Posts Tagged With: life

The Circle of Excuses

You hear often of people wasting the present because they are so concerned with the past. A life full of “what if”s or “if only”s. I too used to live that way for most of my life. If only I hadn’t acted that way at that party, if only I hadn’t said that to him, what if I texted him a little earlier or later…
I got tired of all that. I grew tired of looking into the past and fretting over things that could never be fixed. So I moved my attention to the future. I have become fixated on making the perfect future. Except, now, I am so focused on my plans and what I will do that I forget to live in the now. To enjoy the moments I have now.

And it’s not even like I plan accordingly and stick to it, I plan out something with a half-assed effort and then the deadline passes and I begin to plan for the next deadline. I’ve become too sloppy, too lazy, in my efforts to begin. I waste time and money. I become disappointed in myself.

And no matter how many apps I try to find to make me be more responsible, to help guide me back on the right path (budgeting apps, exercise apps, reminder apps), nothing works. Because the problem is me. I am the one who has problems focusing on one task, particularly the one in front of me. I find myself constantly searching for something- a better me, perhaps? Something to make me better. It’s useless, I soon realize. It’s a giant circle that I know I’m walking in and one I choose not to stop walking, though I blame something else. You know the circle.

That’s it! I’ve decided to lose weight! I’ll start slowly. I’ll go on walks. Oh, today I’m tired. I’ll take the day off and rest. Tomorrow I’ll walk again. Oh, I’m still tired. This can’t be right. I need to exercise in order to feel better. But I am so tired and depressed. Oh, I’ll just go sleep. Oh, dear. No time for exercise. Why don’t I have a boyfriend? Because you’re fat. Well, I’ll just exercise. But I’m so tired. And Oh, I have no money. I need to budget. I will start budgeting tonight! I will lay it out. Oh, hi! Yes, I have no plans tonight. Dinner? Sounds great! What time? Perfect!

And on and on this goes. I’m wasting time. I’m wasting my life. My precious life. The one I waited for so much when I was young, is quickly racing by. And I have nothing to show for it. I am no longer a young kid. I am no longer a young adult. I need to stop wasting time and get moving. Both physically and mentally. Put down the phone. Make a list. Start checking things off. It’s time. Now is the time.

Categories: life, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Road to Freedom Part 3 – Immigration and The Interview

Part 3

So, after going to http://www.hikorea.org and booking my appointment for the 9th of September, it was just a matter of waiting. Do I have all the documents I need? Is everything in order? Am I forgetting something? I think I looked over my documents at least 3 times before leaving the house that day.

When you book your appointment, they give you your waiting number at the same time. So when I got to the immigration office, all I had to do was wait. Number 17, my lucky number, oddly enough. I clutched my file folder and waited until I was called.

When it came time, I smiled big and hoped for the best. She told me to just give her everything and she would sort it out. So that’s what I did. She went through everything and asked me questions about what some of the documents were and why I was giving them. She also prints out a copy of the point system sheet for her to count. She was confused about my study abroad experience.

“Did you receive a bachelor’s in the end?”
“No.”
“You didn’t exactly go for language instruction, did you?”
“No, I was a regular exchange student.”
“Unfortunately, I can’t count that as study in Korea experience.”

Oh, dear. This isn’t looking good. I mentioned that it was a shame that Korean was my major but it meant nothing on the sheet. She asked me to show her what I meant. Luckily I brought my transcripts. So when she (hesitantly) opened them and looked through them, I pointed out that my major was East Asian Language and Literature, but I focused on Korea. If you look throughout my transcript, it had Beginning Korean all the way up to Advanced and Business Korean.

“Did you count the points before you came today?”
“Yes. I came up with 81. But you know the system, it might not exactly be that much. Depending on the mood of the worker, it could be more or less.”
“Right.”
So I wait patiently.
“So, how many points did I end up with?”
“Well, according to my count, 82.”
“82?! Really?!”

Now, my TOPIK score was only a 5, so I could only get a max of 28 points for the TOPIK + KIIP section. But after speaking with her in Korean and explaining my major, she gave me the full 30 points. That’s the only way I could get an 82.
She asked me to copy my passport and the KIIP document and deposit 30,000won for my new card. So I did that, but ended up forgetting to copy my passport since I had a bunch of college exchange students from America asking me questions at the machines. I got confused. So when I came back without the passport copy, she was a bit annoyed and I felt bad but she copied it for me. I’m very grateful to her.
So I passed! She didn’t need the 급여내역서 in the end, but she took everything else with her.
Since you have to surrender your ARC when you apply, you are not allowed to leave the country until you receive your new card. No trips, no nothing. Boo.

But just yesterday, the 19th, I got my message from immigration.

“Your visa is permit. Please visit immigration office pick up your alien registration card. You can pick up after 2016.September.30.”

The English might not be so good but that tells me that I can go get my ARC card anytime in October. So while you may get the message early, you might not be able to pick it up for another two weeks. It’s the new semester at schools so there are tons of foreign students. So immigration is quite backed up. That must be why I have to go so late. That’s fine. I was planning to go in early October anyway.

So there you have it! Your guide to getting the F-2 visa! It only took me…. Almost a year (a little more if you count life experiences and stuff but…)! Good luck to everyone and let me know if you have questions.

