often. Only around 42% of Americans had a passport in 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and many can't stray far from home because of the high cost or poor vacation policies at work. Let's be honest: Tavel is still a privilege in the United States, and moving abroad without a secure job is a risk that most can't afford to take.
I always wanted to be a reporter in South Korea, but only a piece of me believed that it could actually happen. When I started my first full-time journalism job in Boston, I slowly started putting away money every month in case of an emergency. Once I had a decent emergency budget, I kept building my savings. The idea was that the more money I had put away, the more freedom I would be able to achieve. Korea was in the back of my mind, but I had no real plans to exit. I was excited about my job and imagined myself having a long career there.
Then I started to become unhappy at work, and that unhappiness at work slowly became unhappiness at home, too (as it often does). About seven or eight months into my job, I realized that things weren't going to get any better. I started looking for other gigs within the United States, but Korea started calling my name. There were a few reasons for that. For one, I knew that the more I built my career in my home country, the harder it would be to walk away later on. Two, much of my family was in South Korea, and I wanted to be around the elderly family members (such as my grandmother) before it was too late. So I found an otherwise unideal contract reporting job that was remote, brought up the prospect of moving and took the plunge.
Here's the logistics of it all.
I learned a lot from moving abroad. The biggest takeaway, however, is that the best way for me to get the job I wanted was to just start doing the work myself. I knew that the dwindling foreign correspondence offshoot of the media industry wouldn't hire me and move me abroad. Those days are long gone at most news organizations, sadly. So, I decided to take the risk myself and hopefully prove that I was hirable. The worst case, I thought, was that I'd fail and go back home.
Anyway, I'm just sharing this information in case it helps others. If you have any questions, I'm happy to respond. Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.