It's currently 1p KST (10p CST). Alright, finally got a stable wifi connection to actually use my Surface (I really wish I had a laptop and not this Surface keyboard...) but it still beats composition on mobile. So here goes.
If you want a summation (well, a 15 minute watch), feel free to watch my VLOG I have posted on Facebook. Essentially, Friday/Saturday was my flight from Fargo to Seoul. Sunday was exploring Dangsan, and Monday was exploring Subway Transit (coolest shit ever!), walking up and down Gangnam and visiting SWS.
So, the blog will be outlining my feelings and thoughts. The deeper stuff.
I've experienced a lot of anxiety with this trip already. The flights were alright, but as soon as I got to my apartment building for the first AirBnB reservation, I was not able to get into my room. While waiting for my host to come and assist, I had a wonderful conversation with one of the security staff members. He was very friendly and I helped him with his English. He read through a lot of English, asked questions about what words meant (He could read, but understanding was low) and I tried my best to help him understand. It was a cool experience, but it also made me realize I didn't prep at all for learning Korean to use while here. It's that same feeling when you go into a test unprepared, or a meeting unprepared, or hell, just about anything unprepared. It was an all too familiar feeling to me, as I generally like to have enough of a plan in place, and then wing the rest. However, I severely underestimated how much I needed to know. This was the first moment I realized what I committed myself to:
Survival in a foreign land for two weeks.
So okay, maybe I am over-exaggerating it, but that's how I felt the first night. Many emotions ran through me that night after I got into my apartment. I was in a foreign land, not able to read/speak the native language, and had only myself to rely on. This terrified me.
It really made me question why I was evening traveling to Korea in the first place. Why would I put myself through this trial? Wait, did I just describe my trip as a trial? Actually, yes. I actually intended this. I knew what I was getting myself into. Well okay, I knew the idea, but not the reality.
There were several things that inspired me to overcome this anxiety and fear.
- Social Media Support from Friends and Family
- Reminders of my own strength
- Reminders of the opportunities
The amount of support via social media was so unexpected. My heart leaped for joy as I saw the Facebook Likes come in, the amount of comments on each of the posts, all of that served as a reminder that I am surrounded by so many loving friends and family. With a random Instagram post that got over 100 likes, and the other posts about my departure getting 50+ likes, it's a bit shallow to say that made me feel better, but it's only another sign of the kind of friends and family I have.
All of the reading I've done has really changed my mindset along with the many experiences of growing up. All of this leads to self-growth, and it's never noticeable until you have something to contrast that with. For most people, it's seeing older works of their (old blog posts, social media posts, pictures, videos, etc), but this time for me, it was being in a foreign land. I encouraged myself to get up from my warm bed (omg, mattress warmers are the biz-ness, seriously, and I sleep comfortably in the cold!) and start exploring. I may be by myself, but that's all I needed, was myself. I was able to walk around and explore, and with fresh eyes that have grown since my previous trip in 2009, I was able to have a fresh and new experience.
Opportunities abound here. There is so much I could do! But it's not about those opportunities, it's about immersion into the land/culture. I didn't want to go do touristy things. I did those back in 2009. I wanted to spend time in Korea. I didn't have any particular goals in mind outside of watching StarCraft 2 (next week!), buying a couple pairs of jeans (since they're asian sized!) and visit SWS for my file review. For me, it was waking up, figuring out how I want to spend my day, and then go about that day. No goals in mind.
Last night (Tuesday night) it was super windy and a balmy 20 degrees F. I know, not Fargo cold, but I've already acclimated to the weather here. I stayed in my apartment in Daejeon that had heated floors (also super awesome) and I had a two hour Skype call with Will Hibben, a friend of mine from college who lives in Japan. I had some soju on me so we drank as we caught up, and that's how I spent my night. A part of me was a bit disappointed. "Jake! You're only here for a limited time. Go take advantage of being in Korea!" But I reminded myself, that this choice to stay in was intentional, and I shouldn't feel bad with going with my decision.
Something I noticed is that sometimes, I let my circumstances determine what happens in my life rather than me deciding on them. Intentionality has always been hard for me, and I am working on being more aware of my actions and trying to become more intentionally of a person. In the end, I am in control of my destiny and experience, so I should act on it. I think this will help me become more assertive as well, another area I am looking to become better at.
I have a lot more to talk about, but I'll save that for another blog post. Leave comments or add me on social media outlets to see a bit more real time updates.