Today was the day I was asked to submit my request for renewal.
If this would have happened even a week ago, I think I would have been much more excited about it. However, given my Easter-induced homesickness, I felt the weight of the decision with full force.
In the end, renewing my contract is the smart decision. Staying in Korea is hands-down the best way to continue paying my loans (student and car) and to travel. Traveling is still a priority to me. I know when I go home I probably won't have a high-paying job, and it will be tough to just make ends meet. I won't really have the ability to save money for traveling. Being in Korea is different.
Staying with EPIK for another year means that I not only go up another pay level (which means I will be taking home considerably more than I was teaching back home), but I'll also get a renewal bonus, double the severance when I leave, and an extra week of paid vacation. Oh, and when I leave I'l also get my pension, which amounts to 9% of my salary (I contribute half and my employer matches). By the time I leave, that will also be a good amount of extra cash.
Of course, it's not all about the money. Being in Korea has really been the most amazing experience, and I'm looking forward to seeing what I can learn in another year. I've done a lot of things this year, but there are also so many things I still want to do.
Even with all these perks, I of course have some sadness in signing away another year of my life. The most difficult thing to think about is spending another year away from my friends and family back home. It feels like a dagger through my heart when I think of missing another Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, countless birthdays, and so much more. In so many ways, it feels selfish and not worth the benefits of staying here for another year.
However, when I take a step back and think about it, I know that in the grand scheme of my life, I probably won't regret spending another year here. I think if I give up my opportunity to travel more, I will regret it. I don't think traveling is something people tend to regret, but I think not traveling is certainly something many people DO regret. So many people have told me to travel while I'm young, so I'm going to take that advice and run with it.
Another thing that saddens me is the fact that I can't stay at my school. I've known for some time that I wouldn't be able to stay there next year, but it's especially difficult to face that reality now because I have been having the most amazing semester getting to know my students and co-teachers alike. Quite frankly, t just kind of sucks.
Luckily (although also sadly), one of my friends in Jeomchon will be leaving his elementary school position in August, so I should be able to take his job. That way even if I have to switch schools, I won't have to move to a completely new town.
I should note that none of this will be final until I get the official contract in a few months. If something happens and I decide to change my mind, I can still do so. Or who knows, they could decide to move me to a completely different town or decide not to renew me altogether. Nothing will be final for quite some time.
Additionally, I should let everyone know that I plan on coming home in August. Unfortunately, it seems like I'll only be able to come home for about a week and a half. I'm not too happy about this, because originally I was hoping that I would be able to take my renewal week and be home for nearly three weeks. It's awfully expensive and time-consuming to go home, and there are so many things I know I'm going to want to do and people I will want to see. A week and a half doesn't seem even close to enough time, but I guess I have to take what I can get.
So, there are the updates. I will of course keep you all updated on the latest. Thanks to all of my wonderful friends and family who continue to support me, even though I know you don't always want to. I'm truly blessed to have such supportive and encouraging people in my life. XOX