My Really Vague, Noncommital Future Plans

The speed at which I am committing to my future plans.
The speed at which I am committing to my future plans.

I’ve still got a solid four months left in South Korea, and that’s nothing to balk at. But as the summer winds down and flights home are booked, stray thoughts pester me with more and more frequency. What’s next? What’s next? What’s next? When I sit down for a moment on my laptop, I find myself searching for information about strange destinations, apartment rental prices, the best library system and volunteer opportunities. Leaving Korea, I’ll have a tiny bit of financial padding, but no impending bills to pay. I’ll essentially be very, very free. (Until 2015, when loan payments will be due again…) What’s next? What’s next? What’s next?

I have nailed down nothing, but I’ve come up with some vague plans that may come to fruition. Some more vague than others. Some fairly certain, yet without a timeline. First things first, I’ll celebrate Christmas with my family and visit friends and relatives whom I haven’t seen in ages. That should take me through about a month, I’m guessing, and hopefully doesn’t burn through too much of my baby nest egg, either.

Then, I’m headed to Mexico.

Awww yeah. I’m currently researching volunteer projects in the area that are free/in exchange for accommodation and food when possible. (And if you know of any, you’ve got to let me know!) I’m hoping to find something more along the lines of an internship, where I can really invest myself for 3 or so months and learn about the organization (or organizations). I’d love to see some parts of Mexico while I’m there, too, but I’m not sure that really in depth travel through the country is possible at the moment. Either some Mexican Cartels will chop me up or my parents will for risking anything in the first place. So I’ll be sticking to major cities, the districts without travel warnings and anywhere recommended to me by someone who’s gone and enjoyed the place. I’m sure they’ll still be no shortage of experiences, regardless.

As for the timeline, I’m giving myself anywhere between three and eight months to be in Mexico. I have a non negotiable wedding to attend in June, which I may fly back for or be home already, but other than that, I’m free. My plans are wide open. I’m going to travel until my time or money runs out. (I’m rooting for time. Go time! Run out first! Time, yeahhh!) I’ll also get that Spanish practice in, since my language skills have seriously lapsed since my semester in Argentina. But it’s in my brain somewhere and I intend to dig it out, dust it off, and make it shiny again. And then?

I’m applying to graduate school in South Korea.

While technically I’m applying this January/February, I’ll hear back in April/May and the program I want to do begins in September. This plan is definitely in limbo and is walking the edge of a cliff at the moment. First, I have to get into the program, which is competitive. Second, I have to see if I’ll receive enough scholarship to actually attend. This is very competitive. Third, I have to decide that this is really what I want to do for the next two years. I’ve been in Korea for a while and I’d like to see some new sights, but perhaps a Mexico-breather and moving to Seoul will be enough.

Maybe not, though. My mind yo-yos.

Where's the Eingang (entrance) to see what the future holds?
Where’s the Eingang (entrance) to see what the future holds?

There are also some other thoughts that bounce around my head.

I’d really, really love to catch up on my to-read list. I’ve always wanted to do a kind of book hermitage, where I hang out alone in some city and solely read books and feed myself for two months. The USA would be the best place to do that, obviously: public libraries are the only way I could afford it. This upcoming year may be the perfect time to do that.

I do want to “finish” Korean, or learn it to a level that would get me into the professional world (would I so choose). Doing graduate school for two years in Seoul would certainly put me on that level, but so would taking some hardcore, 4-hours-a-day Korean lessons at the same university in Seoul, 3 months at a time, for less than 2 years. The downside of that would be $$$ and not being able to work for the initial 6 months because of visa regulations. I could also find a new job teaching English in Korea, save up and “finish” Korean, but I feel like I really need a break. Classroom EFL is not my cup of tea; I cringe at having to do another year so quickly after finishing this contract.

I also desperately want to see more of the world. I can’t help but see pictures of Prague and feel as though I should be there. Or Vietnam. Or London. Or Morocco. One day I’d like to work in a career that involves the world (vague, once again, Sally!), but I can’t imagine doing so without getting to know it. I can’t read about places and pretend that I understand the culture; it just doesn’t work that way. But money. Because the way I want to see the world involves a month or two with a local roommate, several books for context and a lot of delicious food… per country. And then volunteer work. So this idea, fully implemented, could take a really, really long time and cost a lot. I don’t have the start up funds for such a venture, yet.

Then there are the random ideas of interning with a political campaign (one of my future fields of interest), finding a job in the USA that allows me to travel sometimes (HAH!), writing a book, visiting Denmark, moving to France to learn French and all matters of nonsensical craziness that is coursing through my thoughts. My brain feels like a two year old’s piece of crayon “art”.

This is significantly more orderly than the inside of my head at the moment.
This is significantly more orderly than the inside of my head at the moment.

