Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Thinking about the past while the future looms...

So I opened up this new window with the intention of writing an entirely different post, and then while looking for an image on We Heart It, I came across this little quote (thanks Christy) that really resonated with the way I've been feeling at the moment. With this whole Korea move looming, I feel as if I'm really on the edge of a precipice. Like I'm about to cross over a very distinct line between my past and my future. Like my life is truly about to begin. And whenever I am in these moments of great change, moving from one space to a completely new one, I always seem to get incredibly contemplative. I can't help but think about the past couple of years of my life, how I got to the point I'm at right now, and how I've changed over the last few years. 

The last 4 years were obviously my university days (which I sincerely hope are not over, but return again in some new and wonderful form later when I can actually afford to study again). I say this all the time and it is absolutely true that going to Rhodes really was the best decision of my life. I had both super wonderful times and incredibly difficult times there. I made some of the best friends I have ever had, and experienced the greatest heartache I have had to face (so far, at least). In the whole process I have learnt an incredible amount about who I am as a person. And I imagine that journey of self-discovery (as completely corny as that sounds) is going to continue and be exponentially more challenging and more rewarding in this new phase of life. But while I had amazing times at Rhodes there are a lot of things I wish I had done differently, and a lot of things I still don't really feel I've maybe gained complete closure over. As mentioned before I stress out about everything and tend to over-analyse situations and people all the time. So when a certain decision has - let's just say - a less than favourable outcome, I often struggle to accept or understand it in any other terms other than there must be some inherent flaw within my being that caused things not to work out. And that said inherent flaw is going to subsequently follow me around for the rest of my life and cause future endeavours of a similar nature to fail too. (I realise at this point that this is turning, once again, into one of those incredibly vague feelings-rants which make very little sense but I shall push through it none the less.)

And so its really hard not to let the baggage of my past get in the way of my future. This has been a problem of mine in relationships - letting the doubt instilled in me from previous experiences impact on the relationship I was in at the time, in a negative way. And even though it would be the exact opposite of what I wanted to do, I couldn't help but always carry the shadow of my past failures into all the undertakings which followed, to their detriment. A very big reason why I felt like I needed, at this point, to do something this bold - to go to another country and start a completely new life away from everything I know - is because I feel I need to be reminded that there is so much more out there. Sometimes one can get stuck in these little bubbles in your mind which really restrict what you feel is possible for yourself. And no amount of positive thinking or pep talking can convince you that its ever going to be otherwise. Until you actually go out there, experience something new, and can no longer deny that things are in fact not the way they seem, and that life will constantly surprise you - in challenging and amazing ways. I need to see that there is new and there is different and there is exciting and there is more - and most important of all, that I can thrive within that. (This is not, for a second to say that I am not leaving behind an incredible amount of amazing, because I am - in my special family, my wonderful friends, and my beautiful country. But for my own personal growth, I just feel like I need a paradigm shift.)

I'm not sure if any of this rambling will make any sense to anyone else out there. I just think sometimes we need to be reminded that we are not the sum of our past experiences. And that past experiences sometimes need to stay just that - past experiences. Take all the good that you can from them and then move on. Because if previous bad times are going to linger over the rest of your life they could prevent you from fully embracing all the great ones to come. 

Peace and love and new beginnings to all the wonderful souls out there <3

++ Insta-diary ++

So the one little silver lining to the whole robbery ordeal I went through a couple of weeks ago (which I'll be writing about in my next blog post) is that my awesome brother of major awesomeness gave me his old phone which had just come back from being repaired, to replace mine that was stolen. And this lovely little Samsung creation can do one thing my old phone couldn't - Instagram! Overwhelmed with excitement at this fact I quickly became obsessed with this little app (so far behind those who've been abusing it for like ever already). As those who know me know all too well, I am obsessed with photographing the fun times I have with my friends. And I am super particular about the photos I share and upload on Facebook - usually taking ages to go through them, edit them all individually and carefully think about their grouping in albums. The thing I love about Instagram is being to capture the moment right while you're in it and share it with the world. (Although my control-freak self still takes the time to edit them myself before uploading cause I'm a weirdo-perfectionist like that, but oh well.) 

