My next trip to Seoul – 나의 다음 서울 여행

Most great movies always have a slightly underwhelming sequel. Back To The Future had Back To The Future Part 2. Kill Bill led to Kill Bill Vol. 2. Die Hard had Die Harder. And the soon, I too will have my own sequel, although hopefully in this instance this part 2 will be as good as the first, if not better. If my first trip to Korea had a movie title, I’d probably go with ‘Seoul Survivors’.

Poster Seoul trip 2So get ready for this years most anticipated sequel after The Incredibles 2 (which if you haven’t seen you totally should, just saying)… ‘Seoul Survivors 2: Return of the Wegukin‘. In under 3 weeks time, I will be back in South Korea and I’m VERY excited about it.

There are many things I’m looking forward to on my return to ‘the land of morning calm’ but I think most of all I’m looking forward to preparing for my move there. I will be there for 6 weeks this time, so much longer than my initial visit. Among the list of activities that I’d like to get up to, which are pictured bellow, I am hoping to interview for some jobs and spend time getting my footing as a citizen of Seoul. Of course I’m also so excited to see some of the friends I made again, and of course make some new ones.

Seoul List

I will also be making some videos about my journeys to and from Korea, as well as my adventures in Seoul and Daejon. This will be the first time I’ve made videos of this sort, so I hope you enjoy them.

If you think of anything you think I should do whilst in Korea, please do let me know and I will try to do it.

Tweet me, follow me on Facebook or find me on Instagram at @ConnieunKiga, and let me know what I should try out. I will be writing posts while I am away, so please look forward to my blog posts.

The reason why I don’t have a best friend and why that’s okay – 내가 가장 친한 친구가 없고 그것에 대해 행복한 이유는

“So who’s your best friend Connie”

38209711_10217111446128466_2149874402890612736_nWhen I was in Primary school I dreaded this question. I hated it when I saw pairs of friends walking around, whispering secrets, playing games or speaking languages that only they knew cause they were ‘best fwends’. I thought that something was wrong with me because I didn’t have anyone who I called my best friend.

To be quite honest, I really didn’t have the best time in primary school. I shan’t go into too much detail but it made me very insecure, I constantly tried to get people to like me and made up stories to impress them, or have something in common with them. I felt like who I was wasn’t good enough. This feeling continued into my older years, through high school, through sixth form and still exists, to some extent, in my adult life. I don’t feel the need to make up stories now, and I’m far better at cutting out harmful people from my life, but I still sometimes worry about whether people like me or not.

38235159_10217111446008463_3847281139383271424_nMy worry about not having a best friend lasted through high school and sixth form too. I craved someone to be my best friend and for me to be theirs. But I didn’t have one. It wasn’t that I didn’t have friends, I had great friends, friends I really trusted and who made me happy. Many of whom I am still friends with now, almost a decade later. But they weren’t my best friend… and I wasn’t theirs. I often heard the phrase “you are one of my best friends”, which sometimes felt like a bit of a slap in the face. Why ‘one of’? Why not the only? What was wrong with me? Why didn’t anyone want me to be their BFF?

Another thing I feel I should mention is that there have been… patterns I guess, in my life, of people letting me down, hurting me or using me. This often too the form of someone who I might have thought of as my best friend doing something that completely broke my trust and hurt me. I absolutely don’t want this to be a pity-party post. I am not looking to write a poor-me-narrative, because I know that people can be cruel and unkind as well as people being kind and supportive. It’s part of life. That unkindness can be deliberate or accidental, but it happens to everyone. Everyone experiences it. And sometimes, well a lot of times, I was a bit of a doormat and I didn’t stick up for myself. I don’t think I deserved to be treated unkindly, but I sometimes didn’t help myself. I thought that being a friend to someone, or being a nice person, meant just forgiving and forgetting everything. I thought that the way to get people to like me was to not complain. I also doubt that I was never unkind myself, but I hope I always tried to show kindness. I didn’t want my hurt and pain to make me someone who hurt others.

