You know those people that go on vacation and it’s all they can talk about for, like, months after they get back?  After, like, a week of vacation?  So, I’m terrified that I’m going to be one of those people if I ever come back from Korea, and it’s going to be even worse… because I’ve been on vacation for like double-digit times as long as those people.

Studying for finals, finals, and summer break with 1-2 hours of teaching per day means I was getting paid pretty well for watching Netflix and nursing hangovers in school all of my days this summer.  Life’s a beach with excellent wifi and free food.

All of that free time did not include any social media, though.  I think I deserve a few gold stars or a sugar daddy for the progress I’ve made with my addiction to Facebook, Instagram and Snap.  Before summer started, I decided to delete all of those apps on my phone, and I vowed to skip the scroll for as long as I could.

To be honest, I heard some heartbreaking news from back in the States and knew that I would be reminded of it if I did check these apps.  Every time I got the urge to go on, I told myself that I’d probably be reminded of everything going on back in the States, and it’d ruin my day.  It ended up being really easy to avoid it all.  South Korea began to feel like the escape that I intended it to be.  I haven’t felt so free and at ease in a long time.

I knew I’d want to share some experiences from my end-of-summer trips to India and Sri Lanka, so I re-downloaded the apps after about 2 months.  After the #gainz of not going on for so long, they haven’t been the slightest of temptations since I re-downloaded them.  Whoever said it takes 30 days to develop a habit was certainly on to something.

Without social media, I also began to appreciate everything around me in real-time more.  Not only did I not have the stress associated with these media platforms, but my lack of recording everything slightly amusing around me solely for the apps resulted in an increased awareness of the little things that brought warmth and happiness to my life.

Like, my students.

I haven’t blogged in a few months, partly because they’ve been pretty epic, and partly because I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with being a lazy slob during the weeks and a turnip queen on the weekends.  I’ve milked the bliss of being happy and content.

Here’s the low-down on what’s notable that I can remember from my weekends the past few months.

DMZ (Korean De-Militarized Zone)

They told us to look nice, or NK would take pictures of us and use it as propaganda to say that foreigners are poor, too.  So, we looked pretty good, and the perfect weather also made our photo opps endless.  You can see all of the photos here.

Seoraksan National Park

Some of the most beautiful hikes I’ve done yet.  You can see all of the photos here.

Yeosu/Namhae Island

With 11 other GET’s (Guest English Teachers) I turned up on a party bus that our gracious AirBNB hosts offered to order for us.  Ended up at a garlic festival with a bunch of old people.

Cheongpung Land Adventure Park

Bungee jumping, big swing, and ejection seat in a resort town!  Unfortunately, we didn’t get to spend much time in the town because we went to the wrong Cheongpung first… on the opposite end of Korea.

Busan

The beach, the club, some dranks for Amaury Teacher’s birthday, and all my frands.

The Grid in Busan is the best club I’ve ever been to.  Better than Ibiza.

The club was open until 8:00, like most Korean party establishments.  We were having so much fun in the euphoric and energetic atmosphere that we didn’t realize we were tired until we left around 6:00.  The sun was already up, but the second we hopped on the morning train back to our AirBNB, I was not…

Jeonju

Natalie Teacher’s birthday weekend!  I love these people.  Teachers turnip.

Boryeong Mud Festival

Orange is the new black at our first Jimjilbang?  We stayed classy for the rest of the weekend while we got drunk, rolled in mud, and (I) passed out on a random Korean family’s tubes on the beach.  There was a K-Pop concert and fireworks show to top off the weekend, too!

Trick Eye Museum in Hongdae

Tomorrowland

Party past the sunrise with 7 other countries around the world?  Yes, please.

Visit from Mom

From Tomorrowland to the airport, it’s a miracle that I made it until 7:00 PM to surprise Mom upon her arrival to Korea.  During her stay, I took her on the hike that I do every morning in my town; unfortunately, it was on a summer day of peak heat and humidity.  We also did Damyang Bamboo Forest while she was in the south with me.  In Seoul, we did the blue line bus tour and went to Itaewon and N Seoul Tower.

India

You can see my trip review here.

Sri Lanka

You can see my trip review here.

Everland

Korea’s biggest outdoor themepark!

Gwangju Love Motel – Livi Teacher’s Bday

Most Koreans live with their parents until they move in with a significant other; hence, the popularity of love motels.  We thought we’d try one out for Livi’s birthday instead of renting out a hostel to go out in Gwangju.  You basically walk into the motel and pick a room out on a screen, like a vending machine, so it’s discreet.  The rooms are actually very nice and have free snacks, water, coffee, condoms, lube, towels, face masks, mood lighting, and other nice little trinkets to make sure you’re, uh, satisfied.

Lake Party – Daegu

This wasn’t just any lake party.  There was a giant obstacle course, banana boat rides, and pretty much every other water sport available for us to do.  We probably should’ve gone a little lighter at Thursday Party the night before.

This summer has been busy and amazing, and the people who I’ve shared it with have made it all the more incredible, but for the first time in my life, I feel like I’ve found a stable happiness that depends on no one but myself.  Financially, emotionally and physically, I feel stable on my own.  I’m certainly not saying that other people don’t improve my life or play a huge role in it; I’m just saying that my happiness has started to depend less on my expectations of other people and more on my own decisions and experiences.

Though I’m not perfect and my life is far from it, I’m not waiting for something or someone to make it all better anymore.  Growing up, there was always something that I was waiting for… something that I needed to work towards.  I haven’t reached most of those things, and that’s probably for the best, but I’m happy.

I was walking along the river in my little town last night, content in the not-too-cold-not-too-hot temperature, and I noticed how beautiful the outlines of the mountains were.  I listened to the river, and I could actually smell the flowers planted along the bridge.  There were no worries strong enough to penetrate the peacefulness of my night, and I felt hopeful for my opportunities ahead.

I came from a dark place back in the States, and I brought myself here.  I feel empowered with the knowledge that I brought myself to this place, to this point in my life, to this contentedness.  I’m happy, and isn’t that what we’re all really working towards in the end?

3 comments

  1. This made me happy, just reliving some of the crazier moments this summer!! I’m always exhausted in the end, but never a dull moment with you guys!!

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