Photo contributed by Nina Eakins

Teaching abroad and traveling the world

By HANNAH POORE, Student Writer

After Nina Eakins graduated in 2014, she left Fresno to teach in South Korea in hopes of fulfilling her unsatisfied feelings of wanderlust.

Eakins’ degree is in health administration, and she said that although it doesn’t relate to teaching, she uses skills that she learned from her degree every day, like public speaking. Eakins teaches at a kindergarten-8th grade private school (called a hagwon in Korean). She teaches mainly science, history, and writing classes to younger grades.

She chose to teach in South Korea because of all of the benefits they offer to English teachers, the amazing culture, and the opportunities to explore.

So far, Eakins’ favorite place in South Korea is Jeju island, which is off the Southern tip of the mainland and is called the “Hawaii of South Korea.”

“By working abroad for a year (at least in Korea), I’ll be able to see so much of what I want to see on this side of the world,” she said.

Her favorite part of her South Korean experience so far has been the food. “I am an avid food lover and being in this country has just multiplied my love for it,” she said.

Of the many differences between life in Fresno and life in South Korea, two main ones stick out to Eakins — public transportation and night life.

“The public transportation here is absolutely wonderful,” Eakins said. “I live about 30 minutes south of Seoul (the capital of South Korea) and can easily hop on a bus that will take me there for less than two U.S. dollars. There is really no need for a car here.”

About the differences in the cities’ night life, Eakins said, “They don’t call it the ‘land of the morning calm’ for nothing.” She said that most coffee shops don’t open until around 10 a.m., but then stay open until around 2 a.m.

“If you want a hot cup of coffee at the local cafe at 7 in the morning, you’ll be out of luck,” Eakins said. “While that may be a downside for some, the nighttime makes up for it. It’s exciting to walk down the street at 12 a.m. on a Tuesday and see a lot of people walking about, eating street-food, and drinking soju (the alcohol of choice here). That is definitely something you would never see back in Fresno.”

Eakins acknowledged that the thought of moving to a foreign, unfamiliar city was scary before it turned exciting as she got her plans settled, but she recommends travelling abroad to anyone who is considering it.

“Experiencing the every day life of another culture is both humbling and incredible,” Eakins said. “Plus you get to see things you have never seen before, taste things you wouldn’t taste back home, and meet people who previously you’ve had zero contact with.”

“In the end, we only have this one life,” she added. “Don’t spend it wondering ‘what if?’”

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Contact Matthew Schulz at mschulz@csufresno.edu to be featured in Alumni News.