Korea Notes: 1 Year 3 Months

I checked into my second therapy session and my therapist smiled at me through her mask. Whenever I go to a talk therapy meeting I laugh to myself because there’s that small-talk hurdle I sort of tumble over before spilling how my last chunk of time has been since seeing my listener. This is funny because this is basically me typing my last chunk of time rather than talk therapy. Type therapy? Wrote therapy? In any case…

I’ve been going pretty fast the last month. My therapist said that having four jobs that span three different industries in one year is a lot. It’s striking how I find myself relearning the same lessons in different ways every time this happens. Go slow, make some turns, go fast, braking and crashing happen all at once, fix it up, and go slow again. My parents tell me a story that mirrors this when we first went skiing at Lutsen, a resort in Northern MN.

We went to the bunny hill because I’d never skied before. I had those short skiis without poles because they were supposed to be good for beginners. Jammers or shredders, or whatever they’re called. At the top of the bunny hill, my dad was explaining “straight for speed” and “snowplow for slow” to me. Some people go by french fries = fast and pizza = slow, describing the shape of one’s skiis, but I eat both fast so I figure now that that doesn’t make any sense. Anyway, my dad paused to talk to my mom and before they knew, I was gone, zipping down the hill. Straight for Speed, baby. My mom screamed, I’m sure, and my dad swore and followed me yelling “Fall down! Fall down!” I didn’t know how to stop, after all.

I should tell that story to my counselor, I bet she’d like it. Anyway, that’s how the last year has been in a sense. University language school for three months, kindergarten teaching for one year, a restaurant for a month, and now a high school kitchen. Not to mention moving in with my partner Lisanne and her cat Sparrow in a cool, hip loft in Gangnam. To top it off, I’ve even been skiing. Not Pyeongchang, unfortunately, but it was still fun.

Amidst these short stints and career/life changes, there’s a lot of transition phases that happen. Synonymously, adjustment, change, and growth phases always come with new energies and new mentalities. I’m learning new things, meeting new people, creating new brainwaves. Moreover, when I encounter these times of leaving-the-old and meeting-the-new, I require some time to figure out if things are working or not.

Metaphorically, I think there are two situations when I ski that illustrate this. The time of reflection is in between runs when I can reflect on the way up via chairlift. I take in the beautiful vista, see other skiiers S-ing their way down the slope, assess if the black diamonds are worth it or not, things like that. Without this transition between trials, it feels like one long ski slope, and every 30 seconds or so I’m face down in the snow.

This is one of the things I’ve talked with my therapist about in recent meetings. It’s so important for me to have that reflection time on a regular basis, particularly in the throes of transition and life changes. That time sitting at a coffee shop like I am now, going for a walk, anything with simply quiet where I can listen to myself for once allows me to observe and reflect on what I’ve been up to.

In the last month, I cycled out of my teaching contract, said goodbye to a group of amazing kids, operated a small restaurant, bottomed out of my mental health, crashed in the snow, started a new job in a school kitchen, and am now riding up the chairlift again. The kicker is that I haven’t allowed myself time like this for quite a long time. In a previous post, I wrote about some excitement that I had regarding the restaurant, and unfortunately I was unable to sustain it for long. Without discussing too many specifics, I wasn’t listening to myself, nor was I giving myself the time that I needed.

Because of the lack of presence with myself, I felt out of control, overwhelmed, undeserving, scared, insufficient, and overall a wreck. It got to the point where two very close people had to pull me aside to advise me to get some help. Which I keenly heeded. I’ll probably divulge a bit in a later post, but for now I’ll just leave it at that.

Currently, I’m employed by a catering company here with a contract at Seoul Foreign School, a private international school here in Seoul. I wake up at 5:20am, get to work at 6:50am, and leave around 3:30pm. It’s about an hour commute. I make somewhere between 25 and 30 fried chicken orders and grill some 40-50 double smash burgers everyday (that’s 80ish patties daily). The other day these kids got Cuban sandwiches made with Sous Vide pork shoulder, can you believe it? They’re so lucky.

I’m so lucky too, to be doing what I’m doing. There’s a lot for me to be grateful for, including things about myself that I need to explicitly state more often. If you’re reading this, I’m grateful for you too.

Much love,


6 thoughts on “Korea Notes: 1 Year 3 Months

  1. I’m telling you, from the FRIST minute I met you, I’ve loved you just a little bit more than students. I’ve never before, nor since, met anyone as talented as you are.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Karl,

    Reading this left me speechless with tears rolling down my face!! You are an amazing human being, have a huge heart, and everyone I know would benefit from your perspective on life!! You clearly have a talent for putting emotions into words and have a way of engraving those words into the hearts of those that love you and those that have yet to meet you!! Keep the posts coming, and keep being you!!


    Liked by 1 person

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