Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Our Apartment

As requested by my family here's a video MY and I did of our new apartment.  Now that we've been here a month it's actually beginning to feel like home.

We're located on the east part of Seoul, about a 5-10 minute walk from Guui Station on Line #2, the circle line.  It's pretty convienent, especially since Lotte is about a 15 minute walk and there are lots of corner grocery stores around here too.  As well as lots of restaurants.  I'm about a 15-20 minute walk from work.

Well, here's the apartment!  Hope you enjoy!

Hope you enjoy!

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Long Trip Back

Flying back to Korea I flew on United.  It was quite a bit different from Delta for several reasons, and I'll get into those later.

On Tuesday afternoon I flew from Niceville to Housten.  The flight was rather uneventful, but I was starving by the end of it and they served no snack, just drinks.

As soon as I got to Housten I took the tram to the right concourse, where I proceeded to follow my nose to a Subway.  I couldn't eat a foot long, but I ordered one anyway since I had a suspicion that the flight to San Francisco wouldn't have food either.  I ate half the sandwich and then found my gate and played on iPad until it was time to board.

I had been partially right about the flight to San Francisco.  There was food, but they charged extra for it.  And it wasn't worth what they were charging.  So about an hour out of San Francisco I ate the rest of my sandwich.

It was about 2100 or so when I landed and I went and grabbed my bags, then found the free taxi to my hotel.  I had a pleasant stay in the hotel.  I don't know what it is about hotels, but whenever I stay in one all by myself I actually feel like I'm a real adult.  Which is amusing, since you'd think leaving everything I know to get a job in a country halfway across the world would make me feel that more.

The next morning I woke early, grabbed some of the free breakfast, and headed back to the airport.  I dropped off my bag again and then passed through security and found my gate.

The flight was booked solid so they were offering to check carry on bags for free.  I checked mine since I didn't want to deal with finding a spot for it.

Once on the plane I found I was in the very last row between a young Korean man and an old Korean woman.  It turned out the woman and her husband were on the flight together and their seats had been separated.  So, remembering my first flight overseas when a nice young man switched with my grandmother so our seats would be together I offered to switch with him.  After a conversation using hand gestures and my baby Korean they understood me and I found myself pleasantly surprised to be sitting in an aisle seat next to a young Korean woman.

It was SO much better!

The flight was really long.  I couldn't really sleep, though I managed to doze a little.  There were no screens on the back of the seats so I had to watch whatever they put on.  Some were good, like 'Men in Black 3', others I'd seen before, like 'The Amazing Spiderman', and some were so boring I don't even remember the names...

I read some on my kindle and even watched a movie on my iPad.

It was a long flight.

When I arrived at Incheon I helped a couple young (18ish) army people that had no idea where to go.  I don't think they'd ever traveled internationally before.

Customs was easy to get through.  Though after I picked up my suitcase I got stopped for a random drug search and my bags were sniffed by a dog.

I was met by a taxi driver my school hired.  He drove me all the way across Seoul to my school.  Then I was taken to my apartment, since the girl I was replacing had already moved out.

I wasn't expecting that so I had no towels or anything.  Luckily MY came to my rescue when he got off work with towels and such.   It was so nice to shower again.

The next day, Friday, I got picked up by the school secretary, Young Teacher.  She took me to work where I spent the morning and afternoon following around the previous teacher.

Then, at 1600, I raced out of the school, sped walked to the subway, and rode it for an hour to the opposite side of Seoul.  Then I walked for 15-20 minutes to the immigration office where I proceeded to transfer my visa from CNS to Kid's College.  I also had to pick up stamped copies of the apostilled copies they had of my diploma and FBI background check.

Go figure.

The immigration office closed at 1800 and I left there just as it closed.  Then I walked the 15-20 minutes back to the subway, rode it for an hour and did my best not to fall asleep.

I completely skipped my apartment, though all I wanted was my bed, and got off at the East Seoul Bus Terminal.  I met MY and we grabbed some food before boarding the 2000 bus to Daegu.  I passed out as soon as the bus was moving.  Upon reaching Daegu we caught a taxi to his parents' house.  The taxi tried to cheat us by taking the long way and MY gave him hell.

Don't try and trick someone in their hometown.

That's why when I've ridden in a taxi by myself to somewhere new I keep my maps up on my phone.

We got to his parents house sometime between 2300 and 0000.  I really don't know.  I really just remember washing and then passing out.  I woke up really early the next morning due to jet lag and MY's parents made MY get up, though I was happy to quietly read my kindle.  His mom was concerned that I needed something and since we couldn't communicate very well poor MY lost sleep....

After breakfast and some watching of Pixar shorts MY and I grabbed his car and headed down to Changwon.

We went downtown and met up with my replacement, Tiana, to give her the spare key I had for my apartment that I had forgotten about before.  Then we went over to JD's place.

We grabbed all of my stuff and loaded it in MY's car.  The three of us grabbed lunch together and had a good time talking.  We eventually said farewell though and headed back to Daegu.

