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Check out the hotel room I’m staying in before my flight...

Sneaky Selfies, Karma, and Loneliness

Right now I’m sitting in a place called Cafe Sunrise. As I type this, there is an elderly gentleman with a gold watch on sits in front of me. He’s in sunglasses smoking a cigarette. I caught him taking selfies, and thought oh how cute.  Then I looked closer, and noticed that his selfies were carefully composed to feature me typing on my computer in the background of every shot. 

 

why obsessed

 

I eventually decided to just go up to him and strike a pose.


Making irresponsible decisions one hangover at a time!

You know what sucks? Not getting paid for eight weeks. Know what extra sucks? Funding an international move and not getting paid for eight weeks. Know what extra extra sucks? Being really bad at budgeting. Like me.

I came here with about $1,200. That, plus my plane ticket reimbursement, is all gone now.  Basically, I am terrible at budgeting. I feel really dumb and irresponsible for spending all my money and now I have to make it till July 5th without so much as a cent. WHY, NICOOOOLLEEEE, WHYYYYY? (Don’t worry, though, I have enough ramen and banana chips to make it through.)

To my defense, eight weeks is a fucking long time to go without a paycheck. Probably anyone would have a tough time. But I do have a weakness for expensive coffee and creature comforts that I need to exterminate ASAP.


Bingsuuuuu ♡♡♡ #먹스타그램 #traveling

MERScation

MERS.

Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome is alive in South Korea! Looks like this lurking deadly virus and I decided to arrive in Korea around the same time. MERS has a 40% fatality rate, which isn’t at all comforting, and some of the confirmed cases are in Cheonan where I live.

Consequently, very few students showed up to school yesterday and those that did all had on little masks with little cats or rabbits printed on them. My last class yesterday had three students, and the four of us were all slaphappy and giggly about the upcoming four day weekend. Felt like the day before Christmas break.

For today (Friday) and Monday, classes at the academy I teach at are CANCELLED. If you know what company I work for or know anything about South Korean hagwons, you will realize how rare and special the gem of a four day weekend is.  So far, it’s been great! Shopping! Potential Beach trips! And let’s not forget the deluge of hand sanitizer!


Delicious ^^ #mizuno #dotonbori #osaka #travelinjapan #traveling...

Women wearing kimonos in the Bamboo Forest. #travelinjapan...



Women wearing kimonos in the Bamboo Forest. #travelinjapan #travelgram #traveling


What’s Passed is the Past

The training week for Company X was nerve wracking at best and nightmarish at worst.  The point of training week was to get us as prepared as possible for our first day teaching. You can either pass or fail training week, and if you fail you are sent home.

X’s training week layout makes sense for the company: They’re bringing in international teachers with only one year contract, so they need to train them as fast as possible and as cheaply as possible in order to make the most amount of profit.  They gave us nice shiny Samsung tablets and set us up for free in a nifty hotel. And the office building that training was conducted in was clean and comfortable.  And I think I made a friend or two. But the positives end there.


Bukansan National Park: Finding Serenity in Seoul

Bukansan holds a Guinness World Record for the most visited national park in the world, with five million visitors a year. Today, I decided to be one of them and I’m glad I did.

You get to Bukansan by taking Line 4 to Gireum Station, then getting on some random bus (I can’t remember which one; I just followed someone who was going to the same place.) The closer and closer you get to Bukansan, the more the city changes from sleek and Westernized to traditional and calm. Surrounding the national park are high tech hiking clothes outlets, like Black Yak and North Face. It’s interesting to me that practically no Koreans would even consider hiking without their matchy-matchy pants and long sleeve shirts. How do they not pass out from heat exhaustion?!?!!!!  To them, I must’ve looked pretty crazy hiking alone in vans and casual street clothes. Oops.

Oh, and entry to the park is free!!! You just pick a route and go for it! Woo-hoo!


Backcountry Camping in North Carolina

I’m leaving for South Korea tonight! Finally! Wish I were more well rested. My dad was super excited to get breakfast with me this morning and woke me up at 7:30AM!

