“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” Lao-tzu

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It’s really quite easy.

If you have been following my blogs you probably know how much Tom and I adore Korea. I recieve messages and comments literally daily with people commenting on how we are making this possible, telling us they are jealous, and asking how they can do it too.So, I’ve decided that I would dedicate a blog post to tell you just how EASY it really is, that anyone can do it (including you!), and tell you a few reasons why I love our life so much.

Let me start at the beginning. During my 5th grade year my dad joined the Air Force. Which meant we moved from the midwest United States to England. For 3 years my family extensively traveled Europe. When we moved back to the states it was to California. During the middle of my sophmore year of high school we moved to the small town of Marshfield, Wisconsin. I didn’t know it then, but I believe the years as an Air Force kid sparked a desire within me to see the world. After high school I had dreams of going to school in California, but felt limited because of out of state college expenses. I choose University of Wisconsin La Crosse, and decided to pursue teaching. After about a year of college I grew extremely restless. I studied abroad in the Fiji Islands for 6 months, and had an extremely hard time coming back to Wisconsin to finish my college years. I wanted to see the WORLD! I’m sure glad that I stayed in Wisconsin or I probably wouldn’t be married to my partner in crime today. For those of you who don’t know Tom he is a true midwest  all American boy at heart.  When we started dating again I didn’t care about my dreams to see the world any longer, because without him I didn’t want to travel the world anyway. When we got married I figured we would be in the U.S for the rest of our lives…

and then he surprised me!

I don’t think it happened over night. We would have long talks about seeing the world, and what life meant to us. We prayed a lot about where God wanted us to be. Slowly, I think he just began to see how big the world really is…On facebook, I would see pictures of our friends from college who had moved abroad…and I would share with Tom. I think deep down we both were seeking adventure, and needed change. Let me break it down for you in the most transparent way that I can:

* We are currently both English Teacher’s in South Korea. Stress is low, and most importantly each day is FUN!

* We moved to Korea 2 1/2 months ago.

* We sold lots of our stuff or donated it. It was extremely liberating.

* We will be able to travel extensively!! First up? Malaysia.

* We will pay off ALL of my college debt by living here…and it’s $35,000 dollars. On top of this we can SAVE  money!

* Most importantly. Both Tom and I agree that this is the BEST decision we have ever made. Living in Korea not only is spectacular, but because of this opportunity we will be enabled to volunteer/travel for an extended period of time after we leave South Korea.

So why don’t more people do it? Well, I don’t know. If I had to take a guess though I would say this:

1.Fear of leaving comfort-  They have security back home. They have built a life. Leaving comfort is scary. Taking the jump is the hardest part. What about responsibilites? Kids. Jobs. House. I want to tell you we have met people who live in South Korea from the U.S or Canada, and they have kids! We have met people who have just graduated college to those who are past retirement age…and I am not kidding. We have met those who are married, in relationships, and those who are single. They have shown me that it can be done with a family! I have no idea what our future will bring- but leaving comfort was such a blessing to us!

2. The unknown Is it safe over there? What do you do with all your belongings? How do you know you will get paid? These are just a few of the questions we have been asked. I’ll keep my anwsers simple. YES. It is safe. I feel more safe here in Korea than I did back home. There is a very low rate of violence crimes. When all that jazz was happening with North Korea- It was just ridiculous if you ask me. All media sensation. I felt ZERO threat! Our belongings- we sold them or donated. Some stuff that we couldn’t part with we are storing in a very small storage unit, and Tom’s parents were so kind to store our wooden bedroom furniture. How do we know we will get paid? We work for the government in public schools. So, there is no worry or concern about recieving payment. It’s easy.

3.Finances- Many people have debt bogging them down. Especially newly graduated students, not to mention bills, car payments, house payments etc. We didn’t own a home so that part was easy (but we have met people who do still have a house back in the states!) We sold a car. We kept a car in storage. So how are we able to pay off debt, save, AND travel? Well, the schools provide us housing. They reimburse us for our flights out here, and back when we are finished. We get paid once a month. Our landlord pays for water, internet, and cable. I get $100 a month for “commuting-to-work.” Our expenses here include food, $150 a month for our two iphone bills, and any money that we spend on travel…which leaves us a lot of flexibility to save, pay off debt, and travel.

There are many recruiting companies out there to recruit English teacher’s to teach abroad. We went with Canadian Connection, because they came highly recommended to us by our friends. It was completely free on our end, and all we had to do to get started was apply! Tom and I are both really happy we went with Canadian Connection. I hope through my post I was able to show you that it CAN BE DONE…if you really want to make it happen. This life we are living is too good to not be shared! I understand that living abroad is not for everyone, but for those who are intrigued/curious  I wanted to show one way that it can be done.

The journey begins with a single step.

Each of our jouney’s look different, and I think that is what makes life so special.

I want to know… what does your journey look like right now?

The view from our journey...

(photo credit to Orman’s)The view from our journey…

oedaldo

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About Elicia Shepard

I'm unique just like you. I've learned every person has a story which makes us who we are. One minute I am here..then I am gone. Discovering unknown places and people is an addiction I am proud of and will be an endless journey of mine. Smiling is not a pastime it's what I do. I live for moments that take my breath away. Falling in love is the greatest feeling-and the biggest risk. I thrive off of risks.Challenges. Adrenaline rushes. Making others smile. Art is all around and in ourselves. I love taking an unknown path not knowing where it'll lead. Mystery is beautiful. Compassion, kindness, and love- things I will always strive for. Know what you believe in. Stand up for it. Never be afraid to feel. Time waits for no one.Ever. Children inspire me. God fires me. Happiness is being with those you love.I am really blessed. I think God is love and forgiveness and I think he wants us to be good people and love EVERYONE. Figure out who you are and what that means to you-It's one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself (and you deserve it.) Live frugally on surprise. Breathe. Be who you are. Be an outcast...If you wanna find me I will be where the wind blows...Wherever that may take me.

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