January 31, 2020

*Note – Full versions of each contributor’s monthly reflection can be found by clicking their initials or from the table on the project overview page


Reflection Prompt 1:

How did you feel today? (What thoughts are on your mind on this last day of January and what caused you to feel that way?)


G [NYC]Strange creatures dissipate from view as dream fog melts to early morning fog.

Need coffee.

Start the day.

Smile and say ‘good morning’ to the folks. 

Give dad a hug.

Tell them I’ll be out for a few hours and see the disappointment wash over their faces, the same faces they had when I said I accepted the job in Colorado.


P [Korea] – Today was relieving. After spending a whirlwind ten days consuming mass amounts of new foods, climbing a waterfall, feeding elephants bananas, reading a vampire novel in the sun on the beach, and buzzing through Saigon on the back of a moped, I had felt the excited energy drain out and felt myself internally aching for the comfort of home…

So I suppose this day, the final day of January, wasn’t a wasted day in bed, but a realization that I am allowed to be still, and a reaffirmation that Korea will always have the title of ‘home’ in my heart, no matter how many places are also ‘home’ and no matter how many places become ‘home’ after.


WB [DC] – On January 31, I was kind of deep in thought about a talk I had gone to the day before put on by Rightcare Alliance DC, a grassroots organization that put on an event that detailed Democratic presidential candidates’ strategies around healthcare reform…

We can’t ignore the reality of big, rich stakeholders in the game. I think the question is: how do we incentivize them to rework the healthcare system? How can we design reform so that they have some stake in it, too?


E [Korea] – Today is… sucks. The grammar of that sentence pretty accurately reflects my mental capacity today and also my lack of motivation to fix my mistakes, or anything else. It’s my first real day in Seoul during this vacation and you know that Seoul puts me in a weird mood…

Today I almost got denied entry to a university campus because I was a foreigner (no tourists allowed, probably because of coronavirus, but the signs have no indication of the reason)…

I promise, I’m normally not a negative person. Seoul just brings it out in me.


K [Korea] – January 31st this year is a Friday. Classes get out at 1pm and everyone’s brains are done well before that during the lectures…

Everyone is anxious because the TOPIK results come out next Wednesday and while us graduate students have potentially another semester, the undergraduates must pass January’s test to move onto university lest they potentially lose their scholarships…

Above all, I feel anxious, because I’ve recently been thinking more about how I will always feel slightly uneasy unless I organize my life better and start living more productively and purposefully.


N [Chicago] – I’ve been thinking a lot about this quote from one of my favorite TV shows as a teenager, Skins: “It’s got potential, this day. It’s pregnant.”  There’s just something about this year that feels like it’s going to be a really big, impactful, and messy year…

I’m moving into my own apartment tomorrow and I have some work events coming up that put me in a position of high visibility with my regional leadership teams, on top of the typical pursuits of personal and professional betterment…

Underlying all of that excitement, however, is a lot of anxiety…

I yearn for a day where I won’t even notice it, but as I get older, I realize it’s more about finding ways to cope instead of finding ways to make it go away.


NS [Chicago] – I was finally going back to Korea for the first time since leaving last summer, making good on my promise to attend my students’ graduation ceremony and to get the closure I needed after deciding to work in Chicago for the time being…

Everything in the airport felt familiar, like dug up memories. I was tired and cranky from the long flight, so when my phone wifi wasn’t working and I couldn’t access my friend’s address to write it on the Customs form, I got a little snippy with the Customs lady…

On the bus to my friend’s apartment in Gimpo, I remembered what it was like to survive in Korea three years prior without phone data. I remembered seeing English everywhere on signs and being surprised by that…

Everyone was excited I was back and I had a lot of adventures to unfold over the next two weeks.


Reflection Prompt 2:

How would you frame your day (answer to the first question) to a complete stranger?


G [NYC]Dinner with the folks. 

They leave on Monday for an entire week to Costa Rica!

Take a bath and wash away the day.

Always wash away the day.

Slip a melatonin under the tongue. 

Slide back to the amorphous fog of far off lands and alien creatures.


P [Korea] – Today was comforting. I just got back from a ten day vacation in Thailand and Vietnam so it was really nice to be back somewhere familiar – and somewhere where I can understand the mother tongue again! Basically I slept all day but I was happy to be back living at home and not out of a suitcase. 


WB [DC] – My January 31st felt like any Friday, really. Work wasn’t too busy so I got a little early as usual, reveled in the fact that it’s the weekend, and that I got paid today! I still feel pretty lucky that I found a relatively decent-paying job where I get paid to do work that isn’t too difficult…

After work, I got dinner at this Asian food hall out in Virginia, a hearty-sized portion of braised beef, rice, and some pickled mustard that made me nostalgic for Taiwan. I went with a guy I’ve been seeing for several weeks and enjoyed my time with him.


E [Korea] – (Based on my responses to tinder messages)…

Today was not my day. I traveled kind of far to take pictures with my new camera and it broke immediately. So I’m eating my feelings, haha. But it’ll be fine, I’ll just go to sleep and wake up better in the morning.


