Adjusting to a Foreign Country

The more you like yourself, the less you are like anyone else, which makes you unique. –Walt Disney

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Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul, South Korea

This is a much-needed update about my time in Korea. I feel bad for not doing well in keeping up with my posts, but transitioning to a new life makes it hard to find time for anything except breathing and eating. I’ve been in Korea for a little over a month now and have been officially teaching English for four weeks. If you are looking for someone to paint you a false picture of all rainbows and sparkles about moving to another country, then don’t look here! I will be honest and say it is a big adjustment and I am trying to learn to love myself through the process.

First, I’ll start by sharing my experiences with teaching. I have to say that week one of teaching felt like a disaster and was one of my more stressful experiences. I had so much to learn and so much to do and was making a million and one mistakes every day that it is no wonder that I cried my first day of teaching. Despite this, I was pretty excited to be teaching and adored the kids. The weeks that followed were much better and I have been adjusting pretty well to the crazy teaching schedule. I really do love teaching these kids and they are so adorable!

I teach five-year-olds five classes in the morning and early afternoon (Korean age is actually a year or two older than American age, so the five-year-olds are actually around three- or four-years-old). They are my favorite classes to teach because they are so sweet and loving! They tell me constantly that they love me and give me many hugs. I really do love them! After a short break/prep time, I teach four classes of first graders that come from another school. I am slowly learning to enjoy teaching them too. They definitely were not my favorite that first week, but now I actually enjoy teaching them on most days. Because they are older, I feel they can sometimes be a bit hard to control. However, after getting some classroom management help, I’ve been doing much better.

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My first graders drawing and reading after their monthly exam.

I still make a lot of mistakes every day, but teaching is a learning experience. I know I will continue to get better and learn the best way to help my students the most! I want them to do well. Grading, although sometimes a lot of work, can be quite entertaining. It is fun to see what the kids think about and their thought processes. I have laughed many times, because who would not laugh when a kid compares himself to a parrot because he is a good listener? Or when they are supposed to create a new creature and one says that his creature has 100,000,000 billion teeth? It is pretty entertaining.

We had a pajama day for the five-, six-, and seven-year-olds this last Friday, which was probably the cutest thing I have ever seen. I wore my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fuzzy pajama bottoms and was petted and hugged by many little children that day. My favorite was either the dino slippers one boy wore, or the boy who was so proud to show me his alphabet pajamas. I am glad I work at a place that has dress up days! Halloween is next!

 

 

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Brayden’s dino slippers for Pajama Day.

 

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Yeonjun’s alphabet pajamas he was so proud to show me.
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My homeroom class on Pajama Day.

I love talking about the kids and can probably talk about them all day. I obviously will not–But here are some more pictures!

 

Since I am at work most of the time, my time outside work has been spent relaxing, cleaning my apartment, cooking, eating and sleeping. I have struggled with figuring out how to shop for food the most. I can clean, organize, and do laundry just fine. Cooking and shopping for food? I have no clue what I am doing. I never knew it was this hard to figure out. My first two weeks were ramen and curry every night. Not doing a whole lot better about my meals now, but have been taking it a meal at a time.

There are no driers here, so I hang my clothes to dry. I have no problem with doing this until it is an extra humid day and the clothes take three days to dry. Or when they dry wrinkled and I have no way to unwrinkled them. Still a struggle. I probably will invest in a steamer. I do find that I do better with laundry here though than I did back home. I am not entirely sure why, but it is true.

I have figured out how to handle the wet floor from the showers (since you just shower on the bathroom floor), so it is no longer that much of a problem. However, my skin reacts strongly to the water here. Maybe because of the chemicals used to clean the water, but I wash my face with bottle water and am looking for a shower head filter. Itching on my hands after washing my hands is not too bad, but itching on my back, arms, chest, neck, and head while showering is something else entirely. Also found out I am allergic to the body wash I have been using for the past several months. Yay! Now I have to be weary about all the products I use. My face and hair have not liked the move here either, and am currently looking for ways to solve those problems.

I have enjoyed exploring my city during the weekends, taking time to explore stores, restaurants, cafes, churches, and just getting used to how to get around. My friend/coworker and I have decided we like the trains better than the buses, against what most of our other coworkers think. Trains seem much more straightforward to us and less stressful than buses where you have to find the right bus and press the stop button when you get off. We had several bad experiences with them and no bad experiences with trains. So, we like trains. We walk so much here that I think I lost some weight from it all. I am used to feeling my feet and legs ache.

However, maybe because of the stress of moving, teaching, time change, food change, weather and air change, I think my immune system is down. I’ve been sick the past two weeks which makes it hard to explore as much as I would like. I am in the process of trying to build my immune system back up. I’m ready to not have to cough every five minutes.

