What Are You Doing with Your “Korean” Life?

I wrote this post with the intention of having it published by the Daegu city blog, but after careful consideration, I decided to publish it on my own. 

If you don’t live in Korea, that’s okay. Instead of reading it like you’re in Korea, insert your own life circumstance. It could be your physical geographical location, your job, or whatever you want it to be. But no matter “where” you “are” in your life right now, take a good look at your surroundings and consider what you’re doing with your opportunities. If you’re not happy, where can you make a change?

As we exit the first month of our new year, to me, it always seems as though people (myself included) lose sight of the goals and aspirations we had when we broke into our new calendars. This year, reignite that flame you had. Chase after those dreams you dreamt. Pursue the things that matter most to you.

Make this your year, Reader.

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If you’re like me, you love living in Korea. The day I arrived in Seoul, I was scared out of my wits, but I knew I had made the right decision – literally the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.

I decided to come to Korea to teach because I was tired of being in dead-end jobs that I loathed. I have an undergraduate degree in psychology and like so many others of our generation, I realized too late that I didn’t want to work and retire in my chosen industry. So, what did I do instead?

I worked in sales. And I was really good at it. But I effing hated it.

There is nothing in life quite like doing a job you hate. I was always stressed, always sick to my stomach, and I watched as the companies I worked for turned me into someone I wasn’t. I was tired of standing on the sidelines of my life and whispering to myself that there had to be “more out there.” I decided to do something about it.

I came to Korea to teach for a year. And lo and behold, a year has turned into nearly 3.

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my heart is home, but heavy…

I’ve been (not so mysteriously) absent. If you follow A Little Bit Brave, you know that I have a tendency to do this. I get busy and am gone for a while. Then I come back and promise to do better. And don’t. It’s a cycle.

This time, I’m not promising any specific comebacks. You see, something happened.

It almost pains me to write this to you, Reader, because it makes it that much more real. But though I’ve tried to avoid it, I can’t. My grandmother passed away over the weekend.

It wasn’t sudden in the sense that it was a surprise, but her decline seemed sudden. I just saw her and sat around her kitchen table with my (somewhat) estranged cousins this summer for the first time in well over 13 years.

That afternoon was so special… I felt like I had repaired some of the broken and strained places in my family tree. My father passed away nearly 20 years ago and since his passing, things haven’t been “normal.” Sides seemed to be chosen and the side that was chosen for me seemed to be out of my control. I wasn’t even aware that it was happening. And for a long time, I couldn’t go back to where he was, where my family was. My heart couldn’t handle it.

But you know what? My grandparents never stopped loving me (or my sister, for that matter). My grandmother never shamed me for not coming home to see them. Never made me feel like I was turning my back on my family, though arguably, that’s exactly what I was doing in some ways.

No. She was generous. Kind. Full of love and acceptance. Never judged. Was always supportive. She was everything I ever hope to be.

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it’s a lazy, rainy Sunday…

I didn’t go to bed terribly late last night, but I was tired, nonetheless. After my big day of gaming, I needed some decent rest. I intentionally didn’t set an alarm and as such, woke up at a ripe 11:28 this morning. YIKES.

I’ve been quite lazy and the rain hasn’t helped. Last weekend, I started a new tradition to make pancakes every Sunday. Every single one. But this morning, I didn’t have enough real flour for them; and I didn’t have enough eggs for coconut flour pancakes. I’m still trying out recipes to get the exact right one, but when you don’t have the ingredients, you’re still SOL.

So, either I’ll get around to it tonight or just skip it until next weekend. I did, however, manage to get my arse out of my house and hop to Starbucks. Now it’s just a matter of getting to work.

I don’t have anything interesting or planned to tell you tonight, so I’ll leave it at this. Lazy, rainy Sunday. No pancakes. Out at Starbucks.

I hope you have whatever kind of Sunday you’re hoping to have, Reader.

Cheers.

I’ve been to the winner’s circle…

Today, I met a friend of mine for what she has always called “gaming.” This term has scared me in the past because in my mind, I equated it with super-nerds gathering to play things like Dungeons and Dragons (the original board game) or others like it.

While there’s definitely some of that going on at said weekly “gaming” gathering, there is also a lot of playing not-so-intense-and-insanely-serious games, too. Caitlin and I began playing a game she had with another “gaming” friend called Splendor. The premise is to gain 15 points by collecting “gems.” This, I totally understood and enjoyed playing. Turns out I’m not the best strategist, though.

After a couple games of Splendor, we moved on to something more intense that Caitlin’s friend, Marc, brought a mammoth game that takes literally hours to play. (There were a couple of other games present that took hours, too, but we didn’t play those.)

The game: Eclipse.

Marc told us it would take a minimum of 2 hours to complete. It was way too much for me to (want to) handle on my own, so I asked if Caitlin and I could play as a “team.” (This basically meant that I had no clue what was going on most of the time, but helped make decisions here and there for our “team.”)

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Start of the game. I was already feeling lost, but things got clearer as we went along.

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the life of a Korean student…

Every month at school, we do what we call “Writing Event,” where the two native English-speaking teachers choose some random-ish topic for all the classes to write about. In months past, my students have written about their dream jobs; if they could build a house out of candy; what they would do if they could go to space; and what their super power would be if they were a super hero.

Of course, every year at Christmas, everyone writes to Santa whether they’re a believer or not. (Most of them aren’t, but I demand that they pretend to be for the 40 minutes I have them in class.)

The other native teacher and I read through our respective students’ responses and choose the best from the bunch; then together, choose the top 3 for every level. Some submissions are hilarious. Once, a kid wrote that he was thankful for his family because they take him to buffets. (That kid won that month. Because that’s stinkin’ funny.)

Most are less creative than I would hope… Korean kids don’t seem to have the same kind of creativity that Western kids have. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s due to this: they’re not really allowed to be kids.

I’ll come back to that thought in a moment. For now, let me tell you about the most recent “Writing Event.”

In October, we decided to keep with the Halloween theme and ask students to write about their “biggest fear.” Not surprisingly, we got many “ghosts,” “the dark,” and various animal-related fear responses. Some said they feared my KBFF, which I reinforce because someone at school has to be scary. And then, in what seemed to be funny, some of them said they feared their parents.

We laughed in class with the students who offered these suggestions. Some of them were very lively and silly when explaining why they feared their parent(s). One of my more odd and good-for-a-laugh students was quite animated explaining how his mom is “scary.”

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