Alumni Spotlight: Nicholas Cowling

Nick is a gentle giant who likes to study and work out during the week, and go exploring on the weekends. Having lived in Korea for five years, he's familiar with the many buses, subways, and trains that traverse this beautiful country and has been lost (and found) far too many times. He came to Korea seeking adventure, and was rewarded with far more.

Why did you pick this program?

A group of students gathered.

I'm currently with GEPIK because I wanted to live outside of Seoul and enjoy the benefits and security of working under a government contract. I've worked previously for a private school and a hagwon. Through GEPIK it's nice to focus on actually teaching the students without having to worry about the business side of things and making money for the companies.

What is the most important thing you learned abroad?

I have definitely learned many things... though I guess my biggest lesson has been in patience and understanding. Being a foreigner in a country where the main language is different then your own, you will encounter many challenging situations. Some are good, some are bad, and some just are...

Having patience and understanding can help you deal with life's challenges at work, at home, and with your personal and business relationships. Also, don't be afraid to try new things... the only way to get past your fear is to go through it!

What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?

First of all, I'd congratulate them on the decision. Even my friends that have gone abroad for only a year, return home more open-minded and more appreciative of where they live and all the good things in their lives. It definitely takes a special sort of courage to undertake this take.

A group of young students gathered together.

Second, I'd tell them that there will be some good times, and bad times. Sometimes you may feel alone and miss your family, car, animal, b/f, g/f, comfy blanket but don't worry, you'll get through it. Think about all the positive experiences you've had and consider all the great things waiting down the road for you.

Third, I'd recommend learning a little bit of the language. When I first came here I could only speak two or three words but I was amazed how kind and supportive Koreans were after hearing me speak. (Or try to speak.) A little bit of knowledge goes a long way! And who knows, you may have found another hobby that you will grow to love!

Tell us about an experience you had that you could not have had at home.

I think the greatest part about moving abroad is being fully immersed in a culture that is very different then your own and being able to experience all the uniqueness and beauty that comes along with it. I was very fortunate when I first came to Korea, and worked with some wonderful teachers who were happy to show me around and share their culture with me.

A group of people posing for a picture.

Traveling through all the temples, visiting the beautiful green tea fields, going ice fishing on a river, and enjoying a crazy, fun filled day at mudfest. Every month Korea has different festivals or events going on. The people, the culture, the history... there are so many unique things here for people to enjoy!