Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sleep Deprivation Never Felt So Good

It's been a nutty last few days. Two of our five friends (Jess and Zack) who left a few weeks ago came back to Busan Monday after travelling around SE Asia to grab their stuff (including one very adorable puppy) and head back to the States. I knew this was the last chance I would have to see them for a few months (if at all ever, but that's another story...) so I wanted to see them as much as I could. I get off work earlier than most people so I headed to Abhay's to hang out with them for a bit before we met others in Seomyeon for dinner. It was so nice seeing their faces! We met up with more friends at Beer Chicken to eat and then headed out for the night. Although working the next day was inevitable, working at 2:00 really isn't that bad so coming home at 6am after a night of amazingness was worth it.

Wednesday was election day here in Korealand so that means NO SCHOOL! Me and only a handful of other friends were off. While the majority of the rest of everyone still had to work, it didn't stop everyone from a long last Tuesday night in KSU before Zack and Jess were off again home. It was one last hoorah for them to get everyone together so that's exactly what we did. We all went to Sharky's for old time's sake for dinner then off to KSU we went. About 4am (?) we left where we were to head to the Spaceship Noraebang (aka greatest karaoke joint in Busan) where we all stayed singing our faces off until 7:30 in the morning. I got in a cab and got home about 8 while Al stayed out a big longer. I went straight to sleep and woke up about three hours later unable to sleep any longer. Since it was a holiday I pretty much just laid around all day while Al went Christmas shopping for me (!). Later Wednesday night, a few people were going over to Abhay's for "Christmas Night" with Irish coffees, wine and Home Alone and Christmas Vacation. I went a little early since I was off work and bored and helped decorate Abhay's place, which now looks fantastic thanks to mine and Jess's amazing paper chain making skills. Once 2:30 rolled around and I was starting to get really tired I decided it was finally time to tell them goodbye. I holed myself up with Jess in the kitchen for about 20 minutes just getting some talking in before some very sad hugs, gave Zack a cuddle on the couch and went on my way.

After getting hit on relentlessly in the taxi by the very young driver, ("You have boyfriend?" "How old are you?" "Very beautiful!" "Oooooh, so beautiful." All while continuously turning around to look at me) I finally got home about 3:15 and slept for a glorious 8 hours that I desperately needed.

It's now Thursday evening and tonight will be the last night of getting any adequate sleep until Sunday night. Tomorrow night we're heading off on our ski trip! We have to meet everyone at 2:30am to catch the 3am bus that will take us 5 1/2 hours north to the resort. There are 30 people going I believe and it's going to be a blaaaaast. We're definitely not going to go to sleep tomorrow, it's pointless. And then Saturday night there will be 30 of us in one amazingly large "cabin" with some hot tubbing and a lot of booze...who's sleeping Saturday night? That's right. Nobody. So Sunday when we get back will be the next chance I'll get to sleep. And you know what? It's been worth it.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Some Gripes But Also Some Happies

Another Monday is done and over with. It's been a week since everyone left and I'm happy to say (and Al is happy as well) that I'm feeling much better this Monday than last. I was nothing but a sulky crybaby for like four days but after a very relaxing (i.e. no money) weekend and a fun night seeing everyone (minus five) on Sunday for family dinner I am definitely working my way back to feeling top notch again. Plus, there are some things to be looking forward to!

First things first, I'm waiting on some sort of message or confirmation or anything really to say that I've gotten a job in Japan. I had an interview a while ago and I'm praying and hoping and crossing every finger I have that I get this job. If I do, the second I know for sure, I'm booking my flight home and starting my planning and counting down to that. I'm hoping to get out of here mid to late February depending on a lot of factors. If I don't, well, I'm not really sure what will happen. I know I can't make any plans to go home, that's for sure, and a huge bummer to boot. I should hopefully hear back from him this week or next. I'll tell you one thing, I'm going absolutely stir crazy waiting to hear and it's partly to blame for my dismal mood over the past week. If it's a "yes", wham bam I'm going home. If it's a "no"...well...I better start figuring out what I'm going to do because our Plan B is practically nonexistant. We both want to get back to Japan but finding a job there is a lot harder. That's why it was so nice to be able to interview for a job taking over for a friend, and a good job that I would really enjoy for the next year on top of that. Fingers/toes/arms/legs/eyes crossed!

