Life Changes: MU graduate finds first job in Korea

Tuesday, December 30, 2008 | 5:54 p.m. CST; updated 9:55 p.m. CST, Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Burgundy Anderson, who graduated from MU in May, teaches middle and elementary school students English in Seoul, Korea.

COLUMBIA — For Burgundy Anderson, 2008 was memorable as a year of transition into a new job in a different country.

Anderson, 22, an MU graduate who describes herself as a “free bird,” moved to Korea in December and now teaches students in a private elementary and middle school in Seoul.

When she graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and psychology, she planned to save money, head to California and work in the music industry.

After working in low-paying jobs the summer after graduation that didn't fund a move to California, she decided to teach English in Korea, where one of her friends was working.

“The kids benefit from just having native English speaking teachers talking to the kids daily,” Anderson said in an online interview. “The students copy everything we do, which can be dangerous at times, but as far an pronunciation goes, it’s wonderful.”

Anderson said the transition since graduation has been difficult at times for personal and financial reasons. She said her move to a country where she doesn't know the language has made it more difficult.

“You want to start living your own life, making your own money and creating your dreams, but it’s much harder to have all of that than what I originally imagined,” she said.

She said the salary is good — around $30,000 a year — her apartment is rent-free, and she likes the respect she receives as an American teacher, the emphasis on education and the food.

She still misses close friends, driving and certain dishes, including mashed potatoes. She dislikes Korea's public bathrooms, which have only bar soap and little toilet paper.

She plans to stay in her job in Korea for a year until her contract is up. After that, her future is uncertain. Her ultimate goal when she returns to the United States is working her way up in the music industry to scouting and managing.

Anderson, who grew up in Kansas City, said that growing up, her dreams changed daily. She might want to ride horses for a living one day and be a photographer the next.

“If there is anything I have learned as a valuable life lesson, it’s that we are mobile, and what a beautiful gift that is,” Anderson said. “It's such a big world out there, I’m just trying to get my fill of it."


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