The Thief of Joy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

—The Adversity Rose—

Kaitlyn Rose

DREAM. PURSUE. EXPERIENCE. GROW.

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

Growing is Uncomfortable

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings!

—The Adversity Rose—

Kaitlyn Rose

DREAM. PURSUE. EXPERIENCE. GROW.

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

Be

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God has been teaching me to just be.

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

 

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


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

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

 

Blessings!

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

—The Adversity Rose—

Kaitlyn Rose

DREAM. PURSUE. EXPERIENCE. GROW.

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

Struggling to Defeat the Thief of Time

“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone”
― Pablo Picasso

“You may delay, but time will not.”
― Benjamin Franklin

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Photo by Andrey Grushnikov on Pexels.com

Time does not slow down for us. It keeps steaming ahead, whether we use our time wisely or not. I don’t know about anyone else, but I really struggle with staying focused and not procrastinating. Just take one look at my blog to see how well I have been doing at staying on top of my goals. When I first began this blog, I was hoping to put up a blog at least once a week, but the last blog post I have written was in March (three months ago). I use the excuse that I have been crazy busy, but even then, if I really put in effort, I’m sure I still could’ve written more posts during that time. Yet, that is how procrastination works. Every day, you think, “Oh, I do not want to do that today, I’ll just do it tomorrow” or become sucked into Netflix or scrolling through social media. All the time I spent on watching movies or shows or scrolling through Instagram has not really added anything to my life, but it sure has taken away all my time.

I have been pretty disappointed in myself on several mediums. First, with this blog. Second, with my goal to study and learn Korean. Third, to read more. Fourth, to write more. Fifth, to exercise and help myself a little bit in getting back into dancing shape. These are just a few that come to mind.

The last time I danced (besides the random spurts in my room or at school)? November. Last time I wrote? March, when I wrote my last blog post. Last time I read? Maybe February? It’s sad I don’t even know. How often have I studied Korean? Maybe I’ve studied a day or two a month.

I have seen no progress in myself in these areas I really want to see progress in.

I am trying to think how I can keep myself motivated and how I can make these desires into habits. People say writing down small attainable goals help, but honestly…It rarely helps me. I wish I knew the secret to how I can push myself into keeping my goals. So I am writing this post in order to help me (and hopefully you too) find a solution or an incentive to keep up with these goals that keep evading me and, I’m sure, some of you as well.

I just need to tell myself to do what I need to do in order to accomplish my goals instead of watching Netflix. I need to stop going on social media frequently. And maybe, if I go to bed earlier and wake up earlier, I’ll become a little more productive.

I do give myself some grace, though, since I have a difficult and busy job and understand there may be some weeks I am busier than others. However, if I can get myself to work towards my goal during this busy season, I will be more likely to talk myself into doing it during my less busy seasons.

Procrastination: The Thief of Time

“Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.”
― Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

When I see quotes like the one above, I find them to be so true. I really do think procrastination can be the thief of time. I often fill my days doing things that do not benefit me or help me to grow as a person. Which is definitely not what I want.

So, I want to change that aspect of myself. Therefore, I am deciding to focus on one of my goals. I chose to first focus on learning Korean since I will only be in Korea for three more months, and am currently in the prime area of the world to learn Korean. I have always wanted to learn another language, but, after of all the languages I have put effort into learning (French, Japanese, and Korean), I come away the same monolingual person I was before. The reason is I do not stay on top of my language learning or become distracted in learning another language.

For the past week, I have studied Korean a little bit (about an hour) every day, which is the best I have ever done in studying Korean and have already gotten farther (starting from the beginning to review) in any of my Korean books than I have in the past nine months… I set some goals and am trying my best to stick with them. We’ll see how I do.

In order to help myself stay motivated and defeat this thief of time, I have been trying to remember all the advice I have read in the past on how to achieve your goals. Here are a few:

  1. Write Down Your Goals

They say writing down your goals helps you to actually see what you want to achieve and are no longer just a vague wish in your mind. They are now concrete goals.

  1. Make Sure You Have Smaller Goals to Meet Your Bigger Goals

If all you see are your big goals (ex: the ability to speak Korean), they might overwhelm you. You might convince yourself it’s too hard to attain and will lose faith in your ability to accomplish. Therefore, you will not do anything to work towards those goals. However, if you make smaller, baby-step goals, you might be more willing to work towards your bigger goals.

  1. Write Down Your Motivation for Why You Want to Achieve Your Goals

When you write down your motivation and read it regularly, it can help you to push past those days you do not want to do anything towards your goal. You will think, “This is why I want to achieve this goal, and that is more important to me than being lazy or doing something that is not working towards this goal.” Your motivation can motivate you.

