December 31, NYE

I’ll be honest: my goal for the day was to receive my Coupang groceries and that dominated my mind. I only realized it was in fact New Year’s Eve when a very sweet woman from the local health center called to confirm my address and remind me that they have holiday hours tomorrow when I come in for my in-country COVID test.

Maybe I should have wished her happy New Year then.

The bulk of my 2020 introspection came to me on the plane since quarantine limbo has kept me concerned with living day to day and ordering delivery.

Nevertheless, 2020 is winding to a close, the bitter end, and before we really hit 2021 I thought about the weird or wonderful opportunities and accomplishments I’ve had despite the pandemic.

  • Despite the pandemic and all its restrictions, I was able to go home for a month and catch up with family and friends
  • Became a professional model for a day, complete with a camera crew and an overzealous director
  • Tried 소개팅, a bucket list item, which is the intense blind dating setup that dense networks of friends and colleagues spin to catch each other a spouse; the date took me to a steak dinner, no cheap feat in Korea, then to a very swanky lounge where one drink looked and smelled exactly like a raised mound tomb
  • Drank with Korean colleagues (you already know this story)
  • Bought rice wine from a truck on the side of the road then drank it at the top of a mountain with House Owner and the corgi
  • Passed level 3 Korean class; passed the official TOPIK level 2 back in February
  • Saw a musical and got an autograph from the best looking cast member
  • Pretended to be a chaebol at a super swanky strawberry buffet brunch in a hotel I could never afford
  • Moved within Korea all in my own (with an assist from S to double check the courier company)
  • Met the best two roommates I could have asked for and the weirdest one I couldn’t have
  • Tried my hand at translating which has sparked an interest
  • Got to see my Thai friend’s baby who still isn’t as cute as his mom
  • Became casual friends with naked ladies in the gym shower (it’s hard to believe that was this year, has it not been 200 months since then?)
  • Saw Japan from the coast
  • Experienced the joy of traveling to small, coastal towns on my own
  • Went skiing in former Olympic Pyeongchang
  • Ran around Busan in a green tracksuit as my roommates filmed me
  • Became an auntie to several nieces and nephews
  • Attended Chuseok with a real Korean family that didn’t blink twice at a foreigner
  • Ate hotpot with new Chinese friends while nearly peeing ourselves in hysterics at turning up the AC unit by our table and blowing a stack of napkins all over the table of businessmen
  • Taught and bonded with the daycare students who always called me “English teacher” in awe
  • Made small talk with all the female shop owners across town (in Busan)
  • Persevered through pandemic restrictions and tough times to come out strong and whole on the other side (the first half of 2020 was tough, y’all)

I suppose this wouldn’t be complete without 2021 goals. I will:

  • Get a new teaching contract in Gyeongnam or Busan
  • Study Korean hard so that I can attain fluency (or at least the highest level of TOPIK) by the end of the next contract (technically a 2022 goal)
  • Cultivate the relationships of my Busan friends
  • Continue working on my eating habits with and without my nutritionist

2021 is still up in the air with regards to travel and, well, everything else, so my goals are simple and my aim is to remain healthy, happy, and whole.

Happy New Year.

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