Repatriation Fears: 10 Reasons I’m Afraid to Leave Korea

Repatriation Fears: 10 Reasons I'm Afraid to Leave Korea - As I get ready to leave Korea, I've been getting anxiety about returning to Canada...
Samuel Holt

As my plans beyond my final contract in Korea begin to solidify, so do my repatriation fears.  Surviving “reverse culture shock” is daunting, and a very real challenge.  I’ve been reading articles with titles like “Moving Home with Dignity” and “Top Tips for Repatriation”.  I just want to live on an imaginary beach far away from Canada and Korea.

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G. Crescoli

Repatriation Fear #1:

I Won’t Get a Job

I think this is pretty common for anyone regardless of your background or the place to which you’re moving.  The fear of being jobless, broke, and unhappy is a sad, anxious cloud over me on the daily.  Great, I paid off my student loan living in Korea.  Whoever said a specialized degree would help me get into law school really could not have predicted how low going back to school would be on my bucket list.  I’m now 30 years old and on the verge of unemployment.  Yippee!

Three businesswomen talking at a white table Repatriation Fears: 10 Reasons I'm Afraid to Leave Korea - As I get ready to leave Korea, I've been getting anxiety about returning to Canada...
Tim Gouw

Repatriation Fear #2:

I’ll Have to Start Over Career-Wise

Is it just as bad or actually worse to be under-employed?  I’m not above taking a job that’ll just pay the bills when I go home, but what if I get stuck there?  I’ve worked for some amazing people in Toronto, but I’ve also had employers who have treated me and my colleagues worse than garbage.  I mean – at least the trash gets taken out…am I right?  I have a Bachelor of Music degree.  What, pray tell, might that get me in business?  Well, not a whole lot.  Thankfully, I worked in marketing while in University and straight out the gate after graduation.  While in Korea I’ve maintained 2 blogs and their requisite social media, but we’ve got it good in Seoul.  Most of us (bloggers) here are just big fish in a small pond.  I’ve been out of the office game for 3 years, now.  What does that say to a prospective employer?

Maldives Vacation Repatriation Fears: 10 Reasons I'm Afraid to Leave Korea - As I get ready to leave Korea, I've been getting anxiety about returning to Canada...
Ishan @seefromthesky

Repatriation Fear #3:

Employers Might Think I Took an Extended Life Vacation

I’m definitely scared that potential employers will think I’ve just partied and babysat over the past 3 years.  They might think I’ve been on an extended “working” vacation.  They might think I can’t operate in an office environment.  Truthfully, I’ve probably been worked harder over the past 2 years than when I was an Account Executive or when I was Director of Sales & Marketing.  Being a teacher in Seoul at a hagwon is incredibly demanding and thankless more often than not.

Repatriation Fears: 10 Reasons I'm Afraid to Leave Korea - As I get ready to leave Korea, I've been getting anxiety about returning to Canada... Black and white shot of worn down sofa and balcony window with view from flat, Kodaikanal
Kevin Fernandez

Repatriation Fear #4:

Have You Seen the Housing Market?

I’m scared I’ll have to live with roommates again!  Having had a place to myself over the past 3 years I’ve really taken for granted how cheap (or even included) my rent has been.  It haunts me to think that my studio priced at $1150 + utilities was “a steal” before I left Toronto.  Scouring PadMapper has give me the heebie jeebies.  A lot of these posts are $800 + to share the LIVING ROOM of someone else’s apartment.  How does anyone afford housing at all?

globe world Repatriation Fears: 10 Reasons I'm Afraid to Leave Korea - As I get ready to leave Korea, I've been getting anxiety about returning to Canada...
Angela Compagnone

Repatriation Fear #5:

I Won’t Have Visited all the Places I’ve Wanted to See

Commiserating over our repatriation fears, a colleague once told me it didn’t matter how much money I brought home with me because it’s would never be enough.  This was her reasoning for traveling as long as possible before going home.  I think it’s a genius rationale to go ape on Skyscanner, but it’s not quite enough for me to pull the trigger.  I think I’ve narrowed down my SEA plans beyond my contract, but nothing is set in stone.  What if I have buyers remorse, route regret, or get home and wish I’d stayed away?

