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.

Seoul, Magic, and Some Other Things

I believe in Christ, like I believe in the sun—not because I can see it, but by it I can see everything else. –C.S. Lewis

The world is but a canvas for our imagination. — Henry David Thoreau

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As March draws near, I realize that I am almost halfway through my time here in Korea. The school semester is about to change which means I get different classes, different children. I’ve been told the cold weather will just get warmer from here. Things will change again for the next six months I am here. I find myself partly excited to see who God brings into my life the next six months to bless me or hopefully be a blessing to, but I am also sad to be saying goodbye to the children in my life now. They bring me so much joy and are definitely my favorite part of being in Korea. I do adore teaching these children so much!

This past week was the Lunar New Year or Soellal. We got three days off work, so I took the chance to spend it in Seoul. This time alone. It was my first solo trip. This is something I’ve been wanting to do as part of my “pushing myself out of my comfort zone” challenge. But I was more nervous before the trip than I ever was during the trip. I felt pretty comfortable traveling around. I, of course, had a few times where I missed the company of others during the trip, but I was also glad to experience a trip on my own for the first time. My favorite day, though, was when I jampacked my day with Lotte World (an indoor theme park), Lotte World Mall, and Lotte World Mall Aquarium. I had found a 50% discount online for Lotte World, which I thought was lucky. I paid less than $30 for something that would have cost closer to $60. It was a rainy day, so I was glad I had chosen all indoor things to do. It turned out to be quite the magical day for me, and I really wish to share my experience.

I honestly do not know what it was that day, but it was the first time in a long time I was bit by the creativity bug. I have always adored artsy things, such as dancing, singing, music, art, reading fiction, and writing fiction. However, I did not really see myself as an artist until my time at my university, where my professors and teachers poured into me, encouraged me, and opened my eyes to see that being an artist doesn’t necessarily mean we are strictly a painter, or writer, or dancer…Artists are people who create as they go through life. However, it had been a while since I had felt any sort of creative. Especially since coming here to Korea, I have not had any creative urges. It was startling to me since I thought Korea would open me up the way Japan had.

Yet, suddenly, that rainy, Sunday morning, in a cute AirBnB room, I found myself inspired to be creative. I left the room feeling like my eyes had been opened. The whole way to Lotte World, where I was beginning my day, was full of noticing and having a rain of ideas for my writing (and by writing, I mean my fiction writing). I was really impressed with the size of Lotte World, being an indoor theme park. It was like stepping into a small Disneyland in the way that it had its own character to its own stories (although Disney is much more magical, so it is hard to compare this place to Disney).

 

The first ride I rode there literally made me feel like I was flying. I’m sure the people sitting next to me could see my excitement as the VR experience took us on a fantasy flying journey. I loved that I felt the jerk of our flying machine and the splash of water from the waterfalls and wave spurts we flew past. It literally made me tear up because I was thinking, “This is how it would feel to fly.” I now tuck this experience in my pocket and will not be surprised if I see this experience pop up again and again in my stories.

It’s pretty funny my favorite ride was my first ride, but I still enjoyed my time in Lotte World. However, I left it after spending a few hours there to explore the Lotte World Mall (I was tired of waiting in lines and struggling to find the only rollercoaster in the place—had no luck). I wanted to go to Lotte World Mall only because I had seen one small picture on a random blog of a Totoro from Studio Ghibli’s My Neighbor Totoro. If you know me at all, you know I adore Studio Ghibli, or at least the movies I’ve seen (and I haven’t seen as many as there are). So here I was popping into random stores, only with a vague hope of finding something Totoro-themed.

I often feel like I am being guided when I explore. I somehow find my way more often than I should. I found the Mall only because I decided to go to the Aquarium (I thought I was already in the mall but it was just a department store). While I was on my way to the Aquarium in the Mall, I just would pop into random stores. I saw a glimpse of an interesting store a little ways away in a different direction than I was headed and decided to check it out. On my way there, I discovered the Studio Ghibli store. When I was looking for something Totoro-themed, I was not expecting this.

 

Studio Ghibli’s movies are some of the few movies out there that speak to something in me. My creativity? My love of art? My love of story? Whatever it is, I love the works of Miyazaki. So, discovering this store was a little too exciting for me and I spent quite a bit of time in there looking at everything. After I finally dragged myself out of the store, I found the Aquarium and went inside.

Just so you can fully grasp where I was coming from, I have only been to the aquarium in Tulsa, Oklahoma and an aquarium in Dallas, Texas. So, I did not have high hopes of spending a lot of time in this aquarium. I was not sure if it was worth the money. What I did not know was this would definitely be the high of my day. When I first entered, it seemed like every other aquarium I had been to (the whole two—haha). I was enjoying myself, even stood for a while to watch the otters, when I suddenly saw the exit.

