Book Review: The Artisan Soul

The Artisan Soul by Erwin Raphael McManus

“…Curiosity fuels our imagination, our imagination fuels our dreams, our dreams fuel our souls, and our souls inform our lives” (The Artisan Soul, 182).

The Artisan Soul by Erwin Raphael McManus is a book about crafting our lives into works of art. In the book, Erwin talks about how every person is an artist, whether they believe they are or not, and why is it important to realize our artisan souls. “Is it really that critical to embrace the artist within us? I would simply remind you of the insight from the Scriptures: as a man thinks, so it he” (13). As an artist, we have a responsibility to use our God-given gifts to create a life that is a work of art. Our life is a gift and we should not waste our lives living ordinarily, but rather know that God has created us to live extraordinary lives. Throughout the book, Erwin gives great tools on how to cultivate our lives into works of art and reawaken the artist within us.

“…The great divide is not between those who are artists and those who are not, but between those who understand that they are creative and those who have become convinced that they are not. The great divide is between those who understand that their very nature is that of an artist and those who remain unaware or in denial of their artisan soul” (4).

What I love about this book is how it talks about all the different aspects of the creative act and process. Creating a masterpiece takes a lot of time and hard work. As Erwin says, “For our lives to be works of art, we need to allow a lifetime of work. We must give God the time to make us works of art” (32). It will never be something that happens overnight. It is a process.

      When we create, we are first inspired or have a dream. Then we take an act of courage and a risk before we finally create.  Dream, Risk, Create. We are taking a risk each time we create and in order to take that risk, we must first take the act of courage to face our fears. “It takes courage to not only accept our limitations but embrace our potential” (7).

In the act of creating, we are opening up our most vulnerable places…for what we create is a reflection of who we are (18). When we allow others to see our art, we are allowing them to see into our souls and into our insecurities. Many of the time, we are too afraid to create because we see our limitations rather than our potential. Erwin uses Van Gogh’s quote to encourage to face our insecurities. “If you hear a voice within you say, ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced” (60).

We all have potential. Picasso once said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up” (62). We must learn to not only accept our limitations but see our potential. Will we face our fears and harness our potential?

 I love how Erwin describes potential as unharnessed talent. God put potential in each and every one of us. However, we can only turn that potential into something substantial when we lean on God and let him chisel away at us, just like how Michelangelo chisels away at the image hidden within the marble block. Will we put in the work needed to give God our best and turn our potential into talent?   

“…To do our greatest work, we must overcome the temptation to be afraid or become discouraged, engaging the creative process with strength and courage” (131).

What will you create? Who will you become?

I highly recommend this read for anyone who wants to be encouraged about their artisan soul or who wishes to rediscover their inner artist. This is my second read-through and I thoroughly enjoyed it both times.

Blessings!

—The Adversity Rose—

Kaitlyn Rose

DREAM. PURSUE. EXPERIENCE. GROW.

This blog will cover travel, pursuing dreams, and personal growth.

Dream Wildly

“Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.”

–Ashley Smith

Everyone has dreams they want to pursue—no matter how big or small they are. Whether they realize what their dreams are or not, we all have them. Maybe you don’t believe me or maybe you do, but I know this to be true. I remember a time when I did not think I had dreams or things I wanted to do with my life. I told myself I couldn’t think of anything. But in reality, the dreams I had felt too big for me to attain and so I immediately disregarded them. Because of this, when people tell me they have no dreams, I do not believe them for one little second. I was that person once and I know if I could have dreams, then so could you.

One time, I told someone, “I don’t know what I want to do with my life.” This person replied, “Yes, you do. You just have not realized it yet.” For some reason, those words really stuck with me. And I think she was right.

The truth was, I did know what I wanted to do, but it just didn’t seem possible to me. I thought, “What I want is unattainable, so why bother?” I was immediately telling myself I never would amount to much and that I could never achieve those dreams.

However, over the years, I came to realize that maybe my dreams were there for a reason. I reminded myself once again that all things are possible with God. Maybe it is unattainable for me, but it is not unattainable when God is on my side. I realized the only one truly holding me back was myself.

I am not going to lie and say my life is all figured out or that I know exactly what I am doing all the time. I am not saying dreams are easy to attain or that every dream we have will be realized. But I am saying we will never know how far we can go if we never try.

It is for that reason I have continued to strive to do my best almost everyday to keep moving towards my dreams.

So how do you find out what your dreams are?

I don’t know if this will be helpful for anyone, but I will share how I realized mine:
It all started right after a very dark time for me. I saw no hope for the future, could not pass a day without crying myself to sleep, and could only see grey. I prayed and spoke God’s word over my life, desperate to see Him pull me out of my slump. For a while, it seemed nothing was happening. Then God dropped a quote from the Disney movie “Mulan” into my heart, almost like a promise: “The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.” I held onto that quote like someone who was parched and left out in a desert would hold onto a flask of water that dropped suddenly from the sky. Thinking back on that time, it is very interesting to me how God chose to pull me out of my slump. Because how God pulled me out of it was from giving me a Disney quote and in helping me realize the things that brought me joy.

Truly what pulled me out was appreciating the small moments of joy I would occasionally experience, no matter where it came from. I soaked them in and thanked God for giving me those moments. Most of them were small things, some were bigger.

My relationship with my family. My brothers. The encouraging words of friends. My love for Asian culture. My love for fantasy. Light. Studio Ghibli inspired music. Writing. Stories. I just began noticing those small moments and the things that caused the joy. Then, the thought occurred to me one day of how much I would love to live in Asia and teach English.

Bam! I realized a dream I had but had disregarded because I thought I was not brave enough to achieve it.

While I was reading and listening to inspiring messages, I stumbled across the YouTuber Lavendaire. I found her YouTube videos to be quite encouraging and inspiring. She shares lots of exercises to help people find their “Dream Life” and become an “artist of life.”  The reason I share this is because I really do feel her YouTube channel helped me find the courage to go after my dreams along with the feeling of God urging me to step out.

A video for reference:

One of those exercises was to sit down with a piece of paper and pencil and think. Think about what you would want to do if you had no limits on what you could do. Write those down. It doesn’t matter what it is. Write it down. It was through this exercise I came to realize some more desires I had disregarded. I allowed myself to dream wildly. No matter how ridiculous and impossible it seemed. I wrote it down.

Then I felt God urge me to pursue the dream to teach in Asia. My heart quaked at the idea but I thought it did not hurt to research about it. After researching, I decided South Korea would be best. I found a recruiting company. Then I just let the idea roll around in my head for a few months as I prayed about it. Finally, I decided it did not hurt to apply for the recruiting company. It was all those small steps that led me to spending a whole twelve months in Daegu, South Korea and I do not regret a moment of it.