K [Korea] – January has been an odd month. I passed my required Korean test last month so in some sense you could say I’m “done” with what I came to language school to do, but I really like studying Korean and want to improve my skills more… 

Overall I’m just glad it’s Friday and I get to see my friend race their first 5 kilometer run tomorrow! It’ll be another weekend outside Cheonan (the city I live in) but I’ve planned to have a movie night with friends tonight (Howl’s Moving Castle) and am hoping to make that a weekly occurrence!


N [Chicago] – Work has been going really well–I’ve only been in the role for 3 months, but I’ve been able to pick up on everything very quickly and make an immediate impact, and there are a lot of big events and work-related travel that I have coming up in February that I’m looking forward to.  In my personal life, things have been great too–…

We’re only a month into 2020, but it just feels like a big year for me, and I’m so excited to have a lot of pieces of the puzzle falling into place.  After spending a lot of my time since graduating in a state of existential angst, it’s nice to feel like everything is working itself out.


NS [Chicago] – Dear Stranger,

January 31, 2020 was not such a normal day for me. I started the day on a 13-hour flight from Chicago to Seoul, South Korea. I moved back to the US in the summer of 2019 and decided to stay in Chicago for work. It was a tough decision because I had developed so many relationships abroad and leaving them behind was not an easy decision…

Eventually, I ended up having a friendly conversation with both of my fellow row 35 passengers and despite my former feelings of disdain and anger toward the legroom thief, I realized I had rushed to a hasty judgment of her…

Upon landing in Korea, I was flooded with feelings of nostalgia and flashbacks. Being surrounded by a language that I’d adopted and seeing such familiar words and brands and sights brought me back to my former life there (even though it wasn’t that long ago)…

I can only hope that each new day and each new month continues to bring these types of novel thoughts and room for growth and introspection.


Reflection Prompt 3:

What are some aspects of your routine (daily/weekly) that should be changed (for health reasons, stress, etc.) and what are some things you do that you would recommend to others? What would you add to your routine to enhance your lifestyle?


G [NYC]Stuffed my face at 2, beer at 4.

Another beer at 5 – it’s Friday, you know. 

All can be covered with some good beers and a little television. 

Told myself I’d read more in 2020. Whoops!


A [DC] – One aspect of my routine that I would like to change now is allowing myself more time to exercise. I’m the type of person that always needs to be moving, so without daily exercise, I feel lost!…

Exercise was that grounding force in my life (outside of friends and family) and I didn’t realize how reliant I was on it until this year when I traded my running in the mornings for studying…

As I move into a new month, I would like to find the right balance between running and studying. Maybe half of my mornings can be spent studying, and the other half running. I recognize that the studying is temporary, and in a few months (after I take the exam), I’ll have my mornings back.


WB [DC] – I’m still trying to wean myself off holiday-level eating, but it’s been hard. My roommate got me addicted to these Tate’s Bakery cookies and we discussed earlier today how they were “a paradise and a war zone:” they’re so, so delicious, but because of that they are so, so dangerous…

In terms of non diet/food related habits, I do want to start reading more often. None of the books on my bookshelf are really calling me to me right now, but whenever I go to a bookstore, I always tell myself I have books at home…

I still haven’t started that podcast life, mostly because I feel like there are just so many good ones that it’ll be difficult sifting through all of them initially.


E [Korea] – Good: yoga everyday, even when you don’t want to. Just having some kind of consistency in your life…

Having a supportive partner or friend who knows when to indulge your bullshit and when to pull you out of it…

Trying new things. New restaurants, new foods— go the whole mile and get a new hobby!…

Bad: naps. They’ve gotta go, but they’ve become a staple in my life…

Depressive cycles. One thing goes wrong and then the whole day is fucked. I need to learn to let things slide sometimes…

ANXIETY gets out of control when I’m put in a position where I feel I’m responsible for other people’s happiness.


K [Korea] – I need to better regulate when I go to bed, when I wake up, when I exercise, when I do my homework and preview for the following day’s studies, and budget for how I’m going to eat more cost effectively and really just budget in general…

I have a history of running 5 out of the 7 days in a week (a ‘lazy’ habit given in college I ran 6 or 7 days a week when competing for my college cross country and track team)…

Finally, as stated before I want to add purposeful scheduling into my life to feel like I am in better control and to utilize my time effectively so that my preview, in-class exposure, and review models can help me best optimize and retain my learned material.


N [Chicago] – I’m pretty content with my routines, by and large, but the one thing I feel is missing is exercise…

I’ve really struggled with having to work 8-5 and then trying to find time outside of that to work out–I’m not always able to get up before to exercise without compromising my sleep schedule and after work I’m either too tired or unhappy with the amount of people at the gym, which prevents me from completing my usual routine…

The thing that I always have to remind myself of is that it is better to go and do something (e.g., just ride a bike at the gym) than to wait to do something until the conditions are perfect.


NS [Chicago] – In general, I am very proud of myself for how I maintain relationships in my life and the amount of energy and interest I put into these relationships. I feel like I am able to make time for people even when others might use the copout of being ‘busy’ to avoid making or following through with plans…

I am still trying to find a balance in my work/life time and I hope to find better ways to stay energized to do exercise, hobbies, and other day-to-day items without feeling like the next day of work is looming…

There are certain activities that I want to reintroduce into my schedule like yoga and cooking that are important to being autonomous and functional, so that is a priority for me.


Keep up with our reflections throughout all of 2020 🙂


Full January 31 Reflections:

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