Disappointed, I thought that this was another small aquarium. I was just about to leave, when I saw people coming up an escalator through a tunnel tank (typically known as shark tunnels except I did not see many sharks in any I saw there). There was no way down from where I was, but I knew that meant there was more to this aquarium than I had seen. So, I turned around and found the rest of the aquarium. I think from that moment on, my opinion of aquariums flew through the ceiling. This aquarium seemed to keep going. I saw my first whales, two Beluga whales, where I spent twenty to thirty minutes watching them swim. I walked through many tank tunnels. Finally, I found the largest tank I have ever seen full of fish swimming gracefully through the water. I was awestruck the whole time. I spent another long while sitting and gazing at this large tank until I checked the time to see it was 6pm. I was hungry, and so I reluctantly left my position and went in search of food, leaving behind this magical aquarium.

 

There was themed food at the top of the Mall, so I made my way up to the top floors. I was surprised to see so many familiar restaurants, but there were also restaurants from other parts of the world. I really enjoyed walking around the little village of food. It was impressive to see. I finally settled on a place I knew I would probably not experience in America, and went into a K-pop entertainment diner. I really enjoyed eating while listening to live music. After dinner, I went to Lotte Tower, where I was stumbled upon another show I thoroughly enjoyed. Then I decided to head back to my room.

 

All this to say, the whole day felt quite magical to me.

Since then, I have had a random creativity awaken in me. I wonder if solo trips often do this, and if so, maybe I should do it more often. On the train back home after my trip to Seoul was over, I was hit by the clearest picture of an idea for a drawing. Now, I have never, ever thought of myself as an artist in the sense of drawing at all. I used to love drawing and would do it all the time. I used to draw all the time. But I have literally only drawn once since my sophomore year of high school. I thought I had grown tired of drawing. I had no ideas or enjoyment while drawing anymore.

So, you can imagine the surprising I felt when this clear and strong idea for a drawing arose. I felt an urgency to create it. Even though I felt my drawing ability would not do it justice (because as said before, I have never seen myself as an artist in that way). So, despite of this, I spent the next ten hours after returning home drawing. It is not done, and not a masterpiece, but it makes me unexpectedly happy.

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I bring this up only to say that I still feel this strange electric zing! of creativity running through me. I do not want it to go just yet. I’m partially afraid my busy work schedule might stamp it out. However, I am also inspired by the inspiration. It reminds me of my dreams. It reminds me of the life I want to live. It reminds me I feel closest to God when I am creating, or appreciating another’s art, whether it be through art, dance, music, or reading and writing.

I think the point I have with this post is just to say I felt like I rediscovered my love for art and want to be an artist of life. Not in order to be the best, because I know I am not. But in order to give my best and glorify God through it all. I do not doubt at all that my inspiration comes from God. It is through Him I see everything else. This actually reminds me of a quote by C.S. Lewis: “I believe in Christ, like I believe in the sun—not because I can see it, but by it I can see everything else.”

This weekend I felt I was seeing everything through different eyes. I was allowing God to change how I saw things and because of this was able to fully enjoy the solo trip. A trip I was afraid I would not enjoy. I feel this post may be a bit awkward, but I really just wanted to share this experience. I really wanted to tell about this magical day. Maybe partially for the purpose of reminding myself of it later.

I really hope everyone can experience this joy throughout their lives. I can’t say my time in Korea has been easy, but it has definitely been quite the adventure so far! I do not regret my decision to come here for a second. I hope everyone can take those jumps that scare you and find you learn something from it. I have learned that with God that I am capable of much more than I ever thought I could. I can trust God knows what He is doing. I may not know what comes in my future, but God is my inspiration and I will keep following where He leads! One thing I know is God keeps waking up the dreamer in me. I just hope I allow God to help me to keep making those dreams realities!

Blessings!

Some other pictures of my time in Seoul:

 

—The Adversity Rose—

Kaitlyn Rose

DREAM. PURSUE. EXPERIENCE. GROW.

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

Realigning and Refocusing with the New Year

People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself. But the self is not something one finds, it is something one creates. — Thomas Szasz

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2019. It is hard to believe it is a new year already. There is the cliché saying of “New Year, New You” that always gets passed around at the beginning of the year. However, I’ve also seen the parallel these past few weeks: “New Year, Same Me.” People always joke about how their New Year’s resolutions fail before they even start. It is all very funny and painfully true, but I find it often gives a view of failure to the beginning of the year. I know whenever I make goals, I often fail. It is not easy to make new habits. However, the only way to succeed is to keep trying. Try and try again. So yes, this post will be the typical cliché post of “New Year, New You” because I know it is always good to take some time to reassess your life and come up with some goals for the future.

I want my motto for this month to be “Realigning.” Today, I found myself sitting down and reassessing how I was living my life now. I realize I have a lot of areas in my life that need “realigned.” I seem to have allowed myself to get caught up in things that used to mean nothing to me. Although I embrace some of the changes, there are some changes that I do not want to be a part of my life. It is easy to forget that every day matters in the pursuit of becoming the person God has called you to be.