Another reason for my overall air of grumpiness is the fact that I SHOULD BE LEAVING. My contract is up within a matter of a few weeks and yet, here I am, not packing, not selling my accumulated junk, just staying put for another two months after I am supposed to be finished. Knowing that I have to stay when I could be going home or going travelling to some warm, exotic place in just a few weeks leaves one rather depressed and frustrated. So there's that.

The weekend before Christmas 30 people (most are good friends) are heading 5 hours north to ski for a few days. We rented a huge 3,500 sq ft penthouse/cabin thing right on the mountain. It's going to be sick. I haven't decided if I'm going to ski. I LOVE skiing, but I haven't been for a very, very long time...four or five years in fact. I just don't want to have an accident and break my leg or something terrible right before it's (hopefully) time to head home. There are some others that aren't skiing, just hanging out in the house hot tubbing and boozing all day so I may join them. It'll save me 70,000 as well. I'll probably decide on the bus on the way up there whether I want to or not. Either way, I'm dead excited.

So, the weather officially blows. Usually hangs around 45-50 or so. We've started getting highs only in the 40s as well and I know that it only gets MUCH MUCH worse from here. The bad part about arriving in Korea in the winter is that you technically have to endure two bouts of crap weather, whereas if you arrive in the summer you just have to get through that single terrible one. It's only December and I know that January and February have still yet to come, as well as those windy, bone-chilling days when you know that it's definitely below zero. It's different at home when the only time you're outside is to dart to and from your car to your door/work/grocery store but for moi, I have a 25 minute walk to work. I keep telling myself that I survived it last winter and just because I know how to use a taxi to get myself home this time around I'm not going to spend $3 every single day (and not getting the exercise either) just to avoid the cold. We'll see how this turns out.

School is the same as ever...just FREEZING. I could, again, complain and complain about the lack of proper insulation/heating/cooling systems but I won't. I'll just say that it's cold cold cold in school and it's completely miserable. The classrooms and offices have heat, yes, but is'a crapshoot on whether or not it will stay on all day or shut off automatically an hour and a half before it's time to head home. Even though the office has heat, the children (and some staff) are deathly allergic to SHUTTING THE DOOR so anytime I'm in there I'm up and down a thousand times to close it or the frigid air pours in. The hallways are the same temperature as the outside air because they keep the windows open 24/7. Don't even ask. There is no logical explanation other than that Koreans are on crack. It's actually like, a "thing", Koreans opening the windows in the winter. Do a google search, it's all a bunch of crazy nonsense. So the hallways are 40 degrees, the bathrooms are 40 degrees and the classrooms are 40 degrees unless I get in there and turn on the heat. There's nothing worse than having to pee while being at school because it's having to pull my pants down in a drafty, tile room where I can nearly see my breath to sit down on an ice block in the shape of a toilet. I try not to drink too much liquid or else I do my best to hold it until I get home. When the classrooms do have I heat I blast it as high as I can and then all I hear is, "Teacher! Hot!" Nope. Sorry. You're suffering. They also all have their big puffy coats on in class and when I tell them that if they're hot they should take their coats off they look at me with a mixture of "you're insane" and "What? Coat? Off? But...it's...winter? But...I'm hot? Take it off?? I don't know what to do!?" Then their head explodes from the logic. I guess it's just a you-have-to-be-here-to-understand-and-appreciate-what-I'm-talking-about-thing but let's just leave it at this: It's cold at school.

Welp, I've bored you long enough with all my ranting about stupid things so I'm off! Goooood NIGHT.