Repatriation Fears: 10 Reasons I'm Afraid to Leave Korea - As I get ready to leave Korea, I've been getting anxiety about returning to Canada... A number of Japanese maneki-neko figurines depicting a beckoning white cat
Alain Pham

Repatriation Fear #6:

I Won’t Have Enough Money Saved When I Get Home

I definitely don’t have enough for a down-payment…on anything.  I’ve paid off debt and have saved a bit, but I could have been much smarter with my money.  That said, I wouldn’t give up any of the amazing or atrocious memories I’ve made while living across the planet.  Actually, that’s not true at all.  There are plenty I’d be glad to not have experienced, but live and learn.  Will I have enough money for first and last month’s rent?  Geez – I sure hope so, but nothing’s a guarantee.  It’s not even like I can be that sucker living with mom and dad in her 30’s – they left my city!

Graffiti on an old brick wall reads “until debt tear us apart” Repatriation Fears: 10 Reasons I'm Afraid to Leave Korea - As I get ready to leave Korea, I've been getting anxiety about returning to Canada...
Alice Pasqual

Repatriation Fear #7:

I’ll Go Back into Debt Trying to Re-Establish Myself

I left Toronto for a plethora of reasons, one of which being that it was next to impossible to dig myself out of student debt.  By going back, am I staring back into the financial abyss?  Drinks, dinners, movies, and excursions will be infinitely more expensive.  The last time I had to re-establish myself in Toronto I went out a TON trying to meet people.  It took me a good year and a half before I started to develop friendships with people of substance.  That was when I was young and had the energy to try.  What do I do now?  I don’t think Netflix counts as a social life…

Repatriation Fears: 10 Reasons I'm Afraid to Leave Korea - As I get ready to leave Korea, I've been getting anxiety about returning to Canada... A guy preparing two glasses of wine as a girl walks toward the table.
Bence Boros

Repatriation Fear #8:

Dating will be just as Crappy

It seems as though my friends who have gone back to the States have had an easier time dating.  What if the dating scene in Canada is just as crappy as the expat dating scene in Seoul?  I write ThatGirlCartier with a touch of satire, but it’s not that far off from the truth when it comes to expat dating.  I know I play a significant role in the demise of these relationships, but what happens if I go back to Toronto and still have few to zero f*cks left to give?  Can they be re-purposed?  Can I buy them on layaway?  Am I going to go back into debt pretending I care about small talk and petty gossip?  Is the dating pool in Toronto going to be just as full of sociopaths as Camp Red Cloud Seoul?

Repatriation Fears: 10 Reasons I'm Afraid to Leave Korea - As I get ready to leave Korea, I've been getting anxiety about returning to Canada...
Kyle Broad

Repatriation Fear #9:

I’ll Be Bored and Restless

If this even a question?  I’m going back to a place which constantly changes, but always stays the same.  The names may change, the decor might get an upgrade, but the vibe remains.  I know I’ll be restless back in Canada.  How many readers cruise Google flights or Skyscanner daily for pick-up-and-go deals?  Will I be a slave to my E2 visa employer when I go home, too?  What about my bank account…Canada’s a big country to cross and – dare I say it? – I’ll be right in the “centre”!😜

Itaewon Seoul Korea Repatriation Fears: 10 Reasons I'm Afraid to Leave Korea - As I get ready to leave Korea, I've been getting anxiety about returning to Canada...
Mike Throm

Repatriation Fear #10:

I’ll Want to Come Back to Korea

This is the third and final part of my series on leaving Korea in March 2018.  I’ve written about the things I hate as well as the things I’ll miss about Korea.  What about if I want to come back?  What if cold, harsh reality is a place where I just can’t hack it?  I know I don’t want to teach at a hagwon again, but what are my options if I find that I’m just not cut out for the true North, strong and free?  I guess all I can hope for is a smooth transition and as graceful a reverse culture shock as I can make of moving home!