  1. Don’t Give Yourself the Option of Opting Out

Often, the reason we do not do something is because we think, “I can do this another time.” If we force ourselves to make it a necessity in our life rather than an option, we will be more likely to keep going. I do think this works as long as you can keep yourself motivated. Every time I did succeed in regularly achieving my goals, it was because I did not leave myself the option of opting out of it every day. It became an obligation or assignment that needed to be done by the end of the day and could not be turned in late.

  1. Give Yourself Rewards When You Achieve a Goal

Sometimes, in order to help you stay motivated, you need to give yourself an award or some incentive when you reach a goal. This will help you to stay on task when you think, “After I achieve this goal, I can do or have this.” I have yet to try this, so maybe I’ll think of some ways of rewarding myself!

I’m sure there are many, many others, but these were a few that came to mind.

Anyways, maybe we can help each other by working together towards our goals in order to make them a reality! Let us fight the battle against procrastination to prevent it from stealing our precious time out from under us! We are not getting younger. Time will just become quicker the older we become. Let’s be stewards of our time!

—The Adversity Rose—

Kaitlyn Rose

DREAM. PURSUE. EXPERIENCE. GROW.

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

Trust and Worry Not

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? –Luke 12:25-26 (NIV)

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Recently I have been thinking about this verse. Two weeks ago, I realized yet again that I worry too much about things that I do not even know if they will happen. Why do I worry about these things if it is unnecessary to worry about them? I do not know what life will throw at me, but that does not mean I have to worry about a lot of “what ifs,” especially if they cause more problems for me than solutions. I have learned a lot these past few months, but I feel one thing that I have been learning the most is to stop allowing worry to dictate my life.

I took some personality tests today, mainly to see if I would come out the same as I had before (I mean, I might answer differently). I have come to realize and accept that I am a dreamer. I love to dream about my future. I love to imagine what it would be like from another person’s shoes. I love to create stories. I like to see life positively. But I also like to think of all the “what ifs.”

Sometimes, those “what ifs” are not good things. Then I find myself worrying. Once I start worrying, I start to believe that it will probably happen. However, my solution in dealing with these worries is trying to pretend they are not there and to squish them down. Then things like acne break outs, losing more hair than usual, not eating well, and having a wacked-out sleep schedule start to happen. Then I start crying all the time out of stress. Then I have some silly melt down during a moment I have less control over my emotions. It just spills out.

And then later, I get upset that I had this melt down. Then the cycle begins again.

Luckily, since I was able to recognize my cycle last year, I quickly tried to snap out of it by eating better, sleeping better, and taking better care of myself. I also started to work on not being so easily affected by the people around me. I started to feel better.

Then I had another melt down two weeks ago and I was upset that I had seemingly not changed much. I still worry. And here I was quoting the very verse above to someone else. Ironic. Yet, I am glad I did, because it has been in the back of my mind since and I have unconsciously been mulling over it.

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.”

I realized I was the one that needed to hear this, not the other person.

I am a dreamer, and I am a dreamer for a reason. However, I do not have to dwell or dream about the negative things in life. I can trust that the God who created everything can take care of me. I have no control. And worrying adds no hours to my life, so why waste my life worrying?

God has not failed me yet. I have no reason to doubt that He will cease to take care of me. I am way more blessed than I give myself credit for. God has blessed my life significantly more than I could ever fully realize. I am grateful for my family and friends. I’m thankful to have a roof over my head, food in my tummy, and a good job that does make me happy. I do feel like God has been leading me and guiding me every step of the way.

This season of my life has been an odd season, but still a good season. I have been stretching myself. Exploring what I believe. Trying to get a grasp on what it means to love God and to love others—and to love myself.

There are some days I wonder how any of this had ever happened, and that is when I know God’s hand was right in the middle. I still have a long way to go, but I know I am learning and growing. I have been doing better about handling stress. I am learning slowly how to not allow small things to worry me. I am learning to trust the process. I am learning again how to trust God and realize what He has done for me.

Today’s post is small, but I hope my experiences can help others!

—The Adversity Rose—

Kaitlyn Rose

DREAM. PURSUE. EXPERIENCE. GROW.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Things I Regret Bringing:

  1. Bringing too much clothing.

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

  1. The number of notebooks I brought.

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

Things I Regret Not Bringing:

  1. Bringing more books.

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

  1. Bringing more medicine.

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

  1. A pair of heels.

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

 

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

Things I Do Not Regret Bringing:

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

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

  1. My Bluetooth Speaker

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

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

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

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  1. Enough Deodorant and Toothpaste for a Year

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

  1. Part of My Tea Collection and a Mug

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

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  1. My Portable Box of Joy

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

A Weekender Bag and a Backpack

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

 

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

Blessings from South Korea!

—The Adversity Rose—

Kaitlyn Rose

DREAM. PURSUE. EXPERIENCE. GROW.

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

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.