Sunday, November 25, 2012

Farewells

I'm not even sure how to start this post other than to say that I'm très, très depressed while writing it. This past weekend was a lot of our extremely close friends' last weekend in Busan. As far as a group of friends go, I have to say that I believe ours is the best there could be. Of course, I may be biased, but regardless, we have a good one.

Throughout the past year, the group has grown and shrunk slightly but over the summer we got a pretty solid troop of people that have really stuck together to form what I consider pretty much the sexiest, most fun crew of people in town. There are about 15-20 of us who do anything and everything together as a whole and when someone isn't there everyone is like WTF.

If you read my last post you'll remember that just recently have I really come out to really and truly enjoy what this amazing group of friends I have has to offer. Not that I didn't know before, I just only appreciated it until 2:00am every other weekend or so. Now that I do know, it makes it that much harder to see people go.

What we do, this job, this teaching abroad thing...it's not real life. It's a fun life, of course, but for most of us it's temporary. Above all else, it's pretty much just a constant vacation. Yes, we work ("work") but it's just not real life. The friends you meet here aren't your best friends from home that you've known for 15 years but once you get here and meet these people that will be your family for a year...they will become those new best friends. The nature of this job and what we do is that it's generally for a year, some of us stay longer but mostly it's for that one short year. So because of that, there is always going to be someone you know leaving. Whether they are going back to their home countries or going travelling for a while, they will be leaving. This is what this last weekend was about. Saying goodbye to Zack, Jess, Sarah, Will and Eric. I love them all, each one for a million different reasons, and right now they are on a plane to Cambodia. Zack and Jess will be back in three weeks to pick up their things to go back home so I'll see them then (and then hopefully go visit them when I'm in the US) but as far as Sarah, Will and Eric...will I ever see them again? I don't know. It's just the nature of this job. And it's hands down the worst part of it. Leaving. Goodbyes. There will always be some happening. Those five were really the first of our friends to go...after now it's just a slow trickle of people going back home. I believe Brittany is next, then John and Ryan, then me and then Al.

We still have some amazing friends left in town, so I'm going to enjoy my last few months here (dying for them to be over and done with!) and then it'll be my turn to get on outta dodge. Until then, some of my favorite pictures from this weekend and recent ones past...











Friday, November 2, 2012

Weekends.

Tomorrow is a new semester at school and technically should be my last (but I'm gonna work through February, remember?). Getting ready to start our 11th month here. That's insane! It seems like just yesterday we were arriving, but to be truthful, our year in Japan was the fastest of my life and it seems that this year is right up there with it. Perhaps it's the nature of the job that makes time fly? Whatever the culprit for making the months zoom on by, I'm thankful. I'm getting kinda over Korea and I'm in need of a change, though I'm really going to miss a lot of people here.

I like to think I make friends easily and that I'm likable enough for people to want to be friends with me, but a lot of the time it takes me a bit to feel comfortable with a new group of people. Just in the last few months have I really started to feel as if I could hold my own with the group of friends we have. To be honest, I didn't even have anyone to call a good friend until at least summertime and once I started getting more at ease with everyone did I realize WHAT A GOOD TIME THERE IS TO BE HAD ON THE WEEKENDS. Call me a homebody or any other silly thing but sometimes I just like to lie around on the weekends and do nothing. If I go out, I like to be back at home by 2:30 and that's pushing it. But for some reason in these past few...well just past few weeks actually...I've realized that staying out until 5 really isn't so bad afterall.

I'm a Friday kinda girl. If I was going to stay out all hours of the night, I'd rather it be on Friday because then I have all day Saturday AND Sunday to rest up and do as I please. If I went out on Saturdays, that was when I wanted to be home at 2:30. Even if I was having the time of my life I'd have this internal struggle with myself because it was just SO late but I was also having SO much fun but-it's-Saturday-and-I-only-have-tomorrow-to-rest kept creeping into my mind. Within the last month, there has been something amazing and fun going on every single weekend.  And every single weekend I've stayed out past 2:30 (gasp!) and well on until I see the sun rise from the taxi windows on more than one occassion...and I've realized that it's quite fun to finally just let loose and forget about the time and just focus on what's going on and who I'm with. Maybe you think I'm a stick-in-the-mud but I'm just glad I realized this now and not when I'm 35 or something.

