Friday, December 9, 2016

Looking back at the year

So, 2016 may not have been a very great year for us as the human species, but for me personally, it was a great year.

I spent the first half of it working pretty hard, sometimes feeling stressed out or bleak thanks to the cold Korean winter and the usual work-till-you-collapse-in-exhaustion ppari ppari lifestyle. But I really did love my students and the school I worked at in Pohang. The kids there were so sweet and smart and funny, I always felt like I was learning from them just as much as they were learning from me.

Aren't they the cutest?

I wasn't very good at keeping up this blog in 2016; I'm a pretty inconsistent blogger in general, but this thing has been going since 2010 at this point and whatever happens I still find myself coming back to it. There's something really good and healthy about reflecting on your life in this way; I think it helps me appreciate all the good things I've experienced and hopefully it helps some of you to discover new things through my stories.

This month I've been lucky to have some free time to relax and do a little writing. So I've written a lot about the travels and experiences I had this past year and until I've caught up, I'll be posting every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Right now it looks like I'll have new posts three times a week until mid-January.

I miss these guys!

This past year I did a lot of traveling in South Korea, learned more of the language and culture and history, and made some great friends there. In September I decided not to renew my contract for a 2nd year, even though I really loved my job, because it had been too long since I took a break from teaching and spent time with my family. So that's what I spent the next half of 2016 doing.

Anna and I traveled to Dallas, Texas in September and spent about 6 weeks with my family there. We did a little traveling in Texas and visited places like San Antonio, Austin and Corpus Christi. We saw a lot of friends and family while we were in Texas, and it was so good to celebrate some important life events with them.

Family outing at the Dallas Arboretum

After that we went to the U.K., did some traveling in Wales and Cornwall, and mostly spent time with Anna's family in Bristol.

Anna welcoming me to Wales

As I write this, I'm on a little break from the U.K. to do some traveling in Greece. Right now we're staying in the city of Kalamata (famous for its olives and beaches) down in the southwest. 

View from my balcony in Kalamata, Greece - olive trees, mountains and sunshine

I'm busy now trying to catch up this blog on all the cool places I visited this year and some of the things I've been reflecting on. I'm turning 31 this month and it's been nearly seven years now since I said goodbye to Portland and got on a plane to Sendai, Japan. Life has been an amazing journey since then. 

I feel really lucky for all the places I've been, the people I've met, the languages and cultures that have broadened my mind and enriched my life, the wonderful students I've had the privilege to teach... There is a lot to be grateful for, and so much to look forward to.

Here's to the next decade of my life getting started, and a happy and healthy 2017 to all of you out there. 

Happy Year of the Rooster! (Let's try and do better this year.)

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