Recently I discovered the insta-diary vibe on the blogs of some exceedingly lovely human beings, Zoella and Sprinkle of Glitter, so I thought I'd do the same. I'll do it on a monthly basis, I think - so here is my first month's snaps...

++ July Insta-diary ++

From the top, left to right, row by row: 
++ Catching some rays in my floral Cotton On sunnies, Shark & I at my b-day vibe, My first ever McFlurry (oreo, of course)
++ Bro & I eating brains at a DIFF zombie flick, My plushy family growing courtesy of Gelly, Farewell with my Katez at Love Coffee
++ Random find - new coffee-themed crop top, My first ever Singstar experience, After watching an incredible DIFF doccie with Gelly 
++ Funny faces with lotsa lovelies at my b-day vibe, Blatant selfie on a good hair day, Medal winning with the sis
 ++ All my spoils from attacking the sales, New mint green sandals, Rocking the floral headband & loving it
++ Bro & I looking like cool cats on our way to check out another DIFF movie, Heading out for a beachfront run - fitness yay!, Shoe sales this time

And the winner is. . . 

The snap that got the most likes in July was this one - lovely shoesies of loveliness ^_^

Follow me on Instagram - if you want! :P - chirping_cricket ^_^

Peace and love and lots of photo taking to all of you!! <3

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Fears for Korea

So as I mentioned before, in a few weeks (just about 3 now, to be exact) I will be jetting off to South Korea. And as I also mentioned before this is HUGE for me. Most of my friends have had at least one or two international holidays by now and have at least some experience of travelling overseas and all that entails. But I have not been so lucky to have had any experience of such WHATSOEVER. And the prospect of this big move is FREAKING ME OUT. (Yes, there is probably going to be a lot of caps in this post - be prepared.) As anyone who knows me will tell you – especially my friend Ari, who, after spending just one morning with me in my house while I was trying to get ready for nothing but a simple little weekend away, couldn’t help but noticed just how amazingly stressed I got over every little thing I had to do. I am very anxiety prone and I over-think EVERYTHING. And under situations of extreme pressure or stress I can really take it to a whole nother level. (One of my most extreme anxiety inducing times was always my exams and during university exam times I was known to just constantly spontaneously burst into tears at any moment simply at the sheer pressure of it all.) Now its not that I’m a weakling in any way (I have actually been through a hell of a lot in my time) and often I even like to be under a bit of pressure because it can be really motivational, if it’s the healthy kind. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t take a huge toll on me. Now, in this situation, anxiety levels are beginning to sky rocket and the amount of things I am scared of cannot even be counted! But I am going to try anyway – count them, that is :P

From the most miniscule to the more profound, here is a list of 10 things I am scared about for my journey to Korea:

1. International flights and airports – Airports scare the hell out of me. I have flown very few times in my life and the idea that I could not check in on time, miss my flights, lose my tickets or my documents, take too much luggage, take something in my hand luggage I’m not supposed to, not see my luggage on the carousel, do something I’m not supposed to on the plane, not know where to go or where to walk or what to do and look like a complete idiot – the list is endless. I know it’s silly and that in airports there are plenty of ways to find out what you’re supposed to do and how, but it's still stressing me out to no end. The entire process feels like a disaster waiting to happen. At least I’m not afraid of actually flying. That I find quite exciting actually! Yay for cloud gazing!!

2. My initial arrival in South Korea – I am pretty good at getting around independently here in South Africa, as long as I have enough info of where to go and where. We don’t have a car at home so I have gotten very used to public transport and such, so this is not something I’m worried about here. But when I first go to a new place (especially one where most things WON’T be in English! Eep!!) I get really anxious about getting lost! When I arrive in the airport in Seoul am I going to know where to go and how to do it, how am I going to manage with money and communicating and handling my stuff?? Those initial few days I think are going to stress the hell out of me just figuring out how to get from point A to point B and such. And the money situation! Having to convert the currency in SA then again when we get to Korea and all that jazz - gosh just TYPING about it is stressing me out. 