I have wasted so many hours on social media and Netflix since coming here, and wasted more money than I would have liked as well. I need to realign my priorities and remember my time here isn’t meant to be wasted. I’ve been learning a lot about myself on this trip, and when I mean learning about myself, I don’t really mean the good things. I’ve come to realize so many faults that I had never paid attention to before. One fault would be my complete lack of self-control in my life. Hence why I wasted so much of my time and money.

I have not given myself time to do the things I really enjoy doing or the things that are really important to me. So, I have decided I need to do a full realignment and reassessment of my life. In order to realign myself, I will need to create boundaries for myself and keep to those boundaries. I have learned a lot about the importance of boundaries the past year and a half, and how boundaries help you maintain a healthy and happy life. However, because of my lack of self-control, I tend to not do my boundaries any justice.

It is my hope that as I continue to focus on making boundaries and listening to those boundaries, I will learn some much needed self-control.

One thing I’ve found that really helps me clear my mind and allow myself to think and plan is decluttering, organizing, and cleaning the space I live and work in. There is something so stressful about messes. I always feel happier and more at peace after I’ve deep-cleaned my room. Clutter does not add anything to your life and I believe it actually takes away from it. The first time I had this realization was right after coming back from Japan after having lived out of a suitcase for a month. Man, did that help me see what I could and could not live without.

Because I find this extremely helpful, I found myself decluttering my apartment today. I always do a relatively deep-clean on the weekends (some deeper than others), but I have not reorganized my space since when I first arrived here. Oh, did it feel good to see my space (closets, cabinets, and all) organized and clean. It truly helped me feel like I had some breathing room. Maybe it is because of this that I was able to sit down and think about what I wanted to for this month, this period spent in Korea, and this year. It is always nice to realize some new dreams or be reminded what your dreams were.

I found this quote, the quote I am using open up my post, “People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself. But the self is not something one finds, it is something one creates” (Thomas Szasz). Something about it really rang true to me and I like this idea. It reminds me that we have full control over who we become. It also inspires the artist in me to create. Whenever I create, I feel closer to God than most other times. God is the greatest Artist, and He lives in us and guides us! He created me, and gave me power to decide what I will do with the life He has given to me. However, I would not want to live a life that is not guided and orchestrated by the greatest Artist of all.

One of my goals coming to South Korea was to discover myself. I wanted to see what I like and do not like. I wanted to explore. This was one of the goals that I had to remind myself of today. Social Media is not going to help me discover anything, but rather waste all the time I could have been using to try new things or cultivate what I already know!

I am also reminded that small things often lead to big things. I should not look down on small things just because they are small. Small things are often the most important things in life, especially in relationships. I am not the best at doing these important small things, but I hope to continually become better.

I am actually very grateful for this year alone in another country (almost like a break—a crazy, busy break—from what I am used to) where I can sift through all these thoughts, feelings, emotions, and struggles and come to terms with what it is I really want to do. I am not saying that I will have all the answers after this trip (far from it). I’m just saying I will be at a better place with myself, even if I come back clueless about what the next step is in my life. Suddenly, I am not as scared of the future as I used to be.

The future used to seem so dark, mysterious, and dangerous. I was afraid of what I might become. Now I can say God will keep helping and leading and guiding me through every step of the way.

So, my (not-so-knowledgeable) advice to anyone reading this is to clear and clean your space and then sit down and dream a little. Come up with some goals. Think about your previous year, the good and the bad. I truly believe it helps make the start of a new year a little bit fresher!

P.S. the Kon Mari method really does help!

P.S.S. Here is a quick look at my Christmas break!

—The Adversity Rose—

Kaitlyn Rose

DREAM. PURSUE. EXPERIENCE. GROW.

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

Spreading the Wings of Hope

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey towards it, casts the shadow of our burdens behind us.” –Samuel Smiles

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As Christmas time approaches, an eager expectation and excitement rises within me. Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I love the lights, the music, and the warm feelings it gives me. I love the magic of Christmas. I love that it is in celebration of what Jesus Christ has done for us—coming to such a crazy world as something as lowly as a human being to save us from ourselves. Everyone knows life isn’t easy, and throws us many curve balls we are not quite ready to handle…or at least feel like we are not ready to handle. However, Christmas reminds me that hope really does help us through so much and brightens our lives.

Although Christmas is my favorite season, I have always seen it as a time celebrated with family. This year, I find myself several miles away from my family in another country watching all my coworkers leave. A couple of weeks ago, it was really getting to me that, for the first time, I would not spend Christmas with my family. I really wanted to go home. It was even harder hearing all my coworkers make their plans (half of them going home) whereas I was still trying to figure out mine. Oh, the relief I felt when I finally was able to make plans with a friend from high school who is currently teaching English in Japan. Truly, I am so relieved and happy that I will not be spending my Christmas holiday alone.

