Closing Out 2015

How is 2015 over already? I know everyone says that at the end of every year, but it really feels this way for me more than any other year. The Korean school schedule is quite different from the school schedule in America. Both countries begin the school year at different times, and of course both countries celebrate different holidays. Even the importance of shared holidays are weighed differently.  At this time of the year in America, students and teachers are on vacation from Christmas Eve until the day after New Year’s Day. The start of this vacation always signaled the end of the year for me. Korean schools do not have this vacation. Christmas Day and New Year’s Day are off, but we work and go to school between them. I did not even realize that today was New Year’s Eve until one of those Facebook Memories with a photo from New Year’s Eve two years ago showed up.

I decided to remind myself that today is the last day of 2015 by looking back at the year. (Plus I was in the mood to blog!)

2015 started off amazing because I had just graduated from graduate school with my Masters. The two and a half years I spent in my graduate program were extremely tough and some of the most difficult and exhausting times of my life (so far). To celebrate, I planned a trip to Disney World with my mom and youngest brother. Returning to the happiest place on earth for the second time in my life was such an amazing way to celebrate the end of my schooling. I probably enjoyed the trip more than the first one.

After returning from Disney I started the application process for EPIK. Anyone else who has applied to EPIK knows how stressful, confusing, and frustrating the process can be. And how long it lasts! I spent many nights staying up until the EPIK offices closed in Korea, checking my email over and over, and then going to sleep disappointed.

Although my parents were annoyed that I didn’t bother getting a part-time job before leaving for Korea, I was loving it. It was the first time in a longgggggg time that I was able to just do nothing. No papers to write, no long as hell research papers to read, no exams to study for, no lessons to plan for student teaching, no observations to worry about, no panicking about waking up late for work. All I had to worry about was submitting all my EPIK paperwork correctly and on time.

Admittedly, 7.5 months is a long time to do nothing. Even I was getting restless at times. But seriously, when else will I be able to just do nothing with no commitment? Not until I retire! (…If that is even possible in my future.) I worked my ass off in school for 6.5 years, I frigging deserved that break! Anyways, it wasn’t like I was just sitting at home without a plan. I did. I knew what I was doing. I was following through with the plan I had had for the past 8 years; to teach English in Korea.

During those 7.5 months I was able to spend a lot of quality time with my family. I had been living away from home pretty much my entire school career. I had a great job at school and would typically return to school very quickly after a holiday to work. With my year in Korea fast approaching (even if I didn’t know for sure yet), I wanted to spend as much time as possible with my family. I even got to spend a weekend camping with some family that I hadn’t spent time with or really even spoken to in years.

The last third of the year has literally been a rollercoaster. I was extremely excited and thrilled that I was accepted to EPIK and was moving to Busan. But soon after arriving, home sickness and depression hit me hard. After a few weeks I started feeling more comfortable in my new home, got more confident at school, and began making some really great friends.

Then, when I thought everything was back to being great again, I got some really upsetting family news. It’s personal so I won’t be going into details, but it has been really difficult to deal with knowing that my family will never be the same.  It will be extremely weird and upsetting to return home in 2016, whether that be forever or just for a short vacation.

Even with the crappy things that have happened, overall 2015 has been a successful year for me. For 8 years I have had the same plan, the same goal, the same dream. I stuck with it, not letting anyone or anything stop me. 2015 will forever be the year that I accomplished my goal and began to live out my dream. Thank you to my family, my friends (old and new), and my new coteachers for everything. Seriously, I couldn’t have done it without your love and support.

I already know that 2016 has some tough challenges for me to face. Some of them I am ready for, others I am not. However, I am going to be hopeful that 2016 will also bring some happiness for me. Already, I know the year will start off right with an amazing trip that I can’t wait to share with all of you! (Hint: It’s pretty similar to last year!)

I hope you all have a great New Year, and I hope 2016 brings joy and happiness to you too.

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❤ Natasha

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P.S. Thank you to everyone that commented with blog post requests!!! I am working on them! 😀 I have a lot of desk warming time coming up in the next two weeks, so I will definitely be posting those soon!

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