22 October 2014

See Ya Never, Korea.

The emotional tidal wave commenced May 23rd, my last day of work at Chungdahm. I cried, a lot. I was really happy. I cried a lot, again. I felt vindicated. I felt weak and vulnerable and like I had made a terrible decision. I felt like soju was an excellent choice. I felt like it was not as I cleaned my apartment out that following Saturday morning. I had finished work, left myself a few days to play in Seoul, then was on my way to what promised to be the ultimate fun and carefree 5 weeks of backpacking through South East Asia that a girl could ever ask for! Was it? Not quite, but it was pretty great. A learning experience. A lot of failures. Some fun mistakes. Some not so fun. Some expensive mistakes. Lots of laughs. Good food. Great people. Strangers who became friends. Friends who became awkward. Shared dormitory rooms. Lots of them. A deep deep vein of confusion and no sense of belonging, toward the end of the 5th week. An undeniable excitement to return stateside. To see my family, my friends, my dog, the people I love so much and had missed so badly for the past 2 years.

I really want to write a comprehension and cohesive piece on each country I visited. And maybe I will at some point in the near or possibly distant future. But judging by the fact that it is October 21st and I finished my travels July 2nd, I am going to go with the easiest possible choice and that is: pictures. And who doesn't like pictures, anyway? Books that have pictures probably sell at much higher rates than those without. So, without further ado. The highlights.

22 May 2014

Pre-Departure Syndrome

Pardon my stream of consciousness, I was going to write this on Monday before I left but I feel compelled to now. Mostly due to the fact that I can't stop crying in public places and people keep giving me strange sideways glances.

I am so overwhelmed right now. My days have been so scheduled for the past few weeks it's been nearly impossible to consider the emotional ramifications of leaving this place I've called home for nearly the past two years. Now that the moving anxiety has settled down and most of my belongings have been accounted for, I feel that "shit is getting real" as they say.

A book could be filled with the horrible things I've said about Korea, I bitch about living and working here quite a bit.  Some is warranted, certainly not all. But I won't dwell on that now. I bring it up just to show myself how not terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad my time here has been.  I have met really nice people and seen cool things and done stuff that I probably would not have been able to had I not come to Korea, but that isn't hard to leave. You can find incredible people and have exciting new experiences anywhere you go. What you can't find everywhere is my students.

I remember my first class I taught here, they were rambunctious and obnoxious and I didn't know how to control them. One day they made me cry.

I have literally watched students grow up, from being little shrimps with messy hair to growing nearly as tall (if not taller) than me and donning braces and attempting to style, or god forbid perm, their hair to attract members of the opposite sex.  It freaks me out when I hear a student's voice change for the first time, and every time I think back to when I heard Jack's voice after it had changed at Jen's wedding rehearsal dinner in Los Angeles and about cried. I feel that same way when I notice changes in my students. I love them, how could I not?

Tonight was especially hard. Thursday night Debate class. These kids are... just so special. It's difficult to put into words exactly how wonderful they are. Sure, they're kids, so they drive me nuts sometimes. But they make me crazy in the way that burning a grilled cheese upsets me. I still love it, I'm definitely still going to eat it (not that I'm a cannibal, but whatever), and I'll just try harder to make it better next time.  I could barely say goodbye to these kids when we were getting ready to leave the classroom.  Saying goodbye indefinitely to kids that you've fallen in love with is an absolutely awful feeling.

I don't know where I'm going with this post. But for all the shitty emotions I'm experiencing right now, it makes me think that some part of this was all worth it. For the times I wanted to burn my academy down (every other day), for the failing system and dictator-like way we are expected to treat these kids, for every other stupid stupid part of this work I've been doing for the past two years. These kids are so worth it. They are so phenomenal and I am so a better person for being around them.  Some of them were sort of my teachers, as corny and terrible as that line is.

Going to go look at class pictures and cry into my bowl of popcorn because it's the only thing I have left to cook in my empty apartment.

Yes, as they say, shit has gotten real. T-3 more days left in Korea.

