Before I ever left for Korea I was working at an Insurance Company in San Francisco. My boss was this kooky old Japanese man who lived by a lot of morals and codes. Have you ever watched Mad Men? The office was kind of like that, and even had old type writers.
While he was training me to be an Insurance Agent he would now and then pass on knowledge. This one time he told me that when you do a job you should do it right. You should do such hard work that when it comes time for you to leave (for whatever reason) the company should be sorry to see you go. At that time I was fresh out of college and with a small work history behind me. I tried my best at that job, but know I could have left it better.
About a year ago people would ask me if I was going to stay in Korea for the rest of my life. My typical response was something like, "Unless I can figure something out to do back home, Korea is my home for now." I really didn't think about going back home and heading to graduate school. But as we all know my mind changed and I'm heading to be a student again.
I'm not really a materialistic person. If you know me you will see I don't have a fashionable and expensive purse dangling from my arm, or the latest handphone clutched in my palm. However, that doesn't mean I don't desire material things. My return to America is pointing me in the direction of building up a new life. I have the opportunity to get a new phone and contract, along with furniture for my rented room.
However, bigger options are starting to cross my path. Like the possibility of leasing or owning a car. The last time I owned a car was a few years before I moved to Korea. It was a used Toyota Cressida that was nearly as old as myself (at the time). That car served me well during my early college years, but later on the poor thing overheated a lot. I ended up donating it to a radio station.
The recent Korean Presidential election reminded me that this country's politics and future is going to roll on without me next year. I am surprised and proud of Korea for electing a woman President, but I know that it doesn't necessarily mean more rights for women in this country. However, with the figures for the number of people who voted this election I can see that people care about their country's future and want changes to come.
Ever since I left my dad's house to attend community college in Humboldt County (Eureka, CA), it feels like I have been a nomad. I think it's a symptom of my age, where we don't settle in one place. But this allows one to explore and see the world as they move around. That is why as I find myself packing things up and heading to Seattle, I know I'll be ready for what's ahead.
I also find it somewhat iconic to be going from one big city to the next. In San Francisco I worked at an insurance company that was right in front of the Pyramid building, and a block from Chinatown.
Located north on the blue line is the US Army Garrison known as Camp Casey. Throughout my whole time living in Korea I have never gone on any of the US Army bases here in Korea. Of course the main reason being that you can't just walk in, but need to have an Army personell escort you. Through some random act of the universe I was invited to go on base with my blogger friend Jennipal. She has a friend who works on the base and so invited me along.
It wasn't the sunniest or the warmest day on our trip, but seeing the Lincoln Memorial was worth it. I took my family to Foggy Bottom station and we tried to catch a bus closer to The Mall area. But you could easily have walked the distance.
Approaching the memorial, you start to sense the significance and iconic power of it's structure.
First a picture of the community pool in my sister's housing area. Floridians really do live in paradise.
One of the last places I explored with my family, in Florida, was the new Downtown Delray beach area. Here a section of the town was recreated in that old-style architecture feel with shops and restaurants. We checked the place out before having an Italian dinner.
Still have something to write up about my last days in Florida, but now I'm in Washington, D.C. with my mom and cousins. We checked into our hotel yesterday around 3pm and after resting for a while hit the streets to see what we could see.
It feels good to be back in an urban setting. Although Florida is very beautiful, warm and cozy I think I missed the concrete jungle that a city provides.
I've been in Florida a little over 24 hours now. It's amazing here, as always. Most people here live amongst year long greenery and large houses. I don't have photos yet but those will come. Today I woke up tired, so rested some more. Then I headed to the mall to get that plug I needed, and after buying it felt like a fool for paying so much. Found out my brother might have an extra attachment that I need, and so if he finds it I will return this expensive gadget.
The rest of the day I did some shopping in the mall, and walked away with two new bags. Not sure if I will return one.
