Korea / Seoul / Teaching Abroad / Travel / USA

Stop It America!

This one goes out to a lovely friend who’s about to repatriate to the States after a couple years teaching English in Korea. We’ve been messaging back and forth telling each other about our plans and recently I got a message from her that said I’m the only ray of light; the only positive person amongst negative voices that tell her not to leave “the safety net of Korea.” I just have to put my foot down and say STOP IT AMERICA!

Yes, things aren’t as easy as they used to be for recent grads. And yes, I fully endorse traveling after graduation. It’s an excellent option instead of grad school and you get loads of real world experience. But it is 100% possible to move back to the US and make a good life for yourself. I’ve been told too many times not to come home and it really peeves me. If I am tired of being a foreigner and want to feel at home again, I should be encouraged to come home, not told that there’s no hope there. What it really comes down to is how motivated and committed you are to creating a life in the US for yourself.

You know why this country became so great? Because we had the attitude that we could pick ourselves up by our bootstraps and become whatever we wanted. We were and still are adaptable and creative. Yes, we are in hard economic times. I get that. People my age have tons of student loans to pay off and can’t get a decent job with their bachelors degrees because they are competing against people who already have years of experience in their field. I understand where the frustration is coming from. But let me tell ya, all this negativity is incredibly unattractive. Super unattractive.

I left the US three and a half years ago for Asia. I have been bouncing back and forth ever since then because quite frankly I was turned off and discouraged by our lovely country. Both times I came back home after working and traveling in Thailand I was welcomed with discouraging words and didn’t even give the US a chance. I immediately would begin my search for work abroad. Why squander my savings looking for crappy jobs here, when I could get a good sounding job abroad? This time is different though. This time I promised myself I would stay and “make it work” as Tim Gunn would say. I’m proud to announce that I did it. I made it work. Yes it took some time and searching, and I will admit I shed a few tears, but I figured it out.

I do miss living in Korea and how easy it was to exist comfortably there. But Korea is filled with young Americans, Canadians, Brits and Australians either putting off “real life” or weathering the storm that is the plague of bad economies in our home countries. We would frequently get into discussions about dreading what was waiting for us at home; how we didn’t know what we would do for work. I knew I might have a hard time finding a job (I’d have to be stupid to not have that notion in my head), so I saved every penny I could and came back home with a nice amount in savings ready to start my search.

I truly believe that it’s all in your attitude and planning. If you come home with zero or negative funds, then you certainly aren’t doing yourself any favors. It will be incredibly hard for you because money does go quickly in America. It also doesn’t help if you have an entitled mindset. Yeah you have a degree and were well respected abroad, but that doesn’t guarantee you an incredible job right off the bat here. I was ready to work jobs that you might not need a degree to do, like as a concierge or in a market. I’m not saying I wanted these as careers necessarily, but I would have taken the opportunities to make money while I continued my dream job search and pursued other interests to better myself outside of work.

It’s not easy coming home, and throwing pity parties isn’t conducive to acquiring jobs. Come home with confidence, a plan, and some money in the bank and you should be just fine. If you are ready to come home and need a break from being a foreigner, just do it! Don’t listen to the fear mongers. Consider it a new challenge. It’s a fresh adventure, making your way in hard times in the US. You can keep running from our bad economy or you can face it head on and show us what you’re made of.

P.S. I’m not telling you to come home if you don’t want to. I love travel with all my heart and fully support wanderlust adventures. This post is for those who want to come home but are being discouraged by the killjoys.

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5 thoughts on “Stop It America!

  1. A suggestion: don’t go to college and rack up a barge-load of debt getting papered in Gender Studies or Art Appreciation so you can flip burgers at a McJob. If you are following Danielle’s blog you are probably a bit of a wanderer like her– Go wander instead!

    I always marvel how people slide straight from high school into college. I think people should have a mandatory time out of at least 2, perhaps even 4 years before they resume their so-called education. Travel the world, and discover first hand the value of true learning. Save your pennies while getting your free education.

    After that, if you still want to major in 15th Century Poetry (or even Computer Science), then you’ve made that choice with eyes wide open after seeing that the world is a lot bigger place than your parent’s house or your dormitory room. You can follow your Big Education Plan with confidence that it’s the right thing for you instead of blithely following the other sheep into the paddock.

    Personally I would rather hire a person of adventure like Danielle without regard to any degree over some poor schlub who went to college simply because That’s What You Are Supposed To Do. In my experience people who have seen a bit of the real world in lieu of just punting off to college are more grown up and grounded. That’s got to help one survive a sucky economy.

    If you’re one of those people freaking out at coming back to the US from whatever gawdforsaken hellhole you are currently living in, I say relax. Because you had the guts to burst free of the cocoon, you are already an order of magnitude above some average drone who merely managed to survive 18 years of K-BA. Any place worth working for should recognize that.

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