3. Being a good teacher – Now I absolutely love teaching. I love little children and I love preparing things to teach and I love interacting with them on a student teacher level. How much I love it is something I don’t doubt. But, I am worried about being good enough in this completely foreign environment. What if my lessons aren’t exciting enough for the kids or not in line with what the principal or co-teachers expect of me? What if they don’t like my teaching style? What if the kids don’t respond to me well? What if I am super nervous and awkward? I am always super anxious about how people receive me and if I’ll do a good enough job in everything I do, and being a full time teacher is no different.

Volunteering with underprivileged pre-schoolers in Grahamstown, Eastern Cape
4. Being judged on my appearance – I have watched A LOT of Youtube videos of people in South Korea who are working or have worked as English teachers, and from what I can tell the women in South Korea are generally rather small and for the most part, rather thin. I have also heard that South Korean people, especially the children, are quite blunt in pointing out that a foreigner is ‘plumper’ than they apparently should be. And I would say I will probably fit into that category. In fact, if I think of myself as “rather plump” in South Africa, then I shudder to think how they will view me in South Korea (I’m assuming just as plain old FAT.) Now while I’ve heard that any comments made will for the most part not be mean spirited or rude at all. South Koreans just have different kinds of filters about appearance issues and what we as Westernised people seem to deem appropriate to talk about regarding them. Talking about people’s weight for us is pretty taboo unless you’re quite close. So Koreans are not meaning to offend at all, its generally just more of an observation - or so people seem to say. But it's still something that worries me because my weight has been an issue for me most of my life and it is something I am quite sensitive about. Generally here in South Africa most people who would bring up my weight in public would be people praising my rather ‘generous’ bum (something considered desirable, especially in many African cultures). And even when it was being pointed out as a compliment it still really gets to me because being overweight – even if it was in the ‘right place’ - is not something I want to be. And let me just emphasise here – its not at all that I think that women of all shapes and sizes aren’t beautiful and shouldn’t love themselves for who they are. I know that what you weigh doesn’t make you who you are and all that jazz. My weight has just personally been an issue I have battled with through the years. So it stresses me out to think that people may be pointing it out to me a lot, or worse, judging me for it, more openly than they would here.

5. Learning the language – Now, generally I have been known to be pretty good at learning languages. In school I was always top in Afrikaans (one of SA’s indigenous languages) and I studied French, which although much harder, I still did pretty well in (although having not spoken any for so long, I can barely remember most of it now). But Korean – especially the Hangul (the Korean alphabet) - is completely different to anything else I have encountered. And even just having started, I am struggling. And there is a big difference between studying a language and actually having to communicate in it and use it to navigate through a place. This I have not ever had to do, so I know its going to be a great challenge. I really hope that I will be able to take a class while in Korea (on top of what I learn through self-study) to be able to properly become fluent in the language. And despite it being difficult, it is a challenge I am certainly up to because not only do I obviously want to be able to effectively communicate in the country I'm living in, but I am one of those weirdos who, once they’ve hit their mature years, would really like to be able to just off-handedly say, "Well yes, I’m fluent in 5 languages and have the basics of another 3..." – or something like that :P

Present from my book store manager brother Greg - McGraw Hill's "Read & Speak Korean for Beginners" ^_^
6. Communicating well with my co-workers – I have always felt anxious in work situations, although I may not show it that much (or at least I hope I don’t!). I worry about saying the right thing, phrasing that right thing in the right way, following the correct protocol for the work environment, being proactive enough without being too overbearing etc. etc. And this environment being so new to me will make these things even harder to navigate. 

7. Making friends – Again, this ties in with my fear of people liking me. Now, while I have always been lucky enough to be blessed with a LOT of amazing friends, I do suffer from a lot of social anxiety, especially amongst new people. This would surprise most people because I am super sociable and love being around lots of people – and probably even come across quite confident to most. This confidence is quite a farce though – used to try and quell that awful anxiety. Despite this though - I am definitely a social person though and through. I certainly need lots of friends and don’t really like being alone at all, especially not for extended periods of time. And another thing I have heard a lot in the Korean teacher videos is that being a foreign teacher, especially in the smaller towns or more rural areas, can be quite a lonely experience at first, with you having a lot of time to yourself. I think this will be a good lesson for me for the future because I am sure it will be an environment a lot closer to real life than I have experienced so far (going from high school where I had my super close friends close by to university where I had hundreds of friends, a lot of whom were literally metres away from me at all times.) But I do hope I meet and make friends with as many people as possible and get to be super sociable like I love. (At least I will always have the confidence of having my beloved Claire just a couple of hours away though, which does reassure me a lot!)

