Hello world….It’s been awhile since I’ve written! Nothing too crazy has been happening, we’ve been staying in town to save money for our vacation, and it’s been cold so I have been hibernating. But we did get a cat! His name is Oliver, rescued from the streets of Incheon (near Seoul) by our friend Adrian. The poor thing has been sick, can’t seem to get a break between adjusting to being brought in and now having an allergic reaction to his food, but hopefully we are just about over the hump! We will for sure be bringing him home with us and to wherever else the wind blows us the next few years. He is super loving and cuddly. Oliver and Josh definitely have a bromance going on.
Although we’ve been staying at home, we did go somewhere new for New Year’s Eve. Apparently in Korea, it is a thing to watch the first sunrise of the new year. Koreans and foreigners alike flock to beaches and mountains to see it. After watching the first sunrise of 2014 myself, I’ve decided I would love to make this a tradition of my own for the future. Josh and I joined a few friends from orientation in Gangneung, a beach city on the east coast of Korea but still in our province of Gangwon-do, for their sunrise festival.
After a train and taxi ride, we arrived in Gangneung in time for a late dinner and purchasing our drinks for the night. We headed to the beach where there were some night festivities going on. Music, food stands, fires, fireworks, and paper lanterns were all present. Anyone who wanted could purchase Roman candles to set off, which scared me quite a bit to be honest. But of course we did a few of those too. Josh and I also set off our own paper lantern, which was so cool! I’ve always wanted to make one and what better time. We were able to write or draw something on it as well. I don’t remember what we wrote but on one side I drew a cat. The first time we tried to launch it was a disaster…The people working the stand fired it up for us and tried to help hold it to catch the hot air, but it was sooo windy so the fire ended up burning holes in it! They gladly gave us a second one and shared in our joy when we finally got it off. I wish we had pictures, not that they would do it justice, of everyone’s paper lanterns launching off into the night sky. It was so beautiful.
Soon after, the countdown to the new year began with cheers all around. We popped a bottle of champagne and watched the firework show. It was pretty impressive, especially because they were going off very close to us and therefore appeared huge in the sky. The rest of the night was uneventful; we unsuccessfully searched for a place to stay and then got some food, during which some of us fell asleep in the restaurant. I would have gladly slept on the beach had it not been so cold. Eventually, after a long night, the time came to watch the sunset. Now, I have attempted to watch the sunrise from a beach many times at the Jersey shore, but every time I tried I either couldn’t get up early enough or I got up and it was cloudy. Something always went wrong. So technically, this was my first time watching a sunrise from a beach and it was great!
It was still somewhat dark but crowds were already accumulating on the beach. Soon the first light in the sky came, then it turned all sorts of beautiful colors. After waiting a little longer, the oooohs and aaaahs from the crowd revealed that the sun was beginning to peek out from the sea. The sunrise was beautiful! All of the Koreans were taking selfies with it and Josh was trying to get some good shots (thankfully, because now I have a picture or two to share with you all) but I was perfectly content to just stand and watch, taking the moment in.
I couldn’t stop thinking how incredible it was that I was here, in Korea, watching the first sunrise of 2014 and being some of the first people in the world to see said sunrise. I am living a life experience many people only dream about. Working and living in Asia, watching the new sunrise, setting off paper lanterns with wishes and hopes for the new year…These are the moments and memories I imagined myself making when I applied for this job. And here I am! I’m pretty young and therefore I’ve spent most of my life in school without the freedom to go off and complete everything on my bucket list, but now that I’m in the real world and I’ve already achieved one of my goals it feels pretty good. It also makes doing it again, in another country, seem that much easier. At this time in 2013, I was still deciding on this seemingly far off idea of living in Korea that I had had in my head since the beginning of 2012. Josh and I were still discussing it at length, researching, daydreaming, talking about getting married (and then getting married). And now here we are, happily married and living in Korea, albeit in the smallest living space we’ll probably EVER share, but we’ve had a lot of laughs because of it. (One positive to a small place means easy cleaning. I can clean the whole floor in our apartment with just a dustpan and brush!) I even have my first “official” teaching job (though it is a walk in the park compared to a “real” teaching job at home!). All in all, I’m very happy and thankful for where I have taken myself so far in life. I’m not sure what 2014 has in store for me, or whether we’ll even stay in Korea. But I know 2014 will be a continuation of new and fun experiences together and what more could I ask for?
So with that, I thought maybe I’d share some of my resolutions with you all. Mostly things I’m working on with myself all of the time, but why not make them resolutions at the beginning of a new year.
1. Facebook less. I’ve wanted to get rid of Facebook for a while now, but being away from home, friends, and family with whom I communicate via Facebook on a daily basis makes it difficult. As much as Facebook helps me keep in touch, sometimes I just get tired of the BS, hearing too many people’s opinions, or maybe I get depressed because I actually realize how stupid the human race is. Haha. I also think Facebook is, like most of today’s technology, part of a technological compulsion that we all have. Always wanting to check it, etc. similar to having a smart phone. I think causes stress that we don’t even know we have.
And so, this new year I will (try to) Facebook less and read more, and take more of my online-time to improve my Spanish and take some online courses (though not for credit, just to give myself something to do, plus they are relevant to my field).
2. Eat less candy. I’ve always had a sweet tooth. It’s improved through self discipline but sometimes I still make some impulsive runs to the gas station for candy. When summer’s here hopefully I can substitute more fruit!
3. Take better advantage of my location–travel and experience more. (And in turn, blog more!)
4. Continue to be more physically active (does not mean going to the gym) I hate going to the gym, and I hate the cold so my physical activity suffers during the winter. But once spring comes around I’ll be back to hiking, dabbling in rock climbing, hopefully doing some yoga independently, and just being outside in general.
Thanks for reading….stay tuned! I have another entry to write this week with pictures of a small winter festival in Yeongwol. Then, my next entry will likely be a review of our trip to Thailand! We leave the 18th and come back February 4th. We’ve already made some solid plans and couldn’t be more excited! Besides a lovely vacation, we are also using the opportunity to scope the place out as our next destination 🙂