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

–Arthur Ashe

Doing so showed me that with God I could achieve those dreams I had. After realizing this, I have since been, small step by small step, moving towards those dreams, all the while listening to God’s leading. That is what led me to starting this blog—even if I have not been the best at keeping up with it. That is what led me to dance in the professional ballet company. That is what is leading me now. I believe He placed these dreams in my heart for a reason.

Please take all of this with a grain of salt. Although I think dreams are an important part of our lives, I believe the only way we can ever be satisfied and at peace with where we are at now is when we have a relationship with God and are in line with His plan for our lives. Remember this when you are pursuing and make sure it truly is something God is leading you to do.

I hope by showing what I have been learning and my process, I am able to help someone else who is struggling like I was. I would love to be the person God uses to bring light and hope back to someone’s life. I write these posts as if I am writing to the me who withdrew into her shell and cried all the time and who could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. I hope it reaches someone in some small place in their heart.

Dream wildly and then go after it!

Blessings to everyone!

P.S. Feel free to comment some of those dreams, big or small, that you have! I would love to hear from you.

—The Adversity Rose—

Kaitlyn Rose

DREAM. PURSUE. EXPERIENCE. GROW.

This blog will cover travel, pursuing dreams, and personal growth.

Removing the Chaff

“In the never-ending battle between order and chaos, clutter sides with chaos every time. Anything that you possess that does not add to your life or your happiness eventually becomes a burden.”

John Robbins

          

Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon

Back when coronavirus first began to spread like a wildfire and everyone was required to stay home, I found myself in a season of reflecting and processing as mentioned in my previous post. Listening to all the chaos going on in the world and to the chaos in my own heart, I was feeling cluttered and overwhelmed. I did not want to settle into my comfort zone, but I also did not know how to push myself. In the midst of all the confusion, I could not figure out the next direction I wanted to take in life. I found I lost my spark on what to write about in my blog posts, even though I had a lot of time to write.  A small part of me wondered if the clutter in my room was causing most of the stress I was feeling. Therefore, I decided that at the very least, I could de-clutter my things.

Moving back into the house I grew up in, I realized I had accumulated more things over the years I have been gone, and now they were mixing with all my old things I had left behind. I am someone who has grown to hate clutter with a passion and am constantly striving for a more clutter-free life. Since I have been practicing the art of letting go of my things for a few years now, I have noticed it has become a little easier and I have become better (but do not be fooled—I still have a long way to go).

When I first saw the mess of things I left behind mixing with my new things and the other things that had moved in in my absence (empty rooms become storage space), I was very overwhelmed. I could not see my floor as it was full of suitcases, boxes, and baskets, yet I had almost no place to put the things contained inside each of these. However, I knew I could not survive living in such a cluttered space; it would drive me insane. Knowing this, I had to take steps on eliminating extra junk in my life. The chaff. The unnecessary. The things that’s only purpose in my life was to take up more space.

Several small steps and seven trips to Goodwill later, I am a lot closer to being where I want it to be. Although my room is not quite there yet, it already feels so much better and more open than it did two or three months ago. Each time I decide to let go of a simple item, the less stressed I feel and the happier I am. When I see the results, it inspires me to release more. This way, I am only carrying things that bring joy, peace, and love.

“The first step in crafting the life you want is to get rid of everything you don’t.”

― Joshua Becker

“Out of calmness comes clarity.”

― Trevor Carss

This made me begin to think about life in general. I began to wonder if I have extra chaff, clutter, junk, unnecessary things in my life it was time for me to release. I am searching inward, prayerfully, looking for what God highlights for me to remove from my life. I pray His Holy Fire will burn away the excess, the chaff.

I believe in doing this, I will clear my mind more and be able to see what I have been having trouble seeing because of the chaff. I think about the process of de-cluttering my room, and how even a little step here or there towards my goal has made a great deal of progress already and how things have steadily become clearer. Seeing this in the de-cluttering of my room, I know I could see the same results in my life if I take the steps of de-cluttering the excess in my life. I know if I keep taking those small steps, God will help me go after those dreams He placed in my heart. He will show me what I have been struggling to see as I continue to remove the excess, the chaff.

I hope this speaks to someone even if in a small way. I hope you will be inspired to look at your own life and see what things, activities, habits, etc, which need to be de-cluttered from your life. See the excess or chaff that might be holding you back and, with God’s help, remove them from your life, no matter how big or small it might be.

John answered and said to them all, “As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand to thoroughly clear His threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into His barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

Luke 3:16-17

Blessings and good luck on your own journeys!

Before I end this post, I do want to mention a little about my “writer’s block,” and how it has not been affecting other areas of my writing. About halfway into April, I did begin to write for fun again rather than for others. I was not writing blog posts, but I was writing. More than I had in a really, really long time. The project I have been working on has been going quite smoothly since then and I am ecstatic to be writing as much as I have. Writing has always been a hobby of mine growing up and, though I never did share much of my writing with others, it was something I loved doing. Having all this time for the first time in six years to write has been a blast for me. And I want to continue pushing myself to write in the same way as I am pushing myself towards clarity.

It has been nice to rediscover my joy and love for something!

—The Adversity Rose—

Kaitlyn Rose

DREAM. PURSUE. EXPERIENCE. GROW.

This blog will cover travel, pursuing dreams, and personal growth.

One Step at a Time

“Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still.”

Chinese Proverb

In all the craziness of this year (and I feel no explanation is needed as we all know how crazy it has been), I have neglected my desire to write these blog posts. Honestly, I neglected it long before this year. I hit writer’s block especially hard in this season as life seemed to go on pause. We all know it really did not go on pause, but I found myself internalizing a great deal of things. I was stuck. I did not know which direction to go or why the direction I chose was not settling in my heart. It can be a hard thing to figure out how to do something you want to do or get where you want to be. I felt the same when moving to Korea had only been a desire and a thought. I felt it then, and I feel it now. I mentioned this two years ago, but I came to the realization that life will just keep passing on as it is unless I act. I have been trying to remind myself of this and keep myself on my toes so I don’t settle or settle in. I want to keep dreaming, growing, experiencing, and changing. Standing still cannot be an option unless I feel it is necessary for the next step.

However, I find I am back at this place where I am wondering, what next? I suppose this is life. We decide something, we do it, and then find ourselves wondering about our next steps. One good thing is I have millions of ideas and dreams whirling around in my mind and heart. However, those whirling dreams create in me this feeling of almost agitation—unrest. But not the type of unrest where I cannot rest rest. The type of unrest that is reminding me that people don’t grow in comfort zones. I want to keep pushing myself out of those comfort zones to force me to grow more.

Finding my way is hard though.

 I am not going to pretend it is easy to figure out the next step. It takes a lot of thought, a lot of prayer, a lot of action, and small steps. Since it has been quite a while since I have written a blog post (as mentioned before—writer’s block), maybe it is time for an update.

