Friday, January 3, 2014

Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014.

Last night I was in the midst of a typical facebook check when I couldn't help but laugh at all the posts from my teacher friends about their impending snow day.  Of course, I wasn't laughing because it was ridiculous, but because I would be doing the same exact thing if I were home. And actually, last year I WAS doing the same exact thing.  In a way, seeing all those posts were a reminder of how much my life has changed over this year.

Last year at this time I was teaching in Nashua.  I wasn't even done my first semester of teaching on my own, which by the way, was such a whirlwind it's pretty hard to put into words.  I think only other teachers can truly understand the pure insanity of your first year of teaching.  You come out the year knowing you made plenty of mistakes, but hoping that you managed to at least do a few things right.  

I know I've said it before, but the time I spent teaching in NH feels like a dream.  I think of my old students and co-workers frequently, but when I think back to the crazy things that happened over that year I sometimes have to question if they really happened, because in many ways they certainly don't feel real anymore.  

Maybe this is just because of the severe sleep deprivation I experienced over the year, but it's not really just when I think about my old job that I feel that way.  It's really my life in America as a whole.  I have a hard time explaining this strange feeling--I've only been in Korea for four months, but I feel like I have two distinct and separate lives.  In large part, I think this is because there are really no connections between my life here and my life at home.  I love my friends and family at home dearly, but they don't even know the people in Korea who have become such a huge part of my life.  Likewise, my friends here, who have been my family in Korea, don't know the people who are my world back home. 

In a way, I feel like I've had two lives in 2013--one in America and one in Korea. For this reason, it's hard to summarize what 2013 has meant to me, but I can say that it has without doubt been the best year of my life.  

Apart from finishing my first year of solo teaching, I had an amazing summer with my friends, moved to a new country, started a new job, traveled to places I never imagined, eaten some pretty crazy foods, and met people who I can't believe were strangers to me only four months ago. 

I feel completely undeserving of the blessings that have been bestowed on my over this past year.  I couldn't be more thankful for everyone who has helped me grow and provided support to me.  I would not be here without those of you who encouraged me during my time teaching in Nashua, and gave me the reassurance that it was OK to make the absolutely crazy decision to move to Korea.  I am often baffled by the privilege I have in my life--that because I had parents to support me and encourage my education I could thrive in an academic setting.  Because I had access to a college education I got a good job right out of college.  Because I was born an English-speaking person I can not only travel the world, but live comfortably while doing so.  I don't take this privilege lightly, but I really hope that it prepares me to do better for others in the future.

I have no idea what 2014 has in store. It will without doubt have its highs and lows, but I am looking forward to the abundance of lessons it undoubtedly has in store.  

Oh, and if you're wondering how I spent my New Year's Eve, it was nothing extraordinary, but I spent the night in Jeomchon with some friends.  We went to a few bars and ended the night with noraebang.  Nothing too crazy, but NYE is never my favorite holiday anyway.  I never quite understand the hype because as I've seen in years past, the best parts of the year are yet to come. 

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