I hope the feeling stays, but with the cold weather comes me wanting to just stay bundled up in my house and not leave until March. It's not too cold yet but here in a few weeks it'll be getting freezing at night. Hopefully I won't have a change of heart when like 10 of our close friends are all leaving at the same time. Boo.

A few weekends ago there were a bunch of people with birthdays around the same time and thus the Pimps and Hoes party was born:



 

 
Then our friends Zack and Jason played at Sharky's which always guarantees a good time:
 





This past weekend was Halloween AND the Busan Fireworks Festival and I could easily say that it has been one of the best weekends I've had here. They were both supposed to be on the same night but it stormed like crazy all Saturday evening so they postponed the fireworks until Sunday night. (Thank God) But Halloween went on as planned Saturday night and the rain stopped just in time for us to go out and have a blast. It was also one of the warmest nights we've had in a while. How about just a picture tour of the weekend?



Al (PSY) and Urkel




The girls at Sarah's
Moi as Taylor Swift





And on to the most amazing fireworks I've ever seen in my life! I've never seen anything like it. I've also never seen a crowd like that either. 2 million people pack themselves on the beach to watch. I went at 2 and plopped on the sand and got myself a spot while everyone packed in later.










 
 
This weekend is our friend Brett's birthday (and then I think that's all for the birthdays...) at, where else, Sharky's, and I'm sure it'll be another long night...but instead of wondering where my night will take me and what time I'll get home I'm extremely looking forward to it. And if I get home as the sun is coming up, so be it.



Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Happy Teacher Once Again

Got some much better news than the last time someone here started with, "Samantha, by the way...". Looks like I get vacation afterall! I'll tell you what, I was fuming mad over the fact they were going to take my vacation away and they actually did some rearranging of it but I like it better this new way. I actually lose 1 day total but it's much better. Instead of Christmas day off, work 26th, then 27th-3rd off I now get the 25th-1st off straight. That's what I'm talking about! Now, unfortunately, I don't think Al gets much of anything besides Christmas and the 1st so not sure what I'm going to do. Maybe we'll go to Seoul for a weekend or something :) Either way, HAPPY HAPPY SAM.

Friday, October 12, 2012

What the what?

I've just received some extremely unsatisfying news from my school. Before I continue, I'll say that as far as a job goes, I have nothing to complain about. The children, yes, all the time, because 80% of them are evil minions but the JOB itself presents no stress or strain or any additional work on my part other than showing up for 5 1/2 hours a day and making my way to a few classrooms to teach during a small portion of that. I never get asked to do things I don't want to, I don't have to do anything extra-curricular, I don't have to take tests home to grade. All in all, they leave me alone and let me do my thing and I get good holidays.

Wait...holidays you say?

As far as teaching in Korea goes, the holidays/vacation time BLOW huge penis. Compared to Japan, you get barely a fraction. In a basic contract in each country it's 10 days compared to roughly 5-6 weeks minimum. That's an enormous difference, but, hey I knew that before coming in here, made my peace with it and learned to accept it for a year.

As I mentioned in my last post, It's 11 weeks (now 10, it's Friday night! Yay!) until my next day off work on December 19th. Then I get Christmas day, work the 26th, then are off from the 27th to the 3rd of January. Not too shabby and significantly better than most teachers. Well, all that is in the past. I was informed today (by an equally unhappy Korean teacher) that because of the two days we missed because of the typhoons they are taking away our winter vacation. Completely. As in I get Christmas day off and New Year's Day off and that's all. I don't know how two days of typhoons transformed into eight precious days of vacation taken away from me but there is nothing I can do. All I know is that I went from not having a complaint in the world about my job to seriously, seriously hating the school I work for within a few seconds. It's ridiculous and outrageous and I'm still fuming with anger as I type this. It's midnight and I was told at like 5:30. Yeah, I care deeply about my vacation time...