I danced in a professional ballet company this past season. It was a decision I thought and prayed a lot about and decided to act upon. I still believe it was where I needed to be in that season. But to be completely honest, it was hard. Harder than moving to Korea, harder than the struggles I faced in Korea. Now, do not misunderstand…the people were great, Oregon was beautiful, and it was a wonderful challenge. However, I found something just did not seem to sit well. I do not know yet why I was brought out there, but even if it was just to meet people, say some words, be a presence, or just to show myself professional ballet was not for me in this season, I know it was worth the difficulty.

But if that was not the right thing, then what was? I do love to dance a great deal and it has always had and always will have a deep and special place in my heart. My not returning in the fall to the company does not necessarily mean I am saying goodbye to dance, just might be going a different course or direction. Dancing professionally has made me truly realize how much time is needed to devote to the craft in order to do well and be the best I could be. And I began to recognize I did not love it enough for it to become a main focus in my life.

I have always known the amount of work it takes to dance professionally. When dancing professionally, you have to be dedicated, focused, and self-disciplined in order to maintain your ability and continue to grow. I thought maybe my love for dance and being able to use the gift for God’s glory would make all the work worth it. However, it did not feel that way at all. When I pictured my life continuing in that direction, I realized it was not direction I wanted my life to go, even if it would have been good and exciting and challenging. I wanted to pour my energy in other places—like writing, to name one.

 I realized this pretty soon into my time in Oregon, but I was determined to do my best and finish strong and learn what I could while I was there. Then, the coronavirus hit and changed so many plans. Quite suddenly, I found myself back home in Oklahoma, where I grew up. Over the next few months, I began searching inside myself, almost as if I was internalizing things or processing.

This internalizing and processing period has been taking a long time, but what has kept me going is focusing on the small steps towards the goals I knew I had–working a little at a time each day, each week towards achieving them. It can seem discouraging when the progress seems slow, but over time, you will see the results.

As an example, I have been de-cluttering my room, which was a horrendous mess after I moved back into it after being absent for two years. It seemed overwhelming and impossible, but step by step it has come a long way (I can walk around my room now). It is the same in every area in our life if we continue to take those steps even if they are small steps. Going forward consistently is better than stopping and going, as we see it the story of the Hare and the Tortoise.

On days when the progress seems too small, instead of despairing, I have been reminding myself daily, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13) and “I am capable of achieving those dreams. They are not impossible. Take it a step at a time.” And I will. How do we eat an entire elephant? One bite at a time. It is alright if you have to take it slow, just do not stop taking steps towards those goals. Set smaller goals to reach so the bigger goals are possible.

Reminding myself of this truly helps me and I hope it encourages and helps you too!

On the bright side, I have recently found a job and I’m excited about the job, but God has still granted me some extra time. I find myself wondering, “Why?” What should I do with the extra time given to me? How can I grow? How can I change? What should I continue to pursue? What dreams should I start taking steps towards?

I do not have the answers yet, but I know if I continue to take those small steps, I will reach it eventually.

Blessings to you from this little flower still learning how to bloom.

Here are some pictures from my journey back from Oregon.

—The Adversity Rose—

Kaitlyn Rose

DREAM. PURSUE. EXPERIENCE. GROW.

This blog will cover travel, pursuing dreams, and personal growth.

The Thief of Joy

“Why compare yourself to others? No one in the entire world can do a better job of being you than you.” –Anonymous

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When I was thinking about what to write, I found myself thinking of some successful people and how smart and creative they are and how they seem to be living “the life.” I realized the reason I often find myself stuck with creativity or in enjoying my life as it is right now is often because I am comparing—comparing myself to others or even to myself from another time. This, of course, brought to mind the famous quote everyone knows by Theodore Roosevelt (even if we didn’t know he was the one who said it): “Comparison is the thief of joy.” So, I decided this is what I will talk about today.

To tell you all the truth, as I began to write this, I found myself afraid to share. I’ve always cherished being honest and real. If someone asks me a question, I want to be as real and honest as I can. I feel we get nowhere pretending we are perfect or live perfect lives. So, instead of listening to my fear and not sharing, or sharing only neat pictures, I may get pretty real in this post. Because they say courage is doing something even if you are afraid. This actually ties in quite nicely with my last post on insecurities and comfort zones, now that I think about it.

We all deal with comparison. I have compared myself to others all my life. Often, I would find myself looking at other’s lives and being disappointed that I’m not like them. My comparison would notice something amazing and beautiful about them, and then follow with a negative about me. Examples: I am not as outgoing as them (I am too quiet), I didn’t get the ACT score they did and I had to take it a billion times to get it close enough to their scores (I must not be smart enough), they get asked to lead praise and worship and I don’t (because I’m too timid and quiet or not a good enough singer), they are given leadership positions (but I am not given any because I am not charismatic or able to lead), they got the dance part (but I didn’t because I am not as good as them), they got the recognition (which means I’m not as good at the job), they got the 4.0 award at graduation (but I, who got a 3.95,  must not be worth celebrating—I am lesser), everyone got odd awards (I never did because I’m too quiet that I am forgotten or not good enough), this person has the dream job (but I can’t have the dream job because I am not capable of achieving it). It leaves me believing lies about myself: I am dull, I am too timid, I am not smart enough, not creative enough, not pretty enough, not wanted, not admired, and not capable.

I also notice that, with each comparison, I’m dismissing any achievements I have gained. If I receive something, I follow with “Oh, it was just this once” or “Oh, but they got it three times” or “Oh, I will lose it because I am not good enough to keep it.” I don’t allow myself to appreciate myself or my achievements. I look at my friends’ 4.0s and think, “Man, I just got a 3.95.” (This is the perfect example of the silliness. I mean, seriously, it is a 0.05 difference!) I don’t allow myself to be happy with how I am or where I am at right now, even if I am accomplishing a dream I had.

I think about the quote “Comparison is the thief of joy” and I know it is true. It really does steal away joy. Many of us have also heard this quote by Steven Furtick: “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind the scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” We all know this, of course. We are all aware. Yet, we continue doing it anyways.

Although I find it hard to believe people would compare themselves to me and wish they were like me, some people have. They see my highlight reels, and wish to be like me. But I, just like most people, don’t share the hard parts or ugly parts of my life. So, I wonder, why such amazing people like them would ever want to be someone as helpless as me? You’d think that would help me to not compare myself to others, and yet, I still compare myself to them.

How do we stop comparing? How do we live life to the fullest, enjoying every season, and embracing where we are in our journey? We know everyone’s journey is different. Yet, we still think the grass looks greener on the other side, until we are on that grass and realize each blade of grass has its challenges. We become so aware of those challenges, that we forget we are living on the grass we always wanted to live on.