Last week, I said goodbye to the Great American Wilderness with a backcountry camping trip in the Great Smoky Mountains with said dad.

The art of backpacking isn’t hard to master. If you’ve never gone backcountry camping before, I strongly encourage you to do so at your earliest possible convenience. I feel like there are two people in the world: Those that backpack and those that do not. Why the polarity, betches? Backpacking is easy. You need to invest the money in a solid set of gear (see below) but once that’s over with, you have many cheap vacations ahead of you. It’s not just for outdoor nuts…it’s for anyone who wants to explore what it means to be human.


10 Things to Do in Seoul


Dexcited (depressedexcited) to move to South Korea

I’ve been planning my move to South Korea for over a year (thanks to one of my close friends making the move look so appealing! :) ), and now I have only twenty days to departure time.

Historically, I’ve enjoyed uprooting my life. My taxes for 2014 are proof of that.

I came back to North Carolina with the intention of only staying for four short months.

But then, when I was working as a barista at the local French bakery, I met an incredible guy and deferred my trip till May so I could continue to explore this new human creature, as opposed to exploring new continents.

I also spent my time going back to school at NC State for a couple grad courses in English. I’m actually sitting in the 9th floor of the library right now, procrastiposting.


Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival

April 4th and 5th, 2015 marked the peak weekend for cherry blossoms here in South Korea, which meant it was time to travel with Enjoy Korea to the small seaport town of Jinhae for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival! The roughly $30 registration fee provided us with timely and convenient transportation that dropped us off, and picked us up, right in the middle of the action. And the tour schedule allowed for everyone to just do their own thing for the whole afternoon once we arrived! I’ve booked tours with Enjoy Korea twice now, and will do so again for the Mud Festival in July. I highly recommend them!


Too hilarious not to share

So, I asked one of my ESL students to keep a diary every day to help him practice his English. I told him he could email me the diaries, if he wanted to, and I will correct them the same day.  The other day, what he sent me was too hilarious not to share with the world:

 

I cooked curry.

I ate it.

It was very good.

……….. 

 

Words of marriage proposal.

 

Well,

Today’s study of material is trying to this.

 

In japan.

Could you make me Miso soup every day.(standard)

 

Trying to get married.

Will you marry me.

We together forever.

I want you together forever.

It will become happy together.

Let the future together.

I protects you as long as my life.


The FBI customer support sucks!

Before applying to teach ESL in South Korea, whenever I thought of the FBI (which was not often) I would free associate it with things like American’s Most Wanted, bad-ass secret agents and secret agentesses, and possibly cocaine-sniffing German Sheps. As an American, I guess I felt a certain amount of confidence in our Federal Bureau of Investigation. I thought it was pretty powerful. And pretty cool.

BUT THEN EVERYTHING CHANGED…

fbi

 


Would You Rather?


How to cope with the stress of moving abroad

I bought my plane ticket and am leaving the country on May 12th. I’m having a hard time conceptualizing what my life will be like in a few short weeks. It’s stressing me out, to be honest. I’m also worried about graduate school applications, which I’ll be completing when I’m over there. Today, I toured Duke Law and was really impressed by what I saw. And stressed. LSATs…wut?

But instead of worrying about the unknown, I’ve decided to spend a couple hours this evening focusing on the present and reflecting on the past and all the wonderful things I have in my life. (THAT I WILL MISS SO DESPERATELY ONCE I LEAVE THE COUNTRY!!!) I found GIF-making to be a helpful way to cope with stress, and I hope you enjoy the finished product of my efforts, entitled THINGS I WILL MISS SO DESPERATELY ONCE I LEAVE THE COUNTRY. 

 


What it’s like to apply for a teaching job in South Korea

If you’re an English major and are anything like me, after graduating from college your resume probably says something along the lines of…

I eat crayons

My first two years out of school were an uphill battle of scrubbing dishes, bussing tables, and of course, being shamelessly sexually harassed by various shift supervisors. None of my employers took me or my education seriously. And I was broke all the time.


