I think my last post coincided with my last few days in Korea... which was at least 7 months ago HAHA. WHOOPS. I think I was a lot more incentivized to write pretty regularly in Korea because I knew it was a year that would fly by and one that I would want to remember in great detail. I've fallen behind and while there have been many times I've wanted to blog, I felt it was a bit of a hassle and burdensome. I figured it's finally time.
Highlights since then:
1. Went to North Korea immediately following my grant year. It was pretty crazy being in a place that felt so fake and scripted. I describe it best as walking through a time machine and seeing 1960 Soviet Union, but with a bunch of Asians. If interested, read the book "Nothing to Envy" by Barbara Demick. It's a pretty gripping view of North Korea. We were only allowed to see certain parts of certain cities and you could tell that everything we saw, we were meant to see and the purpose was to convince us that the situation was not that bad. I'd recommend going for anyone.
2. Traveled quite a bit in the U.S. before I started my job in September: I went to Michigan for Erin and Adam's wedding, visited Stanley at PT school in St. Augustine in northern Florida, headed up to see Payal for her father's 50th birthday celebration, went to Chicago for Lollapalooza, saw my mom and family in New York, hung out with my dad and brother in Florida, and partied it up with Las Vegas with Serena. It was kind of my big hurrah before starting life in the "real world", aka starting a "real" job.
3. Started my consulting job in September, which is a whole different lifestyle than Korea. What a wake up call. I've grown to like it, or at least parts of it. My first project was local and that was a blessing in disguise. I think God really blessed me with allowing me to adjust to a new city and figuring out my life here in SF. I also learned a lot on the job and have grown to really appreciate and be thankful for all my blessings.
4. Church hopped for a bit in SF before settling at my current church, SF Bible Church. It's such a blessing to have a church home after not really having one in Korea. It's a bit bigger than the churches I've been to--the young adult/career fellowship is about 60 people, which is bigger than CS CBC back home and seems to be bigger than AIV. It's taking a while to get to know people but I think they're a group that really seeks after Christ and I'm learning so much at the church so I really like it.
5. Adapted to San Francisco and welcomed it as my new home. I love this city. That said, I'm not sure if I'd live here forever but for now, it's amazing to be in such a vibrant place with so much to do.
6. Moved out of Tracey's home into my new place with Courtney as my roommate. I was so fortunate to have been welcomed by Tracey's parents in SF; they offered to let me stay in her room until I found an apartment. Since then, Courtney moved out here from Boston so we decided to live together and we now live in the upstairs unit of a house in the Richmond district. I love our place.
7. Saw Infinite, Taeyang, and U-Kiss in concert in San Jose/San Francisco and U.S. Kpop concerts have surprisingly given me SO much better exposure to the idols. Case in point: I actually touched Hoya. I have so much respect for U-Kiss now too. It's been a good time and my K-Pop love hasn't fallen that much. Also, I made a sign for 수현 that said "수현아 벗어라" (translation: "Take it off" LOL). 수현 actually saw it and started to take off his jacket. I was dying laughing. After looking for some evidence on Youtube... a crazy fan girl got a small glimpse of him seeing my sign: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uN_Icd2hDsQ Go to 1:24 and ignore her screaming and shakiness. 수현 is on the left and he takes his jacket off his shoulders when he sees my sign and then 훈 (farthest left) points at me. My assumption is he has lost his abs (otherwise he would've flashed them since he's notorious for that) because it seems like he's checking to see whether or not he should show them (go to 1:44) ROFL. It was pretty much awesome.
8. Went on vacation to Myanmar (with long layovers in which I left the airport in Singapore and Korea) with Tracey (this was the most recent as I just got back this past Sunday). That was an adventure. Myanmar had a lot of political unrest, and it still isn't super stable yet. I think now is a great time to visit cause they opened up their borders about two years ago to tourists so since then, tourism has flourished. The country itself was a lot more developed than I anticipated (e.g., roads were paved). The people were super kind and so generous--since Buddhism is so integrated within the culture, I think there's a huge underlying value of giving, even if you have nothing to give. The food was delicious. The pagodas and temples and architecture were stunning. It's quite the trip. I'd recommend it.