Because this week is a big Korean holiday called Chuseok, I have three days off work so I was able to go to Seoul this past weekend and meet up with some friends and explore. It was a great way to release some stress and just have some fun, even if I got sick after coming back. We explored Myeongdong, Gangnam, did some karaoke, and went to Namsan Tower and the Gyeongbokgung Palace. It was a blast and I am excited for my next adventure! It was also nice to see some familiar faces and I really enjoyed hanging with my friends!

Since I have been struggling with some acne and hair problems, I have been trying to learn to love myself with those imperfections. It is much easier to love yourself when you don’t hate looking at yourself in the mirror. It is something I know God has been working with me on. So, I’ve been focusing a lot on trying to love myself with the imperfections as I am trying to find the solution, and how not to stress as I stress about things too much. Everything has worked out so far, so there is no need to stress!

Final update, I have a bank account, my alien registration card, and a Korean phone number even if I am planning to switch around my phone plan. I will get my first full pay check in a couple of weeks, and will have to pay my first month of bills soon after. Little by little I am settling in for my year of living here!

I am really glad to be here and really do love my job, even if things have not been super easy. And I do have some prayer requests!

  • Please continue to pray that I would be able to find a home church while I am here!
  • I would love prayer for my body. I need to build back up my immune system so I can stop being sick.
  • Also, that I can find a good shower filter so I can take a shower without itching like crazy and getting red marks all over my body.
  • Prayer that I will be able to make some more friends here!
  • I would always like prayer that I will continue to learn how to be a good teacher.
  • Please pray for my students as well!
  • Prayer that I will be able to pick up on the language while I am here
  • Prayer that I’ll have a better ease at locating the things I need. I still have had no luck locating a few necessities in stores.

You Are Capable

If you can dream it, you can do it. –Walt Disney

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Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

You are capable. You are capable of doing all those sweet dreams deep in your heart. Maybe you do not believe it now, but I hope you will one day. Today, I want to talk about loving yourself and self-confidence. I mentioned this for a brief moment in the last post, but I want to expound on it more since it is so vital to our journey of change. In order to chase dreams, you need to know that you are capable and you have an amazing purpose in life. Not everyone may believe in God, but I do—and I believe that when He created us, He created us with a purpose and placed dreams inside our hearts. I believe they are there because we are capable of doing them—with His help of course. However, we do not need to worry about His helping us. We need to focus on taking steps and persevering and going hard after those dreams. Only then will God meet us half-way and you will see impossibilities become possible and a supernatural favor.

So, I reiterate. You are capable of changing and fully capable in achieving your dreams.

When I was thirteen years old, I went to Thailand on a mission’s trip with my mom. I truly believe it was in that moment when the dreamer inside of me awoke. However, even though I began to feel those secret desires begin to manifest, I did not believe I was capable of achieving them. I was super shy when I was a kid. I could not talk to strangers, and I could barely talk to people I knew. I wanted to help people, wanted to move to Asia even if temporary, and wanted to do so much, but if I thought about actually doing them…It scared me out of my mind. I remember praying every day for years for an inner boldness because my greatest fear was that I would be too afraid to chase my dreams.

I did not believe I was capable. Even with God’s help I was afraid I was not capable.

Around the same time I began having those secret dreams that I never voiced to anyone except for maybe my mom (until much, much later), I also began to fall into self-hatred. I hated myself for being too shy to talk to others, I hated myself for being too shy to do something I wanted to do, I hated myself for not going after my dreams (because I was so sure I never would), and I hated that everyone else knew I was shy too.

Constantly, I was told that I was quiet and shy, and constantly I felt people trying to pull me out and tell me to be bold and speak up. And I tried. I really did. But it was disheartening when I did make the effort to say something, I only heard the same things I heard before. They seemed to not see that it just took everything in me to say that sentence or two.

It is pretty funny to think about it now. Honestly, saying a sentence or two in a group setting was a lot of talking for me. Of course, they would still see me as quiet and shy! I just did not realize at the time. It caused a lot of discouragement and dislike for myself. (Disclaimer: I do not want this to sound like people from my past caused this, because I know they saw some things in me that I did not. They were trying to draw it out. And it is likely they did not know the effort that went into saying what I did say or they did and were trying to draw out more.) Anyways, this timidity and discouragement and self-hatred continued with little change until a little more than a year ago.

Yes, I did keep trying to push myself. Yes, I did not give up. Yes, I kept trying to step out of my comfort zone. And yes, I did get bolder. I knew this, but my self-hatred only grew rather than lessen. I was not even aware that I hated myself. I see it so clearly now, but back then all I thought about was working hard to step out. And focusing on the jealousy that was taking hold of me.