Comparison does not only steal our joy. It lies to us. It puts us down. It makes us feel someone else’s life is better. It allows us to covet what others have instead of being grateful for what we have. It puts our focus on the problems in our life rather than the good. Or it minimizes the good in our life.

“Don’t compare your life to others. There’s no comparison between the sun and the moon. They shine when it’s their time.” –Anonymous

“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms.” –Zen Shin

So, I am here to tell you (and myself) once again, do not compare your life to the highlight reels of someone else’s. You are an amazing person with great ideas. You are capable of achieving your dreams. You offer something unique and wonderful to the world. Maybe someone in your life is a sun or a rose, but that does not discredit you, the moon or the lily, from being any less amazing. Every person faces challenges. We may not always see them, but they are there. What makes the difference is whether the person allows those challenges to become the only focus or if they allow themselves to appreciate the good in their life. There is always something to be thankful for, even if your world is turned upside down. We just need to learn to see it.

Now, if you are like me, you didn’t believe a word of that last paragraph, but I encourage you to daily remind yourself of it. Keep telling yourself it, thinking about it, meditating on what God says about you, until you believe it. Don’t disregard just because you don’t believe it now.

I may not be The Bucket List Family (I know I’m not the only one who thinks their life seems so exciting and adventurous), but that does not mean I can’t live a life of adventure in my every-day life.
I have something to offer to the people around me, and I can live an adventurous life right now in the season I am in. Don’t disregard yourself before you begin.

 

Blessings to you from this little flower learning how to bloom.

—The Adversity Rose—

Kaitlyn Rose

DREAM. PURSUE. EXPERIENCE. GROW.

This blog will cover travel, pursuing dreams, and personal growth.

Growing is Uncomfortable

“We have to be honest about what we want and take risks rather than lie to ourselves and make excuses to stay in our comfort zone.”― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

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I don’t know if any of you feel the way I do, but some days I want to change and push to be the best version of myself, and other days—well… let’s just say I’d rather not. But not necessarily that I do not want the change. I do. I really do. It’s more like I find it exhausting and just want to give up. I often wonder, am I the only one who just wants to watch life go by, stay in her comfort zones, and stop trying?

I know for me I am often tempted to just stay the imperfect, flawed, and insecure girl I am who never tries to challenge herself to grow in any way. Someone makes me upset, I just take it out on them instead of forgiving and forgetting and moving on. I snap at someone who did nothing–psh, I am not going to apologize because my pride is more important than admitting wrong. I have a mountain of work I should do–I’ll just sit and do nothing and be lazy. People don’t say hello to me, I don’t say hello to them. People don’t talk to me, I don’t talk to them. It becomes this endless cycle until all you are thinking about is yourself and not allowing yourself to grow into a better person. Not allowing yourself to grow.

I have a vision of who I would like to be. This person is someone who is energetic, fun, bold, exciting, honest, real, kind, and hard-working. Someone who isn’t afraid to be themselves all the time. Someone who isn’t afraid of being very honest and real, but kind and warm. Someone who is really THERE in the moment and seeing people. Someone who isn’t consumed with herself. Someone who loves herself and who she is.

This is only a very small, itty-bitty, tiny version of the person I wish I could be. The person I know is too hard to become without the help of God. (Let me say—it seems impossible, but Matthew 19:26 says, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” So, maybe God can save this weak, self-centered person and help her to be the person He calls her to be.)

One thing I struggle growing out of are my insecurities. I know there are many people in the world who struggle with insecurities. Actually, everyone is insecure about something. Some insecurities are different. Some are the same. I, for one, struggle with so many insecurities. I often wonder if all insecurities come from something that happened in our past or if some insecurities just appear as people grow up. I cannot think of why I have my insecurities or where they originated from.
I just remember one day people were telling me I was quiet. And I started wondering how not to be quiet. However, I did not think I had anything to offer, so I did not want to open my mouth because I felt I had nothing to say. Since then, I have been in this swirling mess of hating being quiet, feeling stupid that I did not know what to say even though all my teachers my whole life said I have a lot to offer and needed to speak up more.

Suddenly, I was afraid of being unseen, unheard, forgotten, and that I would never be able to do anything I wanted to do because I was too afraid to do it. I prayed every day for years for God to give me boldness. Every year, I was further disappointed in myself.

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I have an actual memory of me thinking about how I wanted to go to Asia to teach English and live there when I was like thirteen or fourteen years old, but I was afraid of teaching. I did not know how I would do it. I did not know how I’d get over there. I was afraid that if someone told me I couldn’t, I wouldn’t go. I did not think I could travel alone. I did not think I could live alone in another country. I was not sure if I could stand in front of kids and teach. All of it terrified me. (This is just one example.)


Even now, I struggle some days with wanting to step out of my comfort zone to talk to people. I often feel like people think of me as this boring person who can’t make jokes, who can’t talk, and who would not be fun to be around. I feel awkward talking to people I don’t know well and even people I have known all my life. I don’t know what to say. I don’t know how to act. I feel silly, awkward, and ashamed that at twenty-four, I still am just a girl who listens to conversations and feels invasive if I manage to interject.

Every few months, I’ll be in my bed crying because it is uncomfortable to try to talk to people. It’s hard to say something when no one is expecting you to speak.  And I want to give up trying to grow. Because growing is uncomfortable.

One thing I learned is that if you try to do something outside your comfort zone, often you feel excited that you successfully stepped outside it for once. You feel victorious. And if you are like me, you want to hear someone say, “Good job, Kaitlyn! You did a great job sharing your thoughts even though you did not want to.” Or “What you said may have seemed juvenile to you because it sounded different outside of your brain, but it really was not! I enjoyed hearing your perspective!” or “Wow! You started a conversation with a complete stranger and had a decent conversation! Way to go!” However, that step, which may have felt like a huge accomplishment to me, actually may have looked small or insignificant in others’ eyes. So, I would feel joyful that I actually said a sentence or two in class discussion, but then get confused or discouraged when, again, my evaluations say I needed to speak up more. I thought I did speak up more. I tried so hard to say those two sentences.

It’s a little funny to think about it now, but also helps me remember to not get discouraged just because someone did not see the effort it took you to step out of your comfort zone for that brief moment. It helps remind me to keep trying. Maybe, one day, the difference will be so big that someone will notice. Maybe, one day, you’ll find yourself further than you ever thought you would be and doing things you thought you never could do. Trust God with the process even if it is uncomfortable and hard. Don’t give in to the voice in your head that says, “I can’t do it. It’s too hard. I’m done trying. People will just have to deal with it.”

It is so hard some days to fight that voice and not curl up into my turtle shell. It has always been hard. Especially in unfamiliar territories. In South Korea, I remember struggling with it, but then deciding I was not going to let it bother me. Here in Oregon, I find myself fighting it extra hard.

