It’s November. Every Seoulite has embraced the arrival of jacket season, apart from me. The weather was still hitting 20 degrees C at the end of October. It took a sharper downturn to highs of 14 just recently, depending on the day, and in the evenings it can hit anywhere between 10C and -2C!
Somehow, I can still manage most days feeling comfortable without a jacket (and apparently my family are all shivering at home in the UK with flooding and also snow forecasted soon). It could be that after that blistering summer I appreciated a bit of colder air, but in the end, I think I am just more resistant to the cold.
…I say those things while also downing mugs of honey-lemon tea, and hot soups and broths, and layering a bit better. I also started wearing those face masks that cover the nose and mouth. I’m SO determined not to fall ill during term time. Gotta stay on top of those incoming viruses!
We’re midway through the autumn term, and everything feels very high-throttle at the moment. My midterms came back barely acceptable and not stellar at all. I feel super disappointed, but I think I’m really struggling particularly with finding balance and perhaps a new approach to my studies. I keep coming up against the fact that due to my placement year grading I really shouldn’t have to stress about doing badly all that much, but I’m super unsatisfied despite this and I feel that the only way to make this better is to put in a bit more work.
For now, especially, I want to work more at my Korean. I think I had this unspecified goal in my head – I wanted to improve a LOT over the course of the year. I know for a fact that I have gotten much better over the last few months as well, especially in my basics and in how confident I am using Korean in the wild, but I really want to use this opportunity in Korea to see how much I can learn and push myself further. In my classes, I also noticed recently that I’m struggling to keep up with the new grammar we learn every day so I want to spend more time on that.
I’ve got a lot of weaknesses to work on. I’ve taken out the flashcards because I can never remember all the important words and honestly never dedicated enough time to them when learning other languages previously. I’ve been practicing writing more sentences using more of the complex grammar that I’ve learned, in particular using multiple grammar bits at once. I want to be trying to speak more Korean, but that’s kind of difficult as I mostly speak to my Korean friends in English…
Somehow, however, I have managed to make friends with the cafe owner of the place I frequent, so I’d like to use that to my advantage!
KU held an International Student Festival recently. I hadn’t planned to take part initially, but some university acquaintances encouraged me to get involved, and in the moment I even volunteered to be the leader for our booth presenting British culture.
It… was a challenge.
I’m not a leading kind of person usually. People tend to talk over me or things like that, and it’s a role I generally shy away from. However, I wanted to give it a try this time around, and… I kind of hated it. That’s okay too. I think it would depend on what kind of project I’m leading but overall it’s not for me.
In this case, the Festival was so obviously everyone’s non-priority that I felt like kind of a fool for thinking everybody would try and put in the same energy. It’s too much when you’re the only one or two putting in more than 30%, and I noticed it was causing me a lot of added stress and anxiety on top of that midterm slump and everything else.
One big plus of doing a lot of the background tasks was that once things were well underway on the Festival day it was a huge load off my shoulders. It went really smoothly in the end, with thanks in particular to my co-leader who did so much herself. That said, I’m really glad it’s over. It might not have been my favourite experience but I did learn a lot from taking part in this.
Here’s a special gif featuring me dying on stage:
Moving on, I have another bunch of pop quizzes coming up soon as well as some assignments, and I already know I want to be placing more focus on the study side of things. I think I feel really torn between studying and also trying to do all there is to do in Korea while I am here.
Many of my friends will be leaving right after finals and the time they were here feels so short, so they have been cramming every tourist outing in and I wish I could join them without crossing the line where I start giving myself guilt. At the moment, I’m sticking to a maximum of two days out a week at the moment during the weekend.
I guess it goes without saying that my mental health has not been great over the last month. Sometimes I come home and I don’t really know what to do with myself afterward. Like I feel most lost inside my own room or even inside my head, it feels so blank and I notice it. I try to fill it with happy episodes of Queer Eye and some of my favourite music right now, or scheduling a stream which I know makes me feel better as I get to chat to some of my wonderful friends and community.
I’m not sure what else I can do for myself at the moment. I feel like I don’t have the opportunity to really switch off at the minute, or at least can’t afford to give myself that opportunity as there’s too much going on. Today I kept the day free to play and stream Pokemon, but before the stream began I started an assignment??
For now, I’ll just keep going, one day at a time. Things usually get better eventually when I do that.
Until next time,