Soon after, I was invited to a friend’s wedding, which was exciting and added to my relief. Then I found out a cousin will be in South Korea over the Christmas break, which really brightened my whole week. I would see some family after all.

Today was the start of my Christmas break. It’s amazing to think I have been here in South Korea for four months and have not seen any of my family or friends (except a few in September) since I have been here.

It still feels surreal that I am achieving a dream that I have had since I was thirteen. I’m living in another country teaching English! Does it really take this long for it to sink in? (Ha!) I have had so many adventures since coming here, and so many struggles as well. A month ago, I really started fighting to change my circumstances because things were turning sour so quickly, and I did not want to spend this year of doing what I felt God wanted me to do crying every other night and sinking into depression.

Why was I sinking in depression anyways? Hadn’t I defeated this before?

Well, for one, working at a high-stress, intense job can be really difficult especially when moving to an unfamiliar place in an unfamiliar land. However, I had mentally prepared myself for this, because I was aware of what I was stepping into. What I had not prepared myself for was getting sick so often, reacting to the water so badly that my skin feels like it is burning, or my face breaking out worse than it had ever had before. I lost so much weight, I was basically swimming in all my pants. My acne was so bad that I couldn’t look people in the eye, and constantly tried to side-step the many questions I received from students about what was on my face (or just told them it was mosquito bites—which some of it was). Oh, those mosquitoes. I feel like I have scars on my body from those darn mosquitoes. I’m so glad they died with the incoming of snow. Not looking forward to the resurrection in Spring.

There were other mental games that I was struggling with as well. I recognized the signs of falling into depression… The grey outlook on life. The hopelessness. The withdrawal from people. The constant tears. The drained feeling. The disappointment of some unrealized hopes I had coming to Korea. When it dawned on me that I was falling back in, I knew I needed to pull myself out quickly before I fell too far.

I reassessed what I was doing. I was eating poorly, sleeping poorly, managing my time poorly, allowing my life at home to slip, not doing anything that brought joy to me outside of work, and withdrawing from people around me and at home. So, I sat down, prayed for help, and made a plan. So grateful for a God who hears and a God who helps.

It was slow. I focused on food and sleep. Focused on changing my negative thoughts to positive, and focused on reaching out to people. Maybe people would not come to me, but I could go to them. Almost immediately, I started to feel a lot better. I still struggled—still am struggling (primarily with physical problems)—but things are so much better. I am continuing to alter my lifestyle in order to change how I approached my circumstances.

Sometimes I wondered if this was the wrong choice to come to Korea. However, I cannot make myself believe that. I truly believe I am supposed to be here right now. Although I hate the physical difficulties I am facing, it is not the worst thing in the world. I don’t regret any choices I’ve made in coming here (except for a few purchases I made when I first got here—Ha!). I’m reminded that just because it may be harder than I wanted, it does not mean that it was the wrong choice. Maybe this is a battle I just need to overcome with God’s help in order to go after the dreams God placed in my heart. I already feel I’ve changed so much since coming here, but I expect to change a lot more before this season of living abroad is over.

I was able to meet with a graduate from my university that is living in the same city as I am here in Korea last week. Thank God for divine appointments! She was a God-send. I left feeling so encouraged and so inspired. She reminded me, just through sharing where she was right now in life, that even though this time spent here in Korea feels temporary, it does not excuse us from spending it wastefully. We should use this time to continue to grow towards the person we want to be and the life we live after. Time does not freeze just because we are in another place.

I found myself finally dreaming again for the first time since arriving here.

I finally caved, and when to see a dermatologist in order to seek some medical help for my skin—the acne and the after-shower rashes. I just pray I continue to get closer each day to overcoming the adversities I am facing here and am able to fully enjoy the time I spend here. I really want this to be a time of growth and not a time of being stagnant. Especially in my relationship with God.

I truly adore teaching the babies here. I love finding out a little more who I am as an individual. I love living alone and experimenting with adult-ish things. Grocery shopping is getting easier. Maintaining my life at school and home is getting better. I am slowly learning how to maintain mental, physical and spiritual health. Although I am still working on how I handle stressful situations and still figuring out how to manage my time wisely, I’m allowing myself to hope again.

Christmas can be a great time to help remind us the sweetness and simple joys of life. It is actually so sweet to me to see how God is using Christmas during this season to help heal me, whereas only two years ago it had caused me to sink to the lowest I had ever been (not because of Christmas itself, but because of what it represented and how my life was not comparing—I wanted Christmas to be a happy time and it was not).

Christmas celebrates the hope Jesus brought when He came into this earth. His birth was a sign that not all was lost. Things could still change. All we have to do is continue to hope in the Lord. For, “those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

I am truly so grateful for all Christ has done for me and for everyone else. May your Christmases all be filled with joy and peace.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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“And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast” (1 Peter 5:10).