Maybe your struggle or insecurity that you are trying to overcome is something else entirely. But that doesn’t make it any less difficult or hard to push yourself out of your comfort zones. It doesn’t make it any less hard to not let them rule your life. When your insecurities become the force guiding your life, they become an idol and replace God. You begin to be defined by them, and not by how God sees you. You begin to give into them and follow their leading instead of God’s leading. You become your insecurities’ slave if you don’t ask God to help set you free from them.

While I am often tired of pushing myself or tired of following God’s voice out of my comfort zone, I am even more tired of being governed by something that makes me feel hopeless about myself and my life.

That is why I keep pushing myself to try, even if I feel like I fail most days. That is why I keep fighting even if I sometimes feel like I’m going backwards instead of forwards. That is why I keep following God’s leading to places that seem uncertain and trust He knows better.

And I know, that if he can take that little girl who was too afraid to be anything and take her to live alone in South Korea to teach for a year, then nothing is impossible for Him. I can trust He can use this timid, self-seeking, and discouraged girl to be a light for Him in this dark world in a way only He could.

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He can do the same for you. No matter what you struggle with, He can turn it around.

“Open different doors, you may find a ‘you’ there that you never knew was yours. Anything can happen.” –Mary Poppins

Blessings!

—The Adversity Rose—

Kaitlyn Rose

DREAM. PURSUE. EXPERIENCE. GROW.

This blog will cover travel, personal growth, and life in general.

Be

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

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I have finally motivated myself to take up my “pen” (not really—I type) and write you all again. It has been a struggle to want to write anything or know what to write. I have moved back from South Korea, but definitely feel as if I left a part of myself there. I miss my home in Daegu and all my sweet students and friends I made there. It was so sad to leave but I was also very excited to see people back home. I spent my first month back visiting with family and friends and enjoying seeing the faces I have missed. However, after that, I had to take off on my next adventure in beautiful Oregon.

I decided back in May to move to Oregon to be a trainee in a small ballet company there. I had missed dancing while I was in Korea, so I was excited to be able to move my body again. However, to be honest, I was very sad and nervous about this move. I wished I could stay longer with my loved ones, and also the pressures of what I had to do once I got to Oregon were quite overwhelming. I felt, and still feel, as if I bit off more than I could chew.

The trip to Oregon, though long, was quite exciting. My dad and I drove all the way there from Oklahoma and took a scenic route. Coming from a girl who has never been west of Oklahoma, I found the drive (once we got out of the boring plains of Oklahoma and Kansas that I was used to seeing) to be quite exciting! We drove up to Kansas, and then through Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho before we reached Oregon. It was nice being able to stop and sight-see while we drove. My favorite was Wyoming and Yellowstone of course! The trip here was the highlight so far.

Once we arrived in Oregon, we were surprised to find out it was against the law to fill your own tank of gas. So, I am getting used to the fact I have to have someone else to do the work. Besides this unexpected news, I have settled well into my apartment and started dancing with the company. Everyone in the company is so sweet and welcoming and has such a passion to use their dancing to glorify God. It was a nice environment to be welcomed into.
Although I loved being able to dance again, I was far from where I used to be. I was very gracious towards myself in the beginning because I knew taking over a year off of dance was going to have an effect on my ability. However, I found that as weeks passed, I began to feel discouraged. I felt I was leaps behind what I used to do and even more behind what everyone else is able to do.

I also was struggling to find a job that paid well and worked with my dance schedule. It was a month before I was hired and began working. There have also been several other struggles I do not wish to name that have come with my move here.

I wish I could say I have been struggling bravely or with grace, but I have not. When life feels turbulent, it is tempting to succumb to anxiety and depression. It has been hard not to wonder if I had made a mistake or to doubt God is taking care of me. I often wonder if I misheard God or if, for once, God is not coming through. If He wasn’t coming through, there must be a reason? Did I do something wrong?
Yet, when I look back at the last three or four months and look ahead to this next month, I see that God has provided for me so far. I have made it this far. Maybe God will come through next year too. And maybe I will grow in my dancing ability.

Sometimes life can feel like a crazy, unpredictable rollercoaster ride where you are spinning and blindfolded. Sometimes you have to do something that does not makes sense to realign yourself with God. Or take a step backward in order to move forward. I feel like I have made a decision that does not make sense to me right now and feel like I’m starting from ground zero again. Yet despite all of that, I know that God is teaching me something amidst all of this even if it hurts so much. Even if my heart feels like it has a giant hole. I can trust God will fill my holes with Him and His abiding love.

Even if I do not see where my life is headed, I can trust God knows and He IS guiding me. I can trust the process. Things may not go how you want or wish them to go, but God is there with us every step of the way. I hope to one day look back on this and see the evidence of what God cultivated in and through me during this time. I also look forward to better times in the future. I am slowly learning to find peace even when my circumstances are declaring something else.

God has been teaching me to just be.

“Be still and know that I am with you.” –Psalm 46:10

 

On another note, Oregon is a very beautiful state. It is so nice so find yourself catching your breath every time you step outside or take a drive. Every now and then I glimpse snow-tipped Mt. Hood in the distance, towering majestically. Bright and colorful leaves covered the trees and ground during fall. Tall evergreen trees line the streets. It is truly breathtaking.


In University, I was taught to take “artist dates” where you go and do something once a week that brings you joy. Whether that be reading, going on a walk, drinking tea or coffee at a café, or going to a museum. So, last Saturday, I decided it was time for me to go on an artist date. I went on my first solo adventure here in Portland to the Japanese Garden Portland. I felt, for a brief moment, that I had stepped back into Japan. It was magical and so peaceful. It brought me so much peace and joy. I’m so glad I went.

Therefore, I’d like to recommend, if you are having a rough time, take some time to take your mind off your worries and have an “artist date.” Give yourself a day to rest and not think about your troubles or your to-do list. Just be.

 

Blessings!

Here are some other quick snippets from the past three months. Also, the ballet company I am a part of is preparing for our Christmas performance of “Courage, Dear Heart: A Journey Through Narnia.” We are excited!

—The Adversity Rose—

Kaitlyn Rose

DREAM. PURSUE. EXPERIENCE. GROW.

This blog will cover travel, personal growth, and life in general.

7 Terrific Places I Visited in South Korea

To live will be an awfully big adventure– Peter Pan

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As my time living in Korea for a year has come to a close, I decided to make a list of all the great places I visited in South Korea. In case any of my readers are planning to visit Korea and want another person’s opinion on some great places in Korea, here is mine.

South Korea has many unique and beautiful places to visit. There was rarely a time when I was visiting a new city in Korea that I disliked my experience there. Therefore, this is only a short list of many terrific places to see in South Korea. They are not in any particular order except for the first one being my favorite place that I visited in Korea.

