Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Two posts in one day??? Yep, this is what happens when I have no class. Just have some thoughts bouncing around in my head that I thought I'd share.

On Wednesdays, I teach teachers conversation English. It is supposed to be for all teachers in my school but the only people who show up are my main 6th grade co-teacher and the substitute 5/6th grade English teacher. Both of whom have pretty accomplished English. We have had some interesting discussions though and I use the time as a secret way of learning more about Korean culture and base my lessons around this theme.

The substitute English teacher is probably one of the most insecure, timid, dependent people I have ever met. She is very sweet, but both my co-teacher and I get frustrated with her extreme lack of independence. This woman is 36 years old (I believe) and yet sometimes I feel like I am her mother. For some reason she frequently comes to me for advice which I feel very strange giving considering the fact that she is my senior by a bit and she has been teaching for 10 years and I have been teaching a measly 8 months (besides tutoring). Anyway, yesterday before conversation class started she awkwardly and shyly asks me: "Rachel, umm.. Can I ask you a personal question?"
Immediately I got excited. When someone says the word personal I sense the potential for delightfully awkward exchanges and the discovery of interesting cultural differences/information.
Me (laughing): "Of course!"
Her: "Uh so I try to be happy everyday and rejoice always (this women is a devout Christian I think). But I'm wondering what things make you happy?" (spoken in a concerned sad tone of voice)
What? This is not the question I was expecting. Why is this woman asking me about what makes me happy? Interesting. Immediately a lot of smart remarks came to mind (I'm a bad person): 4:40 (when I leave school) makes me happy, the weekend makes me happy... But I think the joke would have been lost so I opted for a more sincere answer.
"Umm... well a lot of things make me happy. I would say I'm a fairly happy person. Family, friends, traveling, learning, running. They all make me happy. I try to focus on the good things of everyday rather than the bad because everyday comes with good and bad."
Deep I know. She seemed very impressed which concerns me because I don't want her thinking I'm some saint or something, considering the fact that in spite of my usual happy personality I am also guilty of frequent complaining. Why on earth she asked me this question I am still perplexed but it did get me to thinking.

DISCLAIMER: Here comes some semi-philosophical life nonsense. Take it with a grain of salt. I'm only 23 years old and haven't really lived life that long.

Anyway, what makes me happy? What makes me feel "tickled pink" so that I can't stop grinning? I thought about this on my run yesterday and here is the list in no particular order. I think just making this list made me happy:

-My ridiculous and hilarious family even though they're all far away
-My wonderfully unique and caring friends in every corner of the globe
-Meeting new people and discovering what they're passionate about
-Traveling (duh!)
-Being in a new place and exploring it
-Eating and especially trying new foods
-Running especially in beautiful secluded places at the crack of dawn so I can watch the sun rise
-Long bike rides
-Seeing other people happy and excited or passionate about something
-Making and giving presents
-Learning new things
-Having an "Ah ha!" moment when I find the answer to a difficult problem (generally of the math or science variety)
-Hiking and being in nature in general
-Sunshine especially the kind that actually radiates heat
-Marveling at what a beautiful and well designed world we live in
-Teaching someone something new and seeing them get excited about it
-Learning new languages and getting excited when I understand something in the new language
-Trying to communicate with someone in a second language
-Creative people

This is probably not an all comprehensive list. But here's Rachel's advice for the day: there are 400 million things that go wrong in a day, but there are also 400 million things that go right. Focus on the good things even if they're small and smile about them. I'm TRYING to do this more in Korea because there are almost always things that frustrate me here, but there are also so so many things that make me feel incredibly blessed. Complaining isn't really the most productive activity, so I'm attempting to do less of it (with limited success at the moment).

Okay, I'm done now. Too much deep philosophical nonsense for one day.


  1. Man, your list makes me happy. Du bist toll. Schnitz. This is Ramoka by the way.

  2. I love you. Du bist auch toll. You make me happy. Hopefully people reading this don't think we're in a relationship or something.