It’s finally over. 2014 flew by so fast that I barely registered it passing.
This year has been a huge commitment from me to my blog. This year I decided to start a yearly post for me to look back on the previous year and recognize all of the blessings that I’ve truly enjoyed this year. And I’m so glad I did, because it let me relive and recognize things that I took advantage of over the year.
This year was very emotional for me. In fact, I think it’s been the hardest year I’ve ever had in my life. I had a lot of setbacks and hardships, but at the same time got to experience things that I had been dreaming of for most of my life. I’ve lived in the moment, recognized things about myself that I never knew before and at the end of this year I’m humbled at all that I’ve achieved and went through.
This year was an up and down roller coaster, but I wouldn’t change it. I’m a stronger person because of it. What all happened during my year?
January started out strong for me! It was an exciting time for me because I got to visit Japan as a tourist with my husband for the first time. I had such a great experience there teaching in 2012, but my husband didn’t go with me at that time. I loved showing him all of my favorite places! We had a blast traveling up and down Japan. Our first day of the year was in Miyajima, where we saw the Chinkasai Fire Festival.
When I got back to Korea, the end of the year was approaching so I was a little down about my kids graduating and leaving me. On a bright note though, my co-teacher and dear friend got married so I got to attend a Korean wedding and see how it was done. It was a beautiful wedding!
February was a bit of a downer, to be honest. My class had been practicing for our dream concert, and we had to memorize a drama complete with songs, dance and lines. It was a tough time for the kids because they wanted everything to be perfect. At the end of the month, they all graduated and went to elementary school which was so emotional!
I started a six month gym membership this month and treated myself to some sledding outside of Seoul before the snow was gone for good!
March was full of beauty. I got a new set of kids for the year and it was a hard adjustment for me. I missed my old kids terribly and starting at no english was rough. It was so hard then, but by the end I loved my new kids even more than my old ones! We worked so hard and came so far together.
I visited Hamyang, a very small town in the southern part of Korea and it was nice to relax in the countryside and enjoy nature. Seoul city life can be overstimulating! This month my husband and I got a really cheap package to a Korean photo studio and took couple pictures together which turned out beautifully. It was a dream of ours to take pictures like this, so it was a great memory for us.
Oh, did I mention the cherry blossoms were in full bloom? They were oh so beautiful and definitely made me feel happy when I saw them on my walk to and from work. 😉
April was a very busy month at the hagwon. We visited a strawberry farm and got to pick and eat as many strawberries as we could for 30 minutes. They ate until they couldn’t anymore and even snuck a few in their pockets on the way out. 😉 I really bonded with my coworkers during this month and we spent a lot of lunch breaks at the Ediya Coffee down the street, venting out our frustrations and laughing a lot. The Seoul Lotus Lantern Festival happened this month, and it was really a sight to see! There were so many candles and every kind of lantern that you could think of.
After a lot of research I bought my Sony A6000 for my future Korea pictures. It was so expensive but worth the investment! It came out in Korea before the US, so I actually got it before US release which was cool. 😀
May was a rough month, though I can’t really remember why. I think there was a lot of drama with the Korean staff at work so it was stressful. My elementary classes were very small and I grew really close with those kids. I spent a lot of time by the Han River and biking around parks.
During the short holiday, I got crazy and booked a spontaneous trip to Egypt where my husband was visiting with his family. It was only a four day vacation but it was worth it to see my husband. I hadn’t visited his family for almost five years. I kind of missed Alexandria and most importantly… my Mother in Law’s food! 😉 I had a super long layover in Qatar, so I got to go out and see some of Doha because my brother in law works there. It was a tiring month but I did a lot.
June was another crazy travel month. I went down to Suncheon for the Suncheon Bay Walking Festival and spent a weekend away at Jeongdongjin beach. I had a blast at both locations and got to see different parts of the country. Spending time by the beach was a true blessing and watching the sunrise on the beach was AMAZING. I made gingerbread cookies with the kids at school and they loved it! It was hard to get some of the ingredients but well worth it.
My friend was browsing Craigslist and saw that a Scottish Fold kitten was for sale. Because she knew of my desire to get one some day, she told me immediately! I was just about to buy it when the owner decided that she loved the cat too much to sell her after all. 🙁 I was so sad that I had missed the chance to get a Scottish Fold at a cheap price, but the owner mentioned that I could go to a store and get one at the same price that she had bought hers. So I went there and did get my own Scottish Fold! Iskander was welcomed to my family, and he has given me so much joy since. 🙂
July. Crazy practice for the music festival in school! My kids did ABC by Jackson 5 and it. was. adorable. I caved and finally bought my first pair of Birkenstocks. I wore them almost every day after that they were so comfortable! I love mine. I visited the Handmade Korea Fair at the COEX and saw tons of cute handmade items. I spent a lot of evenings after school hanging out with my coworker Maddie on her rooftop with rooftop kitty. Who is rooftop kitty? Well… it’s a kitty that just hangs out on the roof of her building. Who knows how he got there, but what we do know is rooftop kitty has a huge pair of balls haha.
