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Age 21: Adapting (A Year in Review)

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Twenty-one was an amazing year. There were lots of ups and and way fewer downs than I expected considering that I moved to South Korea right after my last birthday. The change was much easier than people seemed to make it out to be online, and other than a few frustrations at work and a couple of bouts of loneliness in the wintertime, I’m really loving my life here, there, and everywhere. In fact, I’m in Cambodia as you’re reading this!

Example of a high: climbing the tower overlooking a maze while drinking beer with my co-workers on a staff field trip last year.

Example of a high: climbing the tower overlooking a maze & seemingly-abandoned theme park while drinking beer with my co-workers on a staff field trip last year.

Some of My Favorite Parts

They're ugly, but I made these chocolates form bean-to-bar, and they tasted damn good.

They’re ugly, but I made these chocolates from bean-to-bar, and they tasted damn good.

What’s That Waygookin Doing Here?

I’m not quite sure how I’ve changed. I have felt so exotic this year. White people are way over represented in media everywhere, so I grew up with people looking like me normalized, and then moved to a rural part of one of the most homogeneous countries in the world. People hardcore stare, every day. And not just in Korea, but in all four of the other Asian countries I have visited this year. It’s definitely been both humbling and trying, as well as an ego boost at times.

My self-confidence has gone up, and I was definitely happier at 21 than ever before, but Korea has not helped my patience outside of the classroom. I still crave constant stimulation, usually from music or a YouTube video, and I feel like I’m wasting time if I’m not multitasking, even when I’m just eating a quiet meal at home. Maybe while I’m 22 I’ll meditate more.

Then again, maybe I’ll look back at that statement when I’m 25 and laugh. And look back again when I’m 45 and sigh wistfully. If I were to review this year like a movie, I’d say that there was a bit too much lag time between all of the action, but admittedly I had a lot of airport layovers + two months of desk-warming. I sure have been planning for the future a lot because of this blank space, so maybe I could stand to live in the moment a little bit more. But sometimes that’s hard, when you constantly remember how big the world really is.

Cherry blossoms lining a seemingly-endless road in southern South Korea.

New Countries Visited: 4-5 (South Korea, the Philippines, China {Hong Kong/Macau; the visa situation is different, so even though they’re technically both “China,” they’re not really mentally Chinese}, Cambodia)

Best Movie I Saw: Okja

Theme Song: Me Rehuso by Danny Ocean

Best Travel Inspiration: The Vagabrothers‘ Youtube channel

Favorite Picture I Took This Year:

The riverbank at which they hold the Dano Culture Festival in Gangneung, South Korea.

Goals for 22

These tangible goals help keep me focused on the next experience I want to have, or how to spend my free time in a more intentional way.

  1. Visit 3 new countries (Taiwan, Japan, Thailand)
  2. Pair my chocolates with local wines (aged & new)
  3. Visit an island in the south of Korea
  4. Get this site to the point that I want to give out business cards (& make said business cards)
  5. Feel like an intermediate level Korean speaker (meaning I should feel comfortable explaining chocolate making in Korean; this will call for lots of grammar review)
  6. Be more patient with people; I’m annoyed too easily, and often it’s simply my ego unnecessarily putting my needs first.
  7. Make fewer plans— I’m a bit too obsessive with that one
  8. Work in a local orphanage once or twice a month, holding the babies and playing with the kids.
  9. Become more educated on intersectionality. Despite growing up in such a politically-inclined household, I often don’t think that I have absorbed enough of that knowledge and understanding, and knowing more about this now can help stop me from making certain mistakes or assumptions when I’m older and on-the-road. If you have any book recommendations, or want to have a discussion, please leave a comment in the section below!
  10. Save half my income, for both retirement saving & in order to accomplish all the travel plans I have in the works

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July 2017: My First Korean Chocolate Ushers in Constant Rain
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