Back in the ROK

“Now I’m back home in the States, trying to plot out my next move. For the past six months I’ve assumed that I would leave Korea in March and then move on to a job in Saudi Arabia or Dubai. But as it turns out, dear readers, that’s a lot easier said than done. As much as I’d like to visit a new place and get a higher-paying job in the Middle East, that Korean hook is in deep. I’ll very likely be going back sometime between June and August.”

I wasn’t lying when I wrote these words back in April, dear readers. Korea does indeed have me hooked, and I did indeed come back to it near the end of June. My visa has been updated, I’ve been issued a new ARC, and, barring some unforeseen catastrophe, I’m now here for at least another year. Greetings from Seoul. 🙂

Before you ask, allow me to address the questions I’m being asked most frequently these days.

1. Korea? I thought you were going to the Middle East.

That was the plan for a while. Hell, the whole point of earning my CELTA certification last year was to qualify for jobs in Saudi and Dubai. But, as I was preparing to leave at the end of the last school year I realized that I wasn’t ready to go just yet. I’m comfortable here. I’m happy here. And the Middle East will still be there if and when I decide to give it a shot. So, what’s the rush? Sometimes moving on to new things is progress, but sometimes it’s self-sabotage. Think I’ll stay a little longer.

2. Be honest. Did you go back because of a girl?

not in loveNo. While I admire people who make bold gestures on behalf of Love (like moving halfway around the world to be with someone), that’s not the story here. Believe it or not, my coming back to Korea was actually motivated by a social cause. Over the last year I’ve become very interested in working with North Korean refugees living in Seoul. This sort of thing is uncharacteristic of me (as my friend Kristian has told me multiple times), but it’s something I feel very strongly about. I wanted to dedicate more time to it. Please educate yourself about the plight of the North Korean people.

3. Did you bring Kimchi back with you? 

Yes. The furball is back on his home turf and loving it. Some of you may have seen the video I posted of his triumphant return to the elite championship ranks of Olympic hallway fetch. If not, here it is again.

4. Are you still working for the same school? 

Yes. The school I work for here in Korea has always come through for me when I’ve needed them. I’ve never had an issue with my salary, my living situation, my immigration status, or my insurance. Last January they even paid me in advance so I could have an MRI done. After all the horror stories I’ve heard about foreigners at other schools not getting paid, getting fired during their last weeks of work (so their schools can avoid paying bonuses), or moving on to new schools that they hate, I’ve learned my lesson. Stick with what works.
Now that I’ve gotten all that out of the way, here’s what I’ve got planned starting next month.

First, my great friend and former teaching partner Young is getting me signed up for Korean lessons. Yes, after 3 years in the ROK I’m finally making a concentrated effort to learn the language. I know I’ve said I was going to do this before, but this time I’m actually dropping money on it. That always has a way of making things more important.


Secondly, Young is also getting me signed up to start working out at a boxing gym. It’s like a normal gym except that you get to punch stuff and yell “I AM THE GREATEST!” whenever you hit a weight loss goal. 🙂  Actually, it was kind of a neat coincidence how it all worked out. I was reading Mike Tyson’s book Undisputed Truth and it occurred to me that I might have enjoyed training as a boxer when I was younger. Two days later, Young’s at my desk: “J Teacher, you want to join a boxing gym in Beomgye?” Couldn’t say no.

So, next time I update this blog I’ll be in much better shape and writing all of this in Korean. Stay tuned, kids. I’m back.

About J. Wiltz

"Well, you know, there really isn't very much to say about me." - Andy Warhol
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