I remember back in July of 2017 when countless hours of applying, interviewing, and waiting finally bore fruit.
Those six months felt akin to six years.
Then I received an email. EPIK placed me in the Jeonnam Province.
At the time I was sitting in London’s Gatwick Airport awaiting a transfer flight to Edinburgh. My family’s long-planned Eurotrip had begun. Our first stop – Scotland.
I could hardly contain my excitement. I posted to Facebook the very next minute.
“I’m happy to announce I will be moving to Korea to teach English this August.”
Never have received so many likes and positive comments. Several comments, including one from my aunt, suggested that I start a blog.
“Why not?” I thought. It would be much easier to inform my friends and family through writing rather than individually telling people my goings-on.
And like that, I wrote my first post shortly after arrival. I haven’t looked back since.
100 posts later, and I am still here in Korea, still enjoying the many pleasant surprises Namak has to offer.
Still taking comfort in the smiles and warmth of my students.
Still enjoying my time with friends (many Mokpo Misfits have stuck around).
What started as a small project to inform my friends and family thousands of miles away has morphed into my own vehicle of personal development.
Every post requires me to digest my life experiences and weave them into a coherent story.
Every post requires me to challenge my thinking and refine my beliefs as I struggle to structure well-reasoned arguments. Sometimes I fail. But those failures serve to further mentor me toward improvement.
Every post challenges me to evaluate my ability as a writer. I’ve slowly learned to consider and re-consider every paragraph, every sentence, and every word for need.
In my opinion, effective writing involves including the words you need and omitting all else. Concision and precision control my process.
As I challenge myself to be a more effective teacher in the classroom, so too do I challenge myself to optimize my written English expression.
I’ve reveled in moments of joy, lamented my embarrassments, and waxed philosophical on my habits, mindsets, and readings.
This blog is truly a blessing to me. I feel blessed that I can critically examine my experiences as I formulate those memories and thoughts into words. These posts help declutter my mind one sentence at a time.
“An unexamined life is not worth living.” Translating my experiences into English is one of the most fulfilling forms of examination I can think of. This and meditation have helped me far more than I can fathom.
I have also found writing to be a kind of therapy. Every day our minds swirl with worries, hopes, dreams, plans, emotions, responses, and observations. This unwieldy mass of cognitive vomit can easily overwhelm.
For me, writing has been a highly effective method of organizing and solidifying this diarrheal stream of information. Just as one can organize a mass of documents into a cabinet, so can I find clarity by orthographically organizing my thoughts and experiences.
I would continue writing if one person or one million people read this.
I appreciate everyone’s kind and thoughtful comments. I also owe great thanks to everyone who encouraged me to write in the first place – such as my aunt.
You not only inspired me to leave a written record of my time here in Korea. You also directed me toward a wonderful cathartic outlet for stress. As I deliberately dribble my thoughts and feelings upon the page, my mind becomes just a little bit drier – just a little bit clearer.
This blog not only reflects my life events in Korea. It also reflects an evolution of character.
When I first arrived, I was awestruck by blinding neon lights, the smells of foreign foods, the sounds of exotic words, and the mystery of unknown written symbols.
The moment-to-moment details of my initial posts reflect this captivating sensory overload.
Early on, I couldn’t wait to find new adventures with my newfound friends. Where would we go? What new experiences would we encounter? What new stories would we have to tell?
But just as the brilliant burn newlywed love eventually settles into a hotbed of dimmer coals, so too has my experience in Korea.
My puppy-like desire to experience all I could with eager anticipation has receded into subdued satisfaction highlighted by nuance.
Wild weekends of soju and cigarettes have (thankfully) given way to quiet afternoons of tea, books, and blog posts. Neither experience is more or less fulfilling. Rather, like my blog, I have traded the gleeful exuberance of newness for a slow, sustainable and enjoyable routine.
Posts about soju-soaked shenanigans are all but history. Now writing about the mundane (yet still fascinating) aspects of Korean life draw me to write more.
100 posts and 100,000 words later, I feel as though I am just getting started. I will continue to write for as long as I can continue to learn.
As I continue to learn new things about myself and the world around me, my blog will perpetually remain incomplete. And that’s just wonderful.