We had a light dinner with his mom and sister and then continued on to Seoul.  I passed out pretty early on in the drive.  We made one stop to use the bathroom, except for then I was sound asleep as my body healed and recovered from the jet lag.

We unpacked the car and then he found a parking spot somewhere and we showered and slept.  Well, I went back to sleep.

The next morning he headed out to the goshiwon he'd been staying in and got all of his stuff while I stayed and unpacked my stuff.  Once we were all unpacked we headed to Lotte and E-Mart where we got hooks to go over the doors, a shoe rack, dishes, and other random things we needed.

Then he went and parked his car at his office while I finished setting things up and unpacking.  He came back and we grabbed some food and then passed out at about 1800.

We didn't wake up again until 0600 on Monday morning.

We both needed that.

Due to the traveling I have no idea how long it actually was between when I boarded the plane in Niceville and when I woke up on Monday morning, but I'm pretty sure it was one of the longest times of my life.

Especially since I was still trying to cough up my lung.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Whirlwind Visit

So, I last left off as I greeted my family at the airport in Niceville.

That was just the beginning of the shortest visit to my hometown I could possibly stomach.

We leave the airport and I go with my dad and sister to where Elli is housesitting.  She checks on the dogs before we meet back up at Apple Jack and Kay-Kay's house, which is where I would be staying.

I then proceeded to grab the most amazing shower in the world before throwing on nice clothes, grabbing some gifts, and then heading back out the door with my dad and sister.

Elli and I dropped Dad off at his place before we headed to our cousin's new house.  Liz and her husband, Josh, bought this house in the year I was away, so I'd never seen it, but I knew exactly where it was because I'd seen it by the water every time I drove to the base, so was an odd feeling to finally get to see it.

I was given a grand tour by Liz and her sisters Laura and Katherine (who also lives there as boarders).  It's a very nice house, they've done really well for themselves.  I did find it highly amusing that just their bathroom was the size of my apartment in Changwon.  For some reason I kept repeating that, probably because that was all my exhausted, jet-lagged, and ill body could focus on.

They had some friends over and we went out to their second building (a former workshop) to watch 'Cabin in the Woods'.  It's funny during the movie she served sodas, popcorn, and cookies.  I headed straight for the salty popcorn and got to eat a whole delicious bag by myself.  It's hard to find here, most popcorn is sweet.

Elli dropped me off at our grandparents' house at around midnight.  I couldn't sleep so I spent the next hour or so setting up my new laptop and iPad before finally crashing.

On Sunday I woke up around 1000 and ate a delicious breakfast of Kashi cereal.  I continued to work on my laptop until Apple Jack and I headed up to Winn-Dixie, where I proceeded to buy all sorts of goodies that I couldn't get in Korea.  I'm still sad that I bought french onion dip and cape cod potato chips and then never felt up to eating them....

Everything else I got to eat though, so that was good.

Then Apple Jack taught me how to drive with a stick shift....

Let's just say I now know how, but DEFINITELY prefer automatic.  I also have a PROFOUND respect for the fact that MY drives stick in Korea, where the traffic is CRAZY.

As Simon and Martina (aka eatyourkimchi) talk about here:

Sunday evening I went up to Crestview with Elli to her game night.  I was really looking forward to seeing my friend Michael, but he ended up having to do some last minute work at the museum, so he couldn't make it.

I still had a good time though with Elli's friends.  We ate cheap American pizza (which I spent the $15 dollars on since I felt sorry for all the poor college kids) and played Munchkin.

It was awesome.

On Monday I had a dentist appointment and tried to get my eyebrows done, but the shop was closed.  So instead I met up with Elli when she got out of class and we ate some good Southern barbecue.  It was so weird having no button on the table and having to leave a tip.

In the early evening I went to borrow a card table from Bob and Wanda's house.  They were super surprised and happy to see me, since I used to housesit for them.  They gave me a glass of good wine as I talked about Korea.

I spent the rest of the evening relaxing at my grandparents' since I was still super sick.  My stomach was better, but I had no appetite and I was coughing like a dying person.  Several times I coughed so bad I lost what little I'd been able to eat.

It was bad.

On Tuesday Apple Jack drove me up the college around lunchtime where we met Elli.  The three of us had lunch in the new student building they built since I graduated.  It was very nice.  Especially the lovely loaded salad dripping with ranch dressing.

Then Apple Jack headed home.  Elli and I were going to go out to Pensacola, but first we stopped by the Education Department and I stopped by Dr. Ketter's office.  She was so surprised to see me, it was lovely.  Unfortunately, I was having a bad coughing spell when I was in her office, so she thought I was dying...

After that Elli and I hopped in the car and headed for Pensacola.  She did her homework while I drove.  After a little over an hour and a stop for flowers later we were at Barrancas National Cemetery.

Elli had been there a few months before, but I hadn't been there sine the ceremony.

I have no words.

