5 Things 2017 Taught Me

The new year is always a time for reflection and 2017 is no different! 2017 has been a long year, bringing both good and bad. I felt homesickness for the first time in my life, finally visiting home in December. The year taught me so much, and also how strong we can be. There were times when I wanted to just run away home, but managed to stay. And for that, I’m very proud!



For most of the time, I am pretty health conscious. I cook wholefoods and exercise regularly. I try to be on my feet as much as I can, and walk 10 000 steps daily. As such, I would say that I’m in tune with my body and how healthy it is.


I have tried to ignore the simple fact that Korea just isn’t suitable for me. Environmentally it is too polluted for me to spend as much time outside as I want. Due to the harsh weather, there is often A/C or heating on, both which dry my skin out and make me feel like a prune. Fruit and vegetables are ridiculously expensive, so my diet isn’t as varied as I would like. Obviously, this is different for everybody and is just my personal experience!


This is all easier to ignore when you deal with it everyday. Going back to a small town in England opened my eyes to how unhealthy I actually am. My skin cleared up, I felt more alert, and I couldn’t get enough of the fresh air.


Luckily I never saw myself living here long term. If I did stay here, I think I would have some serious health problems before long.




I have always thought of myself as they eternal traveller. I saw my future as moving from place to place, always on the road. Living in South Korea, it often feels like a dream; life doesn’t seem to move forward for me here. Teaching in Korea offers very little progression. I knew I wanted to leave but didn’t have a set plan until I went home.


Landing in the UK I quickly realised how much home means to me. I enjoy going into places and just knowing how things work. The main thing I noticed was how polite people are in general. The English have a reputation for being overly polite and I really noticed this. I also really enjoyed being close to my friends and family.


While I don’t see myself living in England forever, I am looking forward to spending some time living there for a couple of years at least.




I’ve never thought of myself as the ‘outdoorsy-type’. I am no avid hiker or rock climber, and I’ve never been massively into camping. However, this year I realised how much I enjoy just being outside.


Due to the air pollution and general lack of outdoor spaces in Seoul, I spend a lot of time inside. I have often found myself yearning for some greenery and space to relax. I really enjoy walking and I find that difficult in Korea.


I now know how much I need outdoor spaces in my life. In choosing my next destination I will make sure it is either near the countryside or has lots of outdoor spaces. Summer should be spent lounging on the grass, not sitting on concrete patios.




One of my main motivations for moving to Seoul was to try and pay off my debt. After over a year, I have finally managed it! I can’t explain how good this feeling is! With a few months left here I am now focusing on saving as much as I can.


I made a pretty poor effort in my first year, and have only just realised. I spent a ridiculous amount on coffees, socialising, and food. The past few months I have kept my head down and learnt to say ‘no’. This probably sounds obvious, but I think we all have a habit of kidding ourselves.


The trick for me is once you start saying ‘no’ and saving, it gets easier to carry on. I am now in the swing of it and am able to limit my take out coffee habit and meals out. I still have fun, but often it’s cheap fun.




I have a habit of being incredibly short-sighted in regards to my plans. I vaguely have an idea about the future, but it always fails to form any rigidity. I always try to think about my long term future, then just do what makes me instantly happy.


Now I’m approaching 30, I really need to think about what I want from life. All of my friends are settling down with kids and houses, which makes you think! My biggest concern is have to work until I’m 85 because I’m still renting.


Buying a house takes planning and saving, both things I’ve realised I need to just get on with. Although living in the UK and working a 9-5 job isn’t my dream, I’ve come to accept just needs to be done!




Everything year is about learning. 2017 has taught me a LOT, both good and bad. 2017 wasn’t overly successful for me, but then nothing bad happened. I’m excited for 2018!


What have you learnt this year?


Natalia xo