I know jealousy really began to be a problem for me in high school. I was jealous of anyone who was bolder than me and was entrusted with what I considered to be positions of boldness. I knew they would do great things. Everyone told them so. I told them so—and I believed it. However, I was jealous of them because I felt like I could never be like them (which is true, I can only be me) and I hated myself for being jealous of my friends. I believed I would continue to be behind everyone else and never become the person I wanted to be. When I slept, my dreams would be full of action-packed adventure where I was helping others and was bold and fearless. It was (and is still) who I wanted to be with every fiber of my being. I was never the damsel in distress in those dreams (though, I do love the idea of some knight in shining armor saving the princess—I think there are times we cannot do everything on our own and more frequently than we think).

My jealousy pinnacled in college (at least so far—definitely have not fully defeated the jealousy beast). Junior year of college was the hardest year I’ve experienced because of several things, but I’d say 40% of the reason was because of jealousy and self-hate. I mention them both because I believe the two are tied together. I am only jealous because I do not see my own worth and do not love myself. I came to that realization I think in April 2017 when a friend told me that I have worth and that I was not a bad person for being jealous of my best friends. Man, did I need to hear that. Those words healed my hurting heart and if I had not heard them in that moment when my heart was crumbling, I do not know where I would be today. She was a literal God send, and I knew it.

After that day, my heart was more open for healing and love than it was before. My friend basically told me that I need to learn to love myself and accept the love of my Heavenly Father in order for the jealousy to go away. I was amazed how much love and acceptance I felt in the next three months from God and from others. I went to Japan from May 2017 to June 2017, and by the time I returned from the trip my heart felt more happy and whole than it had in a long time. I realize now the importance of loving yourself, believing in yourself, and moving from a place of love.

I do not know if this speaks to any of you, I hope some part of it has, but I want to encourage you that you ARE loved, you ARE capable, you HAVE worth. You can chase those dreams in your heart. I shared this only because I remember and still occasionally deal with the hurt and pain of self-hate. It sucks the life out of you. It consumes you. It stunts you. It haunts you. You make decisions out of that fear and hate. You do not see your own potential. But God does and so do I. Maybe I do not see YOU, but I know you are capable because I know I am capable too.

How can you begin to love yourself?

First, you must FORGIVE yourself for all your failures, mistakes, and wrongdoings. You must forgive the people who did not see your worth. You must forgive yourself from the future you thought you were going to live. Forgiveness is so important to living life without bitterness. We cannot let unforgiveness fester inside of us because it only makes us depressed, angry, and bitter.

Second, you must be merciful and gracious to yourself when you feel like you have failed again. No one is perfect, not even you, so do not expect yourself or others to be so. Change takes time and consistency.

Third, you must accept yourself where you are at right now. Not where you are going to be, not where you want to be, but where you are right now. You must love yourself for who you are today. God loves YOU. Not only the person you will become, but the person you are today and He believes in you.

Fourth, realize you are fully capable of growing and changing. Some exercises that can help is to write out some words you want to believe about yourself and then speaking them out loud every morning. You can stand in front of a mirror and speak them to yourself as well. Also taking time to write a phrase you want to believe about yourself over and over again. Example:

I believe I am fully capable of achieving my dreams.

I believe I am fully capable of achieving my dreams.

I believe I am fully capable of achieving my dreams.

I believe I am fully capable of achieving my dreams.

I believe I am fully capable of achieving my dreams.

When you have created negative pathways in your brain of self-hate over and over, we need to purposely work to change those pathways and it’s not always easy. But remember to have grace and mercy for yourself when you feel like you’ve failed.

Speaking out verses from the Bible have always helped me. I’ll attach a recording of spoken word (gathered from Bible verses and sermons) at the bottom of this post that a friend of mine created a few years ago which has been great encouragement to me and have been speaking over myself ever since. Even if you do not want to speak verses over yourself, I encourage you to listen to this recording at least once to see if there is anything you might want to add to the confession that you write for yourself.

To help with forgiveness, you can try to write a letter to yourself or to the person you wish to forgive and share why they hurt you and then tell them why you will forgive them but never send it to them (unless it is you—HAHA). This may be difficult and may not work for everyone, but it is worth a try.

To summarize:

  1. Forgive yourself and others.
  2. Have grace and mercy for yourself when you feel you fail.
  3. Accept who you are right now.
  4. Know you are fully capable of growing and changing.

Focus on the things that you succeeded in and the challenges you have overcome to remind yourself that you are not a failure. Failure only happens when someone has decided to give up. Do not give up on yourself. You are capable and remember, if you can dream it, you can do it.

—The Adversity Rose—

Kaitlyn Rose

P.S. here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KyAftxWpJQ4

DREAM. PURSUE. EXPERIENCE. GROW.

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