So, the end of another year is drawing near. This is a time for reflection on the past and anticipation of the future.
Junkyu and I had an eventful year; we planned our second wedding ceremony in the U.S. and I was finally able to take him to my hometown, along with his sister and two nieces. I got a new job, took Korean classes, made new friends, went to concerts (Big Bang, Taeyang, Gummy), learned to embroider and to sew, and got more comfortable with cooking Korean food.
I also read a lot of great books! I finished The Raven Cycle series and it’s now one of my favorites. I had a hard time getting over it being over. I read When Breath Becomes Air and got teary eyed at the end. I snuggled up with The Little Book of Hygge, which taught me to take things slow and to enjoy some hot cocoa in a dimly lit room with good company. I laughed out loud with Lauren Graham as she shared parts of her life story, including her time on The Gilmore Girls (one of my favorite shows of all time). I took journeys through Italy, India, Bali, and walked along the Pacific Coast Trail with Eat, Pray, Love, The Worrier’s Guide to the End of the World, and Wild. And I read harrowing classics like The Murder on the Orient Express and The Handmaid’s Tale. I also started reading a Korean webtoon-turned graphic novel called 낮에 뜨는 달 (The Moon that Rises in the Day).
Junkyu and I learned a lot about each other’s cultures, families, and hopes for the future, and we took trips to Jinju to see a still-standing Korean fortress and to Wonju to ride rail bikes over the mountains on an abandoned train track. We planted a garden on our terrace and purged our house of useless clutter. We also took a DNA test and learned about our ancestry and health. He started taking saxophone lessons to better play the jazz music that he so adores, and I learned to bake chicken pot pie and sugar cookies from scratch. I also knit my first sweater and learned to crochet.
This year, I also decided to finally go after my lifelong dream of a multi-country Europe trip in 2018, and it’s all I can think (or talk) about. I started learning German in order to better understand my German heritage, and I’m brushing up on my high school French and Spanish. I’m hoping for some magical Harry Potter-related experiences, too. Oh, and I can’t wait for some authentic gelato! I have been reading travel guides and watching travel shows non-stop and I’m so excited for what next year has in store for me.
I already have a huge stack of books I want to read in 2018, and my list is still growing. Junkyu even got himself an e-reader this year and has started to read more. I convinced him to start reading Harry Potter, and I’m hoping eventually he’ll turn into a Pot-head like me. I also started listening to podcasts (Criminal, Serial, What Should I Read Next) and we binge-watched a lot of Netflix together, thanks to the abundance of Korean subtitles.
My friend and I went to see the Nutcracker ballet and it blew me away! I had never seen it before, and I was really impressed by the skill of the dancers and the technical aspects (the costumes, the sets, etc.). I haven’t done any plays recently, but I’ve been trying to go to more performances. I try to go to as many plays and musical performances as I can, and I’m always left with a smile on my face and a warmth in my heart.
I’ve also been going to Seoul a lot with friends, and we always hit up an escape room or two. Escape rooms in Seoul are usually in English and in Korean, so they are really fun to do with Korean and non-Korean friends. We also went to the new Starfield library and we always wander around a bookstore for a few hours.
This year has been full of growth, and with growth usually comes stress. Planning a wedding from another country was difficult, but we both think it was worth the effort to share a special day with our friends and family. We also tried to get into new habits, such as exercising and learning to cook each other’s favorite foods. Junkyu loves to use the English phrase, “No pain, no gain” when we’re lifting weights. Although, recently, we’ve been lazing around the house playing video games much more than we’ve been pumping iron.
We got a lot of amenities for our house: an A/C unit for the living room, a water purifier (water at the push of a button is so luxurious), and a food waste recycling machine. We are definitely living the life now! Though it seems like just yesterday we were putting together IKEA furniture in our almost empty house, we are coming up on our 2nd year wedding anniversary in April!
Both of us are hoping for a calmer, more relaxing 2018 with just as many new adventures. We celebrated the upcoming new year as we always do: with a dinner date at Outback Steakhouse. Here’s to a new year full of excitement and interesting endeavors!