The moment I announced my intentions to move to South Korea I received several questions. Enough that I actually have a list of frequently asked questions. They are as follows
WHY??? Or more specifically what made you decide to do that?
While I was in the states I gave a fairly flippant answer because I knew that not many people would understand my main motivation. To answer this question honestly I have to go back in time a little bit to my final semester in college.
Every college student faces this conundrum; what next? That was the question I was pondering. At the time I had a short term answer. My job was to go back home and rebuild the youth group of my home church. I already had plans for a summer camp in motion and I was ready and willing. However I also knew that this was not a permanent assignment. I vividly remember sitting in my shoe box of an apartment in Texas looking up at God and saying I'll do this for as long as humanly possible but when it's time for me to bow out you need to make it painfully obvious.
I continued making the youth group my number one priority for nearly two years. I firmly believe that this particular ministry was blessed because it took off and prospered far beyond what my abilities alone could achieve. I loved each and every one of the students that came my way and my only regret is that I wish I could have done more. (isn't that always the case?) All good things come to an end though and soon enough it became apparent that I was supposed to be elsewhere. The question what next? plagued me for months. I knew that was supposed to be getting ready for something new but I also knew that God was telling me to be patient, everything in his time. I hate waiting. It's like a vague itch. I can feel it but I don't know where exactly to scratch.
God finally handed me a back scratcher at the end of the year. At the rehearsal dinner for my best friend from college I met up with another friend who had been teaching in Seoul for three years. One conversation and a bath later (bath time is the best time to contemplate life choices, no one can deny this.) I had my answer. South Korea was my next destination. I can't adequately describe the peace that came from this conclusion. (it was a conclusion not a decision because I did not make the final call) which leads to my next FAQ
Are you scared/nervous? No. Not even a little bit. I was ecstatic. After months of chomping at the bit I finally had a destination and it was an exciting one. Furthermore I was being sent on the highest calling which comes with premium insurance. How could I possibly be scared? If anything my confidence and determination grew with every application, interview and piece of paperwork. You know God is working with you when even the government is cooperating. From the moment I submitted my application to when I finally stepped off the plane in Busan God has been holding my hand every step of the way. So no. I'm not scared. "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."
14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings." Philippians 2:12-14.
This next question amused and exasperated me at the same time. What do your parents think?
My honest answer is this: does it matter what they think? I love my parents and I have the utmost respect for them. This past year has been extremely difficult for my family for different reasons and if they had told me that they would rather I didn't go I wouldn't have blamed them. I also wouldn't have listened.
" And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.21 And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.
22 But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead." Matthew 8:20-22
Jesus called for his disciples to leave their families and follow him. Call it an occupational hazard. I knew where I was supposed to be and go. My parents knew this as well. They not only respected my call but they encouraged me every step of the way. They didn't show me the latest news clip from North Korea. When I found out my province they had google pulled up in seconds. I've spoken to other teachers in my orientation class who's family dogged them every step of the way. This wasn't the case for me and my gratitude knows no bounds.
This last question always cracked me up because literally everyone asked this. Parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, my boss, coworkers, students, hair stylist, the lady at Walgreens, friends I haven't spoken to in years calling to ask..... Are you gonna get yourself a hot Korean man? Answer: How am I supposed to know?????? Relationships confuse me at the best of times when there is no language barrier. This is something that honestly bewilders me. I've been with my fellow expats for a week and already I see others hooking up with each other. How on earth do you decide in the span of a week that this person is worth dating? How did these people figure out that the other party was interested? (is there some secret code??) I think I accidentally sent mixed signals to one of the national students here at the college by smiling on the staircase. I literally smile at anyone walking past so I can avoid speaking without appearing to be rude. I'm not flirting, I'm avoiding social interaction. It's not an invitation to glance back and try to approach. Sorry buddy, I didn't mean it. I honestly think the only way I'll have a relationship is if someone somehow manages to be massively persistent without being irritating. I'll let you know if this miracle occurs.
My name is Arielle. (Not actually named after the mermaid, but a character from Thundar the Barbarian) I am an English teacher in South Korea.