—The Adversity Rose—

Kaitlyn Rose

DREAM. PURSUE. EXPERIENCE. GROW.

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

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.

Kicking Fear in the Face

Moving past the wishing was requiring me to walk into my fears…The reality is that many times in life in order to have the types of relationships we desire, the careers we dream of, and the influence we hope for, we will need to kick fear in the face and go after it. –Past the Wishing by Jen Deweerdt

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For the past week, I have been in South Korea, but I still feel like this is a dream. Although I have experienced a lot of fear and excitement for this new adventure, I must say it has not sunk in yet, whether it be because I have gone on short term trips before and expect to return in a few weeks or because I’m still living out of a suitcase. Whatever the case, I am here but do not feel like I am really here. Being in South Korea, preparing to teach English to children, and adjusting to this idea of living in a foreign country has not been all rainbows and sparkles. Obviously, I did not expect it to be and maybe that is why I am doing okay.

There were days where I was short-tempered because of lack of sleep and jetlag, tired feet, and growling stomachs. There were days of terrifying fear. There were days of soaked clothes because I had no umbrella, or an aching back from weird sleeping positions and lots of walking. And there have been days of a few tears as well. The four most common emotions and feelings I have felt since being here is excitement, fear, tired, and feeling overwhelmed. However, things are starting settle in, and my excitement is growing.

The first three days of being in South Korea were spent just exploring my city, my new home. My mom and I rode trains and buses, ate at restaurants, visited tourist sites, cat cafes, and museums, and even climbed up a mountain and looked down at the breathtaking landscape (though the cable car did most of the work). All the Korean I studied before the move seemed to vanish from my mind the moment I stepped into the plane to head to South Korea. So much for all the studying…I pray I can learn this language quickly.

After becoming a little familiar with the city and its transportation (thank you, Japan, for helping me), it was time to meet the people I have been communicating with online for several months, to see where I will be working, and what I will be doing. And I was so nervous. What if they do not like me? What if I do not like them? What if I do not like the school’s atmosphere? However, those fears slowly slipped away after meeting person after person, observing classes full of brilliant Korean children, and starting my training. I began to feel that maybe I might like it here. I clicked surprisingly well with the students in the first class I observed, only to find out later that I would be their main homeroom teacher the following week. Out of all the classes I observed in the next week, I definitely seemed to click with them the most and was able to observe many of their classes.

I must say that the work, rules, and expectations seem a bit overwhelming especially that first day. I felt lost, underqualified, and underprepared. But then I remember that God does not always call the qualified. He qualifies the called. And I know that I have all the tools I need to succeed here, because God is with me. Of course, the teachers at the school were super supportive and have given me so many tools in which to get through my next week of teaching. They encouraged me by reminding me that mistakes will be made but I will continue to learn and grow. To quote one of my coworkers, “You are a good teacher. But even if you are not one now, you will be.” Much needed encouragement.

After my first day of training, I was moved out of the hotel I was sharing with my mom to the motel provided by the school until I can move into my apartment. I must say that first night was not my happiest moment. It was lower quality than I would have wished and I was supposed to stay there all alone. The locks on the doors were iffy which just made me feel even more unsafe. And my mom was about to head back home and leave me alone in this foreign country. I was really missing my boyfriend a lot as well. But I encouraged myself by remembering that God is a better protector than doors, and I was safer in His will than out of it and being here was something I felt God was leading me to do. So, He will keep me safe. I also reminded myself of all the missionary stories I’ve heard and knew if God could protect them from scarier situations than being in a questionable motel, then I will be okay.

The next day I met the other new teachers, and immediately was comforted that I was not the only one feeling tired, lost, and overwhelmed. I was not the only one trying to figure out how to live in a foreign country while trying to learn how the new job worked. Since that day, I have been feeling much better, and have been throwing myself in preparing to teach English.

Since the motel had no WiFi, I would wake up early and walk down to a nearby Starbucks and message friends and family back home, then go to training. We usually finished training around 6:30p or 7pm, and then the new teachers and I would go look for dinner before heading back to the motel.

One other thing I was worrying about throughout the week was finding a good home church while I was here in South Korea. I was worrying that I would have to do the exploring by myself, but then I reminded myself once again that God provides. If God brought me here, then He will provide the way and the church and the friends. After praying about it one day, I was amazed when one of the teachers brought up her church to which I immediately pounced on it. Wrote down all the info and one of the new teachers and I are planning to check it out this Sunday. God really does provide.

Today is the day I move into my apartment! I am excited to finally have a place and not have to move luggage around. I am excited to unpack, do laundry, go grocery shopping, and buy things for the apartment. Today and tomorrow I will be busy prepping for the next week of classes I will be teaching, and despite the fear I feel about teaching English for the first time, I am so excited to be a teacher of three, four, five, and six-year-olds. These kids are incredibly smart and can speak a lot of English already. I am already making plans for what I want to do. And yesterday I was able to buy some school supplies for myself, which also made me feel super excited to be a teacher.

