Monday, August 2, 2010

Sometimes you feel like a turtle with a load of rocks on its back

Oh dear. It's been a long time since I last posted. I'm still here in Korea teaching and melting a bit in the humidity. You'd think that someone from SC would handle the humidity all right, but even K, being from south FL, says that there is something different about the humidity here. Generally I like hot weather, but I really wish there was a beach to go to.

People keep asking "How is Korea? How is Korea?" Well, like any country, there are many layers of course and I can't answer for all of it. The food is good, the historical sights are really neat, the students are pretty good, and I love seeing mountains in the distance. But I've also had many unpleasant and stressful experiences, both in everyday life and with my (and K's) jobs. I knew from the get-go that it would have a lot to do with the luck of the draw, but I thought I did my homework and we had some great offers. I guess I was mistaken on that, and only later did I realize that we never did an interview with these schools or the office that oversees them. But you know what? I've learned that when you take a job on the other side of the world, it doesn't matter how much research you think you've done, there are still variables upon variables and there's no way you can really know what you're in for.

We're going to explore more of this country to get out of this town. I've had better experiences in the bigger cities we've visited so I'm excited to go to Seoul, finally, in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, I'm sitting in the countryside and weighing my options. The universe always has a way of working things out, right?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

By the way

K and I are keeping a blog about our time here in South Korea. It's at  if you're interested :)

Sorry for the lack of updates lately. I notice I've lost followers.. well, I suppose that's how it goes. It's super hot and humid here and my wardrobe is incredibly abbreviated here, so I felt like I haven't had any post-worthy material. Like I said, I will definitely return full force once I can indulge myself with a shopping trip, hehe. I'm definitely missing my sewing machine like crazy!

Anyway, I hope you are all well and enjoying the summer (or winter, if you're in the southern hemisphere!)

Monday, June 21, 2010

How to dress for humidity

So I know central SC is hot and humid, but it doesn't compare with the humidity of being right on the Yellow Sea. There is something about the quality of the humidity here that makes it more difficult to tolerate. It's not even that hot out yet, but the humidity just puts a film on everything. I can't imagine what the humidity is like in Seoul where it's mixed with pollution. No, I'm pretty happy living in a small city.

So here's how I've been dressing to keep cool in this weather: gauzy shirts! I find that they are the best because they breathe so well and they also hide sweat well for those of us who need that particular quality in a fabric ;)

This is my favorite gauze top.

Great for getting ready to go..

Coming home..

Doing laundry..

And finally people-watching and enjoying the sunshine from the balcony! Sitting out here in the early afternoons is especially nice because a breeze comes through, and there is a piano studio in my apartment complex so I can hear the lessons. It's very soothing :)

What else have I been up to lately? Well, I decided to volunteer with Animal Rescue Korea since I have a little time on my hands until mid-July, and through them I've taken in a foster kitten. The shelters here are all terribly crowded (as with most countries I'm sure) and while they try to be no-kill, there also are no limits on the number of animals they take in. So they end up with dozens of animals in one cage. It's really heartbreaking, and I'm so happy that I can help even one animal. We named this little guy Tama, and he's quickly getting better. It's amazing to me that he's so much better after only three days of medication and proper food and water. And love, of course :) 

If anyone out there reading this is in Korea and wants to volunteer but doesn't know how, please look up Animal Rescue Korea. They are amazing people and so easy to work with, and would love more volunteers.

How can you resist?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

First transmission from the outpost

From this:

To this:

We're actually here. And we've been here going on a week now. K is getting settled in to his job and I'm hanging out at our apartment until my contract starts in July. I'm typing this from one of our balconies and admiring the view. There's a tiny market near the entrance to our high-rise complex that plays relaxing music in the afternoons. It's wonderful :)

Allow me to share the view with you, as seen through a screen:

I think it's pretty neat, especially for a small city. There's also an elementary school right across the street from us, which you can see from another of our balconies (we have three!). I could hear the little kids singing in music class outside this morning.

We also live within walking distance of a big department store. The clothes are really reasonably priced and so cute, and with so much free time on my hands at the moment, this place is a danger zone for my shopping habit! Yikes!

Time to switch to super-duper-frugal mode. Sigh.

Only until I get my first paycheck though...

By the way, thanks so much for the kind & encouraging comments, you guys. This was a really tough decision to make and I'm sure it's not going to be a cake walk, but I'm determined to have fun while I'm here. Even if it means spending most of my paycheck at the markets. (err.... hope K isn't reading this...)  Expect more pictures in the near future when I get a real internet connection and don't have to rely on whatever wifi network is unlocked in my building. Shhhh..... ;) 

Over and out.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Visas and tickets and boxes, oh my!

Oh dear! Well, it's official: this time next week, I will be on a plane to Tokyo. And then to Seoul. And then a cross-country bus to my city. Freaking out? Yeah, you could say that!

Today K and I traipsed all the way over to Atlanta today to drop off our visa applications and back. Since we're on such a tight schedule and I don't want to deal with exorbitant fares in booking tickets a day before we need to leave, we decided to do it this way and not leave the visas to chance with the postal service. Our mailman, in the last year, has lost several of my magazines, a few bills, and my new credit card. So, to say I have little faith in our passports getting back to us would be an understatement. It really takes a lot of time to go down there and back, but at least I'll have it in my hand on Monday.

K and I now have the names of our schools! K will be teaching at two schools, so that should be interesting for him. Our schools are on opposite sides of town, so that's kind of a bummer, but downtown is nearly right in between the two, and our coordinator is trying to get us an apartment there so we have equal commutes. Anyway we'd be closer to shopping and transportation, so that's fine with me.

