One of the most difficult things when moving to a completely new place is trying to get back into a normal routine. Anyone that knows me is very aware of the fact that I always need to be doing something active- so much that I can’t even facetime people without constantly moving my hands and fidgeting. As a kid, I was playing multiple sports and then when I started working I could be found at the gym 4 mornings a week. Well moving abroad has made working out very difficult. Most cultures don’t emphasize working out and fitness in the same way that Americans do. Gyms are much more expensive here and in my opinion, they just don’t offer near enough for me to justify paying the price. On top of that, the food in Korea is pretty good and full of rice. If I never see rice again, I would be fine! Koreans love sugar even more than me, which says a lot because I LOVE sweets and really anything with sugar. Let me explain: during orientation, we were served garlic bread during a meal and all of us were pretty excited about this until we took a bite and realized that in addition to garlic, there were about 3 spoonfuls of sugar on the bread. I also found some banana chips in an attempt to eat a somewhat healthy snack, but nope they were glazed all over like a donut. Now I do love sugar, but sugar is not one of those things that needs to be put on all foods. And unfortunately this can cause you to start gaining weight before you realize it. This issue along with the lack of affordable and good gyms has forced me to be a little more creative with my exercising, but it has also introduced me to new experiences.
When moving to a new place, it is super important to meet people as soon as you can and one of the best ways to do this is joining a team. I was told about an ultimate frisbee league with teams in cities throughout the country. About one weekend per month, games are hosted in a city in Korea and the city changes each weekend. I thought this is perfect, I can meet new people while being active and explore Korea=WIN WIN! There is one small oversight though, I’ve never played this sport outside of middle and high school PE class. Thank goodness in this league there are always new people joining the league, so they are very used to having completely clueless teammates. After only 2 practices, it was time for our first weekend of games. I believe “rough” is a good word to describe our first game. And “a little less rough” describes the next game. By the time we got to our third game of the day, you could probably say it “wasn’t terrible.” Even though, we went 0-3 that weekend, we improved and started to work better as a team and we created friendships. Yeah I know, that’s what losers say, but you gotta find the positives. Playing ultimate is no joke and it’s constant running up and down the field. I like to think I’m still 18 years old, but my body is constantly telling me that I’m not and come Monday I looked down and saw this:
I had a little injury, but I was really enjoying playing and decided to act like my former stubborn athletes and play anyways. I figured I had all week for my ankle to heal and I would be fine like always. Two weeks later, we had another weekend of games and my ankle was ready to go! This time, we had 4 games over 2 days and did SOOOOOO much better. We finished the weekend 3-1 and were actually competing in games instead of getting blown out, which was not fun at all. If I didn’t know it already, I can now say with 100% certainty that winning is much more fun than losing.
In addition to playing ultimate, I’ve been trying to become a runner. I’ve tried this multiple times before, but every time I run around 3-4 miles, I come to the conclusion that I simply hate running. Obviously, this realization makes becoming a runner very difficult. However, I am now running along the river and maybe it’s just the change of scenery but I’m not hating it.
Living in Korea allows you to hike nonstop. There are mountains everywhere in this country and 20 national parks that offer many different hiking trails. I’m lucky to live very close to one of the national parks and other mountains. And since the weather is finally getting nicer, just being out in nature makes such a big difference.
About a 5 minute walk from my apartment, there is a trail that leads up a mountain with beautiful views of the city. Once you get to the ridge, there is a trail you can take along the ridge and we found these mini gyms up in the woods. Who needs to pay for a gym when you can hike to one in one of the most serene locations of Daejeon?
Clearly I’m behind the times, but I’m slowly figuring out that you don’t need a gym in order to stay active and exercise.