37997467_10217111432848134_5983963112137555968_nIt took a lot of being mistreated and hurt for me to finally learn how to stick up for myself in an effective way. It took a lot of feeling sad and upset to learn how to surround myself with people who made me happy and challenged me in a productive and positive way. I learned that I can’t make everyone like me, and I don’t need to be friends with everyone. I can be kind, while still being kind to myself. I learned to be my own best-friend. It took a long time to get to that point, and sometimes I’m a bit of a rotten friend to myself, but I now have friends who can be a good friend to me when I can’t.

I’m actually happier without searching for that one person to be my best friend. Now I have friends who I can call on in certain situations, or for particular advice. I think if I limited myself to one person who I invested in totally, I’d end up unhappy again. I think that when I desperately sought to have a best friend, I was actually seeking for a sense of identity. I wanted a best friend because I didn’t know where I fitted in. But I wasn’t able to find it in other people, and as I tried to shape myself and my personality around what I thought others wanted, I lost sense of who I was myself. And people sensed that. They saw that I wasn’t sure of myself. Some people saw that as an opportunity to make me an easy target, and others just thought it meant they could get away with more. The friends who have lasted the longest, lasted the longest because I was myself with them, and who I was was enough. Rather than having one partner who is like my second half, who I rely on entirely and who relies on me, I have a network of support. I think nowadays the idea of having one best friend terrifies me a little bit. Because what if I’m hurt again? Or what if I hurt them? Then I’d be alone, or at least I’d feel alone.

You might just think that my unwillingness to have one singular best friend reflects my38204200_10217111433088140_7448592826029309952_n issues with trusting others, but I feel I trust people a lot more now that I’ve stopped seeking a BFF. Because now, I accept that relationships and friendships can last, or end, and that that’s okay. I accept that I’m not able to befriend everyone, that not everyone will want to be my friend, and that honestly there are people I don’t want to be friends with. I accept that people are flawed, but that doesn’t mean I can’t trust people. But most of all, I accept that that best friend I can ever have, is myself.

 

 

 

 

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I’m not doing so good – 나는 잘 하고 있지 않다

Just warning you now, this post isn’t cheery. It’s honest and it’s real, but it isn’t all that happy. As you can probably deduce from the title, I’m not doing very well.

My mental health has really knocked the wind out of me recently. As you can also probably tell, this has effected my productivity and my ability to motivate myself. Since coming back from Seoul (which was like… wow almost 2 months ago) I’ve had depressive symptoms and varying levels of anxiety.  This has made me feel exhausted all the time, has given me insomnia, has made me loose the will and energy to do, well, anything and has basically meant that I stayed in my room all day alone, unless my very kind and very patient and supportive family got me to do something with them. But the scary thing is, I didn’t even notice it was happening until my family told me.

I just thought I was tired and stressed. I’m in the process of writing my dissertation, and I’m wanting to write and produce content more regularly, so my brain sometimes feels pretty busy. I’m also still trying  to improve my Korean and I’m also working my hardest to earn money any way I can. I thought I was okay. But I wasn’t. And I’m not.

Nowadays, living with my particular mental health issues is… weird. It’s like I have a permanent internal dialogue happening all the time. I simultaneously feel crap, stupid, worthless and/or unattractive while also knowing that actually I’m not those things. That in itself is a big step forward from how I used to be, cause there was a time where I wasn’t able to tell myself that I wasn’t crap. Now I can catch myself, usually, when I’m feeling depressed or anxious and I can explain why I am acting/feeling that way. “Oh, that’s why I’m so short tempered.” “Oh, that explains why I felt like crying and hiding all day.

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But recently, I clearly didn’t catch it.

To be honest, I’m a bit embarrassed that it’s gone this far and it took this long for me to clock on. My family noticed ages ago, but didn’t want to push me or make me feel worse. I think they thought I might get out of this particular funk I was in like I normally do. But I’ve had to ask for their help.

