From the desk of Shaun
I want you to imagine that you completed your one year teaching contract today.
You’re in Korea/Japan/China/Taiwan/Vietnam. What do you do now?
Go back home or travel the world?
There are a number of things you can do however…….
There will be consequences, good or bad.
If you have any debt(s) that need to be paid off, you’ll have to go through the process of getting your paperwork again. Bills wait for no one. It’s good to have a plan while in teaching overseas.
My original plan didn’t work out. Thankfully, I had capital. So I thought….
When I left Korea in November 2013, I had a plan.
My plan was to work for a major company in video/media production. I thought listening to the Baby Boomers on being “successful” was the thing to do; I made an attempt to settle down.
April 2014 was the start of something ugly yet beautiful.
The MOMENT I stepped foot into that TV station, problems began. I dealt with a boss that was pretty rude to the staff (I worked in production, the very people responsible for making sure you get the news, etc). My director and I clashed often. It didn’t help that I was the oldest and most experienced in media.
I’ll admit I had many faults of my own. It was the first job I had in five months and I did things the Korean way (habitually). It took about a month to get that out of my system. Oh yeah, and I had a bad attitude. I thought I was the best because of my previous experience.
One thing i’ll NEVER apologize for is making an attempt to move up. I’ll also never apologize for defending myself. Production in a small market is perfect for people IN college, not after. Before I officially got the job, I let it be known that I had plans to move to creative. I made many attempts to get there and they always kept me in the back. When you’re making $7.45/hr, you’re going to be hungry (literally and mentally). I didn’t care that I got yelled at many times for asking.
If you have to ASK to move up in a position, you won’t get it.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson said it best:
When you walk up to opportunities door – don’t knock it..
Kick that b#### in, smile and introduce yourself.
In my eight months there, I worked two other jobs (I worked three in total just to barely pay off my car, loans, and rent). I was MISERABLE. I was often told “oh in six months, you should be able to move up”. In my sixth month, they saw my talents in editing.
With the exception of the grass, I animated this entire intro for Abilene Christian University football. How much did I make on this total?
$30 excluding taxes.
Shortly after this project, I was asked to edit a commercial for their weekly high school program Football Friday Night. It’s on the front page under “commissioned content” so you can check it there. After THAT project, I did one more commercial for them. Once again, I asked to be put on salary. Once again, I got:
“No Shaun, that’s for somebody else. We’re going to keep you right where you are.”
Two weeks later, I packed my things and went back to my parents house.
I hated being at home.
I HATED being at my parents house but it was necessary for my mental, spiritual, and financial growth. It’s necessary to go through hell and it’s better to plow through and get stronger.
The short version of all of this is to make sure you have a SOLID plan after teaching cause if not, you might have to do it all over again. The GREAT thing about this is if you do go back or if you’re there right now, you can set up your own business or something else.
Let’s look at some numbers. After college, it’s best to work a job not in your field while looking for something in your area. This is true. HOWEVER……
Let’s compare working in your home country versus working overseas.
At my previous Korea job, I made roughly $2200 a month (2.4 million KRW + optional overtime). For 14 months, I made roughly $30,800. Minimum payments on my car and student loans (which were $382.21 and $97.16, respectfully) comes out to 6711.18. I had roughly 24088.82 to do as I please. This doesn’t count the pension and bonus after completing the contract.
$30k a year isn’t much but it’s a lot when you don’t have to worry about rent.
Let’s compare to what I was doing at home.
From April 2014 to December 2014 I worked three jobs.
TV station: Five months in the night shift, I made about $5k; three months in the day shift, $1430.40.
Fed EX: Two months and two weeks: about $1000.
Bank: Two months: about $1000.
For 8 months in 2014, I made roughly (not counting taxes): $8430.40. Student loans, car note and rent in 2014: 8214.96. That left me with about $215.44 ($26.93 a MONTH) in money for gas and groceries. I had to borrow money from my folks and give plasma (something I swore off in 2008) to get extra money. Now that I think about it, it’s probably more since I did a plethora of overtime while working the morning shift. Still wasn’t much.
From January till September 2015, I made $5k in freelance media work for two companies. Teaching, I made about $5800 (not counting taxes) from February till early June.
That’s $10,800. Bills were $3834.96. I had to work with $6965.04 ($870.63 a month) in those nine months. Money was used for gas and other necessities.
April 2014 till September 2015, I made $19230.40 with $14,850.40 in bills which goes down to about $4380 to use as I pleased.
Last 14 months in Korea: $24088.82 “fun” money
Last 22 months in Texas: $4380 “fun” money.
By the grace of God, I was able to stay alive on what little money I had. I used my time VERY wisely in 2015. I studied business every day. I also got over my previous fears in connecting with people. That list I wrote here was not in vain.
Everything I went through is how the concept for Pop Over Asia came to life. It’s also how I was able to set up working as a media freelancer. In January this year, I successfully paid off my car; March saw my student loans paid in full. Six years of paying off both was for the birds.
Financially, working overseas is the best, especially if you’re a recent college graduate. If you take care of business while concentrating on your skills, you can do ANYTHING. You can’t do EVERYTHING but you can do what you need to do.
If you’re a teacher overseas, i’d like to know how it has benefited you and what you have or are doing now.
Until next time. Peace and love!