MAD MAD MAD


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Happy Chuseok!

Well, my blissful holiday is done and over with. Chuseok is the Korean version of Thanksgiving, including the nutty travel part. People schlep up and down the country to get to Grandma's house for a traditional dinner. Though, in Korea, I think it's a little more...well, stressful than in the United States for many reasons. Yes, of course in the US there are always parents who berate their kids for not being married yet/successful/"why aren't you giving me grandkids?" and it really just makes the whole idea of going home for the holidays unbearable. But, truly, it's not the norm and although holidays can sometimes be stressful, it's more of the cooking/cleaning/present buying/having 100 people in the house part. In Korea, (or really, many places in Asia in general) if you're 30 and unmarried and/or have a job your parents don't approve of the holidays are going to be downright dreadful for you because your parents find your life completely unacceptable. Even if you are married, from what I understand, family gatherings are just something to shudder at and get through as quickly as possible as opposed to a happy occasion. No, not every single Korean/Japanese/Chinese family is like this but it's more the rule than the exception. If your parents aren't happy, you shouldn't be either and that's just the way it is around here.

Seeing as how it's not my Thanksgiving, Al and I headed up for another weekend in Seoul. Because of the mass amounts of people going here and there, every single train was sold out so we flew. Got there in a solid 50 minutes with an English newspaper on the plane to boot. Nothing but pretty sky the whole way there.

 
 
 
Since this was our seven year anniversary weekend of being together we decided to skip the crappy hostel and stay in a pimp hotel. We chose a Novotel like a 10 minute walk from the station in a rather undesirable area, but hey, it was the cheapest nice place so we jumped on the deal I found on Agoda (the only place to find hotels, truth). The weekend went by quickly. We really didn't do much but relax and shop a bit. I had another three hour, wallet-emptying round at Forever 21 which had me all smiles and very perky for the rest of the trip. The one thing we did do this time up was go to the Seoul Zoo! Now, I love zoos. I've been to more than a few of them and I really enjoy myself there. I figured for a zoo in one of the biggest cities in the world it would be pretty amazing but I was kind of disappointed. I mean, don't get me wrong it was super nice to walk around and see the animals but it really needs some upgrading and it was quite a bit run down in a lot of areas. They had a lot of animals but they seemed to be living in really unhappy conditions, unfortunately. Here are some zoo animals for your enjoyment:

 
 
 
 
 
 
We went to the zoo on our last few hours before we had to catch our flight out. We got one of the last planes to Busan so we could enjoy our day so it was already dark and the zoo was closing by the time we left. Unfortunate because that meant that around dusk all the giraffes weren't out and about. They have this tall podium like thing that is giraffe height and if you're lucky they come over to it where you can feed them and such. I would've loved to do that! Oh, well.
 
We left the zoo with very little time to spare for getting to the airport so we got on the express subway train there and ran every chance we got. We finally got there and through the very little security area (we were at Seoul's smaller airport, Gimpo, not Incheon) we got to the gate and lo and behold, our flight was delayed. And delayed again. And again. I don't think we got home until midnight and we were supposed to arrive at 10:00 or something like that.
 
Since we only went to Seoul from Saturday to Monday we still had two glorious days of vacation stretched out before us. Thinking back on it, I really don't think we did much of anything besides lie around and watch movies and that's quite okay with me.
 
We both had to work on Thursday and Friday but since that included a whopping total of about 9 hours of teaching for me it was truly like not even having to work. Then it was the weekend again!
 
On Friday we had a party here at our house. A lot of us get paid all around the same time so we're usually all broke around the same time as well. Since this was the last weekend before payday we decided to just have everyone over here for some food and cheap fun.
 
