What Makes Me Happy

Today something kind of surprising happened.

I was having generally bad day today. I’ve been feeling really stressed about a number of things and it’s just been building up. Just sitting at my desk thinking about it all made me feel like crying. I’m not sure why I feel so down like this but it just feels terrible.

But I tried doing things to make myself feel better. Talking to my sister usually cheers me up, but seeing the notification of her unread message just added to my stress instead of relieving it. I tried studying Korean, which usually can take my mind off of anything, but instead I felt overwhelmed by all the words I didn’t know. Then I listened to music- something that always cheers me up- but I just felt bored and frustrated because I couldn’t find the right song to match my mood.

I was somewhat dreading my first class of the day- how could I teach when I was feeling so terrible? I thought I was in for a long, miserable day. But something amazing happened instead. Whenever I walk into a classroom, I try to be as cheerful and alert as possible-teaching requires you to always be “on.” So I mustered what positivity I had left and came into class with a smile (and candy, the kids love candy) and my students shouted their usual “HELLO TEACHER,” and instantly every bad thought I had had all morning melted away. Being in front of my students, seeing them happy and excited to learn, watching them sing and play games together, in turn made me feel happy and excited. It was the first time I stopped and wondered to myself, “Wow, am I a teacher? Is this what it feels like?”

Sadly I only had two classes today, so the excitement was short-lived, but it gave me a little hope in the midst of a tough situation. I don’t feel fully back to normal, but I have a little hope that it will get better, and I feel kind of surprised that above everything else, it was teaching that lifted my spirits today.

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A Little Taste of Success

Today during my desk hours at work, I used my extra time to focus on my Korean studies. I was finally able to finish the Talk To Me In Korean Level 1 Workbook! It’s a small milestone, but I feel pretty good about it. I listened to the level one dialogue test and tried to write it down as I listened. I of course made some errors, but for the most part I copied it correctly and I also was able to understand thd bulk of the conversation! I was worried that by working through the book so quickly and by not properly studying the material each day (I literally just listen to the lesson, read the pdf lesson simultaneously if Scribd isn’t acting funny, and answer the workbook questions quickly) that I wouldn’t really be retaining anything. But it seems like I’ve done well enough! I already have the Level 2 Workbook waiting in the wings, so I’ll be starting that one very soon, probably tomorrow.

Life In Seoul

Life here has been hectic to say the least. Since moving to Seoul, it seems like there is always something going on every single day and weekend. My friends and I take trips, go shopping, and go out drinking, and with my coworkers I go to the movies and baseball games and staff dinners. It’s really fun, but boy am I exhausted! It has taken me a long time to settle down and make time for not just the things I like to do, but also the things I need to do. I always feel harried to go grocery shopping or fold laundry or sweep the floor-it always feels like precious time is slipping away and that these things can wait. I have to constantly remind myself that I have 10 months left of my contract and that I will probably stay for a year or two after that- so really, there is no need to rush. With that thought, and considering my mental and physical health, I’ve been taking a break from barhopping and organized excursions and trying to focus more on making my home comfortable, doing my work well, and keeping my mind at ease.

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