There are somethings that I always find really difficult. I’ve always found maths difficult. My brain just can’t do it. Times-tables are still a struggle for me. Telling my left from my right, again I struggle. I have to make an ‘L’ shape with my fingers to figure it out. Learning new languages, another thing I find difficult. But the thing I find most difficult is having to admit that I’m not doing good and that I need help. I hate seeming weak or un-able to look after myself, and I hate feeling like I have let others down. My mum also thinks I’m overly hopeful and try to make the best of situations too much. I don’t look at what is happening now, only what I hope will happen in the future. Maybe that’s why I didn’t notice how bad I had got.

But I don’t think that having hope is a bad thing. I think sticking my head in the sand and ignoring whats happening around me is a bit daft and I’m making changes to get better at being more self aware (which I will get into later) but I’m always going to be hopeful. Because if you feel like it can’t get any worse, doesn’t that mean it can only get better?

So yeah, sorry guys,not the most cheerful post. But I wanted to keep you guys in the loop and I wanted to be completely honest. I also wanted to tell you about the changes I am making in order to feel and live better. So here we go, here are the changes:

  1. I am reducing the number of Blog posts to minimum of 1 a week. This is opposed to the 3 a week I have been attempting. This gives me more time to write, to plan and to do other things other than stare at a computer screen which I’m doing a lot of anyway because of my dissertation.
  2. I am being more honest on my social media. Some of you may not know but I am a recovering bulimic. I have always had a rough relationship with my own body and recently my self-esteem has been taking a hit. I am slowly and surly trying to loose the weight I put on after I initially stopped my unhealthy habits, but I still find myself hating how I look in photos. I’m admitting on here and on my social media that for the past year I have edited my photos. I shouldn’t have because it projects and contributes to the unhealthy ideals and standards of beauty that society tells people that they have to meet. I think it has added to my own thoughts of self-loathing and body shame and I’m not going to do it any more! I need to practice what I preach and be open and content with who and how I am. Spots, split-ends, double chins and all.
  3. I am limiting my tech time. I find myself hiding from the world and from myself behind the screen of my phone. I fall down endless YouTube rabbit holes, get lost in my Netflix binges and become worryingly invested in the profiles and pictures and tweets of the people I follow. So much so that I miss the real world. I’m not doing my hobbies as much and I’m not talking with people as much as I want to. And I miss people. I miss interaction. So I turn off my phone when I need to work, and I have made my bedroom a completely tech free zone (except for playing music). At night, I charge my phone elsewhere and shut out all screens. It’s actually helping already.
  4. I’m exercising more. This will not only help me loose weight healthily, but also just makes me feel better almost instantly. I feel I have achieved something after I exercise, the endorphins make me feel happier, I can release all my tension and stress by pummeling whatever equipment it is that I’m using and then I can shower the day off me afterwards. It’s cathartic. I’ve also started doing yoga in the mornings with my mum to help me start the day relaxed, balanced and calm. The other added benefit of exercising more is that I’m so tired that I can’t help but sleep better.
  5. I’m taking more time to count my Little Victories. Again, this is a practicing what you preach thing. I’d lost sight of the things that make me happy, and I wasn’t appreciating or celebrating anything. I just didn’t care. I’m working really hard now to notice, appreciate and enjoy things everyday now. Whether it’s getting work done or tidying up or even enjoying a nice cup of tea; I’m taking the time to celebrate it and to remind myself that the effort behind it is worth it. I am worth it.

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I guess this post was about holding myself accountable to you guys. I really want to help others and I want to make and see changes happen when it comes to how we talk, act and respond to mental well-being. But in order to do that, I need to help and challenge myself. Some of my changes will be harder to stick to than others, but I’m hoping that with your encouragement and your continued support, I will be able to feel better soon.

 

How are you doing? no, how are you really doing? Please take the time to post a comment or email me if you need to chat. I hope you are well. 어떻게 지내세요? 아니, 정말이야, 어떻게 지내? 채팅이 필요하시면 시간을 내어 댓글을 올리거나 이메일을 보내 주세요. 나는 네가 잘 지내길 바라.

follow me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook at @connieunkiga

Korean Conversation – 한국어 회화

I’ve been learning Korean for just under a year now.I can read and write Hangul, and I can recognise certain words and phrases, and according to my teacher and my friends I can speak what I know quite well. I’m still learning new vocab as I go, so what is next in my learning journey.

