Year in Review- 2019

2019 is over and seeing 2020 on my calendar is strange. I had planned to go to bed early and get a lot of things done today, but instead I’ve found myself just wanting to spend my day resting.

My mindset this year was, it’s my last year in Korea so if there’s something I want to do, do it.


In January I was teaching my final camp (a cooking camp) for my country school and saying goodbye to friends who were going home.

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In February I was desperate to make up for 2018. I wanted to go back to the states and try to have a time that didn’t…emotionally scar me and the results were…better? I got to spend my 27th birthday with my family. I got to play with my baby cousins and eat delicious cake (I’ve missed American cake) and I got to visit LA for the first time and see friends and it was both too short and at times too long. My phone, which I dropped at Monkey Mountain during the previous summer in Japan, also finally died from water damage. And I awkwardly ran into Target to get a prepaid phone to survive on for the rest of my trip and when they asked if I wanted insurance I laughed and said “No, I’m leaving the country.” And then belatedly realized how creepy that sounded, like I was on the run and I’ve never sped walked out of a Target so fast and so embarrassed, which I’m sure didn’t help.

Before I moved out of Gapyeong I  also made sure I did everything I wanted, which meant taking myself to see le Petite France before I moved. And I did and then I moved to Gunpo. A friend helped me find someone to help me move which was essentially a guy with a truck.  It was a long journey with lots of traffic and I was worried about being late to meet my new coteacher, but it turned out it was all fine because my room wasn’t ready yet. My driver even fell asleep while we stopped at rest stop so I could use the bathroom. One of the reasons I’m always glad I always have a book with me. It was not a fun move, I forgot my coat in the back of his truck since he took it from me and threw it in the backseat when I got in, and I was so stressed with getting everything out of the truck and into the hallway that it slipped my mind. I had to pay him to come and bring my coat back to me. And then I spent several hours sitting in the hallway waiting for my room to be ready.

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This brought on the spring of flowers. I’ve never spent so much of my spring immersed in flowers and I kind of loved it. I started my March off with adjusting to my new town and my new job. I got to meet other teachers in the area, I enjoyed life in a city which was insanely lovely in comparison to my old tiny town and the going away gifts my coworkers had given me from homemade candles to Gong Cha free drink coupons. I even met up with new friends I’d made. The adjustment to my new job was rough, there was so much to learn and there were so many more students and classes and coworkers than I had ever had in my 4 years at my old school.

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April found me on a bus to Jinhae to follow the Cherry Blossoms and back to Gunpo to enjoy the Royal Azalea festival. It also had maybe one of my busiest days, which was Nathalie’s birthday and Mika’s wedding party.  I also stayed at a jimjilbang for the first time.

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In May I was in Singapore surrounded by Orchids and heat, humidity, and rain. I also went to Goyang for one of the most beautiful and intense flower festivals I’ve ever seen. It was also when we threw my friend Esme her Alice in Wonderland themed tea party bridal party and when I went to a lot of festivals and took the start of my tea classes with Kew and Leaves.

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June brought Esme’s wedding and it was fun to help out and be part of the behind the scenes of a wedding in Korea. I also went to a popular Korean hair style chain where I got a cute short expensive hair cut that I loved but when I got home I realized they’d completely missed a chunk of my hair which greatly disillusioned me with the chain. And in an effort to deal with some stress I tried learning traditional Korean wrapping and making an embroidery project as well as taking some a matcha course. Which I needed because I was in pain, it was vague and eventually turned into chest pains as the months progressed.

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July brought my first camp at my new school which was very different from my old camps on almost every way and more stress. It also brought new waves of goodbyes of friends heading home. My chest pains got worse in July and of course I googled them which sent me into a panic so I went to several doctors and there’s a good chance it’s from stress, so that’s fun.

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August found me in Japan again. This time my big trip with a plan of visiting Hokkaido and the hopes to finish everything I wanted to do in Japan. It was full of misadventures and very hot but it was also fun. I also finally made it to Seoul Comic Con. It also found me with ear infections and what probably was/is tendinitis.