We headed back after that.  We were meeting up with our other grandfather in Navarre (Captain Bob) for dinner.  Partway through Gulf Breeze I was about to pass out at the wheel, so I pulled over and Elinore did the driving.

We met up with Captain Bob and had a lovely Mexican meal.  It was delicious.  I think that was the first meal I've ever had with Captain Bob where I did more than 50% of the talking.  He just wanted to know about Korea.

Elli and I headed back to Niceville afterwards and she did all the driving while I dozed in the passenger seat.

When we got to Niceville she dropped me off at Dad's and then went to check on the dogs she was housesitting.  I had a lovely time just hanging out with my dad as he showed me Skyrim.  He drove me back to Apple Jack and Kay-Kay's a bit later.

I couldn't sleep again so I messed around on my computer and then ended up buying Skyrim since it was 70% off on Steam.  That game is a big part of the reason why this blog has gone so long without getting updated.  Since during my 'me time' I've been playing that instead of writing....

On Wednesday I woke really, really late and felt extremely terrible.  I ended up calling the doctor's and made an appointment for Thursday morning.  Then I installed Age of Empires III (AOE3) on my new computer before heading over to my dad's.

Not from that game, but just an example.
Michael came over and we played a game of AOE3 to relieve our old college days.  It's funny, those games of AOE3 are what ultimately led to Elli's game nights.

Dad showed up with Mexican a bit later and Elli came out to join us as we ate.  Then Elli, Michael, and I played Harry Potter Lego 5-7 on the xbox.  It was a really nice evening.  Michael had work the next day though so it was rather short.

I think Elli drove me home later, but I don't really remember.

On Thursday I went to the doctor where he loaded me up on antibiotics, cough medicine for the daytime, and tussionex for nighttime.

I was supposed to meet Laura for a coffee, but she had a doctor's appointment, so we rescheduled for Friday.

That evening Kay-Kay was hosting Bunko, so I got to see all of those ladies again.  It was really nice, especially since I won my money back.

On Friday I don't exactly remember what I did during the day.  I don't think it was much.  I was supposed to meet Laura in the evening and talk and hang out, but our old high school friend, Mike, was having his birthday party.  So she chose to go to that with her fiancee.  She invited me along, but it was in a smoky bar and I was still trying to cough up a lung.

Instead Elli came and picked me up and I spent the evening with Dad and Elli, then spent the night over there.

On Saturday morning I went back over to Liz's house.  We were going to have a tea party:

It was EXTREMELY delicious.  Laura deigned not to join us, choosing to eat her bowl of Count Chocula before going to pick up her twin Margret.  Margret and her husband Derrick were lucky enough to get leave for the one whole weekend I'd be back in the States.

After tea we played a game of Munchkin.  When Margret and Laura showed up they had Laura's fiancee, Nick with them.  Nick went to go nap and Laura and Margret joined us for another game of Munchkin.

We finished about 1800 when Elli and I took our leave.  We met up with our grandparents and dad.  Then the five of us headed across the bridge to Destin.  Where we had a delicious dinner at Olive Garden.  I couldn't get enough of their bread sticks.

I went back to Dad's that evening to spend the night.  We all ended up staying up until about midnight looking at old photos.

On Sunday, early in the morning, we headed over to Liz's again since she and Josh had been informed they were holding a family brunch.  It was so nice to see everyone.  Taking advantage of that fact that Margret, Derrick, and I were around lots of photos were taken:

L to R: Derrick, Nick, Josh, Dad, Uncle Jerry

L to R: Laura, Aunt Marcie, Uncle Jerry, Katherine, Liz, Margret

L to R: Katherine, Nick, Laura, Aunt Marcie, Uncle Jerry, Liz, Josh, Margret, Derrick
L to R: Me, Dad, Elli
After brunch Elli and I drove over to Fort Walton Beach where we were meeting Aunt Diana at Paneras for lunch.  Due to an interesting combination of laundry, a lost cellphone, and a cop she was over thirty minutes late.

Like with Grandpa, I did most of the talking since she wanted to know all about Korea.

Then we said goodbye and Elli and I went back to Dad's.  Michael came over and we played Harry Potter Lego, then Elli's friends came over.  Dad got us pizza and we played this crazy zombie game.  I find it highly amusing that I won the game just because I outlasted everyone after they'd killed all the zombies in the way.  I only had three zombie kills by the end of the game, everyone else had around ten or more...

Oh, and I used a card to make Rin unable to win when she was about to.

Then we moved to living area, where we sprawled across the floor, bean bag, and couch to play another game of Munchkin.  We all had a good time and kept screwing each other over, just as you should in a game of Munchkin.

That evening I went back over to Apple Jack and Kay-Kay's house.

On Monday I went with Apple Jack, Kay-Kay, and my dad to one of the Korean restaurants in town.  I found the kimchi to be tasteless and the bulgogi wasn't tasty, but they all liked it.  I guess American Korean food will just never be good for me now that I've had the real stuff.  Though it was funny reading 김 밥 (gimbap) as gimbob since it was translated very poorly.

