Saturday, May 28, 2016

Hello... anybody home?

Wow! It's been over a year since I've last posted on the blog, but here I am, once again.  I guess I can never really close this down for good.  It contains remnants of some of my most precious memories abroad and a time in my life I hold near and dear to my heart.

Since my last post in April of last year, I:

- took a work trip to Italy, which allowed me to meet with family I haven't seen in years
- ran my first half marathon in Lake Placid, NY
- started my final year of grad school
- flew down to New Orleans for a quick food-gorging getaway
- attended an International Ed conference down in Alexandria, VA
- visited Germany over Christmas into New Years to see family
- ended my work in student exchange to focus on my M.Ed. full time
- started and ended my practicum in Passaic Public Schools
- took a long awaited trip to Zion, Bryce, and Grand Canyon national parks out west
- completed and passed my state certification exams
- became an auntie again
- entered into my final year in my 20's... hit 29 and am already half way through!
- started spiralizing Zoodles and Swoodles in an attempt to eat healthier
- Konmari-ed my entire apartment to keep only the things that spark joy
- started reading real, physical books again (not including text books for grad school ;))
- set up a real-life Roth IRA account (phew, talk about finally entering adulthood)

It's funny how day to day, it always seems like time is flying, but when I think back on what has happened and who I was since my last post, I see and feel change much more deeply.  The short list barely touches the emotions tied to the last 365 days, feelings of joy and excitement, accomplishment, fear, worry... I find myself worried if I am making the right choices for the years ahead in terms of career path, in my relationships, in my physical, mental and financial health.

Am I doing things right?  Am I doing or not doing things I might regret in a few years time?

It's really hard to know.

I'd like to enter these next few months with low expectations (wait, hear me out) and just be grateful for the unknown.  It's freaking hard, and scary.  My first instinct is to plan and try to control life (at least fool myself into thinking I can control life) as much as possible... but when you stop and think about it, the unknown leaves space for change and for new developments.  The fact that I will be traveling again to a country I've never been before, ending my formal education (once and for all) and looking for a job again in the next few months leaves a lot of things out of my control, and I don't know how things will look by the time my 30th birthday rolls around in December... but maybe that's a good thing, because it leaves the door open for opportunities.

So, here's to the unknown days of 2016, and whatever they may bring.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Itchy Feet

Today, when I was out on my run, I was thinking about how this exact time two years earlier, I had just come back from Korea and how happy and grateful I was for the new start here in the US. 

I was excited to be in a proper bed (after sleeping on a mattress in a tiny frozen loft for a year).  I was excited about real coffee in my cup in the mornings.  I was excited about all the cheese I could consume without restriction.  I was happy (and still am) about being able to spend time with my family every week and be a part of their day to day lives.

But like all things in life, the excitement starts to wear off and the new becomes not so new and soon you are grumbling over having to go grocery shopping and paying for lame-o parking tickets. 

So my mind rebels and starts to wander from here to Arizona, to California, to Spain, to Portugal, to Morrocco, to Bulgaria, to Turkey, to Greece, to Iran, to Chile... my mind could see myself in all those places and more.    And those thoughts make me start researching those countries, and then I have to admit to myself that I want to go abroad again.

Luckily or unluckily, my partner is not one to be persuaded to this suitcase lifestyle, so while it can be frustrating, he does tend to keep me grounded.  He is the kind of person that could happily never leave the house if he didn't need to.  I sometimes compare us to a zen garden, where he is that peaceful, heavy stone right in the middle and I'm the sand being pushed all around. 

Anyways, for now, I'm not going anywhere.  But it feels good to think about it.  And to say it "out loud" here on this outdated blog.  If anything changes, I'll be sure to let you know, blogger.

Until then, good night.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Frozen Tides

Coldest day of the year so far, with the windshield in the negatives.  Woke up extra early to drive down to the NJ shore to catch the sunrise, for whatever little bit of adventure we could get in before the weekend was over.  Despite risking frost bite (!), we enjoyed every brisk, blustery minute. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Dear Diana

Hey girl!

It's me! I mean, you, only it's you from the future.  At this exact moment, you are traveling along the coast of France with a bunch of idealistic young adults.  You wake up early and set your goals.  You challenge yourselves, sometimes in frighteningly dangerous and unnecessary ways, and while you all mean well, loosen up a bit.  Enjoy where you are but don't stress so much. Allow yourself to be 18, traveling Europe and experiencing the world for the first time as a young adult. Go ahead.

A Sunday excursion at Mont San Michel with two of my travel mates, Patricia and Miyuki in February 2005.

You might be kind of bummed right now, since it's freezing, you don't speak French, and you are on the coast fund raising in bitter winds. But you know, that time in France will end.  Your year traveling around Europe will end, you will come back to America, but you will never be the same.  Still to this day, you will find yourself wanting to travel, to learn, to experience the world first hand, so don't feel bad about not wanting to come back and go to college.  You will, but you will never completely shake off that urge. You will fight with yourself for the entirety of the next decade, over your desire for adventure vs. the expectations from society to "build up a career" and "a strong financial base" (aka make money) and be a sensible adult.

