For us this has been a loaded question we've been thinking and talking through for the past month. Most foreign teachers here are single and just out of college. They aren't married and they are free to blow with the wind as they please. For us it's a bit different, as I am not teaching so we live on a one person budget in a one person home. Part of the fun of this kind of adventure is going places and getting to see and do things you could never do back home. Living abroad is not for the faint of heart but rather for the adventurous, curious, and endlessly flexible.
The past month and a half for us has been full of adjustments. Our dear friends Ian and Casey took off on a whirl-wind world wide trip toward home. They covered southeast Asia than made their way across Europe and will be arriving home tomorrow, Friday Aug 27th. We have missed them so much. We hung out with them every weekend and even started a Sunday routine a few weeks before they left. All four of us would go running at a park near their building than come back to our place have dinner and watch a movie. It was so nice to be able to know we always had friends to hang out with on the weekends and not have to go to the bar just to be social. Alas, their time ended here (all to soon) and we are missing them but happy that they were still able to take the trip of a lifetime, even after a very disappointing year in Korea.
Ian and Casey (primarily Ian) is to blame in causing us to really consider moving to Portland, OR when we get back stateside whether in 2011 or 2012. Thus, we have been very anxious for them to return home and see how they adjust to American life as well as the failing economy and job market.
All this to say we suddenly began considering staying in Korea for another year when Ben started looking for jobs back home. We've been doing all we can to stay abreast of whats happening with the economy and things just don't seem to be improving in the least. That was our thinking when we left, we go away for year get rid of some more debt than come back and things will be better. Alas, they are not and this has caused us to really re-think leaving our situation here in Jecheon.
All in all we have it quite nice here. We have a tiny little apartment but it is air-conditioned, re-modeled, and safe. Ben has a WONDERFUL employer and boss, co-workers, and school. He has enjoyed the challenge of teaching and learned a lot about working with kids and being flexible. Together we've learned to live on a budget (and a very tight one at that), we've paid of a credit card and a medical bills, and we've grown closer to each other and God. What more could you want out of a year abroad?
As we crunched numbers and began thinking about another year we were taken back at how much more we could accomplish by staying just one more year. If we stay we'll be debt free (minus a few school loans) and have saved about 10K, that is more than we had ever hoped to accomplish here. That would take us several years to accomplish back home because of the cost of living etc.
If we decide to stay another year we would also be able to see and experience more of Korea. Personally, a year was surprisingly not enough time to see and do everything I wanted to do here. Last year had its surprises with Mom being diagnosed with cancer and an unexpected trip home and just being overwhelmed at adjusting to life abroad and living on a budget. It didn't allow us to do as much exploring here as we'd hoped. Ben would receive a substantial pay raise and that would allow us to pay off more, save more, and have enough to really be able to do some fun stuff here ie: skiing in the winter, more beach trips in the summer, trips to Seoul for Kraze Burgers and Starbucks etc. We would also plan to take a trip to a southeast Asian location to scare away some of the winter blues and soak in some more culture while we're on the other side of the planet. Its a must do if you live here for more than a year. There is just sooo much to do and see and explore over here outside of Korea and not taking that opportunity would be regretful.
We will hopefully be meeting with Mr. Lee soon in hopes of nailing out exactly what our next steps are whether we stay or head home. At the moment its looking like we will stay another year and knock out some more debt and stash some more cash. This decision does not come without hours and hours of late nights talking, going on long late night walks to talk, lists upon lists of pros and cons of staying or going, and lots and lots of prayer. We'd ask we your continued prayer as we finalize our decision but just wanted to give everyone a heads up on which direction we're headed.
We have felt so loved and supported during this past year here as we've received boxes and cards and emails from family and friends. A huge THANK-YOU to all of you! We love you and miss you all sooo much and couldn't do this without you.