It just keeps getting better!


Busan Begins


An unexpectedly Korean night in Toronto

Last year I was fortunate enough to have been given tickets to one of Toronto's most successful charity galas: Motionball.  When I found out that they were looking for volunteers this year I thought I should probably step up to the plate and give back a little.  I was a day of event manager for the registration and coat check areas.  The event had been expertly planned and my job was really easy because of all the work the committee had put in, and after about 8 hours of participation I got to enjoy the party!

Vlog Entry #6: Lantern Festival – Jinju, South Korea

During the first weekend of October I went to the Lantern Festival in Jinju! To read more about the festival, view the related post here!



2014 Jinju Lantern Festival

Located in the south central part of Korea, Jinju is a small city of just 300,000 people. But for ten days a year, nighttime traffic is bumper-to-bumper and walking the streets means shuffling, wading and weaving through crowds of people. Why? The Jinju Namgang Yudeong (Lantern) Festival.


Vlog Entry #5: 2014 International Mask Festival – Andong, South Korea

This video takes you along with me as I travel to Andong, South Korea for the 2014 International Mask Festival! To read more about my experience, check the related post here!


2014 International Mask Festival – Andong, South Korea

Masks:  Pretty cool!

Food: Pretty good!

Performances: Okay.

Location: Okay.

Overall: Pretty…okay.


What I've Learned From Traveling and Living Abroad: The Short List

April 19th marks the five year anniversary of my big move from Smalltown, USA to the bustling metropolis that is Seoul, South Korea. I've lived out a number of exciting and unique experiences over the past few years that include riding elephants through the jungles of Thailand, working in the slums of India, camping with nomads in the Sahara Desert and teaching English to some of the most adorable children throughout Asia. I've made memories that will undoubtedly last a lifetime.

This adventure has been incredibly fun, but it has also taught me a number of invaluable life lessons: lessons that have opened my mind and my heart; lessons that have changed me; lessons that I'm quite certain I would have never learned in my home country. Conveying all of them (including how to avoid creepy old men, lice remedies and universal charades) would require I write a book, but for time's sake, I've decided to include the more valuable of the lot.

Hong Kong trip 2013 is coming to a close. With that, some quick...













Hong Kong trip 2013 is coming to a close. With that, some quick trips for traveling with your mom (or dad or friend or partner or whomever) ALSO KNOWN AS how not to kill your travel companion.


Is It Safe to Travel to Korea?

While eating breakfast at my hostel in Barcelona last month, a CNN news brief aired declaring that tensions were high and nuclear war was eminent on the Korean peninsula.  A Korean backpacker that I had met earlier that week looked at me and simultaneously, we rolled our eyes, irked by the excessive urgency and seriousness in the reporters' words.  The others in the room, who hailed from all corners of the globe, looked worried and advised us to prolong our stay in Europe rather than return to a country that was in such a hostile state.

The concerned comments didn't end there.  Messages from my friends in America began flooding my inbox with questions regarding my well being and my parents even offered to purchase for me a plane ticket back to Mississippi.

Flying Tom Update

I've pretty much got it down what I need to do to get Tom out of Korea. I'll be heading back to the Vet about a week before we fly to get his final documents in order. I've got his carrier all ready to go, although I'm not sure whether to add a frozen cup of water for him in there.

Looking Back on 2012 Through The Seasons

This last year has been filled with ups and downs, adventures and good times with friends. When 2012 started I was mostly focused on the upcoming school year moving to 2nd grade. I was busy with planning lessons and considering the school year ahead as a team leader. At the same time I was single and getting accustomed to this new life style. As 2012 grew on I learned some important lessons and some good times.

I am going to take you through the last full year I experienced here in Korea, and I will do this by showcasing it through the seasons.


Spring:
In February I went back home to Florida and visited family. I was able to get away from the cold of Seoul and enter the warmth and sunny skies of South Florida.

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