It’s that time of year again where we wrap up the old and start on the new. I hope you all had a safe and enjoyable holiday season.
Christmas in Korea was an interesting experience. Although many people here celebrate Christmas, it didn’t seem like a big deal. The only decorations I saw were at the church down the street. And my classroom!
The kids were only mildly excited about the holiday but they had a lot of fun doing Christmas activities in class. After Christmas when I asked what they got most of them didn’t get presents. Those that did mostly received money. So, I guess that explains the lack of excitement.
My students love it when I draw pictures on the board. These are two Christmas themed pictures.
Ok, lets take a look at the year.
Highlights of 2013
Leaving my old job with Uncle Sam was one of the big moments of 2013. For the most part, I enjoyed my job. A lot of the people I worked with were really cool and the job sent me all over the country – from Hawaii to Florida, Alaska to Washington, DC and many others.
By far the biggest change was moving to Korea and starting a job that is completely different from anything I’ve done before. I’m pretty good about adapting to my surroundings so adjusting to things here in Korea wasn’t too difficult. It definitely helped that I did a lot of research before moving here, including talking to quite a few teachers so I had a good idea of what to expect.
Without a doubt, the toughest part about living here was getting comfortable at work. There were only two days where I observed the teacher I was replacing before I took over. We only got to chat a little bit in-between classes before she left. I had to figure out most aspects of the job – how to get to work, how to do the tests, disciplining the kids and all that on my own. My boss has surprisingly poor English for owning an English school so communication has been a challenge. Overall, it’s worked out okay so far.
Even more surprising was how much I enjoy working with the younger students. They are a lot of fun and they behave far better than most of my older students. I’ve never been much of a children person but the kids are the best part of teaching. Overall, I have to say, I enjoy the Korea itself far more than the job (my boss, coworkers, etc).
More specific to Adventure Strong, two big highlights have been more hiking and more gear reviews. When I quit my job this year, I had a few months of free time so I did a bunch of hiking in the Columbia River Gorge, Virginia, and Delaware. Plus, I did quite a bit of hiking here in Korea.
As for gear, I received the Guerrilla Packs Samurai 50L backpack, a waterproof iPhone case from Catalyst, and a hydration pack from Source (review in progress). I also received a review copy of Tell It On The Mountain (movie review) – a film about the Pacific Crest Trail.
While I didn’t visit as many new states as 2012, only four (DE, KA, LA, and PA), I came close. I had a plan to visit more but I interviewed for and was hired for my teaching job while I was in Hagerstown. This gave me only a couple weeks to prepare everything at home so I cut the trip short. Overall, I’m at 29/51 (50 states + DC). It’d be nice to visit all the US Territories too (US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Samoa, and Guam). I’ll have to add them to my quest.
Places Visited in 2013
- Liberal, Kansas
- New Orleans, Louisiana
- Washington, DC
- National Arboretum
- Gettysburg, Virginia
- Hagerstown, Maryland
- Mount Laurel, New Jersey
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Dover, Delaware
- Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge
- Olympia, Washington
- Seattle, Washington
- Seoul, South Korea
- Suwon, South Korea
This year was full of new places and new experiences.
I got some beads, ate delicious Cajun food and met Jon Bernthal (aka – Shane from Walking Dead) at the airport in ‘Nawlins (New Orleans).
I re-visited all the monuments and Smithsonian Museums in DC and explored the National Arboretum. While here I also stayed in my first hostel, which was interesting. I also got a parking ticket when I went to the movie theater.
Walked on the battlefield at Gettysburg and visited the monument where President Abraham Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address. If you haven’t been there, it’s well worth it.
In Virginia, I re-visited and hiked at Great Falls National Park.
Was able to meet up with an old work friend from Alaska in Hagerstown, Maryland. It’s also where I interviewed for my teaching job in Korea.
Took a nice countryside drive to Mount Laurel, New Jersey where I met with another work friend. The next morning I explored downtown Philadelphia, visited the Liberty Bell and ate a Philly cheese steak. Also had my rental car towed for parking in a spot that was apparently for scooters or something? Really expensive mistake. Apparently it happens a lot because there were several dozen people at the towing yard.
I took a road trip to Olympia to do paperwork for my Korean Visa. Walked around the capitol.
After Olympia, I took a couple of road trips to Seattle to get my Visa. I went to the Space Needle, the Pier, ate at Ivar’s and the Spaghetti Factory.
Then of course, I flew to Korea.
Since I’ve been in Korea, I’ve tried a lot of new food and done quite a bit of hiking. I’ve hiked Chilbosan, Gwanggyosan, Gwanaksan, Namsan, and several trips to Bukhansan. I’ve also visited Hwaseong Fortress, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site here in Suwon.
2013 Goals Recap
Here are the goals I set for 2013 and PASS or FAIL:
- Implement Pat Flynn’s Be Everywhere approach. PASS – Sort of. I’ve expanded with a podcast, YouTube channel, and a fast-growing Instagram following. But my execution on the podcast and video hasn’t been very good. Definitely room to improve.
- Interact with readers at meetups and events. FAIL – This was a little ambitious because at the time my readership was fairly small. I did go hiking with some friends but I didn’t meetup with anyone new. *sadface* Also, moving out of the country half-way through the year made it difficult to organize anything.
- One fairly specific goal for 2013 is to hike more than last year, which shouldn’t be too hard. With so much work travel in 2012, it was hard to get on the trail on a regular basis. I’m aiming for a minimum of 10 hikes. PASS – This was an easy success. After leaving my government job in February, I had several months with nothing to do other than hike and prepare to move to Korea.
- Drop 30+ lbs and reach 200lbs bodyweight by my birthday in September. FAIL – I thought this would be an easier one to follow through on but things didn’t go so well in this area. My weight actually went up and although I’ve lost about 25 lbs since being in Korea, I haven’t gotten back down to 230 lbs. BIG FAIL.
- Build up to running 5 miles (or more). PASS – 5 miles yes, more than 5 miles no.
- Successfully hike to the summit of at least 1 mountain taller than Mauna Kea – 13,796 feet or 4,205 m. FAIL – This was another really ambitious goal. My travel plans didn’t go quite as expected so there was no opportunity to get to a mountain bigger than Mauna Kea.
Score: 50% – If this was an exam, I’d be toast. But other than failing on the weight loss, I feel pretty good about the year overall.
Goals for 2014
- Do at least one long, multi-day hike/trek.
- Hike up at least one mountain over 5,000 feet.
- Move to and/or visit at least one new country.
- Get down to 200 lbs by September.
- Build up to running 8 miles (or more).
- Create a product for Adventure Strong.
- Finish writing and publish a book.
What are your goals for 2014?