Excerpts from journal entries written during my first year in Korea.
August 16th, 2014:
I am all packed. It is a miracle.
September 1st, 2014:
This is my fifteenth day in Korea, and my seventh in Seoul. I was sick yesterday, and thankful it was Sunday. Culture shock is beginning to set in, but not in the way the name makes it sound. I’m becoming frustrated with how little I know, how useless I feel, and how insecure I feel to leave my apartment to complete [what used to be] very simple tasks.
September 19th, 2014:
This week was full. I had a breakdown momentarily in a bathroom stall at school on Wednesday, caused by the accumulation of everything along with a pressing, suffocating sense of incompetence (which is very, very hard on my pride). I pulled together, and after work my kind friend ______, a 5th grade homeroom teacher, took me out for sushi and then to Changgeonggung [an historic palace].
October 5th, 2014:
I need a change of heart in order to do my job well.
October 12th, 2014:
I came to this place grossly unprepared, and grossly unaware of how unprepared I was, and still am. Can the things I need to know be learned? Is it a lost cause? Can I bend without breaking? Can I learn to work well with others? Can I learn to like Korea? Can I find motivation to give it my best shot, day after day of bad, terribly bad, shots? Will the perpetual discomfort and wounded pride come to an end before my time here does? I don’t know. Life goes on, and takes me along with it.
November 2nd, 2014:
…my perspective has been changed by the last few weeks of my life here in Seoul. The chaff is getting thrown out; I’m realizing what really matters. And so many things simply don’t.
November 27th, 2014:
Today is Thanksgiving. I had japchae for dinner. A beautiful child smiled and waved at me before I got on the elevator in my apartment building this evening. His eyes were sparkling. I smiled and waved back. Inhibition is learned, and we are lesser beings for it.
December 25th, 2014:
Christmas in Korea: the Romanian, the Ghanian, the Korean, the American, and the Hong Konger went for dinner at a Japanese restaurant. Oh, Korea, you don’t understand Christmas. But I’m thankful for friends.
January 24th, 2015:
One does not gain an indomitable spirit by strolling through the park.
January 27th, 2015:
Today I ate fruit salad with tomatoes in it, was told I have a beautiful head shape (which enables my short hairstyle to flatter me), heard one of the third grade students describe a paper doll as “ugly” because it had brown skin, and attended a KBS concert with four people of four different nationalities.
February 3rd, 2015:
I saw some rather astonishing pants on the subway this evening.
March 5th, 2015:
On the way home [from a concert], an old man sitting next to me asked, “Where are you from?” Unfortunately my single-sentence reply in Korean led him to believe that I’m fluent, and he subsequently poured out his soul on a variety of things, 99.879% of which I’ll never know.
April 20th, 2015:
Wednesday marks eight months in Korea. In four months, I will be somewhere else.
May 4th, 2015:
How things change…or rather, how we change.
August 17th, 2015:
If you made it one year, you can make it one more year. Look how far you’ve come!