But it is great seeing Americans and their laid-backness. The casual feeling around me is soothing, and hearing English isn't making me nervous. I guess this time around I'm not really having "reverse culture-shock." Mostly I feel like I'm in a dream and know that I'll be going back to Korea eventually.
My flight to SFO was quickened down to 9hrs because of strong jet streams along the way. I managed to get some shut eye on the plane. What also made it great was the middle seat was empty and the aisle seat was taken by a nice Berkeley guy who shared in the wonders of that city.
I'm currently at my hotel and waking up out of a 4 hour nap in a cozy Queen size bed. Not much is nearby this place, except if I wanted to walk several blocks. I don't feel like doing that so I'm going to order salad and pizza. I fly out tomorrow to catch a plane to Florida. I can't wait! A huge reunion.
Usually when I come back to America from abroad I feel really nostalgic on the first day. I kind of felt this way at the airport and ride over to the hotel. I admired the license plates and variety of cars and colors.
There has been a lot of chatter around the Kblogosphere about how The Girl's Generation went on David Letterman and possibly spoofed themselves. Some say it is not helping the "Korean Wave" advance itself across the ocean, and others give them props for trying. I for one say that this stunt isn't going to help Americans get to know Korea in the way that I know Korea. To me Korea is a place full of unique pop culture and historical trademarks. The food is amazing and you can't go wrong with a country that eats live octopus.
But Americans don't know much about Korea beyond whatever they have in their mind. Without any scientific background to prove this, I bet most Americans (off the street) will associate S. Korea with North Korea and all that hoopla.
As part of my home vacation this month I am going to visit Washington, D.C. with my mother. I have never been here and am excited to see a slice of America I haven't been to. So far I am using Google Maps to pinpoint places of interest and also restaurants and general areas to find oneself at a nice cafe. Here is the map:
A recent episode of The Simpsons was a take on Foodies and food blogging. It was quite hilarious as most of it was a great satire of the real thing. At one point they played a song in the tune of, "Empire State of Mind" but talking about foodies.
"Rolling into K-town...bibimbop and bulgolgi..."
Watch the video for the whole thing and feel great that Korea was mentioned. :)
American holidays seem to come and go without much notice here in Korea. For example, the Fourth of July just swept on by, along with Memorial day. But, Thanksgiving seems to have a special place here in the land of kimchi and dumplings. You can choose to either order all the fixings yourself and have a party locally or choose from restaurants and hotels serving up the infamous meal.
This letter is to warn people thinking of coming to Korea. It could also serve those already here. You see, I have received letters stating I owe that last place I rented, in America, a termination fee.
Now I moved out in April 2008, and before I did I made sure the lease was handed over to the current roommate. I alerted the office I was moving, too. And then I get these letters stating that someone moved out in 2010 earlier than when the lease expires and I have to pay for it.
Since I moved out and have lived in Korea I have gotten rid of all that paperwork, a big mistake. Also I never really checked back with ex-roomie if everything was 100%. Although, I think I did and I have some emails asking her if things were good.
Ex-roomie will not return my calls or emails. This is frustrating because I just want to know her story and understand what happened.
You might be already a little sick of the news generating article after article about the ten year anniversary over the events on 9/11/2011. But for me this year's anniversary feels more potent. I can't help but think about all that has transpired in my life and the world within the last ten years.
Now that OBL is dead, whether you care about all the details or not, it might be a good time to think back on the past ten years and how this whole "terrorist" thing has affected your life. I think for most of us it affected the world we live in, but for other people it likely affected everything immediately in front of them.
That is why I recommend you watch the movie, "My Name is Kahn." Because, you get to see a great piece of cinematography that weaves a story about a certain family affected by 9/11, but also sends out a great message of peace.
A great, "I heard it on NPR moment" of a song from the show Portlandia. I was listening to All Songs Considered and on their show about music from the 90's, right at the beginning, was the following song.
A little wacky at parts, but if you have been to the northwest there is the same kind of vibe they describe. Of course not everyone is like that.