City Life Center

Apr 15, 2013

Living Abroad: After Reflections

I have now been back in the states for about two months.  It's amazing to me how fast the time has gone by.  It's also amazing how people have the innate ability to adapt to their surroundings.  I miss many people and experiences in Korea, but I can genuinely say that I feel like it was the right decision to come home.  After living apart from family, you realize just how important family is to you, and how they have helped to make you the person that you are today.  The number of people who have told me, while living aborad, how strong I am on the inside is incredible.  Before living abroad, I never would have really agreed with that statement.  I credit a lot of that strength from the unconditional love and support I have been lucky enough to receive from my family, even support received while being half way across the world. 
Have I changed?  On the outside, maybe not, but inside I feel like a different person in many ways.  I feel stronger, smarter, more creative, more open-minded, more confident, more excited to live and experience all life has to offer.  I'm more open to possibilities and directions my life may take than I ever was.  I recently heard an analogy of life being like a river, we swim down the same current, and sometimes venture off and get tangled in the weeds or take a different route, but somehow continue to run along the same current and end up in the same river along the way, although the scenery may have changed.  I like this analogy and feel like that is where I am at in my life now.  I'm swimming down the current, have ended up back in my hometown, but my perception of things have changed and I'm looking forward to the challenging rapids ahead. 


Nov 23, 2012

Thanksgiving Reflection

Here it is November, 2012 and I have now celebrated my third Thanksgiving in Korea.  This one by far was the most memorable and the most heartwarming.  Looking back at my experience in Korea, I have so much to be thankful for.  I love how people come into  your life and a friendship unravels and they become a part of you and a part of them.  I'm so grateful for the wonderful people I have met here.  Friends, coworkers, and churchmates opened up their home tonight and invited people over to share in a Thanksgiving (chicken) style meal.  Not only was the food delicious, but we all watched Its a Wonderful Life together afterwards.  My friends projected the movie onto their wall so it had the feeling of being in a theater.  As I was watching the movie, I was reminded of the many times I'd watched the movie in the past around the holidays with my family and how touching it is.  I feel now the connectedness of people and the message that we never know who we will touch and/or the impact that we will have on people.  I feel myself changing and the realizations of what is important in life and how I spend my time is something I am more aware of now than in the past.  My time in Korea is coming to a close, and I am ready to begin a new chapter in my life, but the friendships and memories that I have discovered here will be with me for always.  I have a new sense of truth in life, and a new sense of hope and I am looking foward to having more of the world's truths be revealed to be as I continue searching.  I have a lot to be Thankful for this holiday season and am reminded of it more and more everyday....Life is a precious gift to be treasured and shared with others. 

Oct 21, 2011

A Change in Season, A Change in Me

It's fall time. ..the leaves turn and change their hues. My mind, my confidence, my perspectives, I find are changing too. Each day an increasing rat race, the weekends provide my solace, my peace. I look back at teaching and what is involved and it is surely possible to just come into the classroom, and look at the books and teach. The magic comes when you discover how to bring the words in the book to life and make the concepts real for the children. I think of where I was a this point last year. I was in a different apartment, I didn't have close to the class that I have now. My teaching methods were certainly not as solid, and my stress level with my living conditions has gone down immensely. The biggest factor is the friendships I have created. Here, my friends are more like my family. We look after eachother, check in one another, have the heart to heart talks, laugh, and grow together. It's what I need. It fills me with joy. Overall, I am discovering how to relieve my stress and make it subside. I now understand how sick stress can make the body, and I can imagine that I am one of the lucky ones. I'm sipping on Hallabang tea now, typing away mindlessly. It's a beautiful fall day and my roommate and friend will wake up soon and we will go explore the endless colors of Korea together, with that , I give thanks.

Jul 4, 2011

Here it is already summer, July 4th to be exact. On July 15th I will have been in Korea for a year. I can't believe this even as I'm typing. To say I love it in Korea would be an understatement. I wish that I was able to capture most of the highs and admittedly some of the lows of my experience here. The word that comes to mind for me is amazement. I am amazed by the close relationships I have formed with others, amazed at how easy those friendships have come, amazed at my progress and understanding, yet still having much to learn about the teaching profession, amazed by the beauty of Korea. Yesterday I was riding back with Sera and her family from Sokcho, where I had the privilege of spending the night with my dear Korean friend and her family in a first class resort and then experience the wonders of a Korean waterpark (waterpia), and experiencing the wonders of the many various smelling and types of spas while feeling the rain cool off my face, amazement at staring at their young boy and seeing the wonder and confusion in his eye of this woman who speaks a foreign language to him and yet still shares in the same wonders and excitements as himself, amazement at him rocking his korean dance moves in the car, amazement at my ability to adapt to new situations, including food, amazed that a food that was once so foreign to me, now I crave their palate. I am amazed with myself and how my heart has grown to love this country and its people. amazed that my homesickness isn't as strong as i had once imagined, and amazed that I still have yet to know what my future holds...each day is a new mystery that fills me with a refreshing awe.

Jan 22, 2011

Sharing the wonder...

It's gotten to the point where I have lost track of my time in Korea. My work days are busy with deciding how best to convey new knowledge to ESL learners, often times a struggle. It's so easy as a teacher to keep on talking and forget that there is a disconnect between languages. Even though it appears to you that you are speaking clearly and making sense, when those eyes look back at you, you are reminded that you are teaching students in a language that is foreign to themselves. I am reminded that even with teaching math, some students may not recognize the word "add," even though they are aware of the process and can complete the process with ease. Our trip to the aquarium was a nice break for the students and myself. We could connect with the ahhh's and ooohhh's and "look at that!" and share in the magnificence of these beautiful creatures floating above, below, and all around us.

Nov 13, 2010

Mt. Naejangsan Hike and Tea Making Trip

Korea....I cannot believe that I have been in Korea for almost four months. The sights here are just unlike any I have ever experienced. Here I am in a traditional tea making village at the top of an expansive tea field. The countryside seems to go on forever, it was a beautiful fall day and I'm meeting such incredible and interesting people with a similar desire to explore the world. I can still remember the fresh sweet smelling scent of a top notch tea I was able to sample. The aroma filled the air, and the flavor delightful. I was able to hike Naejangsan Mountain during this trip and climb on top of a wall that completely encircled a traditional korean village complete with straw houses (for the poor people) and houses with thatched roofs (for the aristocrats). The view on top of the wall overlooked the countryside that stretched on for miles. I am so thankful for this experience and am loving korea even more with each passing day.

Oct 17, 2010

Exploring Korea

Today I was able to experience a fall flower festival and also visit a paleolithic site in Korea. The flower festival was in Youngchun, and I'm not sure where they other place was. I went with a family that I have had the privilege of getting to know. The day was perfect. I met the family around 1 pm and then we drove about an hour to the place. I sat in the back with "Claudia" (English name) and her brother. During the ride, Claudia loved practicing her English on me and I was so excited to hear them play Mama Mia on the ride. We all enjoyed singing "dancing queen" and "honey, honey" while driving through the countryside. It was great! The flowers were absolutely beautiful and made a very sweet and delcious tea. The aroma was like stepping in a personal flower boutique. I tried to capture some of the beautiful colors in my pictures. After the flower festival we drove and visited a paleolithic museum site. There were many sculptures on the lawn mimicking people from that period and the activities that their day would consist of...i.e. hunting, fishing, working with rock tools, etc. I was amazed to discover that many of the stone artifacts were released from the earth in makes me wonder what new treasures they will dig up in the future. a beautiful and very historical country, and I am eager to learn more about the history in the days to come.