Then Dad (who had the day off for Columbus Day) and I headed over to Destin where we sat on the beach, drank margaritas, and just talked.  It was so relaxing.

It's hard to look at these pictures right now since I'm currently wear fuzzy socks, fuzzy pants, and a sweatshirt since it's 41 F right now, and that's the HIGH for the day...

After the beach Dad and I went to Barnes and Nobles and Best Buy just to look around.  I didn't think of it at the time, but now I wish we'd gone to Destin Commons, too.  I never actually made it there, but, oh well.

After the stores we went went to a self-serve yogurt place and had some delicious frozen yogurt.  I loaded mine up with fruit.

We all had dinner at my grandparents that evening.  After a lovely dinner we watched a movie.  It's funny, I knew I had seen it, but Dad had no memory of watching all of it with me back when I was in high school.

I was almost crying as I said goodbye to my dad that night.  Same when I said goodbye to Elli, even though I knew I'd see her the next day.  That's truly the only hard thing about living here in Korea, I just don't get to see them.  Skype is nice, but it just isn't the same.

On Tuesday I had my last bowl of Kashi cereal.  Then for lunch I had root beer and some of Kay-Kay's Zuppa Tuscana soup as I sat on the back porch and listened to the birds at the bird feeder.

After lunch we loaded my bags into the car, swung by and picked up my sister, and then headed to the airport.  We checked my bag and then settled down to chat and wait for a little while.  Aunt Diana ended up coming.

It was nice to see her and we took some pictures.  Leaving this time was so much harder then it was the year before.

Back in 2011 it was 0530 and Kay-Kay and I were alone at the airport.  I was drowning in grief over my mother and just wanting to get away from Florida and all of the memories.  I had no idea what was waiting for me in Korea, but I was eager to find out.

This time it was about 1300 and I was with Kay-Kay, Apple Jack, Elli, and Aunt Diana.  I was still recovering from my illness and all I wanted was more time with my family.  It was really hard to leave.  I think that if I hadn't had MY to come back to it would have be nigh impossible.  I did what to come back to Korea, just not so quickly.

Well, a few minutes after these next pictures were taken I passed through security and prepared to take the first of three flights on my way back to Korea and MY.

L to R: Aunt Diana, Me

L to R: Kay-Kay, Elli, Me, Apple Jack

Monday, October 29, 2012

Back to Niceville

Wow, it's been awhile since my last post.

I humbly apologize.

Most of this delay has been due to things outside of my control, as you will soon find out.

Now, back on Saturday, the 8th of September, I went to Seoul to visit MY.  The two of us lazed around during the day and didn't do much.  Then we headed to a motel near the airport since he had a flight in the morning to Germany.

Neither of us were feeling to good.  I'd had a cough for a bit and he was developing one, but he had to fly out for work.

He was loaded up on medicine from the doctor as he watched me board a bus to Daegu.  As the bus took me to Daegu his plane took off.  Upon reaching Daegu I hopped onto a train down to Changwon.

That week was spent busy at work.

On Friday I went on a late night bike party with Casey, JD, and some other cool people.  This was really fun, but then it started raining and I think that, plus the cold, was not good for my cough.  It got worse over the weekend and I took it really easy.

On Wednesday MY got back and went straight to the hospital.

You see, he'd been progressively getting worse while he was in Germany, until he spent the last two days barely stirring from bed.

Turns out his temperature was a grand 102 F when he was admitted.  They checked his lungs and discovered he had pneumonia.

Guess who got admitted to the hospital?

Now, this was bad for many reasons.

1.  He was in the freaking hospital.  With pneumonia!
2.  I still had a cough that wasn't going away.  So guess who went to the hospital early on Thursday morning?
3.  Our plans for the weekend were destroyed.  Originally he was going to take a bus to Daegu, then drive his car to Changwon, where we were going to pack all my stuff into his car.  Then, on Sunday, he was going to drive back to Seoul.

All of this meant that, on top of getting ready to leave Korea, I had the added stress of finding somewhere else to put my stuff while I was gone, worrying that I was going to come down with bronchitis or pneumonia or something, and the fact that my boyfriend was in a hospital, hours away from me or his family and he has no really close friends in Seoul at the moment.

I went to the hospital on Thursday morning.  I told all my symptoms and the fact that my boyfriend was in the hospital with pneumonia that had developed from bronchitis.

She put me on antibiotics and this nasty pink cough syrup.  I started feeling better right away.

On Saturday I caught a bus to Seoul and went to visit MY in the hospital.  I stayed with him for a couple hours and then went out to go to a jjimjilbang and get something to eat.  I ended up unable to eat anything and came to the realization that my appetite had been decreasing over the past week or two and since I went to the doctor's I'd lost even more of it.  But, I felt better other ways so I just ignored it, figuring the medicine was messing with me.