The kids are super cute and sweet, the people are kind, and I really do think I will like it here. Excited for this adventure!

Some prayer requests:

  1. My back has been aching really bad and has been giving me a lot of problems. There have been several days I have not been able to bend over. I am doing daily back stretches which have been helping, but I would appreciate some prayer for healing.
  2. I would also appreciate continued prayer that I will be able to have a good home church here
  3. On top of that, some good friends outside of work. 😊
  4. I would love prayer that I will be able to fully prepare for this next week of classes, that the kids will respond well to the teacher changes, and that they will be able to continue to learn well!
  5. I would also like prayer for speedy results for Alien registration so I can open a bank account here and get a phone plan!
  6. Pray that I learn this language quickly!

—The Adversity Rose—

Kaitlyn Rose

DREAM. PURSUE. EXPERIENCE. GROW.

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

Moving to South Korea

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength. –Corrie Ten Boom

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Photo I took of Meiji Jingu Shrine in Tokyo, Japan (2017)

The official date of me leaving the US for South Korea will be August 16th and I can hardly believe it. I will begin my exciting, but scary adventure teaching English and living in a foreign country in less than three weeks! Although this has been a dream of mine since I was thirteen years old, I cannot say that this process has been easy and I haven’t been struggling with the stress of it. So many fears fill my head everyday and have made it hard to have peace. There is the fear of not being a good English teacher, there is the fear I won’t enjoy it, there is the fear I won’t be able to go because of some complication of the Visa or finances…There is the sadness of not seeing close family and friends for a year (not to mention getting into a long-distance relationship with my boyfriend). And there is the fear of loneliness. Those are just a few of many fears that have tried to bog me down–fears that seemed to be determined to make me doubt my decision to go. Despite all of this, I know I made the right decision and still am determined to go. So, I wanted to take a moment to inform people (specifically family and friends) a little more about this trip.

Most people know about EPIK when teaching abroad in South Korea. I have been asked over and over if it is with EPIK. I am actually not part of EPIK and will not be teaching via EPIK. I found a recruiting company for English teachers in South Korea called Travel and Teach Recruiting (TTR) on my university’s job portal last summer and looked into it for about seven or eight months (praying, thinking, weighing, deciding) before I applied in February. I did not actually tell anyone at first (not even my parents) because I did not want to be talked out of it or talk about it and then decide not to do it. I just wanted to see what would happen if I took a step in that direction.

Teaching English in Asia had been something I had only dreamed about. It was not something I seriously considered doing until last summer after my month-long trip to Japan. Sure, I talked about it every now and then growing up and listened as the adults talked about it. Sure, I would look in my university’s library at Asian-themed books and teaching-English-as-a-second-language books. Sure, I looked into classes outside my major on teaching English as a second language or English classes in general (because I do love English and had considered it as a minor). But I did not think seriously about it until May 2017, when I found myself standing in Japan and loving every second of it.

I have been to Thailand and Australia in the past, and though I did love Thailand and enjoyed my time in Australia—my love for Japan was on another level. I initially looked into teaching in Japan but found the teaching conditions were better in South Korea. I had no problem switching because I had been wanting to see South Korea as well, and I would still be doing what I wanted to do.

One of my friends who I met through work at my university actually taught English for a year in South Korea. So when she reconnected with me, she told me all about her experience and answered all my questions. It was not until she said I could pay off my student loan while teaching that I decided that maybe I could do this (it was my primary goal to pay it off ASAP so it would not hold me back from doing what I wanted—but if I could do what I wanted AND pay it off then I was all for it).

Fast forward to applying for the recruiting company and not telling anyone about it (except for mentioning it once or twice to select people). I had my voice interview online and was accepted. I was told that they will be looking for a job opening for me if I would start on gathering the needed documents for a visa. Well, being busy with my senior year, I kind of procrastinated on my part until I was set up for an interview with a school. By then, I had informed my parents. A few days after the interview, I was contacted and told that I was offered the job! In order to hold the position I was offered, however, I needed to decide whether I wanted to sign the contract pretty quickly.
Shock and panic is an understatement of how I felt in that moment. I was offered a job at a school in South Korea and I was given maybe a week to decide to accept it. What a blow. One moment I was tentatively playing with the idea of doing something I always wanted to do and the next I was deciding whether I would commit to moving to a foreign country for a year with a language I did not speak while teaching English (which I felt completely unprepared to do), leaving behind the friends and family in the city I was born in and had lived in all my life. The stress and anxiety I felt while making that decision was beyond most stress I had ever felt. I felt myself caving. Because it would be easier to cave into the timidity and fear, easier to just stay, easier to give up on that dream. It would be easier to stay in my comfort zone. But caving in now would only cause regret and wonder later in life and prevent me from showing myself that all things were possible with God. That God really could make that timid thirteen-year-old’s doubtful dream become a reality.