I'm not quite sure where to begin but I guess I'll just start rambling, which is normal enough for me. I'll stay away from the highlights mentioned above since I don't have much to say about them, other than what I put.
During the time between coming back from Korea and starting my job, I starting getting super introspective for the first time in a really long time. An extrovert by nature, I come to conclusions through conversations with people. Yet somehow, during this period in particular, I started to sit in thought for much longer. Is this just something that happens as you mature and get older?
My first project as a consultant was super challenging. The hours were rough and the partner leading the project is kind of notorious in our firm for understaffing his projects and overworking those on his projects. He's also known to have a "mafia" because he has a core group of people he staffs over and over again on his projects. He always handpicks the people on his project as well; he goes through our staffing reports and requests only certain people to be put on the project. My workstream in particular had a lot of content to learn and the hours were rough. A few nights, I left the client site at 1:30am. It was a bit ridiculous. That said, all in all, I learned a lot and believe I earned the respect of my manager and the partner and have proven myself to be a tough analyst. I also got really close to some of the people on the project, two of them based in the SF office, which is great because I get to see them on Fridays in the office. I never really thought I'd have co-worker friends but I guess it makes sense because you spend so much time with these people.
On the flip side, being on the beach is super relaxing and chill. "On the beach" is a term consultants use to describe the time spent inbetween projects. It's like downtime and we spend it working on proposals or Intellectual Capital (IC) work or anything else internally that needs to get done. I think it was a mixture of luck and timing that I was on the beach for all of January and am still on the beach now. Since my vacation was smack dab in the middle of February, I think I was hard to staff because no manager wants to put someone on a project for a month and then have to find someone to replace them for two weeks while they go on vacation. That said, I think I'll be staffed fairly soon. We'll see though.
I think I used to be a quantity over quality friends kind of person. I don't think it's the best model but I think my personality just happened to cause that to happen. I had a lot of "friends" in college but if I think about it, it's a lot more of acquaintances. Now, I think I've flipped. I don't have a whole lot of friends in SF but I really cherish and value those I do have. I think it also coincides with the fact that I am a working adult now and don't have time to spend time with people I don't care to get to know. The only person I really see Monday-Thursdays is Courtney because I live with her and work consumes the rest of the time. Weekends consist of running errands, church, and seeing other friends I care to make plans with. Thus, it has caused me to be close to few yet not have many friends. I kind of don't mind it. Also, I think I'm okay with being kind of a homebody at times now; I used to thrive on being super busy and running from place to place, especially in college. I think I've slowed down a lot more now and come to realize that I don't need to do everything and be involved in all that's happening. It's relaxing, I like it.
My relationship with Christ has developed a lot since leaving Korea. As much as I loved my Fulbright year, I think it was spiritually very dry and draining. With the exception of my accountability with Tracey, the English churches outside of Seoul were mediocre at best. I had no real fellowship and I was not learning or growing. Since moving to SF and joining SFBC, I think I've grown a lot. The church seems to be a bit more training and teaching focused, which I think is something I need in this phase of my life. That said, no church is perfect and there's so much room for growth and for God to move but I think it's a good fit at the moment. Something I really respect too is that there is acknowledgement over the weaknesses and failures of the church--mercy ministries as one example. There is however a Mercy Ministries group that meets every month and I've been going the past two months since I've been local and on the beach. That is definitely one area of growth though. Also, I joined a small group that meets on Tuesday and while I'm nervous I won't be able to attend once I get on a project, I will cross that bridge when it comes to it. It's a solid group of ladies and I'm excited to grow with them. All in all, God's blessed me significantly and I have so much to be thankful for.
It seems like everyone is getting married. I've been told from my older co-workers that this is a common theme at my age (around 23-24) and it will plateau out soon and then there will be another spike in marriages when I'm around 28-29 years old. For 2014, there are already 3 wedding invites I've received and 2 engagements for weddings next year. I guess 'tis is the season? I'm enjoying my singleness and am acutely aware that I am very career driven and ambitious but the weddings still hit me pretty hard because I still think I'm young but when others around me, who are the same age or younger than me, are getting married, it causes a bit of a reality check.