I stayed the night at the hospital and caught a bus back to Changwon on Sunday around noon.  Once I got back I met up with JD (Who is amazingly awesome and I owe him so much).  He helped me get my stuff out of my apartment, into a taxi, and into his place.  Where he graciously let me store it in his spare room for two weeks.  Granted, for half of that time he'd be in Japan.

Once that was all done we hit up a Gimbap Chingu place for dinner, where JD was first introduced to Omurice (amazing rice omelet thing)

I then went home to my very empty apartment.

MY got out of the hospital on Monday afternoon and went back to work on Tuesday.

My medicine ran out on Tuesday morning and I was still feeling under the weather.  So I went back to the hospital, where she gave me more medicine and also had me get an x-ray, which came out as clean.

I was feeling really poorly still, and then things got worse.  My appetite disappeared completely as my body began revolting entirely.  Over the next few days I made several mad dashes to the restroom.  Which caused me to get rather severe dehydration, so I was downing 2L bottles of water and procari sweat (Korean powerade thing) as much as I could.  Oh, and I was determined not to share any of this with anyone while it was happening because I found it embarrassing, and, also, I was afraid I wouldn't be able to go to Niceville.

I felt like my body was falling apart on me.  Which was made all the worse by the fact that I was taking a plane back to the States in just a few days.

Somehow I made it to Friday morning.

On Friday morning I woke up super early.  Packed up the last of my stuff.  Grabbed a last couple of bags and took them over to JD's in a taxi.  Then I caught a bike to the motel where Casey's replacement, Wilhelm was staying.

Then Casey and I took him to Casey's apartment and Casey then moved his stuff over to my apartment, where'd he'd be staying for his last night.

We took Wilhelm to a toast shop for brunch.  I barely ate a quarter of mine.

Then he got the grand whirlwind tour of Changwon.  Unfortunately I was totally out of it and made four bathroom trips.  I don't know why I even went.  They would've been better off without me.  But crazy me didn't think of that.

It was only after getting back to my apartment that I took my temperature and realized that it was about 100 F...

I took some tylenol and went to work, pulling my suitcase all the way to the school.

I was in such a daze during my last day that I didn't even have a second to miss the kids.  That whole last day is just a long blur.  And it wasn't even a full day.  I left at about 1900.  Esther and Donald helped me catch a taxi to the train station.

Once at the station I got my ticket printed (It was a holiday weekend in Korea, so there were SO MANY people!!!) and made my way through the busy station to my platform.  There I found a nice bench and sat for about 45 minutes reading on my kindle and praying that I wouldn't need  a bathroom during my wait.

Then it was about an hour train ride to my transfer.  Every seat on the train was full and many people were using standing room only tickets.  Luckily I had a seat.  I don't think I could have made it if I was supposed to stand.

At my transfer I got a little confused until I realized that the platform I got dropped off on was the one where my KTX (express) train was coming to.  While I was waiting a nice old Korean man came up to me and practiced his English on me.  He used to live in Detroit for a few years and so was just talking up a storm about Detroit and going to visit his family in Daejeon for the holiday.

I just nodded and smiled while I tried to stay on my feet for the next fifteen minutes.

Oh, and I also prayed that my body would continue to cooperate with me.

When the train came the man helped me put my suitcase in a luggage rack.  Then told me to have a safe trip back to the States.

And then:  I slept.

I just leaned back in my comfy KTX seat and disappeared into nothingness.  I woke up at one point and went to the restroom, but then I just went back to sleep.

I got to Seoul Station at around midnight, where MY met me.  He had arrived earlier and gotten us a motel nearby.  It's really weird though, there are almost no motels near Seoul Station.  We had to walk through a lot of underground subway passages full of sleeping homeless people and then up a long staircase before we got to the motel.

When we got there I showered and then passed out.  He wasn't long behind me, after all, he was still recovering from pneumonia.

We got up early the next morning and made the long trek back to Seoul Station, where we took the subway out to Incheon Airport.  I got my boarding pass and checked my suitcase.  I even paid the extra money to check my red backpack because I felt so horrible that I didn't think I'd be able to deal with it.

MY and I parted ways not long after that.  I went through security, and he went to catch a bus to Daegu.

My flight to Tokyo was lovely.  My stomach was feeling better and so I was able to eat the sushi and chicken that they served as a 'snack'.

Then in Tokyo my flight got delayed due to cabin pressure problems.  They finally let us board about an hour and a half after we were supposed to take off.  About that time was when I was feeling really dizzy, so I checked my temperature and realized that it was about 100.7 F

Once we were in the air we passengers discovered that seven of the eight bathrooms for coach on our 747 were out of order.  THEY were the cause of the cabin pressure problem...

It was a long flight.

Luckily my stomach was getting better, so the bathroom problem wasn't a big issue.

I watched several movies on the plane and also slept a lot.  Unfortunately I was in a middle middle seat so I couldn't get too comfortable.

When we landed in Atlanta I was given a fast pass to get through customs, but ended up not making my connecting flight.

