The Year of the Dragon: One college graduate-turned-English teacher’s year

This year has been the most momentous year of my life (other than that one time I was born). Coincidentally, this year has been The Year of the Dragon in many Asian lunar calendars, including Korea. The Year of the Dragon has been fierce and I would do everything the same if given the chance. Not to wait any longer, this is The Year of the Dragon, or 2012 AD .

  1. On Jan. 1, I attended my first mass at St. Aidan’s Anglican Church in Nicholasville, Kentucky. It was love at first liturgical movement. I’ve made good friends and have grown closer to the Lord in this small community. Thanks to everyone at St. Aidan’s.
  2. At the end of January, I was notified that I was a finalist for Fulbright South Korea.
  3. I turned 22 this year with a celebration with my friends at TGIFriday’s. This was during the same week I was a reader at my first formal Ash Wednesday service.
  4. On March 27th, at 5:01p, I was notified that I was selected to be an English Teaching Assistant for Fulbright South Korea. The world has never been the same. This happened the same week I was rejected from a graduate school that I very badly wanted to attend. Needless to say, everything is pointing up and life has never been the same. I’m proud to be in Korea with a fellow Gerogetown College graduate (Thomas, I hope you’re reading this!).
  5. In April, I experienced my first Easter Vigil in a joint service with St. Aidan and St. Patrick’s Anglican Churches. It was meaningful, deep, and stunning.
  6. After the Easter Vigil, I decided on the drive home to make an application to The Company of Jesus, a third-order community of Benedictines and Franciscan monks and nuns. Long story short, in April, I was accepted as a postulant in the Order and will become a professed third-order Benedictine nun upon my return from South Korea. Yes, I can get married.
  7. In April, I took my English senior orals with one of my favorite people, Tori Thompson (formerly Bachman-Johnson, congrats!), and we both received high passes. I celebrated by eating a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder.
  8. On May 19th, I graduated magna cum laude and Phi Kappa Phi from Georgetown College (KY) with a BA in English and minor in religion. It is one of the proudest days of my life.
  9. Throughout May and June, I spent quality time with my family before going away to Korea. It was one of the best summers of my life, marked with baby cows, farming, and going to King’s Island.
  10. The first weekend in July, my parents threw me a suprise going away party. My parents had kept it a secret for months and I didn’t suspect it. If you’ve ever seen the Adam Sandler movie Mr. Deeds, you’ll remember the scene where Sandler’s character leaves his small town to visit New York City. The whole town turned out to wish him farewell. This is what this party was like.
  11. July 3rd, 2012, I left Lexington, Kentucky, cried through secruity, and jet-setted my way to South Korea. I participated in Fulbright orientation, tried to learn Korean, and lost about 20 pounds. Korean food is good, Korean cafeteria food (much like American cafeteria food) is not.
  12. On August 22nd, 2012, I moved in with my Fulbright host family. The Kang-Jin Family (women do not take their husband’s names upon marriage) have been the answers to many nervous orientation prayers. They are just like my family in Kentucky, and even though we have a language barrier, this has not stopped us from having many wonderful family moments here in Korea. Making kimchi, hiking, and going to a sauna requires little talking, my friends.
  13. August 27th (26th?), I began teaching at Seogwipo Girl’s Middle School. You can’t scare me. I’m a middle school teacher. In all seriousness, my first semester has been wonderful and I look forward to many good weeks to come.
  14. November: Two trips to Seoul and my first hostel stays. You never forget your first hostel stay.
  15. In December, I took my first flight in a Korean Air aircraft. I love those blue planes and couldn’t wait until I could take my turn in one. Upon landing in Incheon, I was also able to see the Korean Air Airbus 380, a double-decker plane that I only saw on YouTube videos. It was a plane nerd’s dream come true.
  16. Now we have arrived at December 31st, 2012. I’ve taught a whole semester, gained a new family, and now I’m sitting at the Lazy Bird Guesthouse in Incheon, Seoul. Tomorrow, I will spend the New Year in Tokyo, Japan. 

Tomorrow is a new year, friends. This year has been momentous and I will never forget it. Graduating college, living the expat life in Korea, and teaching have all been dreams come true. There are days when I look back on my college career and wonder why I did or did not do certain things and there are days I question coming to Korea. Would I change anything though? No. I would keep it all the same because this has been the year of a lifetime.

Here’s to the Year of the Dragon.

geon bae,




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