Team TakeMeThereToday is proud to introduce Chloë of APenAndAPassport who is currently teaching English overseas in South Korea. Chloë was working as a screenwriter and live-in nanny in Los Angeles when she decided to quit her jobs, sell her belongings and travel. Growing antsy with the predictability of everyday life, Chloë planned her next adventure overseas. So far she has visited more than 23 countries and plans to grow that list.
Her new life abroad has proven to be just that. Working as an English teacher in South Korea while learning about Korean culture allowed her to financially support herself to travel throughout Asia.
We had the opportunity to talk to her about her experience living and teaching in South Korea, the current tensions with the DPRK, and her favorite destinations.
Tell us about your journey. Did you always want to be a screenwriter?
Growing up, I dreamed of being an actress. I worked toward that goal until university. During my freshman year, I realized that my true calling was to be a writer. There was something so enchanting about dreaming up an entire new universe, and creating characters to inhabit that world. Screenwriting was an outlet to unleash my creativity, and it gave me more of a voice than acting ever did. I feel free when I write; it’s the same type of freedom I feel when I travel.
Screenwriter as in for films or TV series? Are you freelancing?
I write both film and television, but my main aspiration is to be a sitcom writer on a major network TV series. Before I started traveling, I was writing for a sketch comedy show in L.A. Since I began traveling, most of my writing is to build my portfolio, but I also pick up freelance opportunities as they come.
Can you share your experience about teaching English overseas in South Korea.
It’s a great gig. Basically, Korean schools desire to have foreign teachers to enhance students’ pronunciation, accent, and fluency. I get paid a monthly salary, along with free housing and utilities. By only having to pay for food, I have a lot of extra money to travel. Plus, we get 4 weeks of paid vacation per year, as well as holidays and school breaks off.
That was the selling point to me. The fact that I get so much time off, meant that I would be able to travel a lot. Not to mention that Asian countries are very close, and flights out of Seoul are cheap, which makes traveling extremely easy. I may have come because I wanted to learn about Korean culture and travel, but I fell in love with my job and my students. I teach at a girls middle school, which gives me the opportunity to empower young women: something I have a strong passion for.
Are tensions with North Korea high in this current political climate?
What tensions? (Just kidding). I only say that because South Korean people don’t talk about it much. It is something that they don’t want to exist, and don’t know how to fix.
They worry about the North Korean people, as many still have family members trapped there.
When they do talk about it, their biggest concern is that a war will break out; but again, it’s not covered in the news and media like it is in the USA.
How did you get bitten by the travel bug?
I honestly have my parents to thank for that. From a very early age they encouraged travel and cultural experiences in us children.
Growing up in a farm town with just over 2,000 people, they wanted to ensure we would experience other cultures and experiences outside of the rural midwest.
From mission trips to poverty stricken places in Puerto Rico, India, and Mexico, to dream vacations in Europe and Asia, I was able to see the world from a young age. As I got older, I started traveling alone, with friends, and now with my boyfriend; but my family will always be my ultimate travel buddies. In fact, my next big trip is to Hawaii with them.
What is your favorite destination?
India. I lived there for a year during high school, as an exchange student through Rotary International. My mom is an immigrant from India, and this trip truly opened my eyes to my cultural heritage, and sparked a love in me for the country and its people. It is such a diverse, beautiful, and culturally rich place. You can enjoy tropical Goa, the grandiose Himalayan Mountains, the vast sand dunes in Rajasthan, and of course the historic city of New Delhi. I may sound obsessed, but if you have one bite of biryani, while dressed in a colorful sari, and listing to Bollywood music… I bet you would be hooked too.
If you were to settle down, it would be ___
Definitely Los Angeles. I aspire to be a screenwriter, so there is really no other place I could feasibly choose. And I’m okay with that, as L.A. is amazing. I love the beaches, the dive bars, the mountains, the possible celebrity sightings, the sunshine year round, the coffee shops, the hiking trails, the palm trees, and the diverse people that inhabit the great city.
A funny moment you witnessed while working or travelling?
Whenever I say, “What’s up?” to my Korean students, they look at the ceiling.
What is the hardest part of your work?
Knowing that I will be leaving these precious girls in less than a year. Also, how freezing it is in the school. They don’t heat the hallways, or even some classrooms. So, I have to wear my winter coat all day, and hope I don’t get frostbite from the frigid temperatures leaking in from the frozen tundra outside.
What do you love most about your work?
It is great helping middle school girls with their English, because in Korea, good English will help them get a better job.
I want them to know they can dream big, and don’t need a man to support them financially, because they are incredibly valuable and smart.
What’s next on the road ahead?
Well, after Korea my boyfriend and I are planning to get married! We will head back to the States after all of our travels to tie the knot. Then, we are planning to honeymoon in Europe for a few months. After that, I want to find a good writing job in L.A., hopefully one with lots of vacation time.
Plan. Literally research everything there possibly is to do where you are going. The worst feeling is returning home from an amazing trip, then seeing a really cool place online that was close to where you just were. It sucks to think you spent so much time and money on a trip, yet you missed something really cool because you didn’t plan.
TakeMeThereToday would like to thank Chloë of ApenAndAPassport taking the time to do this interview with us and congratulate her on her engagement as well!! We hope that this interview inspires you to follow your dreams of traveling the world and also have a positive impact on people you meet. Check out Chloë’s blog and follow her trips around Asia and her experiences living and working in South Korea.