For some reason I couldn't connect to the wifi in Atlanta.  Maybe I was just too tired to figure it out, but it just wasn't working.  So I ended up using this archaic thing called a pay phone!!!  I managed to call my sister collect (I had no American coins and long distance was crazy expensive with coins anyways) since no one else was answering and so let them know that I had missed my flight and wouldn't be arriving until 1900, instead of 1630...

After another long wait in an airport I finally boarded the last plane.  On that flight I got two seats to myself and had a very pleasant conversation with the guy across the aisle from me and the flight attendant.  I like sitting in the back on that short flight.  The flight attendants are always so awesome and friendly.

I finally landed in Niceville a little before 1900 on Saturday, after taking a flight from Seoul 22 hours previously at about 1100 on Saturday.

It was insane.  I felt exhausted as I walked off that plane.

Still, a bounce began to appear in my step as I headed for the escalator.  By the time I got past the security guard a huge grin was on my face.  When I finally saw Apple Jack, Kay-Kay, Elli, and my dad by baggage claim my heart was singing and all the hours of travel just washed away.

It was an amazing feeling, just being able to hug them and see them in person after so long.

I don't know when I've ever felt so happy.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Off Again

I'm currently sitting in the Houston Airport and typing this out on my new iPad.  I'll give a more detailed report when I get back to Korea and have time to sit and type.  Until then, this will have to do.

I've had a wonderful visit back to the Panhandle.  In the nine days I was there I accomplished everything I meant to accomplish and saw everyone I wanted to see (except Kristen).  I wish my visit had been longer, but being a working adult, means that my time is not entirely my own.

In about an hour I fly on to San Francisco.  I'll spend the night at a hotel by the airport and at 1100 local time tomorrow I fly on to Seoul.  I'll reach there at about 1500 on Thursday, where I'll be met by someone from my recruiting agency.

I don't start work until the 15th, but I need to transfer my visa on Friday and do all sorts of things like moving in and getting settled.  Hopefully it will all work out.

I'll update more once I'm settled.  Hopefully it won't be too long.

Have a good week!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Flying Back!

Well, I finally have my plane ticket back to Niceville.  I have no idea about my plane ticket coming back to Korea.  I've heard nothing, so we shall just wait and see!  Though I might have to leave before the 13th due to getting my visa transferred so I can start work on the 15th.  I don't like that since it will affect plans, but nothing is set in stone yet.

I'm going to have an adventure it looks like:

Yes, I am leaving Seoul at 1040 in the morning, when I don't get off work until 2100 the night before.  This means I'll be running back to my apartment right after work, grabbing my bags, and catching the next but to Incheon Airport.

At Incheon MY will be meeting me.  We originally thought my flight wouldn't leave until afternoon so he has a bus ticket from the airport to Daegu (his home city) at 5pm since it's a holiday weekend.  This means he has a long wait after I leave if he can't change his ticket...I hope he can.  I don't like the idea of him getting stuck sitting in the airport for so long.

I'll be getting to Incheon at around 0100 or 0200.  Then I'll have to check in at around 0700 and pass through security at around 0800.  After flying out at 1040 I'll arrive in Narita, Japan at 1320.

I chill in Narita for about two and a half hours, then I board a flight for Atlanta, Georgia at 1545.  I'll arrive in Atlanta at 1505 local time.  Yes, I travel backwards in time!

I get an hour and a half to rush through customs in Atlanta and catch my flight to Fort Walton Beach at 1633.  Then with me going backwards in time yet again I'll be landing at 1656 Central time.

I'll see you then!

(not to be taken literally, unless you just really want to see me all jet-lagged and exhausted...)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

More Changes

The weather has cooled, and with this change in weather comes a change in my situation.

For those of you that didn't know, I've decided to stay in Korea for another year, but not in Changwon.  I'm moving across the country to Seoul.

Seoul is the eleventh largest city in the world in terms of population just inside of the city limits.  It has about 10.5 million people inside the city limits.

When it comes to metropolitan areas, we end up with 20.5 million people.  That puts it as number two in the world, only beaten by Tokyo with 32.5 million.

And when they count the entire urban area around the city, you end up with it being number three with 22.5 million people.  Beaten by Tokyo with 37.1 and Jakarta with 26.1 million.

When you count it among the world's megacities it's number four with 25.3 million people.

A bit of a difference from Niceville's 12,000 people, isn't it?

Also, Seoul puts Changwon's 1.5 million people to shame.

Another big change for me is that I'll be switching from an afternoon private academy to a private kindergarten/academy.

From 1000-1400 I'll have my own private class of kindergarten students.  I'll teach them every subject and I'll be their only teacher.

From 1400-1800 I'll teach two classes of Elementary students English on MWF and one class on TR.

I won't really have any downtime at work, but I'm fine with that.  All the downtime here at CNS (almost four hours a day) gets a little tiring sometimes.  Especially when I run out of things to plan.

The third and final change is that I won't be living alone.

As I've told Apple Jack (who then told Kay Kay and my dad), MY and I are moving in together.