  1. Seoraksan National Park

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This is by far my favorite place that I visited while I was in South Korea even though it was one of the first places I visited. As I think back on all my trips, I have no doubts this was my favorite. The view of the mountains surrounding the park are so majestic, I cannot describe them in any other way than breathtaking. I did not visit Seoraksan any other time of the year, so I may be biased, but I think the time I went might have been the best time to go. In mid-October, the air was cool and fresh and the trees were in full fall colors, which added to the magnificent beauty of the mountains. If I were to choose one place I’d visit again and again, I’d choose Seoraksan.

Seoraksan National Park has many different hiking paths to take of varying difficulty. There are several paths leading to the top of the mountain for those eager and daring enough to pursue (I was not in the intense hiking mood at the time of my visit). I hear those views are phenomenal even if the hike is hard.

There are several places to eat and grab great souvenirs as well. There are temples and also a giant Buddha.

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When I was visiting Seoraksan, I was with a travel group so I had a limited amount of time to explore the park and feel like I barely saw a fraction of what was there. But the parts I did see have caused it to be one of my favorite places I’ve ever been in my entire life so far. So please, check it out!

  1. DMZ Tour

The same weekend I visited Seoraksan, I also did a brief DMZ tour the day before. I recommend this experience because it was very unique and also very sobering. Seeing the memorials, the war artillery, the Fourth Tunnel, the explosive warnings, and the leftovers of war really caused the reality of the war between North and South Korea to sink in. It’s one thing to hear that there was a war, and another to see the battle grounds where some of the war took place and still see the evidence of it. Also seeing how careful the South Korean soldiers were about us being so close to the border of North Korea, it reminded me the threat has never left them.

If you would like to step into some of Korean history, I highly recommend doing the DMZ tour!

  1. Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival

If you are in Korea during the cherry blossom season, I highly recommend visiting Jinhae for its Cherry Blossom Festival. It’s a beautiful festival with wonderful views of the cherry blossoms! I tried some delicious cherry blossom ice cream, bought some flower teas and a flower crown, walked through cherry blossom trees, listened to Korean traditional music, watched some traditional dances, and did some shopping in some markets nearby.

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It was a blast and definitely a highlight of my time in Korea!

  1. Gamcheon Cultural Village

I am not 100% sure how I found out about this place, but somehow, I did, and I knew it was a place I wanted to visit. Getting there was a bit tricky for my friend and I our first time visiting, which at first left us wondering if going to the village would be worth it or not. But once we finally made it there, it was totally worth it. Gamcheon Village was refurnished by painting the buildings and houses in the village to many different colors. It was such a cute place with many cute souvenirs and many places to snap pictures. They had murals throughout the village and you will find more if you wander off the main street. If the line is short enough, take advantage and get a pic with the famous statue of the Little Prince while you are there! There are also a lot of fun street foods and cafes to check out!

This is one of the few places I visited twice, so I definitely recommend!

  1. Gyeongju

Speaking of great cultural places, Gyeongju is an awesome city to visit for Korean culture. It’s a small city and one can see most of it after only a few visits (maybe even one visit if you are proactive). I visited only twice, but enjoyed my time there both times I have gone. Most of the buildings are in the traditional Korean style and there are so many cool nooks and crannies. It’s a fun place to just wander around! Some places I saw were Bulguksa Temple, Tumuli Park (tombs), some museums and artisan places, and the World Culture Expo Park.

I know there are many other great places in Gyeongju to see that I failed to catch, but it’s a cool city to check out!

  1. Jeju Island

Jeju is probably the most popular Korean island in Korea. It’s a beautiful place to visit and has beautiful beaches! Hiking Mt. Halla was definitely one of the harder things I did in Korea, but might be worth it if you are not afraid of long hikes. I recommend bringing lots of snacks and water and the reminder that walking down feels longer than the walk up. The hardest part of the hike up was the top, and it’s definitely a muscle-burner. But the views are nice. Bring a jacket for the top because it’s quite chilly up there!

  1. Seoul

I feel Seoul has so many great places to visit but it’s obviously one of the more popular places. I visited Seoul many times and always had a great time. I recommend renting a hanbok (Korean traditional clothes) and visiting Gyeongbokgung Palace and Bukchon Hanok Village. It’s a magical experience and makes you feel like you are walking in a different time. Also, you get great photos!

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Gyeongbokgung Palace

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Bukchon Hanok Village (it was too cold for me to take many pictures) 

I also highly recommend visiting Insadong. It’s a great place to get traditional Korean souvenirs and get some yummy tea!

Namsan tower may be another known tourist spot to check out, but I enjoyed visiting so I recommend it definitely! Especially in the evening.

The last place I recommend was a place I was not really told to go visit, but I visited because it was nearby. However, I had a blast both of the times I went and highly recommend! Lotte World Mall is a phenomenal mall with many great cuisines, random museums, a beautiful aquarium, stores, and cool architecture! Also, there is a cool tower there to check out as well. Definitely a favorite!

As I have said before, these are only seven out of many, many more great places to visit in South Korea. However, these are some of the favorite places I visited! I hope you enjoyed taking a look through my trips in Korea!

—The Adversity Rose—

Kaitlyn Rose

DREAM. PURSUE. EXPERIENCE. GROW.

This blog will cover travel, personal growth, and life in general.

A Small Goodbye and New Beginnings

It’s sad to know I’m done. But looking back, I have a lot of great memories. – Bonnie Blair

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A picture of me with Jupiter towards the beginning of the semester.

I am six months into my year of teaching abroad, which means it is time for one semester to end and another to begin. I become teary-eyed when I think about my memories teaching the students I’ve taught the last six-months. These children were truly the highlight of my time here. I have always had a love for children and always feel drawn to them (I mean I can’t help but wave to the little baby sitting nearby at a restaurant). I’ve worked with children many, many times growing up. However, I have never worked with the same children, every day for hours teaching, struggling, laughing and crying together like this before. I knew I would love my students, but I don’t think I quite understood the place they’d have in my life here. So today, I wanted to take a moment to reflect more and tell people more about my time teaching here these past several months, the good and the bad, in honor of them as my time teaching them comes to an end.

My first week in South Korea was spent observing the classes I will be teaching as quick training before I jump into teaching the next week. I knew my job would be hard before coming here, but I’ve handled long hours of work before. I felt I could handle it. And I have. But it was definitely quite hard in the beginning. However, I was still excited despite my fear of teaching and the overwhelming feeling of the intense teaching schedule of my job.

How my school works is there are the foreign teachers who teach English and the Korean teachers who help make connections, focus on social skills, and care for the students. The first part of the day is directed at kindergarten-aged kids, and the second part of the day is on elementary students. Each day we arrive around 9am, and end around 6pm-7pm (or later if you wish to stay around and get some work done). It definitely can be a lot and is very intense, but the work environment is good and the kids are (mostly) sweet. For the elementary students coming to the school later in the day, the school is a secondary school for them where they go purely to study English. The kindergarteners come in order to start their English learning early and are immersed into the language. I am amazed by how smart these kids are. They can start as early as three or four years old in American age, and can already hold a decent conversation with me after having studied at the school for six months. They talk to each other in English, they read in English, and write in English. It is quite intense and impressive.

