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Re: If your honest with yourself...Are you an economic migrant?
« Reply #80 on: October 04, 2011, 09:44:50 am »

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I am just an engineer. Nothing special.
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Being an engineer is something special in my opinion. It's one of those fields that is in demand and that employers are looking for. It is a field where you don't really feel the effects of the great recession (unless you work for HP or Cisco Systems). You are a rarity in the ESL teacher field. I grew up in Silicon Valley, and I only know one engineer/programmer/etc. who gave up their job to teach ESL, and he went back to his field after about a year and a half.  I know of one other person living abroad working as an audio programmer in Japan. All the rest are well travelled, but they only travel during their vacation, and nobody else has done what you have.

Although I am satisfied living in Korea and came here for a mixture of reasons (Korean girlfriend and my business reached a point where being a teacher in Korea seemed worthwhile), I sometimes wonder how life would be if I followed the path of the majority of friends and became an engineer. I wonder if I can jump back into the math game after years of just using math just for business purposes. Although I love business, I think the risk versus reward is too great to go for an MBA. A lot of people are going back to school to try to ride out this recession, but I think they are in for a huge surprise once they finish school, unless they get that degree in the math or science arena.

How long do you plan on staying before going back to your engineering field? Have you thought about working for Samsung if you wanted to extend your stay in Korea? I have met several engineers in the past from India and France who worked for them over in Suwon.

Also, out of curiosity, do meet a lot of foreigners in Korea who try to act smarter than you after finding out you're an engineer? As if they know everything there is about the world? As if the rest of the world is just stupid? I've met several who show off about how much they read and know and start complaining about life in Korea, and I often ask myself, "If these people are so smart, why don't these people read the right books, open up an engineering book or medical book, and then get themselves out of Korea if it's a hell hole?"

As for costs of living, I'd still like to hear from people from non-blue states. The people I know are from California, Chicago, New York and New Jersey, all expensive states. I don't know a whole lot of people from red states.


  • Slurgi
  • Adventurer

    • 26

    • August 30, 2011, 10:13:46 am
    • Daehak-dong, Seoul
Re: If your honest with yourself...Are you an economic migrant?
« Reply #81 on: October 04, 2011, 11:25:12 am »
I also have a degree in Engineering (Electrical). I graduated with honors from a well-respected state school and had little difficulty finding employment after graduation.

I worked for about a year for a software company (I was a programmer that also did a bit of travel to help customers install/configure/operate it) but became increasingly disenchanted by the job. Working hours and expectations were absurd, and I just couldn't handle it anymore. My lifestyle here is considerably less stressful and a much needed change of pace. Sure, I earn a good bit less money, but after adjusting for cost of living (a vehicle being necessary, eating and drinking out being considerably more expensive, etc.), I don't earn all that much less here. I've only been here a little over a month but have no idea how long I'll stay...

I know other people with technical degrees feeling quite burnt out and distressed after only one or two years working in their field of study. I think one of the primary reasons people with technical degrees aren't taking the leap to teach in Korea is that many don't have the interpersonal skills and sociability to do work that isn't technical.

To the original topic: I guess I don't consider myself an economic migrant, but I do see the potential of remaining in this country longer if my home country ends up an economic mess (which I view as a real and likely possibility; I would likely be marching down Wall Street if I had decided to stay home!).


  • dvddeen
  • Waygookin

    • 13

    • May 04, 2011, 08:47:26 am
    • South Korea
Re: If your honest with yourself...Are you an economic migrant?
« Reply #82 on: October 04, 2011, 05:05:22 pm »
I definitely do not consider myself an economic migrant.  I came to Korea because I intended to get into teaching, but decided to try it here before I invested in getting a teaching degree.  I always planned to give myself 3-5 years in Korea to make sure that teaching was something I really wanted to do.  Now, I am in my 7th year here, and I am looking forward to going back home.  I would have been gone already except that I got engaged so by necessity had to stay a bit longer.  My wife and I plan to move out of Korea at the end of my current contract.


Re: If your honest with yourself...Are you an economic migrant?
« Reply #83 on: October 06, 2011, 12:16:46 pm »
I guess I could somewhat consider myself as an economic migrant.

For one, I'm fresh out of university and I have some student loans to pay off. It's very difficult to find a stable job back at home that offers reasonable wages, especially with only a Bachelor's degree in Anthropology with minimum work experience. In Korea, I can easily save my money considering the relatively low cost of living. Overall, this has been a smart decision financially as I am able to pay off my student loans while saving money to pursue a graduate degree down the road.

On the other hand, I always wanted to go overseas to teach English for the experience. I feel that if I didn't have loans to pay, I would still be over here teaching. I'm here not just for the money, but for the learning experience and travel. I want to learn about a different culture and language, and working back at home would not offer such perks. Also, I'm considering ESL teaching as a possible career path. I have a specialization in TESOL from my university, and teaching in Korea is putting it to good use. I'm using my experience here as a test to see if I really want to teach for a living.


Re: If your honest with yourself...Are you an economic migrant?
« Reply #84 on: October 14, 2011, 12:04:31 pm »
I'm a 34 year old guy from Sydney who is in Korea for a 2nd time. While there are plenty of jobs back home (albeit crappy jobs with lousy pay/conditions if you're a graduate/post-graduate in the arts/education),most people live an almost 'hand-to-mouth' existence. Back home I'd save almost no money and have to share an apartment. On Korea (being paid half the money) I can eat/drink what I like, travel and still save money! The 'successful' Australian economy is just a facade; most of our export money comes from the mining industry. Real estate in my city is also screwed for most people due to foreign investment (i.e. Chinese people buying all the suburban apartments pushing up prices for everyone else). In Korea I don't feel like I'm living 'on the sidelines' (I'm sure poor people from LA, London or other big cities would agree with me). Being a little older in the west sucks as well (it's a little better here in Korea for respect but for dating it's crap). Also living/travelling in another country is far more interesting; a tub of yoghurt has more culture than Australia (some may say Canada and NZ as well)! The bottom line for me is that I came to Korea for a cultural experience/challenges/respect/professional and academic recognition.


Re: If your honest with yourself...Are you an economic migrant?
« Reply #85 on: October 14, 2011, 12:10:47 pm »
One more point..... In Sydney (the state of New South Wales) you need to do 2 years post-grad to become a high school or primary teacher (plus a 3 year undergrad degree). Other states only require 1 year post-grad. As for ESL, there are no jobs left due to our governments (both left & right) being stuck in a time warp and getting stricter with immigration (like the rest of the west). That obviously means less people in Australia (or the UK or wherever else) with English as a 2nd language (or no English ability at all) to teach.