Another change you'll see is the design of my blog.  Yes, it's still called 'A Rose in Korea', but the only Rose to be found here now is me, or, as the Koreans like to say, 로즈 (ro-juh).  I figured that the previous design was a little too girly and immature looking.  Plus, I was getting tired of it and wanted to incorporate some of my pictures from here in Korea.

Some things haven't changed from last year though.  I'm sure if you reread 'here' you'll figure out what hasn't changed.

One thing I'm certain that has changed has been myself.

I'm more confident and sure of myself than I've ever been before.  Living alone, far from your support center, will do that for you.

I spent last Wednesday night with JD and Casey celebrating JD's birthday.  It was his first birthday without his family or fraternity brothers.  That, combined with the two month mark, made him homesick.

Casey and I treated him to some good Italian pizza and an ice cream cake that we proceeded to eat on a playground, in the dark.

Watching JD struggle with his homesickness reminded me of where I was at my two month mark and how hard it was, realizing that the first joys of adventure were gone and that I was far from everything I knew.

It was hard, super hard.

Probably one of the hardest moments in my life.  I remember crying in the McDonalds at 0500 with Claire.

But, the thing is, that no matter how hard that point was - it got better.

And it didn't just get better, it got much, MUCH better.

I know I said before that point that my apartment felt like home, but really, it didn't feel like HOME until after I hit the low point.  I realize that now as I'm slowly sorting through  things and deciding what to take for my visit back to Niceville, what to leave for the next girl, what to throw out, and what to take with me to my next job.

Life is an adventure, there are ups and downs, but, remember, the hero must always reach their lowest point before they can become what they are truly meant to be.

Now, was that the lowest point in my life?

I don't know.

It was definitely my lowest point yet and I know I'm a much better person for it.

So, we'll just wait and see what else the future holds for me.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Visit to Niceville 2012

My last day of work is Sept. 28 and I fly back to the states on Sept. 29.  Tickets haven't been bought yet, but it looks like I'll be back in Niceville around 9pm on Saturday, judging by the available tickets.

Then I'll be flying back to Korea on the 13th or 14th of October.  So, I literally only have two weeks.

And that means I only have one full weekend in Niceville.  I really, really want to have it be a full one since I know so many people are fulltime wage slaves.

If you want to see  me during that week and a half, you need to tell me ASAP.  I'd love to be able to see everyone that wants to see me.

Okay, here's my schedule for that time.  I'll update it as I find more things to do:

  • Sept. 29:
    • Evening: Flying in.  If family are still at Oktoberfest and I have any energy I might try and stop by.
  • Sept. 30:
    • Evening: Game night
  • Oct. 1:
    • Morning: Dentist Appointment
  • Oct. 2:
    • Afternoon: Visit Barrancas with Elli
    • Evening: Dinner with Grandpa in Navarre (People are welcome to join)
  • Oct. 3:
  • Oct. 4:
    • Evening: Helping Kay-Kay with Bunko at her house
  • Oct. 5:
  • Oct. 6:
    • Maybe Margret?
  • Oct. 7:
    • Evening: Game night
  • Oct. 8:
  • Oct. 9: 
    • Change of plans due to my Visa transfer.  I leave at 3:10pm from VPS
  • Oct. 10: 
    • Thirteen Hour layover in San Francisco, so my director is booking me a hotel.
  • Oct. 11:
    • I arrive in Seoul at 3:05pm local time.
Some point in that time period I'm going shopping for things I can't get over here.  Actually, I'll probably go shopping after my dentist appointment (if not the day after I get here) for all sorts of bad things I can't get here, such as goldfish with any flavor except cheddar, cheez-its, and all sorts of other really bad things.  That's probably when I'll pay a visit to Publix and say hi.

Okay, my mouth is now watering for white cheddar cheez-its.

I'll also be going out to Old Mexico several times.  Those of you in Niceville/Valparaiso *cough*lizziejoshkatherinelaura*cough* are more than welcome to join me on one of my visits to that delicious place after you get off work.

I also want to try the Korean restaurant in Niceville and judge if they're any good since I'm now a really, really good judge of Korean food.

If anyone wants to join me for either of those let me know a good day for you.

Oh, if you can't tell, my entire visit will be about people and food (with maybe drinks in there two, I miss the Smirnoff Ices).

I'm planning to bring back rice wine and soju with me, so if anyone wants to try some, then let me know, I can at least spare you a taste....maybe...

Now, if you think I'm planning this too much, please remember that I have a short time and I know everyone else will still be working full schedules, so I don't want to miss seeing someone because of missed chances or conflicting schedules.

So, let my trip to my hometown begin!

Well...begin in sixteen days...

Monday, August 27, 2012

Adventures in Seoul

Wow, it's been awhile since I've posted!  It's been a crazy few weeks with our extra Summer Immersion classes (and extra pay).  So this post is rather late...