12 May 2014

Osaka & Kyoto in a Weekend

With the limited vacation time my job allows me, it's hard to venture too far from the Korean capital without spending an unimaginable amount of money for far too short of a time period.  Luckily, Japan is getting into the really cheap airlines business, and the flight from Seoul Incheon to Osaka International is about an hour and a half long.  At the right price and the right time, a weekend in Japan can actually be pretty doable, if not jam packed and a bit hectic.

24 April 2014

Sad Geniuses

Typically I wouldn't quote anything from the all knowing and well informed website "Buzzfeed," but this is too relevant not to pass on.  See if you can find Korea.

14 April 2014

It's Not About You.

This week was a tough one at work.  It's so easy to become complacent with your hakwon job here in Korea.  People back home see you as a teacher, but when you take a step back to consider the actual work you're doing here, you realize that you are serving a much less dignified purpose.  You are thought of by this society as a glorified babysitter at best.  You are a cog in a poorly oiled machine that cranks out test score improvements to appease angry mothers, and if you fail to do so the system will attempt to reprimand you but will not have a solution for you because it is so poorly organized and haphazardly balancing on it's last leg that it can barely stand much less come up with answers for its own issues.

03 February 2014

Type A Travel Woes

About 35,000 feet above the South China Sea, the universe finally completed a lesson it's apparently been trying to teach me for a long time. I'm absolutely piss poor at traveling.

The Lunar New Year, or 설날 (Seollal) as it's referred to in Korea, is a massive holiday all over Asia. Little kids love it because they get paid to bend at the waist in front of their grandparents, adults love it because their 78 hour work weeks finally subside for a day or two (if they're lucky), and people like me love it because it means we can get the hell out of dodge (or in my case, Suji) for a much needed long weekend post winter intensive season. After much deliberation (about 25 minutes) I decided to book a flight to Hong Kong for the Chinese New Year.  I figured mainland China isn't really my jams, but I loved Taiwan so Hong Kong had to be somewhat similar, right?

Here's where I began to go wrong.

27 January 2014

25 November 2013

Andrew's Leaving Korea Because He Can't Stop Losing To Me At Bar Games.

It's no secret that I'm pretty heavy on the sentimental stuff at times, and I've been known to let my emotions get wildly out of control, but fear not because this will not be one of those moments.  Sometimes you meet people in your life that make you want to be a better person, people that make you strive to do your best each day, people that uplift your spirit and encourage your hopes and dreams.  This is not a story about those types of people.  This is a story about one of the best people I've ever met in my entire life, my friend Andrew.  And how much I want to simultaneously hug him until he explodes and hit him in the face with the back of my hand.

13 October 2013

Long Overdue Apartment Video

Suji - land of apartments
(photo source: http://www.panoramio.com/photo/47144035 )

Earlier this Summer (err I guess technically it's Autumn now, whatever) I finally escaped from the crap that was my London Vill apartment into a regular human sized apartment down the street.  A big part of the reason why I decided to stay in Korea a bit longer than originally planned was to do with this move.  I had to sign a year contract and I moved in in May, so instead of being a jerk and bailing out three months into my contract, I decided to do the mature thing and finish my apartment contract as well as extend at work so they end at the same time.  Anyway, enough with the words, onto the video (after the link)!

30 August 2013

보령머드축제 - Boryeong Mudfest!

Every July a small beach town on the Western coast of Korea called Boryeong (or Daecheon) gets more foreigner action than most cities of 100,000 on the peninsula will ever see.  There's a nice little beach there and some fun outdoor bars and random arcade game booths, but other than that there isn't a whole laundry list of things to do in Boryeong.  Unless of course you're planning to visit in the last two weekends of July, then you're guaranteed all of that plus about 2 million (so says Wikipedia, I would beg to differ but whatever, sounds impressive) people who are there to play in mud and drink cheap Korean beers on the beach together.  Boryeong basically explodes into this massive all day and all night party for two weeks straight, which can't be nice for the residents there but is pretty stinkin' fun as an attendee.

Here I am doing my best to fit in with the locals taking selfies on the beach.  Couldn't throw up the Korean deuces because I needed both hands to steady the camera. Dude in the back totally caught me... embarrassing.