Am I Staying or Leaving? – On Why Leaving Korea is so Difficult

by Mike Still

To stay or not to stay.  That is one of an expat’s toughest questions.  August 25th will be my 3 year Koreaversary and if you ask me today, I’m planning on leaving next year.  The problem is expats like myself say that all the time.  That attitude is exactly how friends of mine made Korea a home for 5 years, 9 years, and even 17 years!  It’s easy to live in Korea, I’ve got a good job, and a good life.  Most of us do.  Well most of the expat men at least._DSC6031Women can live a great life in Korea and many do but I’d be lying if I told you that Korea wasn’t a sexist country.  That very bias might even make it easier for guys like me to have a successful life here in Korea.  There’s even a politically incorrect, Urban Dictionary-esque term known as an LBH or Loser Back Home.  LBH is a term I’ve only heard used to describe guys who apparently were a loser in their home country.  Often some college grad who couldn’t land a job or a girlfriend until they came to Korea.  Then suddenly everyone (Koreans) think they’re a celebrity!   Suddenly jobs are easy to come by and life is good.

Now this certainly isn’t everyone’s experience but for me these last 3 years have been pretty damn good.  I can’t comment on my previous loser status but I’ve certainly lost it if playing video games and drinking Red Bull  all weekend.  Perhaps there was also that 6 month SNAFU when I first arrived but truly the Korean chapters of my life have been outstanding!  Life has been one amazing adventure after another.  I’ve explored cultures, hiked mountains and loved everything in between.  Korea has been the best decisions I could have made for hundreds of reasons.  I’m making enough money to travel, pay my debts and somehow also save.  Let’s not forget the fact that I am the happiest I’ve ever been in my life.  

I’ve got a phenomenal girlfriend.  Ronda is truly a godsend.  Sometimes I wonder why she picked me and then I question if I’m one of those LBH’s.  Better just to focus on how good life is.  Neither of us know what will happen post-Korea.  Just a minute, I’ve got an easy solution!  Don’t leave Korea.  Oh wait.  Guess there’s one more reason that expats like me stay for 17 freaking years.  

Delaying the difficult decision of what to do after Korea might even be the main reason that we stay so long.  I’ve got dreams of living and teaching in Europe after backpacking the rest of Asia.  I think both will happen too the question is when?  Living here has let me save enough to take a leave of absence from the working world and my 6-month backpack plan is forming nicely.  ezgif-com-video-to-gif

Even with the vacation of a lifetime looming leaving Korea is still an unknown.  8 months from now am I going to get on a plane and leave this land I’ve called home for the last time?  That’s a scary decision. One that  I’m hesitant to publicize but I’ve made my decision right?  I’m leaving Korea at the end of this contract.  I think?

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Mike Still
Mike is a travel enthusiast, photographer and teacher. He loves adventure travel, meeting the locals and exploring new culture. As an outdoor enthusiast you can often find him hiking mountains or exploring forests trying to capture the beauty of mother nature. In 2013 he founded as he left his home in America and has been teaching or traveling around the world ever since!

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