Transitions commence new adventures. Make 'em last…
Ecclesiastes 11:7 – “Light is sweet, and it pleases the eyes to see the sun.”
After nearly a week of the thickest smog I’ve ever encountered, I awoke early Sunday morning to a clear blue sky and bright sunshine. I immediately felt a much needed boost of energy. Seeing and feeling the sun definitely has an affect on me as I tend to get a little depressed when I do not see and feel it’s presence for more than several days. This could stem from having grown up a few miles from the beach in southern California, where the weather is quite pleasant and impeccable all year-round. I’ve lived and visited many places around the world, but living in the Seoul area has certainly taught me to endure tough weather of all kinds, and I’ve noticed I do have my limits and need to be watchful if I’m unable to see the sun for more than a week. I suppose I’m one of those individuals whose disposition is significantly influenced by the weather.
When the weather was quite bad, of course, much time was spent indoors at my favorite cafes around Seoul, and this time was spent studying, reflecting future plans, and simply resting. I deeply reflected and ultimately decided to quit my online masters program in Applied Linguistics & English Language Teaching.
This was a surprise to some of you. Yes, this was a big decision that I found a little daunting to make at first, but after some deep reflection, it became relatively easy. I was initially worried because completing this masters program would most likely help me solidify myself in South Korea as an English Teacher amid growing competition, either at an Elementary School, Private Hogwon, or University. I had envisioned myself gaining a position of higher stature, tenure, and influence in Korea, but I realized that teaching English is not what I really want to do for the rest of my life. Gaining a masters seemed something perhaps of a future necessity, but it is something that I really do not necessarily desire. I could not indulge in this intense study of English theory and linguistics like I can for Art, Spanish, History, and the Bible. I could not bear the much needed sacrifice of pouring out so much energy and time for several years into studying something that is not my passion; it just didn’t feel right. The weight of this masters program was killing my heart and I simply couldn’t bear it. It had to be released from my life.
Some of you may be thinking that I was perhaps influenced by the bad weather, but in fact, the weather helped me to reflect deeply on what I think I really wanted to do. Immediately after quitting the program I felt a heavy weight fall off my shoulders, but I soon replaced it with another by beginning to seriously learn Korean – a desire that has grown little by little and has now taken a high precedence in my mind. As some of you know, I’ve flip-flopped quite a bit with this desire to learn Korean due to a variety of factors and feelings, but now with the almost absolute likelihood of me staying in Korea with Michelle, learning Korean will be a necessity, but much more than a necessity, I finally feel this strong desire to learn as much Korean as I can. I hate not having the ability to communicate clearly with those around me and I’m finally indulging this urge that has always been present.
For some reason I had always felt defeated by the reality of not being able to pursue the study and practice of Korean. Desire and reality frequently have a hard time blending together. Even though I’m in Korea, spending time learning Korean as an English teacher in Korea is quite a tough task. It was hard enough studying and becoming highly proficient in Spanish during my university days and spending a total of 16 months living and working in Spain. However, during that time I was able to dedicate most of my energy to learning Spanish and had the opportunity to use it regularly, whereas in Korea, my full-time job revolves around me teaching English and then preparing lessons at home, etc, which leaves me with not much time and energy to dedicate to learning and using Korean. I know, sounds like an excuse, but the extreme weight of my teaching position and the extra energy needed to keep up my passions of art, writing, Bible Study, cooking, traveling, etc, in addition to keeping up with life’s duties, leaves me with not much time and energy to learn Korean. Learning a language effectively takes so much sacrifice, and I had been unable to be persistent enough.
When I was in middle & high school I used to wake up at the same time as my dad around 4:30am to do all my homework for the day. I never really stayed up late, maybe 9-10pm, so waking up at 4:30am was not much of a big deal for me. Due to this habit, I never slept in, and even nowadays I’m unable to sleep-in past 8am. I suppose this means I’m a morning person. Anyways, thanks to my friend Kevin Troyer, I was reminded that I used to commit to this habit, and have since been seriously considering taking on this again of going to bed around 9pm and waking up at 4:30 in order to study Korean for at least 90 minutes in peace and quiet without any distraction from the outside world. Can it be done now? Perhaps. This morning was my first attempt at giving it a shot, but I just could not get myself up at 4:30, and I even slept passed my normal wake-up time and had to take the late-bus to work. The reason for waking up early is that after work and getting home at around 5:45pm after an hour-long bus ride, I’m always really drained and have other things that I need and want to do like cooking, running errands, lesson-planning, exercising, writing, Bible study, art, talking with Michelle, etc. It’s hard for me to focus on studying anything after work, so I’m considering starting my day early in the morning at 4:30am with my new passion for learning Korean. However, I still wonder if it can be done persistently.
Even though I’ve replaced one heavyweight for another, I sincerely hope to make consistent noticeable progress with Korean – a language of which I’m excited to be able to learn and use daily, in addition to helping me have a more solid foundation in South Korea. May it be God’s plan that I’m able to do this. Your prayers will surely assist me.