Nicole R. is currently an ESL (English as a second language) teacher in Busan, South Korea, entrepreneur, TeachOutNow ESL counseling organization cofounder and aspiring international student affairs professional. She’s passionate about exploring, maintaining her independence and staying curious, as well as meeting people from all over the world. Read on to learn about her challenges finding a job during the COVID recession, becoming an ESL teacher (despite limited support from her family), where she’s traveled she’s learned the most, and the best thing she’s taught herself!
- Name: Nicole R.
- Pronouns: She/her
- Location: Busan, South Korea
- Role: ESL teacher, cofounder of TeachOutNow & aspiring international student affairs professional
- Reason for Waking Up Every Day: Meeting new people from all over the world
- Go-To Learning Resource: Travel books: especially Eat, Pray, Love & Vagabonding
- Favorite Place in Busan, South Korea: The mountains and beaches
- Find Out More: Nicole’s Instagram | TeachOutNow’s Instagram | TeachOutNow Website
Tell us about your background and how you got to where you are now.
I was living and freelance tutoring and teaching English online in Thailand. I was working at a school but quit within two weeks; it was a terrible school to start with – it didn’t have the best reviews, and there was a high turnover rate. I started searching for a better school but realized there wasn’t really a ‘best’ school; I ended up getting a job offer at a government school as an ESL (English as a second language) teacher – however, it was at the beginning of COVID-19 and the embassies were closed. I couldn’t convert my tourist visa to a work permit, so I went home – but it was a disaster.
I couldn’t find a job in the USA because I didn’t have years of experience or a masters in my field. I did end up getting a job within a few weeks in college admissions, but it was in sales and I hated it. They let me go because I didn’t hit their numbers, but it was a blessing in disguise. Looking for jobs was difficult due to the recession; I nannied but I also missed being abroad. The biggest motivation for me to go back abroad was following teachers’ adventures in South Korea. I thought to myself, ‘I need to get back out there, but HOW?’. I began the process in August, found a job within a few months, and now I am here!
I am so thankful to be here – I have my freedom and independence and sense of wonder and curiosity back. I wasn’t living on my own back home – I was craving independence and being able to grow abroad.
What has been a challenge you’ve overcome on your way to where you are now?
COVID-19 and no support from my family. They didn’t think it was possible that I could fly from the US to Busan, South Korea – my dad was concerned about things closing down – but I listened to myself and my friends. I was miserable, depressed, and not happy to be at home at all – but I was able to give myself some time and realize what was lacking in my life: being surrounded by like-minded people, adventure, independence, freedom, and the ability to grow. I also had to pay off my college and credit card debt, but now I am down to little to no debt.
Related: Content creator Courtney Vondran of Courtney The Explorer also was an ESL teacher in Busan, South Korea! Read her full interview here!
What gets you excited to wake up every day? Why?
I get excited and energized by meeting new people from all over the world, exploring new areas, hiking, going to the beach, doing new and fun things even during COVID. I get sick of routine so I need something refreshing – which is why I love to live in different countries.
What’s the best/most important thing you’ve learned or taught yourself?
I have learned if you want to do something, you will do whatever it takes to achieve it; if you don’t, you will create excuses for why you can’t. It’s all about your mindset and developing a positive attitude.
Favorite resources or platforms for ongoing learning?
What’s your favorite spot in Busan, South Korea & why?
I am right by the mountains so I can go hiking whenever and I am about 17 minutes away from a very popular beach.
Where have you traveled you feel you learned the most, why?
I think living in Thailand I learned the most – about how people live. They don’t stress out as much as Americans do. I was so shocked!
What’s your favorite travel memory? Why does it stand out?
My favorite travel memory was Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand, where I went to the full moon party for two weeks, it was amazing! So many fun and like-minded people who shared a similar mindset to me. I was truly living my life to the fullest.
What’s your least favorite/worst travel memory?
I got laryngitis in Israel, it sucked because I could not talk to anybody or go out in Tel Aviv – I felt like I missed out on a lot of things!
How does travel inspire you?
I have become more open-minded to other cultures and the way they do things and I am more culturally sensitive now as opposed to before. It will help me if I want to work in international student affairs, especially if I want to advise international students.
Out of all the places you’ve been, which has been your favorite and why?
Barcelona, Spain because it is absolutely beautiful. When I visited I felt like I was walking through history. I love the architecture, the people, the culture, the food, and the way they live such an easy life style.
What’s your favorite thing to learn/explore when traveling?
I love going on the off beaten path. I also love going to meet ups, bars, cafes, and restaurants!
What’s one thing people may not know about you?
I was baptized in Poland. I am half Jewish and half Catholic.
Learn More About Nicole And TeachOutNow
TeachOutNow offers counseling and connections to support those who want to teach English abroad or online. They can help connect you to jobs in Asia as well as international schools, agencies, and recruiters recruiting for ESL teachers and other subjects and offer recommendations on TEFL programs if you don’t have a bachelor’s degree in education.