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)
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—
DREAM. PURSUE. EXPERIENCE. GROW.
This blog will cover travel, personal growth, and life in general.
It’s sad to know I’m done. But looking back, I have a lot of great memories. – Bonnie Blair
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.
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. So, I will spend a few paragraphs talking about them especially.
As I mentioned earlier, Jupiter was already becoming known for not being the best. I really did not like that they were looked down on because of this since they were all such sweet kids. Although I was quite overwhelmed by the amount of work it was going to take to bring them up, I was determined to do my best. Those first few months were not easy. Some of the kids would get up randomly in the middle of class without saying anything to grab a drink of water or to grab their coat. Some sat backwards in their seats. Some kids spit. Some kids hit. I had to crouch near kids to get them to finish their work, while playing a video for the few who had already finished. I was so tired all the time. I had a girl crying every other day, so I was comforting her. I felt bad seeing their little selves trying to get used to writing words and letters. The hardest part of it all was the fact the boy I mentioned earlier who I had prayed about my first week, the one I wanted to help the most, did not seem to be responding as well as I wanted him to. I was disappointed because I didn’t seem to have any more of an effect on him as his previous teachers did.
I spent so much time trying to encourage the boy, whose English name is Brayden. At first, I was quite hopeful, because he always seemed to perk up a bit when I talked to him. If I was patient and waited for him to respond, he usually would. He was doing some of the work, even if slowly, but I did not know if that was progress or how he always was. But then there would be days he would come to class extremely grumpy and would just sit there. Every Friday the kids give mini presentations where I read and they repeat after me in front of the class. Brayden never did it no matter how much we encouraged. I started to think, maybe I am no different than the other teachers. But that did not mean I gave up trying. Every day, I would try to work with him. Every day, I would try to get him to participate. Despite the fact he did not seem to respond much to me and did not ever talk to me during breaks, I just felt he had to open up.
So went my first two months teaching Jupiter.
I felt nothing much seemed to be changing about the class and I felt maybe I was doing a terrible job as their teacher. Then November hit. And I began to notice I no longer had to bug certain students to stay on task to finish their work. I noticed I did not have to repeat the rules quite as often. I realized they were being more organized and asking before getting out of their seats. Their handwriting was getting better. They were writing quicker. They were doing better about not talking at the same time and remembering what I was teaching them. They were responding well when I would add a new rule or a new exercise. Teaching them was becoming less hard and even more enjoyable than before.
And Brayden suddenly changed. He started working more. He stopped having days where he would do nothing. He was listening carefully to my instructions and trying hard to make sure he did it right. He started following me around during breaks and showing his affection a bit differently than the others by repeatedly bumping into me. Then he started doing presentations at the end of the week. He began to talk to me during breaks. And he would actually smile. He started to raise his hand in class to answer questions or making jokes in class. I was so proud of him and so excited to see progress. I finally knew I got through to him.
During field trips, he would always stay by my side. He did not like to smile often for other teachers, but he smiled easily for me and for his friends. Most days when I felt like a terrible teacher because of a student who was struggling, someone would remind me of how much Brayden has grown. He grew so much that other teachers were commenting on it. I found out recently that he cried regularly when he first began to come to the school. For six months he cried. And he stopped crying in August. Maybe it was just a coincidence, but maybe it was not, that he stopped crying after I arrived and started to respond more and more.
I am not saying this as if to say I’m a great teacher or that his progress was all because of me. I am not saying that at all. But I keep thinking of my first week here and how I immediately chose him as my goal of someone I wanted to help while I was here. I felt I did not come to Korea, to this school, to this particular class on accident. Especially considering how easily I bonded with them. I truly felt God wanted me to do something for this class and for this boy.
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.
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.
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!
—The Adversity Rose—
DREAM. PURSUE. EXPERIENCE. GROW.
This blog will cover travel, personal growth, and life in general.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – Lao Tzu
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:
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.
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:
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.
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…
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Some of my coworkers and I about to go pamper ourselves after a hard week.
We got our nails done.
The next day, I was able to pamper myself some more at a jjimjilbang (찜질방). Another great experience!
—The Adversity Rose—
DREAM. PURSUE. EXPERIENCE. GROW.
This blog will cover travel, personal growth, and life in general.
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
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.
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!
Some other pictures of my time in Seoul:
—The Adversity Rose—
DREAM. PURSUE. EXPERIENCE. GROW.
This blog will cover travel, personal growth, and life in general.
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
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—
DREAM. PURSUE. EXPERIENCE. GROW.
This blog will cover travel, personal growth, and life in general.
“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
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!
“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—
DREAM. PURSUE. EXPERIENCE. GROW.
This blog will cover travel, personal growth, and life in general.
The more you like yourself, the less you are like anyone else, which makes you unique. –Walt Disney
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.
One of my first grade classes.
About to start class!
Jayden reading after monthly exam
Stella and Amber making books out of their drawings after monthly test
Stephen trying his hand at drawing after monthly test
Joy and Allen discussing their dragon and dinosaur drawings after their monthly test
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!
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.