Still Alive

April 19, 2013 at 5:37 AM | Posted in (All Posts) | Leave a comment
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A Saturday afternoon in mid April. In just a matter of days I’ll be taking the big language test — this time for a score that counts. Granted, I have more opportunities if I mess this one up, but it would be nice to go ahead and get the score that I need to start my grad school program in the fall.

But to be honest, I know I have left something on the table. My meaning is — the effort that is expected of me is not the effort I have put forth, but under the circumstances, I am quite pleased with my progress. As strange as it sounds, I have fought off stress and depression and the sheer feeling of inevitable failure through all this. Day in and day out, I find myself sitting in class feeling like I am the last to figure something out, or the last to recall something previously learned. Without a doubt, this course has been the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. And part of the pressure comes from knowing I could put more time in. I could always study that extra hour every day. I could try to focus more in class. I could speak more in Korean with my Korean friends outside of class. But I have a limit, and when I hit that, it’s such a struggle to push myself farther.

But I am not disappointed in myself. Not at all. No one can measure a man’s effort. People can stand back and judge and look at the progress (or lack thereof) someone has attempted to make, but only the person who is being judged knows how hard he or she has tried.

Accepting this scholarship a year ago — it put me in a very unfamiliar position. The things I was comfortable with and took great enjoyment from were left behind. Being able to see my close friends at any given moment. Going into a grocery store at 3 in the morning and shopping for the food that I know and love. Taking long drives in my Jeep Wrangler with the windows down and stereo blasting. Riding my bike alone on creek trails with a soundtrack playing in my ears. Seeing the smiling face of my niece when she sees me. All of these things were left behind. I traded it all for a chance of bettering my life in the future, but first I had to pass a language course in South Korea. I had been here previously before, but not in this city. Not with these people.

So with all the new surroundings and the pressure I felt with it, I had to find something to keep myself from depression. And that came from weight lifting. If you’ve read my previous entries, you’ll know it’s something of a hobby of mine now, but it wasn’t always that way.

I made the decision to take my health seriously. To cut out foods that I don’t need and to focus on the foods my body needs. That’s not saying I eat things I don’t enjoy. It’s the opposite in fact. I try to find foods that I’ve always loved and put more focus on them. But I can say without a doubt I am stronger than I have ever been. My endurance isn’t quite at the Run-for-90-Minutes-Nonstop-Pace that I was in high school when playing soccer, but I can still knock out two to three miles with good effort.


If you know me — or don’t know me personally — you might be rolling your eyes at what I’m saying or the picture above. But I’m comfortable enough with myself to say I don’t care. Despite not improving with Korean as much as others around me, I have certainly grown up with accepting myself and learning what it most important to me. I don’t have to pretend to be friends with someone who I honestly don’t enjoy the company of. I can be honest and express myself easier. I have worked hard to get where I am physically and mentally — and no matter what comes out of all this — I won’t be hurt easily.

I take things day-by-day here. I have to. I get myself to class. I do what I can. I learn what I can. And then some. And I always find time to do something physical every day. Six days a week I am in the gym working with weights. I have a bike here in Korea and I make good use of it, getting that extra cardio whenever I can. I try to eat well. I have a very special girl in my life who has done so much for me, and I am falling for her more and more with each day. So things are still good here. I struggle every day. I want to express myself better with this new language, but I find that so many of the tools other students use (like watching Korean dramas or listening to Korean music) — I just don’t have an interest in. That’s not to say I don’t find things of interest here, but I just have to look harder to find ways to enjoy the language while learning it.

This post has been a bit all over the place. I wanted to talk about the Creatine-loading phase I’m currently on, but I’ll save that for another post.

In less than 48 hours I’ll be sitting behind a large desk, cracking away at this TOPIK test for a good 4 hours. I’m not expecting to pass this April attempt, but I’ll give it a good shot.


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