I’m writing this on the darkest day of the year. In Denmark that means less than 6.5 hours of daylight, and this year, December has been unusually dark and gloomy. No snow (which is totally fine) but lots and lots of rain. There were 2 weeks straight where it was so overcast that I couldn’t tell if it was 2am or 2pm. Adding to this, we’re now back in full lockdown as new covid cases have continued to soar. It’s gonna be a long winter… But this morning, as I’m typing this, a few rays of dusty sunlight are gently falling through my windows. Let’s hope they are messengers of brighter times to come.

Among recent successes I have to give a shoutout to my badass sister who, in spite of all the adversity you may possibly imagine, has just aced her final exam (similar to the bar exam) and is now formally a prosecutor. No one rocks a court room and locks up all the bad guys like my sister and I’m so incredibly proud of her. I’m sad that the lockdown prevents us from getting together this Christmas but hopefully a new year will bring new opportunities for us to meet.

It’s no secret that the holiday season is not my favorite. It may have been at some time, but losses – both recent and more distant – have made me unable to feel any particular joy around this time of year. On a good day I’m just utterly indifferent to all the seasonal merriment. On a bad day, I get the urge to violently tear down my neighbor’s hideous Christmas lights and shove them in a place where the sun doesn’t shine.

This December, with all the holiday “cheer”, the darkness – and on top of it all the lockdown – it has become ever more important for me to stick to my healthy routines. My morning runs three days a week have been anything but enjoyable in the icy rain but they help me feel accomplished, in control of my body, and physically if not mentally strong. I’ve also been sticking to a rigorous studying routine, reading one chapter in my new Korean textbooks every single day.

I originally bought these books in preparation for an online course I had signed up for at Korea University. Since travelling to Korea is out of the question at the moment and my own teaching doesn’t start until February, I figured I might as well take online Korean classes in January. I filled out the forms, transferred the tuition of 400 dollars, and waited for my placement test. The test was on Thursday and the teacher basically told me that I speak Korean fluently and at this level there wasn’t much left to learn and that she regretted to tell me that there was no class opening at my level. While that may sound like a good thing, it’s actually not. Of course, I realize that I’m fluent but that doesn’t mean that I don’t need to practice. I still have plenty of ways to improve. I’m also fluent in English and I’m still learning. Ironically, the only language I’m getting worse at is my native Danish. I just noticed that I went an entire weekend mistaking the Danish words household with housekeeping. Doh!

So, what to do? I’ll continue to self-study with my new books. I’m actually learning a lot from them that I didn’t learn while studying with the Sogang books, and I like having this routine where I read a chapter a day and then review on weekends. This should at least last me until the end of the year. As for my pleasure reading I’m about to finish the fifth book of my K-fiction series that can be purchased through TTMIK. The books are bilingual and an incredible resource for improving reading skills and even for learning about the art of translation. I’m considering doing a post when I’m all done, so stay tuned.

I’ve also taken up formal classes with an italki teacher. I had experimented with italki conversation tutors without feeling any progress but this time I’ve found a really good certified teacher who encourages a lot of discussion and who can push me to my limits and beyond. It’s not the same as classes that follow a textbook but I get all the attention for 60 minutes and decide what I want to learn. I guess that’s something.

I obviously miss Geonha like crazy this time of year, and just this Friday when my heart was about to explode (again), his brother sent me a sweet text just before I went to sleep. Hi Sohee, how are you? I just saw Geonha in my dreams and wanted to check in on you. I don’t know how the universe works but it seems that whenever I think that I can’t possibly go on, somehow a small ray of light makes its way into my heart. 고마워, 내 사랑하는 건하야!

Here are a few pictures from a much happier Christmas in Ilsan four years ago. The menu may have been a bit questionable but the weather – and most importantly the company – was the best anyone could ever wish for. That was also the first time that Geonha introduced me to his brother and then afterward graded my Korean conversation performance with a B+ (with plenty of room for improvement!)

Christmas is this week and whether you’re celebrating or not, I wish you all a lovely season and a happy new year. May 2021 kick 2020 in the butt!

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