Living At Work

While journeying through the boundless literature of countless prescriptions for a happy and fulfilling life, most preach the value of a healthy work-life balance.

My current position makes that difficult at times.  Between lesson preparation, classes, workshops, and supplementary activities, JIEI invites ample grind time.  The demands of this job made living near work a priority for me.  There’s no way I was going to compound the stresses of a busy job with the stresses of commuting.  Fortunately, I got my wish, living in an apartment a mere 10 minutes away by foot.

But my workplace also offers opportunities for me to remain productive outside of working hours.  It’s led me to spend several additional hours daily around the Institute by my own volition.

And occasionally lose my mind in the process.

For example, in the morning, I now enjoy arriving around 6:45 a.m. for a morning workout.  The Institute features a workout room complete with treadmills, exercise bikes, dumbells, and cable machines.  I find empowerment when I complete workout still strolling into the office an hour early to relax and ease into the day’s duties.

After a brief, invigorating session of weighted pull-ups, dumbbell lunges, shoulder presses, bicep curls, or whatever other muscular punishments I levy that day, I also use the on-site shower room to emerge squeaky and clean without losing any time returning home.  I’ve taken the liberty of installing a drying rack for towels, my personal toiletries, and even an electric shaver for all of my grooming needs.  Like a nesting girlfriend, I’ve slowly infested the room with my possessions, clear hair from the drains, and scrub the floors.

I move-in one item each week.  The Ian Invasion has begun!

Under ignorance, it took nearly three months to figure out how to extract hot water from the shower pipes.  For the first two weeks of November, I shivered through the waterfalls of suffering.  Of course, it’s easy to rationalize this struggle by claiming cold showers as “an inoculation against laziness or “a shot of willpower.”

“Cold showers build discipline and burn fat, bro!”

But it was far from comfortable.  Fortunately, after jamming the shower knob all the way to the right and then some, I now enjoy lukewarm and bearable showers while a storebought plastic loudspeaker booms my iPhone’s tunes.

The convenience of an exercise room necessitated a rule among employees – no exercising during work hours.  Before work, after work, or lunchtime are acceptable.  But regardless, the weight room often goes unused, allowing me to sweat in solitude.  As an evidence-backed antidote to stress, my exercise sessions have developed into a daily ritual.  Sometimes I am liable to oversleep, skip my workout, and sorely regret it as I plod through the day.

Me dragging my anguished ass during an exercise-free workday.

The joys of the shower room resume after work ends.  I’ve taken up the habit of running after work, accumulating over 300 kilometers in the past three months.  There’s nothing like the rush of endorphins to salve the burns of a difficult workday.

But rather than retreat home and will my running shoes onto my feet, I can run immediately after clocking off, rinsing off with an evening shower to bookend the day.  I find great solace in knowing I can return home with no personal or professional responsibilities saddling my mind down.  The second I shut my apartment door, I can eat, relax, journal, and sleep to my heart’s content.

But sometimes I want to stay focused even after working hours.  Sometimes I wish to exercise my mind on my own accord.

Bowling helps with stress too 🙂

That’s where the third floor comes in handy.  Across from the head director’s office lies the Online Education Center – a seldom-used yet incredibly useful catacomb of soundproof rooms.  In an environment free from the distraction of ambient noise, I often slip into incredible focus when I read, meditate, or write in my journal.  I now stay sequestered away in these silent coffins until as late as 8:00 p.m.

The rooms also feature computers with high-definition cameras and microphones – the perfect setup for online language tutoring.

A lack of a language tutor created a void in my life since leaving Namak.  Now, thanks to a room specially-designed for online education and, I’ve resumed Korean conversation practice.  Possibilities abound as I dream of practicing basic Taiwanese, Cantonese, Thai, or Vietnamese in preparation for any upcoming travel.

As well as the hikes that will accompany said travel.

I’ve slowly developed the habit of staying at my place of work from 6:45 a.m. to nearly 8:00 p.m.  While it seems like a long time, it is also unbelievably enriching and productive.  My job may be demanding, but it also offers me the facilities to strive towards my reading, writing, and language learning goals.  Despite the rigors, I also reside in an environment that propels me the best version of myself.  For now, I wouldn’t wish to be anywhere else.  :).


My co-workers made me a cake and gave me an awesome jar.  How great to be 28!


And…now I’m a frog!  🐸

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