So, with trepidation, I signed what felt like my life away to teach a year in South Korea.

Only people who know me and know how I was growing up might fully understand just how big of a step this was for me. I had allowed my fear to dictate a large portion of my life, never doing something too horrendously outside my comfort zone. Though, I did make some decisions which were probably stepping stones to get me to the point in my life where I was willing to take a greater leap outside of the walls of my comfort.

I wish, I wish, I wish I could fully describe and stress how much I doubted I would ever do this. The dream first came to me when I was thirteen years old after my first life-changing trip to Thailand. I was bitten by the travel bug, by the mission’s bug, by the desire to step out of my comfort zone. Before Thailand, I was fine with staying in my comfort zone—I mean it was comfortable and I was doing perfectly fine in it. After Thailand, I began to dream that I would become bolder and be a missionary for Christ.

It was that desire that led me to go to Australia (even though it was not Asia) when I was eighteen, and later Japan, and eventually preparing for a year in South Korea. If only I could tell thirteen-year-old me that it is possible and not to be disappointed in my shyness and fear. If only I could tell my little self that despite the immense fear, I was still going for it and that the eradication of fear is not needed in order to go after what you feel God has called you to do. If only I could tell little me that God fights hard for those who seek Him, and He was not going to disappoint me.

So, after signing away my next year to go live and teach in South Korea, I began gathering the needed documents. For anyone interested in doing this, it is okay if you have no idea how to go about teaching in a foreign country—do not worry as you will figure it out as you go and there are plenty resources online. Also, the visa process is not an easy, breezy, non-stressful task and costs an unfortunate amount of money. Especially for those times you forget to sign a page and have to send the signed page through speed-mail and pay just as much as you did sending the original packet (try your best to avoid doing that—there will be less stress and will be a little less expensive). And boy! Do you have to mail so many things! So, when you’re on a time-crunch and have to wait to receive your diploma to do most of the steps, procrastination is not your friend and being proactive is (thankfully, I was so stressed about it, I rarely procrastinated).

With this entire visa process they sure make sure you are serious about this moving business, because I do not know anyone who would go through all of that without being certain. It makes you second-guess yourself a lot. I often wondered if I really should be doing this since I get so stinkin’ stressed about it. But these wonderings never wavered the assurance I felt of going. No matter how much tears were shed or how many acne breakouts there were and continue to be or how much extra hair was lost—I was not going to back down. But I am going to figure out how to de-stress and stop worrying over every detail. I do not want to live like that, no way! God has me, and it is going to be fine.

Since I have completed all the visa steps and am just waiting for the visa to be mailed to me, and since the flight itinerary is being settled, and piles are starting to cover my room as I think about what to bring, it’s starting to feel a little more tangible. I am starting to feel like I am actually going and the excitement is starting to overpower the worry (Thankfully!). What a crazy ride it has been so far!

So, this is what my journey has been so far. I will have a week of training when I arrive and will start officially teaching the following week. I am unsure when my breaks are and how long they are, so currently there are no plans of visiting home during my year in S. Korea. I will be working long hours, so I expect to be tired, and will be working with kindergarten and early elementary children (my favorite age-group). I will have housing provided for and heard it is near the school (which is convenient). I’m still in the process of figuring out bank and phone details but hope to have that squared away soonish.

If you have any more questions, please comment below or private message me! I just wanted to share a bit more about how I decided to do this, how the trip is coming and where I am currently in the process. I hope this helped! I hope to eventually write more about this!

P.S. the hardest part of deciding what to bring with me as I prepare to move to another country is the books. I want to bring them all but having access to my library’s ebooks and audiobooks via an app on my phone has lowered the number to three currently (though I still feel the temptation to add to it). I also heard that I will be able to have access to the library in the city I am living and that there is an English section. Huzzah for reading!

—The Adversity Rose—

Kaitlyn Rose

DREAM. PURSUE. EXPERIENCE. GROW.

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

 

Courageous or Comfortable? : Learning to Face Your Fears

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them. –Walt Disney

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Photo by Lukas Hartmann on Pexels.com

If I could think of one thing that keeps me from chasing my dreams and the plan God has for me, it would be fear. Fear keeps me comfortable, complacent, and safe, but also keeps me from changing. I do not know about you, but I do not want to remain the same person I am today. I want to continue to grow, mature, and develop. If I never change, then how can I change my circumstances? Although fear is not necessarily something to disregard and never listen to, it is something that can hold you back.

In the last post, I briefly mentioned my term “practicality thinking.”  Practicality thinking, as stated before, keeps us safe, tries to protect us, and is not entirely evil. Sometimes that fear can keep us alive and well. But we cannot let that fear have control over our decisions. In “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert, she mentions how we should not try to rid ourselves of our fears. Instead, we should acknowledge that those fears are there and give them permission to be in the car with you while letting them know they are not going to be making any decisions and are not allowed to touch the driver’s wheel. I thought this was an interesting idea since I had always thought that it was better if I could rid myself of those fears that hold me back completely. But now I believe those fears are there to help us become stronger the more we overcome those fears. That’s why it is called “overcoming fears.”

