Last year, I got my wisdom teeth pulled out two days before Thanksgiving. No turkey, no stuffing, no pumpkin pie.

Needless to say, this Thanksgiving is already exponentially better than last year’s.

Of course, I won’t be home for the holidays and I was expecting Thanksgiving away from home to be strange. The strange thing is – I have more to be thankful for this year than ever before.

This week, I asked my middle-school students, “What are you thankful for?” Here are the most popular answers:

  1.  “I am thankful for my boyfriend/girlfriend.”
  2. “I am thankful for chicken.”
  3. “I am thankful for League of Legends.” (The computer game)

In the holiday spirit – I decided to write down everything I’m thankful for this year.

Kelsey, Donald and Thomas

 If anyone has taken a look at my Facebook over the past four months, I’m sure you’ve seen a picture of myself, Kelsey, Donald and Thomas together. We are all Fulbright teachers and we met each other during our Fulbright teacher training this summer. We have had amazing times traveling to other Korean cities like Seoul or Busan on the weekends, we have visited about a million different bars and restaurants together and we have also helped each other through difficult times. Some of us have been frustrated trying to navigate our first years as teachers but we are doing it together.

I am forever grateful to these three for making my year. I love you!

Donald, Kelsey, Thomas, Tae Hwan.

Donald, Kelsey, Thomas, Tae Hwan.

Old friends, coworkers and professors

To all of my friends from home who have stayed up late or gotten up early to Skype with me; thank you. The 14/15 hour time difference can be a pain but you all work to keep in touch with me and I sincerely appreciate it.

I also really miss the KCCI news team these days. I love getting an email or even a quick Snap from the newsroom. I miss you all!

To my Drake University professors who have continued to be supreme advice-givers, listeners and supporters of my work and dreams; thank you.

New Friends 

One of my favorite things about my time in Daegu, South Korea has been the new friendships I have formed.

I am incredibly thankful for my new, Korean friends who put up with my lack of Korean language skills! I couldn’t have asked for funnier, friendlier or more interesting friends.

So to Howl, Min, Ilhwa, Tae Hwan and everyone else – thank you! Thank you not only for your patience, acceptance and friendship, but also for sharing your country and your culture with me.

I am also thankful for my fellow Fulbright grantees. (There are about 120 of us in total.) You are all interesting, passionate and hardworking and I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday away from your homes and families.

My American Family

First I should say, “I’m sorry that I don’t call home enough.” It’s not a lie to say I’ve been meaning to send a postcard from the day I arrived in Korea. So to my parents, my sister Emilee, the Brust family and my amazing Grandma; thank you! I love you!

My Korean Family

My host-sister’s name is 민주 (Minjoo) but she goes by her English name, “Cindy”.

Jessie, Ellie, Cindy, and Hugh

When I’m talking with my friends or telling a funny story about her – I rarely use the term “host-sister” anymore. I simply call her my sister and that is how I feel about her. Living in a new, exciting country has been wonderful, but there is something special about having a “home” to return to. My host-family has truly provided that for me – even in a foreign country. On Sunday nights, after a weekend of traveling, I love coming back to my family’s apartment in Daegu. To my (Korean) family – thank you.

My hardworking students

As someone who is new to teaching, I am especially thankful for students who come to class with a smile, students who ask me how I’m doing, students who answer questions in class and students who get excited about what we’re trying to accomplish together.

To the students who show up, smile and work hard; thank you.

Funny moments in class

The teaching lifestyle can be difficult. The sleeping students, rowdy students and uninterested students can really bring you down. If there’s one thing that brightens my days, it’s the crazy comments or hilarious answers my students give in class. Here are a few of my recent favorites:

My question: “What do you need to bring with you if you are going to the moon?”

Student answer: “Courage.”

"What to bring to the moon..."

“What to bring to the moon…”

Another day, I asked my students what they would do if they could do ANYTHING for 48 hours. This student decided he would marry the “most beautiful girl.” This is apparently what she looks like…

"The most beautiful girl in the world"

“The most beautiful girl in the world”

Isn’t she beautiful??

Korean food

It. Is. Delicious. I am so thankful I live in a country where even the school lunch is wonderful.


Last week, I decided to cut coffee from my diet. I vowed not to drink it for a week. IT WAS MISERABLE. I only lasted five days without it, and those five days were excruciating.

Coffee: I love you. Thank you for getting me through each and every week.

Cute Kakao emojis

For those who don’t know – Kakao is a messaging application that is extremely popular in Korea. When I text my friends here, I rarely use the text messaging feature on my phone. I just use Kakao.

“Why use Kakao when your phone has a texting feature already?” you may ask yourself…

WELL, let me tell you that Kakao has the most undeniably adorable emoticons that you have ever seen. Kakao emojis: I am thankful for your cuteness. Here are a few that I use regularly.


Happy Thanksgiving, Friends!