Pink and purple sunset over a metropolitan area Yongsan Repatriation Fears: 10 Reasons I'm Afraid to Leave Korea - As I get ready to leave Korea, I've been getting anxiety about returning to Canada...
Janis Rozenfelds

Have you moved back to your home country after a few years away?  Were your repatriation fears realized or completely unfounded?  Let us know in the comments below!

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Samantha says:

    Totally agree with all of this! The bored and restless thing, especially! However, it was quite easy to get a job again – actually had several interviews – and I found that my living abroad experience was a great conversation starter and one that all my interviewers were very interested in. I found creative ways to relate my time in the classroom/living in Korea to the job. But, if all else fails in the ‘office’ world again, consider being a VA / working freelance! And there’s teaching online, too!

  2. Shelley says:

    All your fears are super-legit! Hubby and I are also contemplating a move onwards (not to Canada, but to Italy), and leaving the “golden handcuffs,” of Korea is daunting…but we know we don’t want to raise the little one here, so even though it’s scary, we gotta do it. But yeah….the real estate market. I own a tiny 1 bedroom condo (550 square feet) in Riverside (purchased before the real estate market went truly nuts in Toronto), and I cannot believe how much places are renting for in the city. 🙁

  3. Marie says:

    I totally feel the same way about #9. Every time I go back home (even if it’s for a short holiday) it becomes more and more obvious that I’m changing, but my home city is stuck. It feels like I don’t belong anymore, like I moved on.

  4. Rocio Cadena says:

    OMG I looooove this post! These fears all too real. I am also leaving next spring and I totally feel where you’re coming from. The uncertainty factor is stronggg. I also admire your openness and willingness to share these anxieties with your readers. I totally relate to them and all I can say is BEST of LUCK. I’m from Chicago, so we’re kinda near (haha). I’ll be rooting for you! And look forward to hearing (reading) how you adjust to life back in Canada

  5. Oh man, so many fears to move back I didn’t even realize or consider having. Luckily as a couple it seems less daunting and alone and we’re definitely setting things up back home for that (much dreaded )time in the future. I think it sounds like you’ve got a great head on your shoulders, thinking about debt, networking, jobs, your experiences and I’m sure if you’re set on making it – you will! If you have to return to the Bank of Korea, who cares, many do and you can blame it on your love of kimchi and Korean Skincare industry or something…lol.

  6. Izzy says:

    All of these fears are rooted in truth to some extent and I hope you know that you are validated in feeling these things but don’t let them overwhelm you. I just recently arrived at my 6 months of being back in the USA and its been such a strange, rollercoaster adjustment in ways I never imagined. For one thing, I was scared to move back unless I had a job lined up first which is what I did, but the first few months of waiting for my funds to grow, I did have to dip into my personal savings which was hard. And at times, I feel immense FOMO for what I could still be experiencing, but back home, theres so much stability, you’re able to reset your soul after years of being away and there is so much growth in that. You are such a capable human being and I believe that the best is yet to come <3 Love you Kate! I'll be in Canada over the summer and would LOVE to meet you! And by Canada, I mean, Toronto and Ottawa 😛

  7. Wendy says:

    Enjoy Korea while you still can:-).. and your previous posts showed you are having an active life here so that’s very nice to put in your memory bank. Lots of luck on your move back to Canada. Cheers!

  8. I absolutely love this post and agree with every single fear, as i’ve experienced all when I moved back home to Toronto last year! Especially #7 – the fear of going in debt. We lived such a minimalist life in Korea – super cheap cost of living, no rent, no car insurance, no phone (in my case) etc. I was able to save a ton of money. But now that I’m back in Toronto, where the cost of living is crazy expensive and the average rent of a 1 bedroom is $1800, I can’t afford life 🙁 Hopefully your transition home is smoother than mine!

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