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.

  1. 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.

Remembering How to Dream

You have to dream before your dreams can come true.—A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

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This may seem silly to say, but in order to pursue your dreams, you must have dreams to pursue. Many people do not know what their dreams are…or if you were like me, maybe you have forgotten how to dream at all. We must remember how to dream so that we can start on this adventure of living the life of your dreams. Some people may scoff or laugh at this concept of “remembering how to dream” but I know it was a reality in my life and I’m sure in many others as well.

For the longest time, I refused to allow myself to dream anything except for some simple and normal things: to graduate from college, to get married, be a mom, to serve God however He wanted me to. These things are not unimportant (some being very important and real dreams), but they are also what we were kind of taught to dream. It’s what we see people do, it’s what we hear about. I never dreamed anything outside of those and if I ever felt dreams tickle my mind or felt my heart whisper—I did not listen. I was forcing myself to forget my dreams because of fear…because of “practicality thinking” (a term I have decided to deem those thoughts as). Why would I not allow myself to dream?

One big reason was because I did not believe I could do any of those things that did try to make its way out. Like my last post, that was because of some self-hate and lack of self-confidence. Learning to love yourself will help you remember to dream again. As Walt Disney said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” Another major reason was because I truly believed that if I voiced or acknowledged any of my dreams that God would take them away. I knew God wanted Himself to be number one in our lives and often require us to surrender ourselves, our worries, and our dreams to Him. I was silly enough to think that if I did not dream, maybe I would trick God and it would happen anyways, or that the disappointment of having an unrealized dream would be less painful if I never dreamed it.

How sorely wrong I was…

Instead I found myself hurting because I was not realizing ANY dreams and felt like I did not have any idea what to do with my life (not that dreaming would help me know which direction to go). Also, there is a verse in the Bible that says “Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it” (Luke 17:33). I believe a similar result will come to those who try to keep their dreams. I was being selfish and trying to keep my dreams by not dreaming at all, but instead of keeping them, I was losing them. God is not so cruel as to take away everything we dream. But He does want to make sure we are in the right place with the right heart attitude as we pursue those dreams. I believe God placed dreams in our heart and wishes to give us those dreams as long as He is put first. “Delight in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart” (Ps. 37:4). That does not mean we seek Him because we want those desires, but rather to see this as a promise that as long as we are seeking God and following Him, He WILL give us those desires.

Other reasons for me not dreaming were from my “practicality thinking.” I often would think things like, “Well, if I do this then I can’t do that” or “No one would like this or care about this” or “My parents won’t let me do this” or “People will laugh at me if I do this.” These are what I call “practicality thinking.” They are fears that may or may not be irrational; fears we believe, fears we succumb to, fears we use as excuses, fears we let drive our lives. This fear will be with us wherever we go, no matter how much we have grown or changed. They will never leave us.

“Practicality thinking” keeps us safe, tries to protect us, and is not entirely evil. However, while it may not be all bad, it is not all good either. Some fears are irrational. Most fears will not end your life. And all will keep you inside your box of comfort never allowing you to leave unless you go against the voice telling you “Stooop!” Yes, this voice may be right sometimes. Yes, maybe those fears might become a reality. But this voice will also prevent you from chasing your dreams and keep you from growing.  I will go more into this fear in my next post.

Returning to this idea of remembering how to dream, we must not allow any of these fears, doubts, or struggles to prevent us from dreaming.

A year ago, I remembered how to dream. It was awkward (and still is occasionally), but it has brought me back to life and placed more hope in me than I had had in a long time. How did I remember how to dream?

First, I had to realize that I was loved and learn to love myself (if you struggle with this refer to my last post, “You Are Capable”). After that, I had to realize it was okay to dream those dreams that scare you. Remember “if you can dream it, you can do it”? Well, do not doubt in your capabilities. It may take some time to gain confidence in your ability to achieve your dreams, but you must disregard the fear of failure and allow yourself to dream. It will feel uncomfortable and it may feel like there is a war going on inside you, but you must push those aside and allow yourself to dream about what could be. What are some desires, interests, wishes you have that maybe you never thought you could do or have? Write them down, no matter how crazy they can be. If the voice of your “practicality thinking” is too loud, you can write down those thoughts and fears leaving blank space between each of them and then go back to fill in the blank space with why you are afraid of this, what is the worst that can happen if the fear came true, and how you can overcome it if it did happen. Finally, write a positive affirmation/statement contradicting the original fear you wrote down describing why you CAN do it. This is an exercise I took from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and Artist of Life 2018 Workbook by Aileen Xu of Lavendaire.

Unhinge yourself from those thoughts, fears, and lies so that you can truly be free to dream those crazy, bizarre, ridiculous dreams. Write down even the small dreams up to the very big ones. Just go crazy. Remember that you are relearning how to dream, so you must not throw away even the silly desires that pop up. Don’t judge. Just write down any dreams that come to you. If you still are struggling with where to start, here are some prompts to think about to help you get started:
Where would you like your health to be?

What are some small interests and hobbies you wish you could do?

What are somethings you want to learn?

What kind of home, clothes, and life do you want to have?

Where would you like to live?

How do you want to feel about yourself?

What do you want to do?

Just write down anything that comes to mind while thinking about these questions. Do not be critical. Do not be negative. Do not allow your “practicality thinking” and fears to plug up your ability to dream wildly and freely.