So the point of this convoluted word purge is that my brain is swimming, and I have no idea what the future holds.

Really, no one should know or we’d all be bored out of our minds. I’ve made some tentative plans and I’m excited to see what happens. But I can’t shake this strange feeling that all of my planning is soon going to go to crap. Like my whole life is going to implode. Like I’m going to end up in some country, somewhere completely different than anything I’ve planned and it’s going to be weird and unexpected and impulsive.

I’m just trusting that whatever happens, it’s also going to be good.

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12 thoughts on “My Really Vague, Noncommital Future Plans”

  1. Why plan when you’ll only be disappointed that your plans didn’t work out, right? I think your words “I’m just trusting that whatever happens, it’s also going to be good,” sum it up perfectly. And with yo-yoing minds, just wait and see what happens. As for volunteering opportunities that give you free bed and food, you may know these already, but look up Workaway (fantastic), HelpX (same as Workaway but messier site), and WWH (worldwide helpers- although some projects require a fee). They have projects across the world and I am sure that some will be in Mexico. Incidentally, I was also a teacher in a Korea for a year (a hagwon in Daegu, so a somewhat different experience) and I felt similarly: it wasn’t my cup of tea. But it does serve an end goal. Use it as a springboard to do what you want next (which you are). Good luck with your next step and keep sharing because I rather enjoy the way that you write.

    1. I know, right? Generally I’m not disappointed when change happens, but it does invoke a lot of backtracking with what I’ve told people I’ll be doing… kind of why I try to avoid the topic, hah!

      And thanks for the resources! I’m planning on using one of those first two while I’m in Mexico. I love that people are willing to put up travelers for labor, it’s such a great system. Makes my life much easier.

      Thanks for the kind words, there’s no way anyone’s going to shut me up anytime soon! 🙂

      1. I hate those backtracking moments. I just had a big one (although the blame lies with the police for my lack of following through). Unfortunately announcing one’s plans on the internet rather stops one from denying that they ever made the non-completed plans! Plans are over rated. I mean for all you know, you might end up going to Germany instead of Mexico… oh… wait…

  2. Wait, wait, wait – WHUT? The moment I stop living in Mexico and go to live in South Korea, you’re going to stop living in South Korea and go to Mexico??? What is this madness, girl? Haha

    No, seriously, that would be pretty awesome if you went to graduate school in Korea too. Though I can totally understand your non-commital feeling towards your plans. There’re so many options, aren’t there?

    On the other hand, if you do decide to go to Mexico in the end, feel free to ask me any questions. I mean, I did live there for a year and a half. And, believe me, as long as you stay away from the North and promise not to sell drugs, you won’t be in any danger. Mexico’s not as scary as people think.

    1. Haha and I’ll be in South Korea exactly 18 months. What a flip flop… craziness!

      And yes, there are seriously TOO many options. New since this post went up: my dad may spend 9 months in Germany for work and I’m free to stay with him as well. I cannot decide for the life of me.

      But the Mexico plan is pretty solid for me, unless something crazy takes me away. I’m just not decided on where or how long… it depends on what kind of volunteer opportunities I can find. My Spanish needs some serious, serious loving. I’ll be in contact about Mexico City, it’s a place I really want to see!

      1. I’d recommend putting Chiapas as a ‘must’ on your list. It has the largest indigenous population and is just an absolutely incredible state to travel through. Some truly amazing towns and cities, as well as fabulous people. I want to go back there one day and just continue practicing my Spanish; It’s so out of the way of the more ‘modern’ cities like D.F

        Also, Germany! I live so close but I’ve still never been there. That would be amazing.

        1. Awesome advice, I’ll put Chiapas at the top! I’ll probably also head over to Oaxaca, since there are NGOs galore in the area.

          If you have a million suggestions, you can also email them to me at abreathofforeignair [at] gmail.com since that’s probably easier than a comment. 🙂

  3. I, too, have lots of vague ideas about my future. Some the same as yours! Live in France for a while? HelpX until I run out of money? Grad school? Fortunately, I’m only a month into my 12-month teaching contract here in South Korea, so I don’t have to think about the “what next?” question for quite some time…

    It is hard to plan so far into the future — you don’t know what will happen or who you will meet, let alone how you’ll feel at that point in time. I think the ideal is to live one day at a time, but unfortunately application deadlines often prevent that from happening. Le sigh.

    1. It’s true. Application deadlines make spontaneity a little less possible, but for graduate school (a big decision) that seems reasonable. I guess the spontaneous moment comes when you’re accepted and then decide to actually go? But then there are a couple hundred dollars down the pit just from application fees, mailings, transcripts and the like. Annoying. Le sigh, indeed.

      Thank goodness you have more time than me! Good luck deciding too! Probably all of your ideas for after your contract will change by the time you have to decide haha. That’s just how it goes.

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