At the end of the month, my best friend and I headed off to Malaysia for our summer break!
August started with Malaysia, and we spent a lot of time bouncing from house to house eating tons of food for Eid. Food coma doesn’t even start to cover it… we seriously averaged about seven houses per day, eating a feast at each one so we wouldn’t be rude and refuse food!
I headed off to the beach with my friends to celebrate Jordan’s birthday and we had fun shooting off fireworks, eating cake and laying on the beach in the summer sun! We paid a crazy price for a room and could only find a Korean style room that had us sleeping on the floor. It wasn’t the most comfortable but made for a good story later! 😉 Patbingsu mania started in Seoul and I started my delicious addiction. <3
Ahh, my birthday month. I turned 26 and it felt very odd. I think it was the first time that I actually thought that I’m getting old. I started to think more about my future and what I wanted to do. I finalized my return date to the US and started to feel anxious about leaving. I spent a lot of time with my friends this month. We went to a cake cafe in Hongdae and decorated my very own birthday cake, truly one of a kind with our mediocre decorating skills. 😉 One Saturday we sat by the Han River pigging out on department store food and just enjoying the atmosphere. It was a great day in my memory. 🙂
To celebrate my birthday, I jetted off to Japan again to spend some time getting my sushi fix. Japan holds such a special place in my heart, and I couldn’t resist one more visit before going so far away back to the US. It’s only an hour away by plane so I couldn’t resist! I bought SO many things on this trip and ate all. the. things. All of them. I visited the Masjid Camii in Tokyo and it was breathtakingly beautiful. I just sat inside admiring it’s beautiful design for quite some time after praying. The best surprise in Japan was stumbling upon a full blown sumo wresting competition at a war memorial in Tokyo. It was really unique and not something I’d seen before so it made my trip really memorable.
October was my last month in Korea. It was so hectic, and I was trying to do so many things at once. I spent a lot of time with friends, went to all the places that I had been putting off all year and started the huge problem of taking my cat back to the US with me. It is way harder than it looks! It finally worked out, which was such a relief. I couldn’t imagine what would have happened… I love my cat! Studio Ghibli had an exhibit in Korea and it was definitely worth the visit. I’m a huge fan of My Neighbor Totoro so it was cool to see the history of the animation company.
My last blessing from my school was an all expenses paid trip to Busan! Thanks to one of the students, I got to go with my coworker to Busan and spend a few nights at a 5-star hotel. >:O It was definitely amazing, and we got to spend the day right in front of Haeundae beach. The hotel had an AMAZING all you can eat breakfast buffet and because of the Busan Film Festival there were so many activities happening all around us. We ate so much free food and just enjoyed the hotel amenities. It was so fun!
November was such a weird month. I was officially back in the US and since it was the holiday season I was immediately busy visiting family and settling into my apartment. I had my first Thanksgiving dinner with family in almost three years and it felt really good. I missed those Thanksgiving foods. I made apple pie for the dinner this year, which I have horrible luck with. This year it turned out perfectly so I felt accomplished. I finally made an apple pie successfully!
I fell in love with yoga this month and started regularly attending group exercise classes at the gym.
Before I knew it, December was here. December was a little boring… I started job searching in earnest and had a little too much time on my hands. I started reading again, which I really missed and completely cut out music in the car in favor of audio books. It was the best decision ever because I complete so many more books that way. After careful preparation, I landed the job that I wanted. The relief and encouragement it gave me was something else. Finally, my degree is worth something! It felt great to get a job in the US based on my college degree. It was a great finish to 2014.
There was quite a bit of bad but looking back on it all the good outweighed the bad. I’ve learned, explored, and grown into a stronger Autumn for 2015, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I met so many people this year who enriched my life and gave me more joy than I thought I could know. 2014 was the year of Korea and travel, and I won’t forget it for sure. Even though that time is finished, I’m looking forward to what is in store for me this new year. God-willing I will grow even more as a person.
Happiness is a woman’s best cosmetic. This year I learned to follow my passion and do what makes me happy… make mistakes, get messy and learn from them! Here’s to a beautifully happy 2015!