If you’re a recent grad or a student with that “I-can’t-wait-to-be-done” feeling but don’t want to jump into the workforce right away… if you want to travel and see the world but don’t have the money, then Korea may be for you!
Or China, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, India, or … well, pretty much any Asian country that sounds like an amazing travel destination. (Except for North Korea, of course.)
I taught English in Seoul, South Korea for a year after graduating university. I made this life-altering decision because of the compulsive desire to travel and experience something new, the search for a definite career path, lack of immediate responsibilities except for a huge student loan, and a voice in my head telling me that such an opportunity may never present itself again.
Also, I was in search of international work experience, which is required if you want to pursue a career in international development management and work with organizations such as Right to Play and the Aga Khan Foundation.
Even if you simply have the itch to travel without the added pressure of gaining valuable work experience, choosing to do it with a job in the country or region you wish to visit has plenty of benefits over simply backpacking using your personal savings. This job doesn’t have to be a full-time, 9-to-5 kind of gig, and it is actually better if it’s something that really interests you, such as photography, journalism, working with kids, or wherever your heart lies.
If you’re unsure which way you want your career to lead, having a job in your new country will allow you to network with others who are possibly at similar crossroads as yourself.
You can meet some really cool people by traveling alone, but it’s much harder to steer the conversation toward career paths and life decisions in settings where everyone’s out to enjoy themselves as opposed to in a workplace.
Also, having a job will provide you with a home base and you will not be a wanderer experiencing life in a new country every other week or month. Country-hopping may sound very exciting at first but can quickly make you miss the things you hated about home.
A travel break after university is an opportunity for you to turn it into something much more meaningful and, if you’re lucky, find your calling.
The market for teaching English in Asia is huge, which is not a bad option, but there are certainly other opportunities out there if you do some research. There is lots to see and no matter where you go or what you do when there, you will come back a changed man or woman.
So, good luck and bon voyage!