My schedule this past semester was teaching nine different classes every day, Monday through Friday. For the kindergarteners, I was able to teach art, music, gym, reading, writing, speaking, and phonetics. All of it is in English of course. The elementary students are taught only English, grammar, writing, etc. I was glad to be able to teach such of variety of subjects to the babies, and enjoyed teaching English to the elementary students as well.

Anyways, how the schedule goes at my school is before lunch, you teach one set of students three different classes. Since you are the first teacher they see that day, you are their main teacher and they are your homeroom class. After lunch, you teach another set of students for two more classes. Then we have a break before we teach the elementary students coming after their elementary school to study English. I taught two separate sets of elementary students a day for four different classes. The largest classes were about twelve students, but all my classes were a variety of different sizes from five students to twelve in a class (I cannot imagine handling thirty students at a time).

Anyways, the first week I came to Korea, I was observing all the classes I would be teaching. The first class I observed was a group of five-year-olds by Korean age (three or four in American). I immediately made some “friends” in that class. I found out a few days later that I would be their homeroom teacher. I was ecstatic since I seemed to have more of a connection with them than any other class I observed. I found out quickly that they were technically behind the other five-year-old classes in level and were not as well-behaved according to the school’s standards. Others can call me silly if they want, but I felt I came to Korea to be their teacher. I did not know if I could help them much, but I knew I would love them with every ounce of my being.

Soon after finding out I was going to be their next main teacher, I really soaked in any information their current teachers told me about them. One boy stood out to me because he sulked, had his head down the whole time, didn’t participate, and did not do any of the work the other students did. It seemed nothing any of his two foreign teachers or his Korean teacher did would cause him to participate any more. Both of the foreign teachers told me he was always like this and they couldn’t get him to do anything. Immediately, I had a goal. If I couldn’t do anything else at this school while I was here, I just wanted to help this boy. I prayed right there, right in that classroom as I watched the teachers try without much hope to get him to participate, that God would help me help the boy. Even if I could not do anything else.

It is so crazy to think of that first week. I did not know what would happen. I did not know how much I would love this entire class. I did not know how quickly they would love me back. I did not know how much they would make me feel loved, make me laugh, and make me cry. But I did know in that moment I would try my best for them.

At my school, all the classes are named after trees, such as Oak, Willow, Pine, Acacia, Birch, Cedar, etc. My homeroom class was Jupiter, so we called the students by the name “Jupiter.” As I jumped into my new job teaching nine classes a day, not all my classes were like Jupiter. I did not have an immediate connection with all my classes, although that would have been great. Despite of that, I loved everyone of my students. Yes, there were days they annoyed me. Yes, there were days they frustrated me. But I loved them all. Yes, even the class that drove me crazy and made me cry my first couple weeks there and made me cry of frustration a few Tuesdays ago.

However, as much as I loved teaching the elementary students, I adored teaching my fiver-year-olds. Jupiter and my afternoon class “Orion.” I mean, it’s not quite the same when you compare “I love you, Ms. Kaitlyn” or “You’re a princess, Ms. Kaitlyn” and receiving hugs and cheers daily to the accidental insults of the older students who don’t seem to care that you teach them (they do, but they just don’t show it as easily). Plus, I have always connected better with younger children anyways.

I had to learn to accept that I won’t be every kid’s favorite teacher. Haha!

But even though there were days I would get frustrated because I cared so much but the children did not seem to. Even though there were days I had to deal with the complaints or anger of upset parents (the worst part for me). Even though there were days I had to deal with the fact a class that fell behind was immediately blamed on their teacher, and I had to learn that I can’t put myself down just because one student does not seem to be learning anything and think that means I am a horrible teacher. Despite of all of that, I never for a moment wanted to give up on a student and wanted to keep working hard for them. The one time I wondered if I would have to give up on a student, I cried because I did not want to believe they could not be helped. These kids have truly been a highlight of my time here.

I have so many funny stories, have laughed so hard at things my students have said or done, and have been comforted so much by their hugs; they are truly very precious to me. I love hearing them sing songs, watching them learn, rejoicing with their victories, seeing them dance, and hearing their affection for their friends, families, and teachers. I love hearing about the days outside of classes, whether it be going to a zoo or aquarium or traveling to another country or hanging with their cousins, friends, or grandparents. I love walking into a class and immediately being swarmed by all the stories my students are dying to tell me about.

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Field Trip Day!

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I will definitely miss those days a lot.

I do not think I can ever fully understand what kind of affect I had on their lives. Some may have been small, but I know some of them are bigger than I can ever understand. But I do understand the affect they have had on me. It makes me sad to think I may never see them again after I leave Korea.

This last week I said goodbye to all of them as their teacher. I am glad I will still see most of them in the hallways, but will miss seeing them every day in class. Especially my Jupiter babies.

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Me, trying to take a class picture on our last gym class, but one of my students, Brayden, wanted to sit next to me instead of getting in the picture.

So, this is why I cried so much this week. I knew it was time for them to move on and time for me to focus on other children. And I knew they will probably one day forget me. So, I cannot help but be sad at the thought of not being their teacher anymore. On our last day, I cried so much. The Jupiter babies kept telling me how they love me and do not want a different teacher. They kept telling me how they don’t like missing people. They told me they loved me. They hugged me so many times that day, and one of the boys teared up. After I handed them their certificates and took some final pictures with them and watched them line up to leave the classroom, I looked back at how much they had grown and was so proud to know they did a great job.

And for a brief moment, I heard a soft voice say, “I’ll miss you, Ms. Kaitlyn.”

I looked over to see Brayden. He smiled at me and waved and said bye as he left the room. I was so surprised that I thought maybe I misheard, because Brayden was never one to say “I love you, Ms. Kaitlyn” or hug me. He showed his affection differently.

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A note I received from Brayden the next day.

So, I was a mess that day. Cried most of the day as I said goodbye to more classes and cried at any letter I received.

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All this to say, I will miss all those kids so much. But I am excited to see what kids will come into my life for these next six months. I am ready to love more kids. Starting this Monday, I’ll have new classes, different students and new students, and will be partnering with different teachers. I look forward to making new memories. I look forward to seeing how my new students grow. I look forward to loving new kids. And of course, will often go say hello to my previous students. I’m writing this all because I do not want to forget. I want to remember. I want to remember the tears, the frustration, and the joys.

I’m excited for what these next six months have in store for me!

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Our last day together

—The Adversity Rose—

Kaitlyn Rose

DREAM. PURSUE. EXPERIENCE. GROW.