One of my first nights out at university - Street Party 2009
8. Messing up – Now though there are many ways in which I could, and probably will, mess up – I am talking in particular here about culture wise. There are a lot of small, very particular things which are major no-no’s in South Korea and so things which may not seem at all rude to me, may be perceived as incredibly bad-mannered there. For instance, speaking too loudly or not bowing (or not bowing deep enough for a person of high stature) or not taking things with two hands – or even sticking your chopsticks upright in your bowl of rice. I hope I will learn all the little customs quickly and won’t make too much of an idiot of myself!!

9. Enjoying the food – I wouldn’t really call myself a picky eater – I can eat most things really. But there are a few things which I just really don’t touch – most of them things I term “burny” (including raw onion, ground pepper, green peppers and excessive chilli). Now, I do hear that a lot of Korean food can be pretty spicy. And their food really is going to be something completely different to what I have experienced before – not even ever having had much Asian food at all (aside from sushi that I love, of course), never mind Korean! But I am open to anything (except dog of course!) and am sure I will find things that I love.

10. Putting on weight – This one may seem silly but like I mentioned before weight is somewhat of an issue of mine. And after starting to lose weight properly this year (so far I’ve lost 7kgs and would like to reach my goal weight by the end of next year.), I would really like to maintain it. I am known to go rather off the program with my eating and exercise habits when I am thrown into a new or foreign environment. So I really hope its not gonna be an environment where I start putting weight on again! This is one of the things I do have quite a bit of control over though, so as long as I keep myself disciplined I suppose I should be ok! :P

And that’s just the tip of the great iceberg that is my anxiety for this upcoming adventure. I am sure I will be writing about a lot more, but for now wish me luck and peace of mind!

To all you lovely souls out there I wish you love and joy and lifetime supplies gummi bears!! <3 

Mom, people wear this stuff! I promise!

So I have always been a little bit of a weird one - but now adays aren't we all? I mean in this age of hipster-dom its kinda the in-thing to be different (creating that paradox we 'clever ones' are all so quick to point out - everyone's trying to be different, to not conform so being different becomes what everyone does, making it conforming). It is inescapable :P

Anyway - I am getting side tracked here. What I was going to say right from the start is that I have always had a somewhat unique sense of dress - one that has certainly evolved over the years into something tangible and uniquely my own, I think. And it has not always been something all have bought into. I mean I had a boyfriend who was not exactly thrilled by my excessively girly dressing. Once when we where walking through a store, I was trying desperately to get him to agree with me on how this little polka dot bikini I'd seen was completely adorable, and he exclaimed in a huff something like: "Just because you're a girl doesn't mean you always have to wear things covered in flowers and polka dots!" So from then on I had a pretty good idea of what he thought of 90% of my wardrobe. And although I didn't really let him know in that moment, it kinda really upset me. Because, while I certainly don't think that appearance is everything, I do feel like the way I dress is a big part of who I am because its an expression of my personality (as for most people). And further more I didn't like flowers and polka dots just 'cause I was a girl - I liked them because I was me!

Anyway, cut to now and I have a new person who doesn't really 'get' what I wear. My mother. Now, university allowed me to be bolder in the way I dressed and for the last few months that has increased even more as I have wanted so badly to embrace certainly elements of fashion I see overseas (but which aren't exactly super common here in SA where I live). Now my mom certainly doesn't hate everything I wear, but as I have tried to make these new changes to my wardrobe, her reactions have been wrought with constant furrowed brows, looks of confusion and just a general disdain for my strange taste. And as a result I have repeatedly felt I needed to prove to her that I'm not crazy in liking what I like and wanting to wear these things - and that in fact LOTS of people do! So I took to scouring We Heart It to find said proof and even once or twice making these little collages, full of images which inspired or represent my own little quirky wardrobe elements. After I had collected quite a few of these I thought it might be a fun thing to do a blog post about it (one rather similar to the "Trends I Love..." post I did a long while back).

