I’ve been living in South Korea for about 8 months now and I don’t really feel like I’ve been progressing as quickly as I should be. It’s been harder than I anticipated to learn and study Korean, since at work I mostly speak English (I’m an English teacher after all) and I hang out with English-speaking friends. But I had a kind of breaking point recently, and it was because of something seemingly simple.
I recently went shopping at YP Books and picked up a few more study materials.
A while back, I did a review of Marie Kondo’s best-selling book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and wrote about my experience with using the Konmari method of tidying up. I often think about that short period of time where I felt fully satisfied with and proud of my space and the changes I’d made. I took the process very seriously and tried my best to internalize the many tidbits of advice and wisdom that Marie Kondo shared in her book. I felt like I made really important changes: I learned about how to let go of things easier and to cherish the items around me that truly “sparked joy.” I love to look at the before-and-after pictures of my bedroom and relive that time of total contentedness. It seems dramatic to believe that the simple act of tidying my bedroom is what could have caused me so much happiness, but it’s true. I felt accomplished, I felt organized, I felt in control, and free.
Since then, however, I have been living in a near-constant state of messiness, to varying degrees. It’s not what you might be thinking. I didn’t backslide (and according to Marie Kondo, she’s never had anyone backslide yet). I’ll explain.
Wow, I can’t believe my last post was back in January. Where did the time go??
Today I spent the day with my friend in Incheon’s Chinatown and Fairytale Village! The were a lot of interesting sights and delicious food.
So I read somewhere that it’s actually bad to share your goals. Saying them out loud causes you to believe that you’ve accomplished something and that you are closer to your goals than you actually are. You end up taking it easy and you may not work as hard to achieve your goals. You may not even achieve them at all! So I won’t be sharing my detailed list of goals for 2016 for this reason. But I will share a list of areas in my life that I will be focusing on this year.
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.
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 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.
It might be hard to see in this picture, but I added hangeul stickers to my keyboard today! It was painstaking work and my hands are sore but they turned out quite nice. Now typing in Korean will be so much easier!
Does anyone have any recommendations for Korean typing practice? I’m still chicken pecking at my keyboard haha.