This blog will cover travel, personal growth, and life in general.

Packing Joys and Regrets: What I Regret or Don’t Regret About Packing for Living Abroad

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – Lao Tzu

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Since I have been in South Korea for six months now, I have had time to think about which items I am glad I brought and which items I regret bringing with me to Korea. So today I wanted to give my own opinion on packing for anyone who is thinking of teaching English in another country. I have come up with three separate lists to share: Things I regret bringing, things I regret not bringing, and things I do not regret bringing. Most of these lists are just my own personal opinion, but I hope it helps people either follow their gut reaction on what to bring with them or cause some people to rethink what they’ve decided to bring.

One thing I do not regret doing before coming here is watching YouTube videos and reading blog posts on others’ experiences teaching in Korea. I think it helped me understand what I need to pack or what I do not necessarily need to pack. It also helped me be less surprised by some of the cultural differences. (However, the number of videos did not quite relieve the shock I had of how different Korea was from Japan.)

My list of things I regret bringing is very small, as I did not regret much of what I brought.

Things I Regret Bringing:

  1. Bringing too much clothing.

Unless you are better at controlling your spending than I am, you will buy clothes here. There are several cheap deals, especially in the underground shopping areas. I think I brought too much clothing from home. I haven’t worn everything I’ve brought yet and some of it I do not think I will wear (maybe a sign I should get rid of it). So, I recommend bringing only the clothing you really enjoy wearing because those will be the only items of clothing you will wear. Maybe I’ll make a detailed packing list one day to share.

  1. The number of notebooks I brought.

There are plenty of cute stores here that sell really cute and cheap notebooks if you are really someone who likes to write or journal. I brought too many notebooks and have only used one of them somewhat regularly.

Things I Regret Not Bringing:

  1. Bringing more books.

I love books. I always have. I knew I could not bring my whole collection, and since books are heavy, I wanted to try to limit myself to as few as I can. So I tried to limit myself to five books (I know–such a small number). I was just going to use a library app and read e-books for any other book I wanted to read. However, soon after I got here, I immediately regretted not bringing more books. I have always preferred reading from the actual book and reading an ebook is just not the same for me. Therefore, I regret not bringing more books. The funny thing is, I knew I would regret not bringing more books. That is my own fault for ignoring something I knew about myself. Yet, I was lucky to find relatively cheap English books at a bookstore in downtown Daegu, and was able to buy some books. I now feel much better seeing a bigger collection of books on my desk. I do not regret any of those purchases and plan to just mail them home when it gets closer to my time to leave.

  1. Bringing more medicine.

I brought enough pain medicine (because I know how much I hate headaches and monthly pains). But I did not bring nearly enough cold medicine or allergy medicine. I brought a small amount of Benadryl and that is it. I have a lot of severe outdoor allergies and tend to take allergy pills regularly throughout the year. I don’t know why I thought I would not experience it here. I also did not expect how often I would get sick here. Thus, I regret not bringing some more medicine just because it is hard to ask for medication at a drug store when you do not speak Korean and are not sure what you are taking…

  1. A pair of heels.

I did not bring a single pair of heels mainly because all the YouTube videos and blog posts said not to bring them. So, I did not. However, I have been invited to a few weddings and I wish I could have a pair of heels to wear to them. I would definitely not wear them on a daily basis or on any days that require a lot of standing or walking, but on those random times I have to dress nicely, I like to wear something other than the black flats I brought. I think this particular item probably depends on the person.

 

Finally, here is my list of things I was afraid I would regret bringing but I do not regret bringing in the slightest. Quick Side-note: Before going to Korea, I bought a new laptop because my current laptop was gigantic and too heavy to lug around regularly (I have four years of university to prove it). So, I did not want to bring that heavy thing with me all the way to Korea. I do not regret this choice.

Things I Do Not Regret Bringing:

  1. A Portable CD Drive and a CD/DVD Storage Binder

Since I bought a smaller laptop, it did not have a built-in CD drive. So, I bought a portable one and brought it with me along with a CD/DVD storage binder filled with my favorite movies. I have watched many of them since coming here and do not regret the choice I made in bringing them. It has been a great comfort and also allows me to play any movies or CDs I happen to buy here or people happen to lend me. I have used it regularly and have no regrets.

  1. My Bluetooth Speaker

I brought my Bluetooth speaker because sometimes I like to jam to music that is slightly louder than what my phone can go. Also, my new laptop’s speakers are quieter than my last laptop. I do not regret my choice to bring it. I did not realize I would use my Bluetooth every time I watched a movie (since my laptop is a bit too quiet by itself when watching movies). I have also used it a few times when teaching Gym at my school. So, it has been used quite frequently.

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  1. My Plush Panda Pillow and My Fuzzy, Soft Blanket

I brought these mainly for comfort. I was not sure how I would handle my first time moving out of my parents’ house and to another country. So, I brought a lot of comfort items. Things from home that would bring me some comfort for days I am homesick or physically sick. When I packed these, I thought I was just giving into some illogical-thinking, but I have used these almost every night and they have brought me much comfort. Probably more than anything else I brought. They may have taken up some space in my suitcases, but I am glad I brought them.

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  1. Enough Deodorant and Toothpaste for a Year

It is kind of nice knowing I do not have to worry about buying more of at least one necessity item while I am here, especially items I can be picky about. So, I have not regretted this choice.

  1. Part of My Tea Collection and a Mug

I love tea. Although there is plenty tea here in Korea to buy, I just like not having to buy some. I have used my tea quite regularly and enjoy it immensely. I love to sit down with a cup of tea in the mornings or in the evenings. It is another great comfort item.

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  1. My Portable Box of Joy

I have a box of notes or things that make me happy back home for days I’m feeling low. It can be a great picker-upper. I knew I would have days I’m missing home, so I brought some of those cards or notes that make me happy. My best friend made me a portable “Joy Box” as a parting gift for me to put them into. It makes me happy just seeing it, because it reminds me of all the love I have received over the years. Some days it can be hard to remember that you are loved and that some people like you as a person. Thus, it is nice to have something that can help remind you.

A Weekender Bag and a Backpack

Since I have taken many weekend-long trips since coming here, I do not regret the choice to bring a weekender bag with me. Also, I use my backpack every day when going to work. They are used quite regularly and are nice to have.

 

I think these are all the lists I have for now. I will probably make a packing list someday soon for anyone thinking of teaching in another country! I found any posts I read or YouTube videos I watched before my move here to be very helpful, and would love to send out my own list to maybe one day help someone who was just as lost as I was at the idea of packing for a year in a foreign country. I hope the lists I made today are helpful as well!

Blessings from South Korea!

—The Adversity Rose—

Kaitlyn Rose

DREAM. PURSUE. EXPERIENCE. GROW.

This blog will cover travel, personal growth, and life in general.