How I Paid Off My Student Loans: Teagan in Kaohsiung, Taiwan

October 5, 2021

How I Paid Off My Student Loans: Teagan in Kaohsiung, Taiwan

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Welcome to our new series about personal student loan repayment. We'll be sharing how people got out of debt, whether it was through loan forgiveness, steady payments, or outside help. Submissions are written by readers, with edits made for clarity and editorial standards.

We're looking for more stories like Teagan's. If you'd like to share how you paid off your student loans, email us at submissions@affordablecollegesonline.org.

Teagan, ESL instructor

Teagan is from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, but has been living in Asia as an ESL teacher and professor for over 14 years in countries including South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Taiwan. His graduate degree is in elementary education and special education with a master's in curriculum and instruction, ESL. Teaching is his passion, and he also is a certified SCUBA, freediving, and yoga instructor. When he is not teaching, you can find him either writing, reading, hiking, or running in the mountains. He is currently teaching at an international school in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

Degrees
Institution School Type Major
Pennsylvania State University Public, Land-Grant College Bachelor's in Elementary Education and Special Education
University of Nebraska Kearney Public College Master's in Curriculum and Instruction, ESL

Current Career: Secondary Language and Learning Specialist

How Much Student Loan Debt You Graduated With: $30,000

How Long It Took To Pay Off Your Student Loans: Five years

Q. How Did You Pay Off Your Student Loans?

I taught ESL in South Korea, Taiwan, and Saudi Arabia.

I went to school for five years at Penn State, as my mom went there, and I was a bit brainwashed to go there and get a degree. Even in-state tuition with room and board is over 20k a year. In my fifth year, I did not realize what I was signing up for when I got private loans added to my federal loans.

After I graduated, I worked as a substitute teacher and in construction while living at my parents' house. This was very unfulfilling, and I was not happy. I saw a job listing on craigslist for a teaching job in South Korea and applied. When I got a response, I did not touch it for a few weeks. Then I saw a friend from college, who went to South Korea, and I chatted with her about her experience. She said it was great and paid well. This was before you could really do any research on places, and I only had a wiki article of Poang, South Korea, which was where I would go. And I'd know no one.

I moved overseas to teach and have not looked back. I knew I needed to get rid of my college debt and credit card debt, which was over 50K in total. I sent home over 1k a month, as I got paid pretty well in South Korea and housing was included with my job.

Then I moved to Taiwan and continued teaching, but I worked a lot. I just wanted to be out of debt and to get my master's. So, I moved to Saudi Arabia to teach and get my master's degree. I made anywhere from 4-8K USD per month tax free while teaching in Saudi Arabia. I paid off all of my student debt in under a year. It was not easy living in Saudi Arabia, but it was worth it.

Not having debt set me free, and I could now choose jobs that I truly wanted. I did not have to worry about debt and paying off loans each month. I am still teaching ESL, but only in places that are a good fit for me. I also got the opportunity to become a SCUBA, freediving, and yoga instructor while teaching English online and traveling to over 30 countries.

While some may be waiting for debt forgiveness — and it may come — I did not want to bank on it. Paying off my student loan debt gave me peace of mind. If you have a college degree and want to pay off some debt and travel, I would suggest giving overseas teaching a try. If it does not work out, you can go back to your profession with great experiences, lifelong friends, and a little less debt.

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