After you have written them all down, either mark with a star or make a separate list of the most important dreams—the ones that mean the most to you or you want the most—and then make a daily or monthly plan on how you will achieve your dream. I did this same exercise a year ago. Seriously. I wrote down all those crazy dreams even though I thought it was silly. I knew I needed to relearn how to dream. Then I selected the dreams that were most important to me or wanted the most. I wrote down steps to achieving those dreams in very small simple steps. I looked at the first step, the easiest step, and then I started working towards those dreams a little every day. Of course, I was not perfect. I missed days, weeks, and months out of laziness and procrastination, but instead of beating myself up I just told myself to try again and take the next step.

I will use an example of one of my dreams:

Dream: Live in Asia

How: Teaching English

I had absolutely NO idea how to do this and it seemed so impossible at the time, but I remembered I had to start somewhere. So as step one, I looked up requirements and ‘how to’s on Google. Yeah. I looked up “How to move to Asia” on Google and I found some helpful tips. I looked on my university’s job portal for any English teaching jobs in Asia and saved them. I looked at requirements. I looked at any job offerings that interested me. I talked to a friend who had just come back from teaching South Korea about her experience. I found a recruiting company that recruits English teachers in South Korea, I read reviews on them, looked at their job postings, their steps, their applications, and saved it for another day. Then I began collecting a few small items I would need to apply to the recruiting company, knowing that having a recruiter to help me along the way would make it more likely that I would go.

A few months went by where I thought, debated, prayed, and wrestled with whether or not I would apply. February this year, I decided to just take the first step and apply because I knew I would be disappointed in myself if I didn’t. So, I applied. I was interviewed two days later and was accepted. Several panicked, stressful, terrifying steps later (and after a lot of checking and researching that this was not a scam), I find myself here in the final steps of attaining my visa and planning to leave August 19th.

I have used this as an example many times because a year ago this was on the list of dreams that I said “Psh…This will never happen. I’m too scared to do it, I do not even know where to start, I probably won’t do this.” I’d like to tell myself a year ago, “Kaitlyn, you CAN do it. Just don’t give up!” I won’t say it was a breezy, happy, non-stressful experience to get me to where I am now, but I do not regret this. It’s forcing me out of my comfort zone towards something I always wished I was brave enough to do.

AND…it all started with writing down all those bizarre, crazy dreams.

So, I’m here to tell you to dream big dreams! Allow yourself to dream. Allow yourself to believe in yourself. Allow yourself to love yourself. Allow yourself to push aside those fears and “practicality thinking” so that you can dream those wild dreams.

It’s time we remember how to dream. Dream—so that you can have dreams to pursue.

—The Adversity Rose—

Kaitlyn Rose

DREAM. PURSUE. EXPERIENCE. GROW.

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

Change Starts Today

It’s the job that’s never started that takes the longest to finish. — JRR Tolkien

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Photo by le vy on Pexels.com

Most people who pursue change in lifestyle, circumstance, mindset, and many other places come to a point of saying, “I’m tired of living the way I’m living now. I want to change.” I think this is an important milestone to reach. Today I will be talking about how to begin the journey of change. Change is important in life, as the seasons of our lives change continually and we must change with them. However, in some areas of our lives, we freeze out of fear or doubt and refuse to allow ourselves to grow. Therefore, in order to change your life and how you view yourself, you must realize you want to change. You have to come to a place where you say that you no longer want to deal with the hurt, anger, depression, bitterness, lack of self-confidence, and self-hate (to name a few) and you are looking for a way out.

After going through a dark period, I was looking for a way out. I was tired of living in the timid, self-hating, doubt-filled life I was living. During this period, I took a bold step to sign up for a Mission’s trip with my university. I’ve been on Mission’s trips before, but unlike other times, I did not foresee this trip happening. The only reason I decided to do it was because I knew I would regret not trying. And I was tired of regretting everything I did not do. So, I signed up even though I did not believe it would happen. I felt God challenging me to trust in Him and so I told Him, “If You want me to go, You have to provide the funds.”

Four months later, all the funds were in and I was preparing to go to Japan, a dream of mine for who knows how long.

While I could go on and on about how amazing the trip was and how much I loved Japan, I feel the most important point is that I CHOSE to try and signed up for the trip. And I didn’t regret it. Around this time, I was reading the book No Matter What: The Art of Going For It by Kevin Knox and I came across this quote that really stood out, “how you live today is how you’ll live everyday” (43). This quote blew my mind. Of course, if I want to make changes, the best time to do it is now. Change starts today.

If you want your life to change, you must start today. Set goals, make a plan, break it down, and start somewhere even if you don’t know where to start. I have wanted to teach English in Asia since I was thirteen years old. When I came back from Japan last year, I knew that’s what I wanted to do after graduation. But I had NO IDEA how to start. However, I knew I had to start somewhere. So, I started with looking up how to do it on Google and began looking into the requirements.

Now I’m here, preparing my Visa, have a signed contract for a job, and am preparing to leave in August. How crazy is that?

You want to know something even crazier? You can change your life and achieve your dreams too! I know you can. I believe in you. Because I’m doing something I thought I would never be able to do because I was too scared to do it. I thought I could not trust myself to go after the desires of my heart. But I can. And so can you.

So here is a quick summary of how I began my journey of changing my life:

How do you change your life?

  • Decide you want to change
  • Realize you have the power to take control of your life
  • Trust you are capable of changing and fully capable in achieving your dreams
  • Start today
  • Just GO for it

Remember, change starts today. Do not wait for an unknown tomorrow.

—The Adversity Rose–

Kaitlyn Rose

DREAM. PURSUE. EXPERIENCE. GROW.

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