When you have too much time on your hands, it seems like all they do is just tie up your time. Being in South Korea is supposed to be the be all and end all – the end of the idle hands. This is the time to shine. Living the easy life always seemed to be out of reach, but I’ve finally made my move and here I am. Ready to change the world. Ready to change myself.

The plan…

I have this one-year-goal thing planned out. When I say that it is “planned out”, what I really mean is that I have some vague idea of what I want to do, see and experience in this one year (which may morph into two or three years).

Before making the big move, I’d dreamed of having the freedom to really make my time count. I had the noble thoughts that I would invest my time in growing my skills. I’d dreamt of finally being able to have my precious mornings to myself – allowing me to focus on my creativity. And finishing work at 19:00, two days a week would leave even more time at my disposal.

Some vague goals…

Maybe I would join a gym? You know; that whole idea that a healthy body makes for a healthy mind. If anything, I can do something about this body which is currently in the worst shape ever. I am not too sure where this sudden-but-permanent feeling of discomfort in my own skin and body comes from. Probably has a little something to do with the amount of beer and soju mix consumed every night. (Korean beer is the worst! And soju on its own is probably the main component in CD cleaner… the combo is marginally acceptable though). The convenience of getting beer and soju any time of the day from literally any store does make it difficult to keep my distance. It could also be my “not-so-balanced” diet. Back in South Africa, I’d worked a job which didn’t really cater for a satisfied appetite and spent my evenings lugging band gear around or working the bar – such a lifestyle doesn’t quite afford you the luxury of contemplating your discomfort.

Now, however, my disposable income paired with abundant free time, has seen all those good intentions fly out the door. I am living the life!

Let me tell you – Korea is not the place to kickstart a weight-loss regime. It’s Asia, after all. The staple food is rice, and good rice I might add, the beer is cheap-ish, and the deep-fried chicken restaurants are EVERYWHERE!

My sleep pattern has also taken a turn for the worst. I often spend evenings watching series which can easily be downloaded, because Korea also has the fastest internet in the world. Even when I just arrived here, I had no need to for a sim card in my phone. I was able to communicate flawlessly and uninterrupted with anyone, anywhere, any time of the day. Free Wi-Fi is EVERYWHERE! I can easily spend a whole evening binge-watching series, and if I feel like it, I can go to bed at 03:00 or 04:00, and still get plenty of sleep. I only need to be at work at 13:00 (officially I need to be there at 13:50, but having the extra time before class starts really helps get things done). This explains why my mornings are a write-off as well. I can’t remember the last time I actually woke up before 09:00 or left my bed before 10:00.

Check that off my list…

I recently quit smoking – something I’d planned to do on arrival in Korea. The idea was to go cold turkey (because I’m strong like that!). Turned out I wasn’t strong. I continued smoking for another three months. Buying cigarettes is just as easy as buying beer, at a standard price of 4,500won, you can get any cigarette. Most people prefer the lighter ones, the strongest that I have seen here are around 8mg tar – not like South Africa where most brands give you chest-hair. The average smoker here smokes 1-3 mg tar cigarettes. The ample variety made it easier to stop but also more difficult. I’ve never been faithful to a brand. I like to explore and try every single thing. So the variety lead me on a smoking adventure where each new purchase was completely novel – something I hadn’t tried before. Perhaps it was the reduced tar in these foreign cigarettes, but during that last month I’d found even the 1 mg tar cigarettes to “strong” for me. My last box was ESSE 0.1. This is probably the lightest cigarette on the market, and it comes in at 0.1 mg tar, and 0.01 mg nicotine. The gradual reduction had definitely helped with the cravings. Don’t get me wrong – I long for smoke breaks all the time! Not to smoke, but to have a reason to go outside for some time and get away from it all – the whole ritual of smoking is what I miss. It’s like breathing in encouragement for what is ahead, and like blowing out whatever just passed. I miss the breaks, but I don’t miss the smoking as much.

I have a minimum of nine months left here – the same stretch of time as a pregnancy. It takes nine months to grow into something that can breathe air, interact and live. I’ve nine months to grow into my autonomous self. I’m eager for this rebirth. This is my journey to my new life!