For the past few weeks I’ve been watching food documentary after food documentary on Netflix (I HIGHLY recommend Cooked and Ugly Delicious) and I was inspired to really learn how to make a meal for myself. Not meal prep for the week (as a diet) but learn how to make a delicious meal from scratch. I’ve lived off of boiled chicken breast, broccoli, and rice for far too long (salt is a spice right?)
Watching these food documentaries really put some perspective into the food that I have been eating. Living alone in Korea makes it really easy to just go to a GS25 and buy a super processed meal for yourself (삼각김밥 or 도시락 anyone?). My question was, “why pay for thirty different ingredients when I can just get a complete meal for less than 8 dollars?” Its because I never really understood the idea of cooking a meal, I just liked eating one. I also knew that my health was on the line because it is a heinous sin that a small 삼각김밥 is more than 150 calories and you could easily eat five. I know, counting calories isn’t really healthy, but neither is eating convenience store food every day.
So after a few Netflix documentaries, going to the gym before work, walking to and from school, and figuring out what a vegetable was; it was time for me to learn how to make a meal. Not just any meal, like a meal that you put your heart and soul into, a meal that you put the hearts and souls of every person that made every aspect of that dish. From the dude who turned on the sprinkler to the dude who fed the chickens. (I also HIGHLY recommend learning Tiffany Haddish’s recipe for Joyful Greens just to see what I mean.) Not only that, but I wanted to learn how to use spices, which are mad expensive in South Korea by the way.
One Netflix doc that really inspired me was Cooked and it seperated cooking food into four categories: fire, water, air, and earth. A whole episode was dedicated to bread and it seriously messed me up, where can a dude get some real bread?
The documentary was really well done and the whole experience of learning how to cook can be summed up in one quote from that show.
“For is there any practice less selfish, any labor less alienated, any time less wasted, than preparing something delicious and nourishing for people you love?”
I know that I’m living on my own in Seoul, but one day I hope that I learn how to cook something that is both nutritious and delicious for others, whom I hopefully love.
My friends and I were having a discussion one day and we were talking about “loving yourself.” I know, the most cliché idea that you could ever talk about, but it was something that was bound to come up. Through meeting the friends that I’ve made living in South Korea learn to love yourself. Even though it REALLY is difficult to do.
I read Love, Freedom, and Aloneness by Osho a couple of years back to prepare me for the fact that I could be forever alo-I mean for Korea, since I’d essentially be alone in a country where I didn’t know the language. But he argues, if I remember correctly, that the best thing that you can do for someone you love is give them freedom. Essentially love is freedom, isn’t it? I mean, it is something that everyone strives for. Kids want to grow up because they want “freedom” and adults want to be a kid again because adulting is the farthest from freedom.
“Love has to be of the quality that gives freedom, not new chains for you; a love that gives you wings and supports you to fly as high as possible.”
We all know that being an adult sucks, like wow-we-can-do-more-things but you also need to remember-to-eat everyday. We also have to juggle our relationships, ourselves, jobs, the world around us, news, our appearances, ourselves, ourselves, ourselves… do you see what I mean? There’s no way that you can juggle all of these things until you TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. Just do something that you enjoy every day and have a person that keeps you accountable. If you don’t have anything that you enjoy, its time to learn something and experience a bunch of stuff. Sometimes you won’t find joy in things that your friends find joy in and that’s okay, you just need to do what’s right by you.
All in all the world is really yours as long as you have love, you’re willing to give others all of the freedom, and you’re okay with being alone sometimes.
I totally understand why people become teachers and the payoff that stems from it. Teaching is one of the most difficult jobs in the world, but the kids make it worth it. Although I only knew my students for 14 weeks I have seen them grow and I have seen the hard work that they put into their work, I know that not all students have that kind of work ethic and some of them you wish were absent once in a while, but teaching is a hard gig, even though I only did it for a semester.
There was this paper that I read this semester called The Heart of a Teacher by Parker J. Palmer and the biggest concept that I got from that was that teaching is a daily exercise in vulnerability which I believe in 100%. Not only have I had the opportunity to see my students grow, my students were able to see me become “Mr. Austria” in front of their eyes. Teaching is a daily exercise in vulnerability because you need to build relationships with your students and it is something that you need to do daily. Building relationships with each and every one of your students holds them accountable and it holds you accountable to them. I believe that building relationships with your students and actually knowing your students is 75% of the job. I tried to make it a point to say each and every one of my students’ names every day when I saw them in the hallway.
On the last day of my internship one of my students said, “Mr. Austria, you really helped me a lot this year.” That’s when I knew it was totally worth it, through all of the tough times that I’ve had trying to manage the classroom and trying to teach the students something, they payoff was seeing my students actually grow into better versions of themselves. It was a fun ride being Mr. Austria for the semester and getting to know each and every one of my students, there may be a few bad days but the students always make it worth it.