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In September I returned to Taiwan to visit Taipei on my own. It was very hot and during a holiday that meant a lot of places were closed so I went out of my way for places that were closed. It also found me with visitors to show around and a rather scary fever where the doctors told me either I had a cold or my liver was failing and that was not fun to hear. It was just a cold.

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In October I decided to start Adventuring Bibliophile as a Instagram and I tried several ways to make it it’s own blog only to get very frustrated.  My school had it’s school festival and I went on an insane flight to get home for a wedding. I was in the states for a day. I’ve never cried so much during a wedding. But I also never ever want to do such an insane trip where I spend more time in the air then on the ground ever again, especially not on an airline that’s so cheap. My school also took us to see the musical Marie Antoinette and I hosted a Halloween Party.

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November found me wedding crashing an old coworkers wedding. (Not wedding crashing in Korean culture, but definitely in American culture) It was so weird to see my old coworkers and I didn’t get to chat with a lot of the ones I wanted to and just found myself awkwardly not sure what to do, having not expected showing up late or staying. Then I went to the silver grass festival which was not something to do on a poor air quality day since it requires a lot of hiking and not something I particularly enjoyed to do in my dress. I made kimchi, I celebrated Thanksgiving with friends and tried an escape room for the first time.

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In December I was pretty bummed. The air quality was bad, classes were ending and I didn’t get an opportunity to really say goodbye to my students and tell them that no one would be replacing me. My job is gone and I’m the last teacher to have this position. I got to tell one class and we had a mini party which was delightful and touching. I also learned that the teacher who replaced me at my old school have also found their contract without a chance for renewal due to similar budget cuts. My friends are mostly all moving or also leaving and I spent much of December sort of frozen in fear. Where do I send all my stuff? Who do I give it to? None of it can stay and I don’t know where to send it. It’s overwhelming. My school had ceramic teachers come and teach us how to make traditional ceramic pieces in Korean style. But I found the process stressful. I made a mug but despite liking how it turned out, a bit like a tree stump, they told me it required too much work to fix to show me how to do the Korean style bits. So a coworker rushed to help me make a plate in the hopes that I could do the Korean aspect with it, only to be told again that it would take too long to fix. In the end when I got back my mug they hadn’t done the the thing I requested and the mug looks nothing like what I gave them. I was not happy. The plate didn’t come back. I tried to watch my students graduate only to learn that the space was too small and cramped to actually watch the graduation and then I was whisked off into a meeting so I couldn’t say goodbye to any of them afterwards. My Christmas traditions didn’t happen and it made me feel so much worse. All I wanted was to be home. And I ended the year feeling nervous, winter in 2018 was a wreck with family emergencies and pain and every small thing makes me so much more twisted up about being away.

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I don’t feel like I had a busy 2019 but when I look at everything I did it really was busy. I get why my coworkers and even one friend told me you’re always so busy. But it’s my last year in Korea and I’m trying to do everything I want to. I also am also trying to be more social and get out more now that I have the opportunity. I didn’t try as hard after my mother died and so I tried really really hard this year to push forward and I don’t know whether I did it in a healing way or in a way that burnt me out by the time I reached the end of the year. I also spent a lot of time this year going to the hospital, usually only to find out it was due to stress. It seems I react to stress physically so I don’t always noticed how stressed I am, unless I’m unable to sleep. And I had a lot of difficulty throughout this year sleeping.

A Review of last years Resolutions

Last year I tried my hand at resolutions.