Well… its conversation. It’s learning how to actually communicate with people in Korean and not only understand what they’re saying, but have them understand me as well. And let me tell you, I’m finding it bloody difficult.

I think learning a new language when you’re an adult is hard already. But I think I would find things easier if I were learning say French or German, because my family would be able to help me because they know basic phrases in those languages, and could read things I had written on flashcards. They can’t really help me with Korean, cause they know almost nothing about the language. What little they do know is because I taught it to them. So how on earth am I going to practice conversational Korean, when I have very few people to speak Korean with?

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My Korean teacher, a man from my Church who I meet with once a week, has said I should try imagining conversations in Korean. That I should try to have conversations, with myself about what I am doing. For example, if I am trying to tie up my hair, and I can’t find a hair band I could say to my self 헤어밴드는 어디에 있니?어디 있습니까?”

I think I will struggle with that because there are still so many phrases I don’t know how to say. So what I am going to do is re-distribute post it notes all over the house (sorry mum and dad, you’re just gonna have to deal with it) with questions and phrases that are related to the thing they are stuck on. So in the kitchen, on the cupboard with the mugs in I will write  하시겠습니까아니면 커피?” with responses like , 녹차 주세요.” or “아빠와엄마를위해차를만들고있어요.”

But even this I think will be a struggle for me, because everyone speaks differently. Conversational Korean is going to sound very different to what I say to myself. No two people sound exactly the same, and there’s only so much I can do while still in the UK. I’ve been reassured by many people that once I move I will pick up far more Korean, because I’ll have to in order to get by. I’ll be immersed in it. I think in my head, I still think English. I cheat myself by still thinking about Korean speaking and phrases in an English way.

But I’m going to keep trying. As a break from dissertation writing I learn Korean through reading, watching and listening and practice speaking as well as writing on here. My poor brain is going to be exhausted by September, but hopefully I will think a little bit more Korean and be able to communicate and speak with people a lot more. 2016-08-04 01.39.24_preview

…But please don’t even get me started on Korean grammar…

…it might just kill me…

How do you find learning new languages? What helps you learn to speak another language well?새로운 언어를 배우는 것에 대해 어떻게 생각하십니까무엇이 당신이 다른 언어를  말하는 것을 배우도록 도와 주는가?

Follow me on Instagram,Twitter and Facebook at @Connieunkiga 

Seoul Survivors – 서울 생존자

While I was in Seoul, I met so many amazing people and I had such a great time. But now that I’m home I can’t help but feel a little sad. I enjoyed my time so much and was so excited and busy and happy, the time just flew by. It felt so fleeting. And I wish I had taken more pictures. I guess I feel sad because I miss it, and because I now feel so sure that I want to move there and work there. I have to. And I’m working hard towards that. So this post is more going to be an opportunity to show you some of my favourite pictures from my trip, and what they are of and why I love them so much. Just warning you, its gonna get cheesy….

 

 

 

These first two images are both from my first night in Seoul. Basically as soon as I had changed and washed up a bit, we went straight to have Fried Chicken and beer (치맥) and then as the night continued more beers and soju (소맥). These two images are included because it was my first night, and I was therefore really excited. But also because it was this evening that I met up with so many of the friends that I met up with throughout my 11 days. I had been a little nervous about meeting up with them all, as we all came from different places and I was a little worried they might be awkward… or weird… and it turned out that they were but in a way that matched with my own awkward and weird. So we got along right away.

