I Paused My 7 Year Career As An Attorney To Move To Asia
By DeAnna Taylor
Burnout: the feeling of physical and emotional exhaustion, due to stress from working with people under difficult or demanding conditions.
I was working full time as an attorney, mostly doing tedious contractor work, and working part-time as a personal trainer before and after my 9-5. I was the walking definition of burnout. I literally was working life away, without much to show for it.
My love for travel was always there. I just needed to find a way to escape the “American life” to travel more and make money in the process.
How I did it
I had a few friends that had moved overseas after college to teach English in Asia. Back then, I hadn’t even started traveling internationally so it wasn’t a thought. After asking those same friends about their experience, I was convinced that it was for me at this point in my life.
I joined several Facebook groups for Black expats in different Asian countries. I also did my own research in the meantime. I initially applied through one recruiter, and after butting heads several times the recruiter dropped me.
I posted my experience in the Black expat group for Korea. Many people shared that they had similar experiences with this guy. Luckily, one woman sent me a message about the program she was employed through in Korea, so I contacted them.
It seemed that things just fell into place from there. All I needed was proof of my 4-year degree, a valid passport, a clean background check, and a TEFL certificate. I ended up taking the certification online through Groupon.
In a little over 3 months, I signed my 1-year contract, sent off my passport to get my Korean work visa, and booked my one-way flight to Seoul.
How was the experience
Let me preface this by saying, everyone’s experience will differ, but I loved my time in Korea. I taught 3rd through 6th grade students in two public elementary schools. The company that I was employed with was based out of a Christian University in a city called Cheonan, an hour from Seoul.
I worked Monday through Friday between 8:40 am and 4:40 pm. In a given day I would teach between three to five 40-minutes classes. My down time was spent surfing the net, working on my blog, and prepping for the next day. It was super easy work.
When I was done each day, that was it.
We had a mandatory 2-week vacay in January and one in July. In between, we had lots of holidays, including a 10-day public holiday in September. I often used my holidays to travel around Asia. In that one year, I visited 8 other countries. The one that I still can’t believe I was able to visit, was the Maldives.
I definitely felt more relaxed, refreshed and happy during my time abroad. There’s truly a difference in the work-life balance that they have versus what we have in the United States.
What is the pay?
The standard pay in Korea is around $1,800 to $2,300 per month depending on experience and location. In addition, you are given a free studio or one-bedroom apartment, free health insurance, and culture trips throughout the year.
While this doesn’t sound like a lot, you should also keep in mind that the cost of living is low compared to the U.S., especially with minimal bills taking your check each month. My biggest bill was my cell phone service.
People are able to pay down significant debts and even save money off of this salary, all while living a comfortable life too.
If this hasn’t sold you, you’re also given a severance package normally in the amount of two months pay.
Where am I now?
I am now back in the U.S. after my year, doing my lawyer thing and writing. I had plans to immediately go back after visiting family and friends for a little while, but a family situation has kept me here for now. I would definitely return in a heartbeat, though. The plan is to hopefully do another year soon, this time in Thailand.
If you have additional questions on the process, you can hit me up on IG: @brokeandabroadlife.
DeAnna Taylor is a criminal defense Attorney turned travel writer. The Charlotte native recently completed one year abroad working as an English teacher in South Korea. Her hobbies include fitness, traveling to new countries, and trying new foods.