Transitions commence new adventures. Make 'em last…
A few weeks ago, Michelle and I walked across one of the many bridges that span the great distance of the Han River through Seoul accompanied with a serene horizon. At this precise moment I reflected on the last wonderful, life-changing eight months with Michelle, and also the last 3 years that I’ve been in South Korea and how magical it all has been. I felt the somewhat peculiar mix of being very much at peace, excited, and delightfully anxious for the future.
3 years…. man, when I just say it like that, it doesn’t seem like not a long time, but when I attempt to contemplate all of what I’ve done and experienced, and also recalling the multitude of wonderful and enchanting friends, colleagues, students, and amiable strangers whom I’ve met, it’s practically inconceivable to ponder it all. However, all that has transpired each day has contributed to who I am now and my ability to make a positive difference in my surroundings. I am very grateful for each and every single day. Sure, I do make mistakes amid every day that I’m given, but I’ve steadily learned from them in order to ultimately be a better person, a better teacher, and a better Christian.
It feels like not long ago that I was having a blast with my group of awesome Texas friends while drinking wine during my going-away-party, and then leaving them to quickly jump on a plane to South Korea where I would dive right into a new group of friends from around the world. While I dearly missed my Texas friends, whom I had greatly enjoyed, my new crew in South Korea had filled the void. My first year in Korea was rather wonderful. I had met some awesome new friends that I could connect with rather deeply, but at the close of my first year in Korea when close friend after close friend would depart Korea forever, it became harder and harder to find friends that could offer the same type of deep friendships that I was hoping to always have. This is Korea, and most of those that come to teach only stay 1 or 2 years, so it can be a bit difficult.
My second year in Korea started out like my first and went fairly well with regards to friendships. However, by the end of my second year and the commencement of my third winter, I was without any close friend in my vicinity that I could connect with more than on a superficial level. And those I had begun to develop close relationships with, including language-exchange partners, either had departed Korea, acquired a boyfriend or girlfriend and became unavailable, or simply resisted contact. My attempts at finding some close friends had fallen short. By this time, I had returned home for a visit last Christmas and had a great time with family and long-time friends. I also began considering moving to China at the end of 2013 for a change of pace and scenery, and I had even purchased Chinese language flashcards and a study book despite honestly feeling quite odd about it. However, soon after returning to South Korea, to my great surprise, I found the love of my life, and behold, how plans have splendidly changed.
Long story short, Michelle, whom I had met in Busan a few years before, had returned to South Korea for a visit, and during a planned weekend trip to Busan last January, we hit it off and have been in love ever since.
A few days ago, both Michelle and I had a day off and we decided to head to our favorite cafe in Seoul and then take a stroll around downtown taking advantage of the impeccable climate under the bright blue sky. Not a cloud was in sight.
When it came time to have lunch, Michelle prompted that we find a secluded spot along the stream. I was totally game. We bought some sushi and chicken, and soon found found a great place to snack on them and relax.
While I have not said the magic words yet, Michelle and I are hoping to get married sometime next year. We’ve talked about it many times and we feel quite comfortable about it all. Getting married to Michelle would be such a dream come true as Michelle is the most wonderful woman I have ever met. I have never been so happy.
With happily marrying Michelle, there are a few challenges that also await. One of Michelle’s wishes and also one of my desires, is to learn Korean. Since the plan is to live and work in Korea, for me, learning Korean is now essential, not just for everyday living, but to communicate fully with Michelle’s family, and of course with Michelle. This has been quite the challenge. Work drains me, and I return home everyday supremely exhausted while also attempting to keep up the demands of staying fit, eating well, lesson-planning, getting enough sleep, writing, art, etc. Learning Korean, while I’ve been making long strides in studying it, has been tough to keep up and I find myself forgetting portions I had previously learned, which can be very frustrating. However, I will not give up.
Also, this coming February I’m planning on beginning my Masters program (online) in Applied Linguistics with the University of Nottingham. I have my concerns about this as I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to fit in a study plan for this over the next 3 years. My friends and colleagues suggest that I simply have to “make time,” but I find this almost impossible amid the equally important daily duties and activities I’m committed to now. I suppose this is just going to have to take more drive that what I currently have.
These are just a few of the things that will be going on during my next year Korea, and I believe it will be the happiest, yet most challenging year I’ve ever had. However, I must remember that it’s not in my hands, but God’s. That as long as I rely on Him, His best for me will work out – this I must remember.
Oh yeah, I definitely look forward to another year in South Korea and the happiness that awaits amid being in love with Michelle, teaching my delightful students, doing art projects, spending time with friends from around the world, and setting off on new adventures. Cheers to another year!