Friday, 30 December 2011

Look to the future now...

...It's only just begun!

Fun and games at camp

During camp last week, I was sitting in the Korean teachers class. She taught the students about 'Western' customs at new year (by western read: American, which she did in fact mention many times in Korean). Then students were instructed to make new years resolutions, because according to her this is what ALL Western people do, while at their family new year dinner. I always consider making resolutions, it is such a good time to think about breaking old habits and starting new virtuous ones. But as with most people, I give mine up after about a month and slowly slip back into a familiar routine. Last year, I rolled into 2011 in a poor state of mind, starting the year with doubts and worries and confusion. Needless to say, the rest of the year didn't pan out too well, and those doubts and worries overshadowed everything that happened.

Messing around with my brother

This year I look to 2012 with great anticipation. Although I haven't made any specific resolutions, I have one thing I will remember for whole year. Focus. Focus on why I'm here, what I want to achieve, how I want to deal with difficult situations.

This year I have many things already that I am focusing on;

Travels around Asia, starting with an (Essex) girls break to Thailand with Nic. August will bring the end of my second Korean contract and one I don't intend to re-sign. Which means I will be leaving Asia, although I have some dreams to fulfill, places to see and adventures to embark on before I leave. My summer plans are still in their infancy but incredibly exciting already!

Next September is completely unknown to me at the moment, plans include either further teaching abroad in Europe (or Turkey), or a homecoming to Essex, where I haven't lived for 4 years. 

Day-tripping to London with my mum

And what plans for when I do get back to England? After many an evening (or deskwarming day) watching 'Who do you think you are?' I've set my mind to explore my family history some more, particularly my mum's very unknown maternal side. A couple of books focusing on the second world war have piqued my interested, so a visit to the Imperial War Museum should be interesting. In fact 2 years away from London make me want to soak up as much time in the fantastic museums and art galleries in the capital city as possible. Making a trip with my mum to Scotland is in the very near future too, and if there is room within the year also an adventure to Istanbul, which I missed out on just before coming to Korea.

St Pauls

All in all, 2012 is bursting with possibility and adventure and promise. I simply can't wait to get started and experience all it has to offer!

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

'Tis the season

Christmas is a difficult time to be away from home. It's the ultimate celebration in the west of family and together-ness. My family, as I've mentioned before, are scattered around the globe. So in the past 6 or so years we've only had one Christmas where everyone was in the same place. Christmas is the ultimate time for homesickness to strike, and this year will be the first Christmas morning that I wake up alone (my previous two Christmases abroad I've been with the people I'm spending the day with). Christmas abroad, in Asia, is strange. It's not totally ignored, there are lights around the place, and Mariah Carey blaring out from shops left, right and centre, but the atmosphere isn't there. There aren't hundreds of people in all the shops, Christmas gift packs, seasonal adverts on tv, christmas special of tv programmes to watch (except for after the event online), hundreds of boxes of chocolates around my house that I'm not allowed to touch until Christmas eve.

Having said that, one thing that I really like about Christmas abroad, is missing all of those things. Realising how much I do enjoy this season, and how much more special all those little details will be when I am able to experience them again. When I was in China, I realised that something that really made me feel Christmassy was sitting on the sofa with my dad in front of the fire him either cracking nuts or peeling one of those massive oranges and me trying to steal a segment or nut because I can't be bothered to crack/peel my own. And then I began to think of more and more things that I missed; making mince pies, or being dragged to Candlelight carols at my mum's church, or Noddy Holder screaming Merry Christmas out of the radio every day, and my mum moaning about the rediculously big fake tree my dad bought years ago that takes ages to assemble, and driving though Abridge looking at all the lights adorning the houses (and the house round the corner from mine that has cornered the market in Christmas lights). I'm very lucky to have great friends and family at home who send cards and gifts out to me to make sure I'm not forgotten. So although it's not a traditional celebration I'll be gathering with friends this year, eating and drinking too much. I want to make the most of this Christmas abroad, because like the one I spent in China, I want it to be one I can look back on with fond memories.

At the beginning on November we returned to Lotteworld where we witnessed their Christmas parade, so I've been delving into the pictures and videos from that day to get into the spirit. Preparations are already in place; I've decorated my apartment with tinsel and fairy lights, sent my special post home already, have paper chains hanging from the ceiling of my English classroom, received my first Christmas card from a student and will stop at the post office this evening after school to pick up my first Christmas parcel. So here's to a wonderful Christmas in Seoul!

Christmas arrived curtesy of my friend Amanda :-) 
I actually squealed with delight when I opened this card! (thanks Nic!)

My mum's trademark smiley face

Can't catch me...

Oi Santa!