So here are some "I-promise-you-people-actually-wear-these-things-mom" collages. (I've also added in some of the bloggers and volggers who do these trends so well and one or two pics of me rocking them myself ^_^)

Firstly, the one that kicked off the whole thing big, bold bows. My mom actually said some of the most shocking words she possibly could to me one night when I was getting ready to go out and trying to decide whether or not to wear a bow-topped alice band - "Don't you think you're getting to old for bows now?" I gasped in horror and exclaimed that I would never be too old for bows! And in response showed my mom pictures of the amazing fashion blogger who in fact did actually inspire me to go bigger and bolder with my bows - the stunning Betty of Le Blog de Betty

The bow thing took a lot of convincing with my mom - even the top knot with the bun at the back thing which is huge now. here are some gorgeous ones I found...

Next there is the crop top thing. This is a trend I absolutely adore and I have started building up a cool collection. Its a little hard to find them here unless you're willing to pay quite a bit, so I have also taken to fashioning my own crop tops by tying other sorts of tops shorter and making them into ones. I most often pair them with maxi skirts, as you'll see below. Here are a few of my crop top outfits ^_^ 

Black & white spotty crop top from Cotton On worn at the Lola Malone's Life On the Pedal Party at The Upstairs
Peach sheer knit crop top with wooden heart brooch from Mr. Price
Floral crop top from Cotton On 
Now, its pretty easy to understand why my mom wouldn't be immediately on board with this look. One day when my mom and I were on our way to the lovely I Heart Market, me sporting one of my now many crop tops, I weirdly had the Bare Necessities song from the Jungle Book stuck in my head and when I mentioned this to my mom she immediately (and hilariously) responded with the quip - "It's because you're WEARING the bare necessities." Now she was joking, of course, but she does view the whole crop top thing as pretty risque, and I do get it. Although I really don't think that showing a couple centimeters of bare midriff is worse than wearing super short mini skirts or teenie-tiny shorts with your butt cheeks hanging out - neither of which I wear (probably mostly just cause I can't pull them off, if we're honest, but still! :P)  Also I know that the crop top style has evolved a lot, with most wearing a longer version with a semi-high waist vibe - but I prefer shorter crop tops with super high waisted things because they just work better with my figure.

One of the latest things I've had to convince my mom about is the flower headband. Just last week when I wore my thin vine style flower headband (below) with my hair up in a bun my mom kept telling me all day that I looked like a flower girl - so out came my phone to show her the array of flower crowns other girls my age wear these days. 

It took me AGES to find the one I have (which I got at the Bay Harbour Market in Hout Bay) because most of the others I've seen in shops have looked quite gaudy and often really plastic-y, and I like more natural looking ones. And I have neither found nor had the bravery to wear the larger festival-style proper flower crown but would love to be able to rock one one day. Two of my favourite beauty vloggers to watch Zoella and Dolly Bow Bow rock beautiful floral headbands and flower crowns. 

Zoe Sugg
Kate Murnane
Here are some really pretty versions of different floral headbands and flower crowns I found. 

Last but not least there is a trend I am yet to actually do - but mostly cause I haven't been able to find these in South African shops (if anyone knows where I can find them - let me know!) - and that is frilly socks!! I love the look - especially with boots ^_^ Just look how adorable they can look with all different kinds of shoes!! 

In light of my exciting new adventure coming up - my relocation to South Korea!! - I'm hoping I'm going to be able to find lots of super cool fashion finds. I have heard South Koreans are uber fashionable and I'm really excited to see  for myself!

Peace & love & exciting fashion choices to you all! <3 

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Exciting adventure time begins!! (Well, almost...)

So I'm not sure if I have even mentioned this in a previous blog post because I have been such a slacker with this blog thing for so long - but I AM GOING TO SOUTH KOREA!!! 

