Here it is, 2012, and the reasons it might have been the best year of my life:
I had already been living in Korea for four months and had long since decided it was the greatest decision I had ever made. I was endlessly happy and loving every second of my life. Suddenly, however, out of left field, came the shocking news that I would not have the option to stay at HyeHwa Girl's High School because of budget cuts. I had decided three weeks into the job that I was going to want to stay there another year, but then had the rug pulled out from under me. I was interviewed by the JoongAng Daily newspaper for my reaction and got to taste my 15 seconds of Waygookin fame.
Needless to say I needed to clear my head and nothing does this job as easily as a vacation. I went to Thailand with a group of my friends and had an extremely fun time. We started in Chiang Mai, then moved to Bangkok, Phuket, and Koh Phi Ph. I should really do a blog about this trip, but it feels like doing one so late after the trip would be dishonest. Anyway, it was an incredible time. I got to eat amazing food, see beautiful, ancient gilded temples, hold a monkey, and was in a Muay Thai fight. A memorable trip, to be sure.
Trying to take advantage of my month-long vacation straddling January and February I jetted off to Japan. I went with my friend Kelley. We had just begun really spending time together in Korea but our trip cemented our friendship as strong and important. I couldn't have asked for a better travel companion. We went to Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo. In Kyoto I found the one other city in Asia I would be happy to call home. We met up with some other friends, made some amazing new friends, and just had an incredible time.
Ok sooo not much happened in these months. Some friends of mine from Australia came to visit, which was awesome. I experienced the full force of culture shock, as I mentioned before, and had a rough time while starting to look for a new job. My long-distance relationship with a guy from back in the States was coming apart at the seams and I wasn't taking good care of myself (this is also the point where I discovered the joys of McDonald's home delivery).
One bit of excellence, however, was that I had joined a choir: the Camarata Music Company. I was a member of the large choir practicing Mendelssohn's Elijah oratorio and then was later asked to join the smaller semi-professional choir. This has been, without a doubt, one of the best decisions I've made since moving here. I pulled myself out of the depression of culture shock with music, and the music brought the next awesome thing that happened to me...
Yep, I found a man. He was in the choir with me. I had seen him during rehearsals, but never got the courage to talk to him (I was also nervous because a lot of the choir members didn't speak English that well and I had only seen him speaking in Korean). We finally struck up a conversation after our friend Alex told me he worked at Korea University and then told him I was looking for a job at a university. I still didn't think he was interested in me until he came right out and told me, a few weeks later, that he wanted to go on a date with me. We went on our first date on May 2nd and that was that.
May was also the month that I started blogging in earnest and it's been a real amazing experience. Mr. Y and I went on an amazing trip to Wando and Yeosu, the best trip I've taken so far in Korea. Oh yeah, May was also when I was hired at KU. Wow, May was freaking awesome!
June and July brought with them an intense amount of blogging, as well as the process of finding out what my focus in this blog was going to be (after my posts about Dating in Korea became reasonably popular). Mr. Y and I spent a lot of time going for long walks all over the city and going to baseball games. My friends visited Seoul from Japan and I had an insane blast showing them around. Things started winding down at HyeHwa Girl's High School and I started to contemplate the next chapter in my life that was to come while saying goodbye to some of the most incredible people I have ever had the good fortune to meet.
A LOT of stuff happened in August. I left HyeHwa Girl's High School. I visited home for the first time since moving to Korea and cherished every second of it. I moved from Suyu-dong, Gangbuk-gu to Samseon-dong, Seongbuk-gu. I started at Korea University and I was super stressed out the entire time. It was a month of transitions that all happened at within a few weeks of each other. August tested me and I think I passed with about a C+.
These past four months have all kind of blended together. I've been rediscovering my normal in my new job, new neighborhood, and second chapter of my life in Korea. My job has been difficult at times but has been very rewarding (the most rewarding moment being the vast majority of my adult students saying they're going to ask to be in my class next semester). Paperwork is terrible and is the creation of the devil but teaching is a beautiful land full of unicorns and puppies (*resists the urge to include a Lisa Frank image*).
I gave in to my KPop demons and attended three different KPop concerts. All told I have now seen almost every KPop group I really want to see, only Big Bang seems to allude me! However, I would really like to attend a music show taping but have yet to figure out exactly how one goes about doing such a thing. Mr. Y and I went on a trip to Gyeongju, which was a lot of fun and pretty relaxing. Ph yeah, and there was Rambo! After four months of three PT sessions a week, dieting, and never using my shower in my apartment (that's how often I was in the gym) I lost a little over 11kg (25lbs) and feel pretty damn good about myself. Me being so much smaller made surprising my family for Christmas all the better!
The Camarata Chamber Choir claimed a huge chunk of my life as we had multiple concerts using a plethora of different music. It was wonderful, but exhausting. The choir's trip to Changwon was an incredible experience and I love all the members of this choir. There was also the Chorale's production of Handel's Messiah which was a very nice experience to be a part of.
In the end...
So here we are, at the beginning of a new year, and I have no idea where this year will take me. Mr. Y is beginning his master's degree in public relations at Korea University. I'm adjusting to a newer, smaller me. My amazing friend who is the reason I came to Korea in the first place is leaving in March. Many of my other very close friends appear to be planning to leave in August. Life as an expat has proven to be a life of constant adjustment, I just hope I can keep up and I hope you continue to follow me on this insane journey.