 
 
 I put some pork in the crock pot and made some BBQ, Abbey brought over some cole slaw for it and John and Ryan made baked beans and potato salad. (They are all from NC) We had us one delicious Southern meal. Since our neighbor moved out we kept the music up loud and late until a few of us decided to go to the karaoke joint across the street. I, once again, got a 100 on "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" and we, once again, were out until sunrise singing our faces off. It never fails.
 
On Saturday, Al and I walked down to Pizza Hut to get some real food and decided to stop at the Cat Cafe on the way home. O.M.G. Coffee, cake, cats.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Now THAT'S entertainment. Too bad I don't think it could ever work in the US because of all the health and sanitary regulations that come along with it. Shame.
 
Al has been wanting to just get on a random bus and ride around the city, so on Sunday that's what we did. Personally, I always feel like a pauper when I take the bus so I try to avoid it but I've come to realize that apart from the wreckless, terrifying driving it's actually a pretty good time. So we got on the first empty bus that came (#50), went straight to the back and plopped ourselves in for a nice ride. We followed the red subway line up to Nopo and then got on some highway. At that point we started to get a little nervous as to where we were headed and then saw some signs like an hour later saying we've arrived in Yangsan. Oops! That's up in the mountains where you can go to ski. Went a little farther than initially planned but we got off and walked around for a bit. Not much to see and seemed a little depressing (though the mountains were pretty) so we stopped at Dunkin' Donuts for a Sunday treat then waited on bus 50 to make its loop around and pick us up again. Once we got home we realized that we had gone all the way to Yangsan and back for like under $6 total. I like buses now.
 
Needless to say it was a VERY relaxing, fun holiday. Now there are eleven straight weeks of work without a day off in sight until December 19th. God help me.
 
xo
 
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

iPhone + Weather + Korea Is Gross

I have finally joined the rest of the civilized world and recently have acquired a smartphone. By recently I mean about two months ago. We have been in Korea since December and I decided that it was about time I get a phone. Al had gotten one from an old teacher a few months after we got here but I lazied about telling myself that I didn't need one. But as the months wore on and I started making some friends who I'd actually like to contact once in a while, I decided to schlep myself to SK Telecom. The way cell phones work here is that you don't pay the price of the phone up front like at home. The price of the phone is paid off in monthly installments in addition to your monthly plan for the duration of the contract. Therefore, the longer the contract the less you pay on the month. Apparently, a lot of foreigners sign up for the three year contract and then when they leave they pass on the contract to a newcomer to the country (or just close their bank accounts and hightail it out of here, but I think that's a little a-hole-y). So that's what I did. I have never in my life had a smartphone. I've usually had the cheapest phones available, including a Motorola RAZR for like 4 years. Once smart phones came about, we could never afford to get one and then we moved out of the country. Our school in Japan paid for us a cheapo phone so we didn't get one there and now that we're here, I decided it was about effing time I get my hands on one.

iPhone. I love you. Having the internet/Facebook/Pinterest anytime I want is amazing! Why didn't anyone tell me this! I always knew it was frustrating feeling like the only person ever who still had real buttons on my phone but I never in my life realize how much simpler a smartphone makes one's life. I'm determined not to let myself become Korean and have it surgically attached to my hand. I'm on it a lot but only in my downtime or if it dings or something. It's also extremely nice to be able to text friends from back home anytime I please without having to wait until I get on Facebook or skype. Fantastic. And don't even get me started on Instagram!

The weather is cooling down. :::sad face::: I know it's inevitable considering it's nearly October but it doesn't mean I want it to happen. It stays about 75 in the day and about 65 at night. Not too bad. We turned our air conditioner off a few weeks ago and just keep the windows open. There have been a few too-hot days where we've turned it back on but overall it stays pretty comfy in here. We left it full blast for about 2 months straight 24/7 and our bill for one of those months was roughly $376. Yikes. Koreans (all Asians, really) refuse to turn on the air conditioner until it's absolutely necessary and then scarcely use it because of the high cost. No way. I'd rather pay out the rear for cool comfortable bliss when it's 100+ outside. Also, there is no insulation in any building. None. Zero. So you're either sweltering or freezing in your own home because of it. If you turn the heat/air conditioner too high you pay for it because it just seeps out. Problem solved by insulating buildings? Nah. Too logical. I could go on and on about the insulation issue...I'll spare you.