It's funny now that I'm telling people about what we're doing, because all of a sudden so many people are coming out of the woodwork and saying things like "Oh I've been to Korea!" or "My friend/cousin/ex teaches English there!" In fact, an old friend of mine from high school suddenly sent me a message on Facebook and announced that she's been teaching there for the past 9 months! How weird is that? So we're going to get together soon after K and I arrive. I can't wait! How cool to have an "in" to my new country!

My last lesson with my ESL students was on Wednesday. I felt so bad to have to leave them so suddenly. Everything came together at the last minute and these jobs were either take-them-or-leave-them, and we had to take them. We had a little party, and the girls wrote me cards, and they gave me a beautiful framed picture of all of them in yukata and a cute little coin purse to take with me and use in Korea. So nice! I definitely had a little tear in my eye. One of my students e-mailed me last night after her middle school graduation to tell me how it went. She was chosen to give a speech, and I helped her put it together. Here's part of her message:

Thank you very much for your help.
maybe  I couldn't make it without your help
You are a great tutor!!
and GOOD-LUCK in Korea!!
Honestly, how cute is that? I'm so glad I had the chance to work with them. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Public Service Announcement. And Niagara Falls.

Look what I did for Memorial Day weekend!

Yup, definitely went to Niagara Falls. I wish we would have had more time to hang out at the park there and do the boat ride or trolley ride and go to the aquarium and stuff, but we were on a really tight schedule. We actually went to Rochester to check out a long-term boarding place for our cats where they don't use cages-- difficult to find! It was a really cool place, run by two of the neatest people we had ever met. Even though we're in SC, it's totally worth it to take the cats up there because we know they'll be well cared for.

No outfit post today, and probably none for quite a while. Why? Because most of my clothes are packed away! The evening we arrived in Rochester, we did four phone interviews. Let me tell you, I just wanted to tell them all to shut up and let me sleep... but in the end it paid off, because we were offered jobs with all four! We had been planning to go to Korea at the end of August during the big foreign teacher intake time for public schools, but our financial situation started demanding we do something sooner than that. So after poking around for a while and then doing lots of interviews, we were offered positions at public schools in a small city. My position starts in mid-July, but K's is an ASAP position and they ideally wanted him to start on June 11. June 11!! It doesn't look like we can be there by June 11 because we're waiting for our Notices of Approval to arrive in the mail and then we have to wait for the embassy in Atlanta to process our visas. But it looks like we'll probably end up getting there the 13th or 14th. That's less than two weeks. Good lord.

Our apartment went from tidy and quaint to a hurricane of boxes almost the minute we got back from Rochester. I'm really tired of packing up and moving, ugh. This will be the.... I don't even know.... 23rd time I've moved in my life? The longest I've ever lived in one place is five years, when I was a kid. I can't even imagine what that would feel like now. Our landlord is already trying to screw us over. I. Hate. Landlords. They are the scum of the earth. I've only rented with ONE that has not screwed me over.

There is something else I want to mention. I know this post is kind of a downer, but I don't care. I've been trying to look on the bright side and find the good in people for the last year and I've only gotten burned. There is no good in people, deep down. At least not in Americans.

When we were driving back from New York, we were on a multi-lane interstate in Pennsylvania around dinner time, with quite a bit of traffic around. Suddenly, K notices a deer at the edge of the road and intuitively knows the thing is going to try to cross. It does. K swerves off the road as the deer runs into the side of our car (yes, it hit us, we didn't hit it). We go over the gravel shoulder and into a ditch. This all happened at around 75 m.p.h. I was screaming my head off and bracing myself when we finally came to a stop in the ditch. We sat there, shell-shocked, for a minute, and then made sure our body parts were all still attached. Other than some cuts, we were fine. But here's the thing that gnaws at me:

Not one person stopped. No one called the police for us.

We could have been unconscious in that car, and not a single person who witnessed the accident (and trust me there were plenty) gave enough of a shit to see if we were all right. I fucking hate people. I hate the apathy of this pathetic country. No wonder it's on a downswing. I was beside myself about this when we finally were on the road again, and then K told me that when a work buddy of his had had a really nasty accident and flipped his car after hydroplaning on an interstate in SC, no one even stopped then. The man flipped his car and rolled it into the woods next to the road, and no one even stopped. He was trapped in the car upside down and had to somehow call the cops himself.

What the FUCK is wrong with Americans?

I am sick of moving and I am bitter as hell that I have to go to another country to find a job that pays enough to live on and has health benefits and that I can't even finish my Master's degree even though I only need two more classes. But you know what? If it means that I can be away from a country full of such apathetic, self-centered assholes, I'm getting the better deal.

You want to help your country? Try looking at what's going on around you and actually help someone once in a while. I know I would, and in fact I have before, but I'm being forced to leave this land of selfish bastards. Whoever is out there reading this, if you see someone crash their car, for god's sake STOP and see if they're all right and see if you need to call a fucking ambulance for them. It's not that hard. It's really not.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Secret Garden

When I was a kid, I loved The Secret Garden. My class read it in the second grade, and I loved the air of mystery of the garden and characters. Maybe it was that movie that partially inspired my love of nature. I always wanted a garden full of lush greenery and flowers, with high ivy-covered walls. This picture makes it look like I'm halfway there!

Did you ever read that book?

Yes, this is really my yard. Or, these days, jungle. It's nothing like the manicured 100% Kentucky bluegrass lawns that are prized in the North, but I love the various little ground cover plants that grow here. I love spending time in my little nature sanctuary. As long as I have, you know, bug spray :D

And it's also better when it doesn't start raining every five minutes! Yikes!

Jacket: $20
Dress: $13
Sandals: $16
Necklace: $10

TOTAL: $59

dress - Target / jacket - Steve & Barry's / sandals - Payless / necklace - JC Penney