You’ve been in Korea too long when…

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Konglish becomes English

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2013: Self Discovery

A few weeks late but-> An amazing friend says that 2013 is all about self-discovery.

With all that is going on, she must be right and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

So, here’s a toast to the Year of the Snake

As well as a Quote for 2013:

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…” ~ Dr. Suess

And we just can’t wrap it up without a question to ponder:

Which is worse, failing or never trying?

Happy New Year to All and Good Luck in all of your 2013 endeavors.

Rafiki

This Home Sick Swing: Holidays

Another diary-like entry:

It wasn’t Thanksgiving, the food, or the weather that created my first major homesick pit. It wasn’t a specific conversation or a fantastic dream… It was last night while I was sitting at a friend’s church’s Christmas ‘Party’.

Performances were great all evening. Children danced. Drummers did an amazing ‘black light’ special. Both Korean AND English were used. (We, English speakers actually knew what was going on the entire time!) The ballroom venue was gorgeous, warm, and very Western with wedding or holiday ‘feel’.

My friends smiled and cheered. They were absolutely thrilled that it finally felt like ‘Christmas’… but that’s when I slowly started to really feel the missing presence of my family.

We don’t celebrate Christmas. If any major religion, my family would be closely related to Judaism. We have Chanukkah parties, eat matzah for Passover (Pesach), and keep the fast of Yom Kippur. So, being surrounded by Christmas decor has always made me feel a bit foreign. However, most of my friends are Christian. So, being in a Christmas atmosphere wasn’t the tear jerker. Continue reading

Tae Kwon Do in Korea: Final Lesson as a White Belt

This week has been eventful. I think that’s the reason why I completely crashed (slept) tonight,  but one highlight has to be:

The Tae Kwon Do Belt Test

I’ve been in and out of martial arts/ kickboxing for years. It’s just something about kicking and sweating in a place which smells like feet that makes me a happy gal. So, one of my top ‘things to do’ in Korea was… study Tae Kwon Do in its home country.

Our first day in the uniform

Our first day in the uniform

About 5 1/2 years ago, I learned the basics from a Korean master at my university. We studied it as a class and practiced once a week. Two-three evenings a week, I attended a Tae Kwon Do club for extra practice. I remember moving quickly through the steps. So, when I joined this Tae Kwon Do class, I expected the same. Boy, was I wrong. Continue reading

More Than Food~ My Thanksgiving Abroad

Well, who would’ve guessed that Thanksgiving is more than sweet potato pies and steaming hot juicy turkey surrounded by baked apples and other goodies?

As every year passes, ‘Thanksgiving’ is replaced with ‘turkey’ in the nearly-official holiday greeting: “Happy Turkey Day!” I do love my pumpkin pie, home-made stuffing, pound cakes, and who could forget my favorite, peach cobbler? But the heavy emphasis on food made Thanksgiving a holiday that I both loved and disliked.

The holiday highlight… click to read on

I adore the moments with family and friends. I love the cheers, the laughs, the awkward dances, and jointly screaming at the football games as if the players could hear… but I’m not a fan of the continuous talk about food preparation, recipe comparisons or trying to stuff yourself all at once. (Anyone who really knows me knows that I’m a huge supporter of the ‘doggy bag’.) Continue reading

A Blossom of Hope Within the DMZ

The DMZ (demilitarized zone)… a 4 kilometer buffer zone of the North-South Korean border. 2 kilometers belong to South Korea. The other two goes to the North.

The weekend before last, I stood on a tower looking out over the land of once great destruction. The tour guides and informational videos told the stories about the land where a grown man’s shooting game came to life. We saw the mountain that was painted red by the amount of blood shed. We saw the White Horse plateau whose top was chopped off by so many guns and military feet. We saw pictures of emotionally devastated children crying over their loved ones’ motionless bodies.

Within that all-day trip, we saw many things… but we also saw hope.

Can you tell where one ends and the other begins?

The land that was once the Korean War’s main battleground is now a home for some endangered species. Birds fly freely across the borders. The land creatures sleep underneath the trees’ shadows. As I looked around the land, I did not see a geographical border. North Korea and South Korea looked the same. If nature can move on and if we are part of nature, is it possible for us to move on? Is it possible that the Korean War will one day end? I’m not siding on either side of the Korean reunification argument, but I am wondering what is the purpose for this ‘war’ to continue. What good is it providing the majority other than an adrenaline-driving tourist attraction? Maybe these DMZ creatures are showing that one day, this site will no longer be ‘living history’.

“Don’t Be Afraid That Your Life Will End…”

Today, I want to write a little more personal…

Every once in a while, I get the question, “Why are you so positive?

According to my brother, who read my Scorpion horoscope, I should be a negative person. Honestly, it used to be a natural tendency… to look at the negative sides of situations. Then, one day in high school, I heard a quote or a line in a book which suggested to smile more and look on the brighter sides of things, life will be better. I tried it for one week. What a difference it made! I kept trying this action and it eventually became a habit.

This positive attitude and reaction is something that must be worked on every day. There are many situations that come about where I have the choice to either sink into a miserable pit or try to see the silver lining in the storm. From my experiences, finding that silver lining and moving forward has felt a lot better than sitting in the fog, complaining, and waiting for the storm to pass. It’s not easy and it’s a habit that must be formed over time, but as the quote says, “In  three  words  I  can  sum  up  everything I’ve  learned  about  life: It  goes  on.

What’s your point of view?

Each day, is another page in the book of life. I want a story worth remembering. I want a story that I enjoy. It’s just what I want.

I enjoy being happy. I enjoy taking a deep breath, realizing the situation and actively working to find an effective solution. Yes, I release my sadness, frustration or anger through various methods. Yet, I do not let these moments last forever, because “for every 60 seconds you spend upset is a minute of happiness that you’ll never get back“. Continue reading