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Finding a new job, happiness and love on the other side of the world

When Christopher Rither sold his business and set out to travel the world, it put him on a path to follow a dream.

Finding a new job, happiness and love on the other side of the world

For many years, Christopher Rither, 52, owned and operated a building inspection and environmental service company in Hawaii. His team inspected homes, commercial buildings and industrial complexes for potential buyers, and did environmental site assessments during the due diligence process for real estate buyers.

“Starting and running your own business means you pretty much work round the clock,” Rither says. He started dreaming about business problems even though things were going fairly well. “You know it’s bad when you have to deal with real problems when you’re awake and then imaginary ones while you’re asleep.”

After waking up from a frustrating dream, Rither decided it was time for a change. He put the company up for sale in 2010 and started looking for less-demanding work. Then he decided to follow his dream of becoming a university professor — a tough path, because he had no master’s degree or Ph.D.

Finding the way in-flight

While he was selling the business, Rither had the chance to take a four-month round-the-world trip to look at possible places to live and start his new career. Along the way he met a South Korean woman, Heran Yang, on a plane to Barcelona. “We hit it off and she told me about some great opportunities in her country,” he says. “I eventually chose Singapore and moved there for a year working on another business venture.”

During his stay in Singapore, Rither would occasionally travel to South Korea to be with Heran. While there, he worked on establishing contacts and building relationships, using his entrepreneurial skills to find an opportunity with an institute of higher education. He and Heran eventually were married, and the two began their lives anew in her home country. He now teaches English language and debate at the Bangmok College of General Education at Myongji University in Seoul.

“I love the food, people, beautiful countryside, my wife and teaching conversational English, debate and sometimes a business class,” he says. “The best change is I now can leave work at work, don’t have all the business headaches, and now have the chance to travel the world on my long spring and winter breaks.”

Less stress, more enjoyment

Rither no longer has to deal with the responsibilities of running his own business and the bad dreams have stopped. Now he sleeps great, he says. “As a university professor I teach four hours a day, four days a week. The Korean students and fellow professors are awesome.”

The job offers three-day weekends, a pension, insurance and more than five months paid vacation a year, he says. He has the time to travel, write, paint, exercise, spend time with his family, take vacations and still make a decent living.

“I think that I had to go through this experience to help me move on with my life,” he says. “However I’m a firm believer in taking opportunities when they arise. Great opportunities only come around so often, and rarely do they come by a second time. We must all go through some pain in the beginning, if we desire to chase a dream, or make a major life change.

“Yet in the end, I knew once I got everything sorted out life would be much easier,” he said.

Photo: Chris Rither and Heran Yang

For more stories of those who improved their lives through a new job, check out Monster’s Find Better page.