Back on Saturday, August 11th, I headed up to Seoul with JD, Alexis, and Casey.  The four of us caught a 0700 bus and proceeded to sleep our way to Seoul, which is where we met MY.

JD had been to Seoul twice before, but both times he was unprepared for the insanity that is Seoul and had no tour guide, Alexis was with him one of those times and just as unprepared, and as for Casey...he'd never been to Seoul, even after ten months here in Korea.  Granted, he knows Busan better than I do and has been there more often..

So the weekend was going to be a big whirlwind of a trip as we made sure to hit up all the big tourist spots.  Unfortunately, this gave JD the opinion that all of Seoul is crazy and full of foreigners.  When I'm up there in a month and a half or so I'll have to invite him up and show him some of the less crazy areas.  The weather will be much better then too.

Once we met up with MY the five of us took the subway to Itaewon and went to get some Mexican food at that restaurant I went to a few months ago.  Once again it was really delicious, but I wasn't able to enjoy it as much as I should have since my throat was starting to get really sore.

Mexican food!
After eating we wandered down to What the Book and looked around some.

And then our adventures began in earnest.

We caught a bus up to Namsam Tower and played tourist.  JD and Alexis left a lock and Casey left one for Colleen.  MY and I were going to leave one, but couldn't find one we liked, so we decided we'd come back after I've moved to Seoul and leave one.
Casey, with Namsam Tower in his hand!
JD and Alexis being their typically silly selves, and yes, Alexis is borrowing my bag.
MY and me with Myeongdong behind us.
Jump Shot!
High Five!
Casey pretending to put his lock on before he ran off and hid it somewhere...
JD and Alexis actually putting their lock up.
We took a bus from Namsam Tower down to Myeongdong.  There we wandered around and just took in the craziness for awhile.  Eventually we found a little cafe and settled down for drinks and 빙수 (bing su).  It was one of the cafes that serves coffee and alcohol so Casey and JD got a martini and a wine cocktail (respectively), while the rest of us got tea or coffee.

Casey and JD with their afternoon cocktails.
Cake and cheesecake!  Yum!
Red Bean Bing Su
Green Tea Bing Su
Bananas and nuts.
Us being ridiculously silly.
We chilled there for about an hour and then headed back to the subway station.  We traveled up to Gyeongbokgung Palace.  I have almost no pictures from then since Casey got extremely camera happy and was taking artsy shots everywhere.  So I'm just stealing some of his.  We had a good time though it was very hot and humid.

This reminds me of something...but I can't think what.
We finally got Casey in a picture.
The guys.
The girls

Wondering if Timmy is still down there.
See that Colleen and Alexis?  They'll move palaces for us.
Eventually we got tired and decided that a nice drink was in order.

A nice drink served with lots, and lots, and lots of cats.

Yes, we went back to Giocat.

Alexis and JD went gaga over all the cats, just like my sister did.  Casey loved them, but was more reserved when it came to giving them attention.  MY and I just used some toys and watched them since we're both allergic and there were no hairless cats.  The male one was locked up for some reason and the female one (that made friends with me last time) was given to a different cat cafe.

That made me sad.

The coolest stumpy legged  cat.
Alexis getting love.
JD getting attention (not that he needs it)

Casey being rather dignified
It started getting late and we started getting hungry so we found a nice Korean Barbecue place and ate lots of meat while watching part of the Olympics and just having a good time.  My voice was almost gone by then, but it didn't hurt anymore.
Korean barbecue, so yummy!
After dinner we walked around and listened to some street musicians before going to one of the many Ho Bars in Hongdae.  There we proceed to order a Set that came with drinks and food.  Casey and I got camera happy and it was so noisy I really don't remember if we talked about anything, but I do remember us playing cards.

MY photobombing JD
Our Set.
After a couple hours we decided that a 찜질방 (jjimjilbang) sounded great.  We walked down to Happy Day and found that they were renovating the woman's area so they were only serving men.  Well, Alexis and I are clearly not men so we had to find somewhere else to stay.  

MY did some hunting on his phone and he eventually found one a subway stop north in Sinchon.  The subway was closed and we had too many people for one taxi, so we decided to walk.  This lead to more adventures since JD and Casey decided to 'baptize' each other...

Casey's baptism.
Casey pointing out that JD's baptism wasn't nearly as wet.
JD begging Casey not to leave Korea.
We 'eventually' got to Sinchon Rest, which I wrote a review about here.

The next morning we were all tired, but we packed up our stuff and caught the subway to Jamsil where we at the most amazing noodle restaurant in Korea.  We ate our fill and were left very, very happy.
As you can see...
After that we just went to the DongSeoul Bus Terminal and sat in a cafe and chilled until it was time to take our bus.
Red Bean Bing Su
Fruit Bing Su
This cafe had free massage chairs.
Oh, and my voice was gone all day Sunday.  

We got back to Changwon at around 2100.  JD and Alexis caught a taxi home while Casey and I biked back.

It was a good adventure, but I was quite happy to be home and in my own bed.  

I was exhausted.