It’s funny how life works sometimes. In my case, it threw me in for a curveball that brought both setbacks and incredible opportunities. While I knew my teaching skills were not fully up to scratch, especially when compared to some of my coworkers, I didn’t expect such a sudden end to my stint as an ESL instructor. Less than three weeks ago, I was called into my director’s office, and informed that while she wanted to let me stay the extra semester and finish my contract, HR did not. With that, my stay in Korea was wrapping up much earlier than anticipated.
This was a shock, of course, and that weekend was a whirlwind of emotion as I processed what had happened. I had to attend to logistics while plotting my next moves, all much earlier than I’d expected and with much more of a time crunch. I was uncertain, overwhelmed, stressed out.
Although initially I felt overwhelmed by uncertainty and possibility, I’ve become more and more confident in the plans I’ve been brewing. Now, this feels like the best decision I could possibly be making. And honestly? It feels amazing to know that I won’t have to go to a job that I hate deep down, five days a week. I’ve learned something important- while I’ll always be a teacher (and student) in some regard (as we all will), teaching in this context is not for me.
Initially, I thought I’d spend September in Taiwan and Japan, and head over to Europe in October to backpack with one of my best friends (and meet up with some other friends/cool travel bloggers!). Now, my itinerary has shifted somewhat. I spent hours and hours planning, researching, and talking to experienced friends.
What did I do?
I bought a bicycle and a tent.
I got some panniers and filled them up with minimal supplies.
I painstakingly decided what was worth being part of the 20 kg box I will ship on the slow boat to Canada.
In less than three days, I will be saying goodbye to Seoul in the best way I can picture. With its cerulean mountains in the distance, endless bridges and wide, calm waters, crossing the Han river has never grown old. This Saturday morning, I’ll be cruising along the banks of the Han by bicycle, bearing east and south, everything that I truly need to get by on two wheels. I’ll be following Jan Boonstra’s cycling route to Busan, hopping a ferry to cycle Korea’s most famous island (Jeju-do), and covering a fair chunk of Japan’s Kyushu and Honshu islands- all via my own wits (and rapidly strengthening legs).
One thing is certain: once it’s begun, I don’t intend to give up this new life of adventure and unparalleled freedom any time soon.
So that’s that- I imagine the frequency of my blog posts may decline in coming months, as I won’t have access to some of my older photos, and wifi access will be much more infrequent. The rest of my journey is a bit more uncertain, although I still plan to make my way to Europe by the beginning of October. I’m sure life in coming months will be rich with triumphs, setbacks, new friendships, beautiful scenery, and more experiences than some people encounter in a lifetime. I can’t wait to share my stories with you as I go, so please do stay tuned!
Have you been on a long-distance cycling tour before? I’d love to hear your stories and/or helpful suggestions! If not, where have you always dreamed of doing such a trip?