I think this can help us to see fears as something that will always be a part of our lives but we have the choice of not listening to them. In order to chase the dreams in our hearts, we will have to overcome a lot of our fears.

As a shy girl, I had many fears. Fears that still try to take control of my life today. Many times, I have allowed those fears to define my life and only a few times gained enough courage to tell my fears “no, I will do it anyway.” It came to the point two years ago where I began to believe I would not be able to do anything I wanted to do. I saw myself as a turtle who would curl up in its shell for protection whenever I saw something that made me afraid. And after being tired of facing fears and failing to face fears, I was tempted to curl in my shell forever and give up. I was ready to give up on being me and just allow myself to coast through life. I wanted to give up on my dreams and just live a comfortable life where I do not have to do things that stretched me any longer. When I thought about what my future would look like through that lens, life seemed grey and pointless. I knew I had to fight something if I didn’t want that life I pictured to come into fruition.

Last year, I dared myself to dream again despite my fears of dreaming. This year, I’ve decided to face some fears that stand in the way of my dreams. Here are some fears that I believed and allowed to control my life:

What if I never do what I want to do? What if I never become the person I want to become?

What if I say something stupid and embarrass myself?

What if I can’t do it? What if I fail?

What if they don’t like me? What if they think I am weird?

What if they are not really my friends and they leave me?

What if bad things happen if I do that?

What if I don’t like it and can’t back out?

What if this person decides they don’t like me anymore?

If I get into this relationship, what if they start liking someone better than me and leave me?

What if I chose to get into this relationship and it doesn’t work out so we break-up?

What if I’m hurt by this decision or this person?

What if I’m not good enough?

What if I’m not perfect? 

These are a few examples of fears I had and still have that I have allowed to define my life. Some of them came from past experiences of hurt and pain, whereas others are fears that seem to come out of nowhere. We must not allow those fears to guide our lives, but we can use them to be more cautious in our choices. After we have thought over, prayed, wrestled with a decision, we can decide whether or not it is worth the risk.

For example, two years ago I was debating whether or not to go on a mission’s trip with my university. I was afraid of committing in case I did not raise the money in time to go and would have to publicly step down. I did not believe I would be able to raise all the money. However, it occurred to me that if I did not try, I would always wonder what would have happened if I had tried.

I had this same mindset when I decided to apply for teaching English in South Korea. I was terrified out of my mind into committing to the idea for so many reasons, but I knew I would forever regret and wonder if I did not try. If I did not show myself it was possible for me to have the courage to do this, then how could I believe in myself for future endeavors? If I disappointed myself in one area, I will discourage myself from trying in other areas as well.

We must cling to some courage to face our fears as if our life depended on it, because if you want growth and change in your life you will have to take some risks. “You can be comfortable or courageous, but you cannot be both” (Brene Brown).

You cannot change inside your comfort zone, and you cannot chase your dreams either. So, if you are up to change and chasing dreams, you must be ready to say goodbye to your comfort zone.

Since facing fears has not been an easy task for me, I had to approach it differently than I normally would. I would first identify what were some fears that kept me from doing things I wanted to do. Then, I decided how much I wanted the dream to come true and whether or not I would be disappointed in myself for not doing it. I then allowed myself to think about how I felt in the past when I did not do something I wanted to do because of fear and imagined how I would feel if I allowed fear to win again. Would I regret not facing this fear later? Would I wonder what would have happened if I had done it? If I knew that I would have any regret in choosing comfort over my dreams, I would force myself to do it and tell myself to just try. I would remind myself that no matter what the outcome, at least I did not allow fear to decide and did not allow myself to regret choosing comfort. This way, I am seeing these opportunities less as whether I would fail or not, but rather as opportunities of growth from doing something I was scared to do. Also, so that I could be proud that I faced my fears even if the opportunity did not go well and I would know that I tried.

This has helped me in making decisions for chasing my dreams, and I haven’t regretted those decisions so far. I know this is only one step towards realizing my dreams, but at least it prevents me from staying complacent and fear-driven. I hope this give you another perspective on how to overcome some fears you have. You only have to start with one at a time. The more you conquer, the more confident you will be in taking the next steps towards your dream. Start small if you have to.

So which will you choose? Courageously pursuing your dream or comfortably complacent with the life you live now?

Here is a small list of things that scared me that I did this year (some small, some big):

Got into my first relationship

Applied for an English Teacher Recruiting Company

Interviewed for a job

Signed a contract for teaching English for a year in South Korea

Prayed in a group setting

Started a blog and shared it with friends and family

 

Good luck on facing your fears!

—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.