  • I wanted to cook and bake more. I did do some before I left and this winter, but my new place didn’t come with an oven or a rice cooker, so baking didn’t happen. I did cook more but I also got sick of the things I made for myself fairly quickly. But I do think overall my diet has been healthier than it was in the country side. But it helps that the grocery store has lots of different types of things and is open past 6pm.
  • I did catch up with my podcasts but then with my reoccurring ear infections I stopped listening for awhile in a try to figure out what was causing it, even though my headphones were suppose to be fine. So I’m behind again.
  • I moved. And well, I’m moving again. Fun.
  • I didn’t want to regret moving. And that’s a toss up. I love where I live now. I love living in the city and I like my coworkers and my students but I taught at my old school for 4 years. I miss my coworkers, I miss our lunches, I miss all the big open spaces and the quiet and the stars and I do occasionally regret leaving my kids because I get messages of “Teacher when are you coming back?” and it breaks my heart.
  • Travel to: Singapore √,  Hong Kong x, Taipei √ , Japan √  (Okinawa x), home for wedding √, home for funeral X
  • Finish all the physical books I have (working on it, but I did finish the books I listed)
  • Go out more , spend more time in nature √ , spend time with friends √ , call home once a week √ , yoga and mediate x, learn something new √

The end of a decade

It’s really weird to realize it’s 2020. I graduated high school in 2010. Which means the majority of my life alone has been within this last decade, my time as a young adult. I don’t think high school me or even kid me would have guessed what I did. But maybe I would’ve. I always knew I wanted to leave the states and travel. But I was a huge scardy cat. I think though I would’ve expected to have gone to Japan though rather then South Korea. I graduated high school, went to college, lived in Chicago, wrote a lot, was an RA, met some amazing people, explored the city, started a blog, became a tutor, studied abroad in Prague, spent a spring break in London, organized and  hosted a ridiculous amount of events, graduated college with a BFA and after studying from some really cool writers and artists, moved across the globe to RURAL South Korea, made new friends, taught elementary school kids, explored, traveled with friends, traveled on my own, visited 8 different countries, wrote A LOT.  While I don’t feel like I’m where I wanted to be, I still have to be proud of the things I have accomplished.

The Future

I’m not going to do resolutions this year. I’m going to go back to doing gentle goals. Because I know this new year is going to be rough and I need to be gentle with myself. I’m at a crossroads that every friend before me who has taken has spoken to me with warnings and a tinge of regret. Moving back home is difficult. My aunt did it and said she felt like she left part of her soul somewhere over the ocean. I don’t know what I’m going to do. But I know there are some things I Have to do. Some are difficult and others less so.

  • Finish sending gifts home. (So late on holiday gifts. December caught me like a deer in headlights and I’ve been feeling stuck)
  • Start giving things away or selling them. My school isn’t keeping my apartment so everything that is mine must go. That’s 5 years worth of my life on my own. 5 years worth of memories I have to go through and make drastic decisions on.
  • Whatever I want to keep must fit in my suitcases or be shipped home.
  • Eat as much of my food as possible.
  • Drink as much of my tea as possible. (As much as I love the idea of coming home with tea from all sorts of different countries it also means less space for things like clothes)
  • Finish all the books on my bookcase
  • Buy my ticket home.
  • Close up accounts, do paperwork.
  • Have mothers funeral
  • Deal with mother’s things
  • Family vacation?
  • Go through all my stuff that my aunt has been watching
  • Figure out my life

Okay so that last one isn’t some gentle thing. I honestly don’t have an answer for it. I have half baked plans, but none of them are long term. Which kind of stresses me out. And really that’s all stuff I have to do like a to-do list not really goals. Okay, let me try that again.

  • Rest
  • write more and edit
  • spend time with family and friends
  • travel when possible.
    • Current planned trips, later this month:
      • Paris, France
      • Okinawa, Japan
  • Go to more bookish places in Korea
  • eat delicious foods I’ve missed
  • enjoy a bath
  • enjoy a dryer
  • Cook, bake, exercise, spend time in nature and with animals

Not sure if that’s better but it feels better. I feel like there’s so much that has to get done that the thought of what I’m doing after is too difficult to fathom. So I’m doing my best putting one foot in front of the other at the moment.

How was your decade? What do you hope to do in this new one?

Happy New year! May your 2020 bring you wonderful things.


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