Good news and bad news; you will do a little bit of both, but neither completely well.

But for now, just enjoy it.  And while you're at it, be a little gentler with yourself.  You are experiencing each day for the first time just like everybody else.

Wishing you grand adventures from the future,

x diana

Monday, February 2, 2015

Back to the Blog

Life has been so busy since moving back to the United States, that I find I rarely stop and reflect on things the way I used to.  I feel myself craving moments of silence to just be lost somewhere, out in nature or even just in a foreign environment, a new street, perhaps, to heighten my senses to the world around me. 
Two weeks ago, I started a new job, working in the field of international education.  A job that puts me in front of a screen for even more hours per day and keeps my mind busier with thoughts than before.  It's what I wanted, the position I mean, but it has been a bitter-sweet start.  I left the field of teaching, which I have been doing for over five years, and which I loved so very much--especially working with my adult students.

When I moved back to the US from Korea, I wanted to find work in the study abroad field, which seemed like a good fit based on my experiences and interests. But as much as I looked and applied, all I got was an offer for an unpaid internship in Boston, so when this company offered me a position, literally fifteen minutes from my house, it was hard to turn it down.

It's way too premature to come to any conclusions about the new job, but it is a change, and if life has taught me nothing else, it's that change is necessary and good.


Since being back:

- I've moved--twice--and am now somewhat "settled" in an apartment that I swore I wouldn't move out of for at least two years more... Let's see if I can keep that promise to myself ;).

-  I started my MA in Education, which has been a long-time goal and desire of mine, and feel super fortunate to have been selected to be part of TCNJ's program, which subsidizes the insane cost of grad school in the US (another post for another day).

-  I have started running... and running... and running... and am working my way up to my first half marathon this year.  Even though I ran track in high school, I actually hated the running experience up until very recently. It started with an obstacle 5k race that I did with some friends (that I couldn't even run the whole way through), yet enjoyed the energy and experience so much, that I decided to do another 5k, and then I did another and another and then a 10k and even started off 2015 with a 4 mile run through Central Park at midnight in the freezing cold.  My PR is 10 miles, but it has been hard to train during this typically unbearable Northeast winter.  Trying my best to keep it up.

-  Took a German course as a refresher, but realized that trying to keep up German in the US is kind of pointless as it is really not useful here, at least it hasn't been in the ESL classroom in the US ;) and so finally (now that I'm not working evenings anymore teaching), I signed up for a Spanish class--which starts this month!  Excited to be studying a new language!

- Visited Texas twice, North Dakota once, took a road trip to Montreal, a couple more road trips along the east coast, and one very short trans-Atlantic trip to Germany over Thanksgiving week in 2013 to visit family (which was way too short of a time for such a big expense and undertaking).

I guess that somewhat sums it up, at least on a superficial level.

Originally, I planned on starting a totally new blog, on a new website, but somehow found my way back here.  So, no promises, but let's see if I can get myself back into writing a bit more in 2015.

One of my favorite memories from last year, watching sunrise at the Jersey shore, along with an audience of sea gulls. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

An Update on Life: Two Months After Seoul

I left Korea on February 28, 2013 and have been back in the US for just over two months now.  During that time, I spent about a month applying for jobs and interviewing.  I had an interview with New York City Teaching Fellows, but didn't get in.  I interviewed with a few other places and by early April, I had two job offers. I accepted a position as a Community Education Coordinator for a larger-sized non-profit near New York City which is where I am now.  So far, so good. I enjoy my colleagues, my students and my new life as a young professional here in the US.  As many people keep reminding me, I am quite fortunate to have found work so quickly.

After almost four years, I finally own a car again!  That was something I didn't expect to happen quite so fast, but since I needed one for the job, we quickly scrambled together and bought one around mid-April.  Also, as of last Tuesday, I became an auntie (again) when my sister and her husband had their first child.  It's been a great week being together with family and celebrating new life.  

I still think about Seoul and I do have moments where I think back on wonderful memories of life in Germany and Korea but right now, I am happy to be where I am.  Right around the time I left Korea, I was cleaning out my desk at work and found this journal entry which I had written one year earlier from the time I left Germany.  It read: 

February 22, 2012
New starts are so difficult, especially when everything feels foreign and unknown.  Like Korea. 

Reading that statement at the end of my time in Korea really felt like coming full circle.  It’s amazing to see how with time, everything works itself out, even in the most unknown and uncertain phases of our lives.  Once Korea was unknown, now it is a treasured memory and life experience.

It's been fun sharing my adventures throughout the last couple of years, but since being back I haven't kept up my blog so this may very well be my last blog entry here.  Thanks for sharing the journey with me.  I wish you all wonderful adventures of your own. 

x diana

* * * 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Lil' Kim At His Finest

The web is full of memes mocking the current leader of North Korea's apparent love for food.

A younger Kim Jong Un with his father, the late Kim Jong Il.
Seriously. This.
With all the threats of war and fear-inducing news coming off the Korean Peninsula, I thought a little lightheartedness was due. Obviously war is never a laughing matter, but as the saying goes, sometimes you've got to laugh or you'll cry.