 

 

 

These six images are all from different days, but they are all images that remind me of the phenomenal generosity and thoughtfulness of the people I met for the first time. Whether it was through planning activities for me to do with them, hosting me and feeding me delicious food, or simply making me laugh with them like we had been friends for years rather than hours, I was so privileged to be treated so kindly. If any of you guys are reading, I miss you tonnes and I can’t wait to see you soon. 이따가 봐요. 제가 한잔 사는 겁니다~

 

 

These pictures show part of some of my favourite examples of traditional Korean architecture (한옥). These buildings use specific colours or Dancheong (단청) to indicate significance. There are five basic colors that are used, and signify the five elements; blue (the east, the dragon, spring and the element of wood),  red (the south, birds, summer, and fire), white (the west, tiger, fall, and gold),  black (the north, hyeonmu – an imaginary animal that is part turtle and part snake –  winter, and water)  and yellow (the center, the periods between seasons, and Earth). Dancheong not only had a decorative function but also a protective one, preserving a building’s wood from rotting due to wind, rain and vermin. The vibrant colours were also believed to protect a building from evil spirits and emphasize the authority of its resident. As soon as I saw these painstakingly beautiful eaves and pillars, I was captivated by the detail, the symbolism and the bright contrast to some of the more conservative and monochrome styles of other buildings. It was beautiful. And once it was pointed out to me once, I saw elements of it everywhere.

 

 

These shots show one of the last big group gatherings that us big bunch of foreigners had before all disappearing. Our first full gathering was actually filmed and you can watch us celebrating here. (wassup #DongDongSquad) My first trip to Korea was basically made possible because this crazy bunch of people from all over all wanted to meet up and have fun together in Seoul. So that’s what we did. Also, an especially big thank you to Sohyun Moon  who put up with us all, was a kind and patient host and was the reason for us all to gather. 수현아, 다음에 우리가 만날 때, 나는 저녁을 살것이다~ 알겠어? I hope that this gathering becomes an annual event.

 

35361760_10216730751451337_1219969912647188480_nThis is a shot of the street my Hotel was on in Sinchon, and I love it because I took it on the first Sunday I was there, I was on my way to church (before I got horrendously lost) and it was raining. The street was so quiet and the sound of the rain on the pavement, and the leaves was so soothing. I felt so comfortable and at ease in a city, country and continent I had never been in before. It was one of the first times on the trip where I thought to myself “yeah, I’m going to really like living here.”

 

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This is my friend Christina. I hadn’t seen Christina since our leavers day at sixth form, which was 6 years ago (oh lawdy I’m old) and we re-united on my last visit. When we met up went to the cutest little dessert cafe in Itaewon, although it did take us a while to find it and once we did find it we couldn’t figure out how to open the door. But once we sat down, and had a general catch up, I was delighted to discover that she was GETTING MARRIED! I was obviously super excited, and just to add to the excitement so invited me to her wedding and introduced me to her charming fiancee. I’m so excited to go to their wedding, if a little nervous as I will be the only foreigner and non-Korean speaker, and it’ll be my first Korean wedding so I will be sure to tell you all about what to do at a Korean wedding and how I will prepare. But anyways, congratulations Christina, 수윤 언니와 정남 오빠 축하해요! 이따가 봐요~~

35473200_10216730543806146_263494070356148224_n These photos are from my quick visit to Kanghwa-do which is an island, just of the Korean peninsula, about an hour and a half drive from Seoul. I was taken to Kanghwa by the curate of the church I attended in Seoul, as she was born and raised on the island, and she gave me a tour of some of the many interesting historical sites in Kanghwa. I hope to go again, as I only saw a little bit. But what I did see was beautiful, and so interesting. I have included these photos because it was one of the moments on my visit where I was hugely motivated to learn more Korean in order to communicate better with those I met (강 목사님 죄송합니다. 나는 한국어를 배우기 위해 열심히 일할 것이다~) but I also appreciated how patient and generous people were despite the barriers in communication. For example, the flower in the photo below was actually an edible herb, grown on Kanghwa-do and was unique to the island and the season. A festival was being hosted and the stewards gave me and Reverend Kang some to sample for free. This was just after some kind ajumma had given us some free tteok as we walked past. There was never any push for a sale, or a catch involved, I think I must just have looked curious and they wanted to be nice. And it was. My time on Kanghwa-do was definitely a happy one.2018-06-02 14.50.20-1

I hope you enjoyed looking at my pictures, you will probably see some more later on in the month, but these were just some of my favourites.

 

What did you think? Please leave a comment below. 맛있게 드셨어요? 아래에 의견을 남겨 주세요.

Follow me on Instagram and Twitter at @ConnieunKiga