It’s a week into the new year, and I’m so glad for a fresh start! Looking back, 2018 was a decent year for me, and I got to do a lot of amazing things, but I’m also happy to have a clean slate.
In 2018, I worked at a company tutoring some of their staff members. I had a year-long contract and most of the money went toward my trip to Europe in the summer. I felt really lucky that I had short hours and was making enough in a relatively short amount of time to go on my dream trip, but the work itself wasn’t the most inspiring.
I do enjoy teaching adults more than any other age group, and I’ve taught everyone from kindergarteners to adults, save for high school students. However, the work was repetitive. I got new students occasionally, but I used the same book for most of them and doing the same lessons over and over became tedious. I liked the book because it gave class more structure, and I did supplement the classes with other activities, but I was mostly bored because all my students had exactly the same habits.
My main issues with the job were a) that I had to commute about an hour and 10 minutes by bus each way, so my total working hours were about the same as a full-time job and I felt nauseous a lot of the time after riding for so long and b) my students weren’t very engaged or dedicated to class. My students were busy and their boss was basically the one telling them to learn English, so not many of them were excited to come each day and they didn’t have time to do any kind of homework, so their skills didn’t improve much, as far as I could tell.
Thankfully, my contract ended about a month before I left for my trip so I got to use that extra time to prepare for my trip. I booked my hostels and flights and some activities, and I researched packing light, travel tips, etc. It felt like the countdown was so slow, but once it was time to leave, time sped up.
I went to Europe alone for a 9-week trip, as I’ve been chronicling here on my blog. I’d always dreamed of doing something like that, and the timing just seemed right. I was anxious before leaving but once I was out and about in Europe by myself, I realized how confident and capable I am on my own. I’ve had trips with friends that turned out to be frustrating because our travel personalities clashed, but the solo aspect of my trip was the best part.
I got to change location every few days, so it was always interesting, and I got to meet so many amazing people. I really didn’t expect to make friends as easily or as often as I did, but the social part of my trip was one of the best parts of the whole thing. The beautiful churches and stunning artwork, the serene natural landscapes and the incredible food were all icing on the cake.
Junkyu met up with me in Paris and we had a kind of second honeymoon! Our honeymoon in Bali was great, but it was short and neither of us had any idea what to expect, so we weren’t as relaxed as we wanted to be until about the third day, when it was almost time to leave. This time, I got acquainted with Paris for about five days before his arrival, so I knew how to use the subway, where to go, and what I wanted him to see and do.
We had a great time in Paris – which I’ll talk about more when I get to that part of my travel posts – and it was nice getting on the plane with him to head home together. Coming back to Korea was so nice because I didn’t have to constantly search for wi-fi and I got to see my two kitties again and cook in my own kitchen!
At the end of the year, I started freelance tutoring. I found a lot of students who I meet right by my house, and a lot of them are interesting and motivated to learn. I started teaching elementary and middle school students at a hagwon one day a week, and I only have a few classes with a few students. I have totally freedom to do whatever I want in class, which is sometimes more nerve-wracking than it is fun, but I’ll get the hang of it, and the other teachers are super nice so far.
My goal was to read about 50 books, and I read about 40, so I’m pretty pleased. However, I know I could have read more if I’d spent less time watching YouTube, etc. I’m going to try reading even more this year and I want to stay consistent with things like exercising and meditation. I learned a lot about my mental health in 2018 and I want to continue to develop healthy habits in 2019.
I enjoy cooking more than ever before, and it doesn’t cause me nearly as much anxiety as it did before 2018. I also started some creative hobbies like watercolor, playing piano, and learning the tin whistle. I’d like to learn the drums this year, and Junkyu and I joined a music group that meets every week where we practice together and learn from one another. I played the drums a little one week, and Junkyu says I have a natural talent for it, so he got me a practice pad and some drum sticks!
Junkyu and I paid off the loan we took out when we paid for our apartment, so now we are debt-free and saving up! We feel more satisfied overall and don’t have as much external stress as we did when we were planning weddings and trips and when we still needed stuff for our house. We’ve upgraded our rice cooker and got a water dispenser, and things like that, which have really improved our moods.
Junkyu bought some new saxophones and started playing every weekend at a bar, and he was moved to first chair in the band he performs with, even though he’s the youngest and Korean culture dictates that the eldest person usually receive higher positions, and more respect, etc. I’m so proud of him for working hard but also for pushing me to be better!
I’ve made a lot of friends and I have a more engaging social life with all sorts of people. I feel more confident and at peace in a lot of ways. There are always ways to improve, though, and I’m excited for the ways in which I’ll grow in 2019.
Wishing you a Happy New Year and a Happy New You in 2019!