As mentioned in my titled, KOREA IS GROSS. I don't know why I've never written about this before. I could dedicate pages upon pages about the uncleanliness of this place. I've always noticed it, always cringed, perhaps it's the fact that I could be escaping here within a matter of six months so it's bothering me more, but either way, it's nasty. For the most part, I'm very open and accepting of a new country. I try and understand their way of life and take it all in stride. But there is something to say about straight out filth. I don't know which country is highest for litter but Korea should be well at the top. Let's compare Japan and Korea for a sec. Neither country have (has? have?) trashcans anywhere (I have a Japan post about the lack of them) and yet Japan is a spectacularly clean country. Korea is buried under litter. I asked my kids if they throw their trash on the ground and they said yes. I asked why and they said, "because there aren't any trash cans". Again, a huge issue with a very simple solution. Put insulation in buildings. Put trashcans on the street. Then there is the spitting dilemma. Korean men spit like there's no tomorrow. They spit anywhere and everywhere. And by everywhere I mean also indoors. I've seen them spit in lobby of my building, in department stores and one time a man spat right next to me in the elevator. It's so gross. I even slipped on some in the subway station before. Disgusting.
Moving on. Koreans do not flush toilet paper. Yes, you heard me correctly. You put it in the designated trash can next to you in the stall. I'm not joking. An open trash can. No lid. For all to see. It doesn't matter if you are on your period or just took a huge dump, you don't flush it. Just the other day there was a bloody pad (they don't use tampons) stuck to the side of the can with the soaking red paper inside. I about barfed. I see it on a regular basis. This one of those things that, I'm sorry to say, I do not abide by. A friend told me that back in the day Korean plumbing couldn't handle the toilet paper so that's where it started. People continue not flushing it today even though a lot of the plumbing is updated and modernized. All I can say is I'm not putting bloody toilet paper in a garbage can

Well, that was my rant of the day. Have a good one!

Monday, September 17, 2012

What's Going On Across the Pond

First things first, we survived Typhoon Sanba. The last typhoon to roll through this area was a huge disappointment even though I did get the day off. Poor Al, he didn't get the last typhoon day off nor did he get this one. I work for the elementary school though, so when they close, I don't go in. This storm, on the other hand, was just what we (the foreigners) wanted. Both storms seemed to have been the strongest overnight/into the morning/afternoon and end up fizzling out mid-afternoon, which is unfortunate since we all kind of wanted to be blown away at the beach by pounding wind and rain but we'll take what we can get.
video


When Al left for work today around 2 I headed to the coast with a few friends who also had classes canceled. The rain had already stopped about an hour previously so by the time we all made it down to the beach it was just incredibly windy. If I were to take a very unscientific guess at wind speed I would put it at about 25-30mph sustained with some pretty good 40-50mph gusts thrown in. Not too shabby.
 
 
 

After playing around in the wind for a while we went to a BBQ place for a late lunch where they happened to have a TV on the news. They played a constant loop of footage from the storm and although I didn't see/hear of any damage or flooding in our area, other places across the country got SLAMMED. There was a lot of flooding, mudslides and damage from the looks of things, though I have no idea where any of these places were. By the time we finished eating everything had calmed down quite a bit and the sky was clearning up. It was still pretty windy but nothing like it was before. I came home kinda early to do some cleaning (still sitting in front of the computer...) and wait for Al to get home at 10.
 