Yes, little old me, who has never left the country is going to pack up her life (well as much of it as I can fit in a 30kg suitcase! eep :/) and flit off to a foreign land. I will be teaching English (as so many do these days) in Jeokseo Elementary School which is situated in Gyeonggi province (in the northern part of South Korea). My initial contract with the school is for a year - a super big commitment!! 

I have been working on getting a teaching job in South Korea for a few months now - even having to make an incredibly awkward and dorky video of myself pleading my case of wanting to be a teacher there and giving a little example of my demeanour as a teacher. It is privated on Youtube but I will reward you with the link here - because you are one of the probably VERY few people actually reading this - simply for the pure enjoyment of my embarrassment at anyone seeing it. (please forgive the awful picture and sound and editing quality and my general awkwardness - I had to make this thing really quickly so its rather shoddy. :P) 

Finally, after my 5th interview (despite the fact that by this time I could not possibly hate interviews more and was on the verge of gauging my eyes out with the nearest sharp object at having to answer the question "Why do you want to teach English in South Korea" for the hundredth time) - someone finally wanted to employ me! And this was when the the terror really set in. :P While I am so, so, SO excited to go, and in such desperate need of change and an adventure (this being the perfect opportunity to have this while earning decent money too), I cannot explain how truly terrified I am. This is by far going to be the most challenging and scary thing I have ever done. I will be setting off all on my own into a country completely different to my own, full of people speaking a language I don't (although I am working on that!) - and not just for a little fun holiday trip, but to live and work for AN ENTIRE YEAR (at least). But fear aside, I really do feel ready for hurling myself completely outside of my comfort zone and just doing this thing already. The last few months of being back home have been crazy hard for me. Don't get me wrong - I love Durban and always will - its just after being away from home for 4 years and being independant and in a place where I was so free and always surrounded by friends, going back to being dependant and being rather lonely a lot of the time (with all my Durban friends having made their own lives here and not always being able to hang out quite as much as we'd all have liked to) - was kinda super sucky for me. But it was always the plan for me to come back and put all my energy into going to Korea - which I have now done -- woo hoo!! 

I leave in exactly a month - which means I have just a few short weeks to sort out my paperwork, book my plane ticket, get my visa, buy a huge-ass suitcase, get everything I need AND spend as much time with my friends and family as I can before I leave. That last part is what makes this whole thing super bitter-sweet for me - because I am going to be saying goodbye to my amazing friends for SUCH a long time!! Not only do I have THE most amazing friends from high school but I have also met people of seriously epic awesomeness over the last few years too and it really makes my heart hurt thinking I am going to be away from these gorgeous souls for such a long time. But life must be lived and to travel is to be far away and this is something I am going to have to get used unfortunately. :( And I know the friends I have made are going to be around for life, so I'm sure we'll be together again eventually and in the mean time we will also find numerous ways of annoying each other from across the world too. :) 

And all is not lost becaaaaauuse - my amazing friend Claire is going too! 
**Us having awesome fun times together!**
We have both been working on getting placed in South Korea and she leaves next week for her placement (SO exciting!). We are not too close to each other sadly (she's quite a bit more south than I am). But the public transport in Korea is amazing apparently so it shouldn't be any problem for us to spend our weekends together which will be so much fun! (And it will probably be even cooler because we'll get to explore eachother's parts of the country together.) I am so glad I am going to have one of my best friends just a train ride away, both as a support through this super scary time and as an adventuring buddy to explore this amazing place with. I can already see us going on shopping sprees for cool and quirky clothes, eating weird and wonderful things, exploring ancient spiritual monuments and, of course, consuming a fair (read: excessive) amount of soju along the way ^_^ I cannot emphasise how much my heart fills with joy thinking about being able to share this experience with her. You can follow this adventure from her perspective via her awesome blog dedicated especially to it - Keen for Korea

I am PROMISING, publicly here for all to see (well the all who are actually seeing this) that I will write at least one blog post a week and keep this updated with both my exciting adventures and my random musings - because we all need a space to put our weird, right? 

For now I wish you all love and rainbows and new experiences!! <3