There hasn't been a lot going on. We have a 5 day vacation coming up in a few weeks and we're gonna head up to Seoul for a few days. If it were up to me I'd be taking a plane straight to Vietnam or Beijing or someplace awesome but Al wants to pinch pennies and stay here. Boo. So off to Seoul we go. The holiday is called "Chuseok" and it's kind of Korea's version of Thanksgiving. It's a big travelling holiday and everyone goes to visit family and yadda yadda so all the trains to Seoul were completely sold out for the weekend (and there are like 30 or 40 trains a day or something) so we're flying. It's only an hour flight so that will be nice. Just a shame because usually when I'm in an airport it means I'm going someplace awesome but now it's just heading up to Seoul. Oh well, it'll be fun anyway.We decided to stay in a fancy hotel (very out of the way) because it's our 7 year anniversary weekend (dating, not wedding) and wanted to spend a bit more on someplace nice instead of a cheap old hostel.  I totally need out of Busan for a few days. We get a Monday, Tuesday and Wednesay off (Oct 1, 2, 3) but after this holiday there is not one day off work for ELEVEN weeks. The next holiday after this is December 19. Yikes.
 
Al and I have officially decided to go back to Japan after our year here in Korea. Before coming here all I read was "if you want money, go to Korea, if you want a culture experience, go to Japan". Boy were they wrong. If you want money, do NOT come to Korea! We are making pennies compared to what we made in Japan. Now, if you want to live in Tokyo (or the surrounding area) or even Osaka then you'd probably not be able to save too much and the salary would be comparable to here. But if you are willing to live outside the huge cities then you will make a TON more than coming anywhere in Korea. We have now saved in our bank account after 9 months of living here what we had saved in 3 months in Japan. Now, I know there are exceptions. The couple whose apartment Al and I took over saved a crapton of money living here but really, for the life of me, I do NOT see how they did it. I am very, very excited to go back to Japan. I was never really sure about this place to begin with. Granted, it has grown on me but all in all, I still think I prefer Japan. Yes, the country and its people are...backward...and just straight up weird and illogical most of the time but there are more good things about there than here, in my opinion. Al and I have our sights set on Fukuoka. We have friends there (a married couple) that happen to be leaving in the exact time we need to get a job. I am interested in her job and I hopefully have a good chance of getting it with my experience and a reccommendation from her. We just need to find Al a job! I've never been to Fukuoka but I only hear great things. And there's Forever 21, Ikea, H&M...all the things that keep me from going insane.
 
After this next year in Japan I'm going to be ready to come back to good old America. I think if we came back after our year here in Korea I'd regret it because there is still a lot more travelling I want to do. Once back in the US and living out a normal life there, overseas travelling opportunities will be much more slim. So while on this side of the earth I'd like to get a lot done before coming back to the grind of trying out the "American Dream". If I ever had a teaching job that I absolutely loved, like if I happen to die over the one I will get next then I really wouldn't be opposed to doing it one more year but after that, I'd definitely be finished. After that it's just running away from real life instead of simply teaching abroad for a few years. The girl whose job I may take over loved her job so much they stayed for two years, so maybe I'll like it too, if I get it. Oh, by the way, all this would be going down in March. My contract ends in December but I'm going to work two more months (Jan and Feb) and then go home for a visit in March until Al finishes his on March 31. Then hopefully it's back to Japan we go!
 
Last weekend Al and I had a photo shoot with these two amazing people and photographers, Jill and Aaron Osteen. They had advertised that they wanted to pad their portfolio before heading back to the US to start their photography business in Charleston, SC and wanted to shoot some couples, so I jumped on that! We had an amazing time and here are a few of my favorites:
 





 
If you love them (which of course you do, because they're awesome) visit their photography blog: aaronnicholasphoto.blogspot.com and be wowed. They are fantastic!

Nothing else going on! School is the same. It's all a bit monotonous, still have the wretched kids who make my days difficult. But, I really do have a better job than most teachers. I just keep telling myself that and it puts everything back into perspective!
 
Off to do some cleaning! xo