Categories: immigration, korea, life, Uncategorized, visa | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Road to Freedom Part 2 – Documents

So now, I’m going to talk about getting the paperwork necessary for the F-2 visa while in Korea.

In order to get the visa, you have to prove everything you want points for. This is going to be quite difficult. So I made a list of everything I would possibly need, as well as picked up a few things I might need off of some forums. These lists make sense when thinking about how sensitive Immigration is. So the documents I will prepare are as follows:

Some documents for F-2-7 Visa
——-

1. 근로원천징수 (Most recent income tax statement. Ask for it to your employer. They should be able to give it to you.)

2. 급여내역서 (Statement from your bank of recent income  – they say have it made for the current year. It should also show income not one your previous year’s income tax statement or something… I’m not sure what this means but if you go to the bank and ask for it, they should know what to do. Sounds like a bank trip to me. And this costs just a few thousand won.)

3. 거주지 확인서 (Proof of residence –  Someone said they used their internet/cable bill. I use smart billing/e-billing, so I will have to figure out a way to get that.)

4. 재직증명서 (Statement of current employment from employer. This is to prove you’re employed currently. I don’t think the whole 3 years has to be under one employer, but it must be under the same visa type. I would double check this, though. Luckily, I’ve been with my company for 3 years so it won’t matter.)

5. 사업자등록증 사본 (Employer’s business license with number, pretty standard when changing visas. This is to reinforce #4)

6. Passport (and copy, just in case)

7. Certificates from KIIP (One is shipped to you, one can also be printed. They are different certificates so just print both.)

8. Certificate from TOPIK (they don’t mail these anymore, I think. So I printed a copy from online. I hope they like B&W copies…)

9. Apostilled copy of Diploma

Honestly, this last part was the hardest out of all of them.

I’m currently in South Korea. How do I get my degree apostilled without bothering my family and friends for the billionth time?
While looking all over these forums, people kept referring to this one place- apostillepros.com.
Honestly, I thought it was some sort of scam to get you to spend a lot of money and then they never send you anything. You know what I mean. But I was desperate. I first emailed them about what I had to do. And clearly, based on their reply, they’re used to people like us. There’s two methods for this:

  • Send them your degree and they will get a copy apostilled.
  • Send them a high-quality color scan of your degree and they will apostille that for you. And for only $140 ($95 per degree apostille, plus $45 for shipping).

This seems like a lot. But honestly, you will probably fedex your document home (because I don’t trust normal postal services with my expensive degree.) This will cost about $45 one way. Times two… Then, if you live in some place like New Jersey, to get it notarized (depends on where you go for pricing) and then apostille something costs $25 per document (every state is different. Some states ask $5, others ask more. How rude…). If you are lucky, you can go in person to get all that done. If not, you gotta send it through the mail again. Honestly, this whole process can take weeks. Precious time many people don’t have.

So I decided to go for the scan. I sent the email with my scan, my order form, and my affadavit stating I didn’t photoshop/digitally alter my degree (necessary if you scan it) on Monday morning. By 10:30 AM, the money was charged from my credit card. 2 hours later, I got an email stating my Fedex package’s information. Monday night, the apostille was sent out. By Wednesday, 2:19PM (all my time, by the way), I was holding my apostilled copy of my diploma in my hand. I repeat. Within 48 hours, I was finished with the absolute worst part of the documents part of my visa process. I laughed when the Fedex guy came into my office. I thought he was joking. But definitely not.

So my recommendation to you all is, if you are in Korea and need things apostilled, I highly recommend ApostillePros. Don’t think, just do. Now, for Criminal Background Checks (you won’t need it for this visa), it might be a whole different procedure. But I highly recommend this.  Also, when I looked up the cost to send from CA to S. Korea (by the way, where you get your degree apostilled and notarized doesn’t matter. I have a NJ diploma. As long as the notary and apostille are in the same state, it is fine.), and with the same shipping time, it would’ve cost $87.50 or so. Wow. So yeah, money well spent. I can sleep easy tonight knowing that what I thought would take two weeks took only 2 days.

Now I just have to get the documents from my company and bank.

Last step? The immigration office. I will tell you about that step when it happens. But that might not be until September. So hold on tight.

Categories: korea, life, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Brand Name is the new Bap

Link to 명품 article

I saw the above article and it really made me think due to a discussion I had (and have had multiple times over my years here) with Koreans/colleagues/friends about S. Korea’s past.

Koreans in a way love to talk about their poor past. I don’t think this is true. But what I mean is, they tell me about it a lot. Almost as if this was a pity contest and they were trying to get the most out of it. “You know, back in the old days, right after the war, there wasn’t always food on the table. Often times we starved.” This is why in Korea you MUST finish your bowl of rice in front of a Korean mother. It is/was a luxury to have such food. It is the reason restaurants serve such a variety of side dishes with a meal. Otherwise, the restaurant is looked down upon. And I understand as it is the lasting image that Americans have of South Korea – a poor, war-ravaged country where many people might not have enough food, or proper shelter, etc.

 

Nowadays, Korea is not that war-torn country. It is extremely modern, moreso than the US and has many more advantages than we do, though they still fail to see just how far they’ve come. You always hear people say, “Oh, you’re from America?? I’m so jealous! I bet it’s amazing to live in America.” except the people who have actually lived there admit to how behind the times and slow life really is there and that really, what works in Korea doesn’t really work in America.

 

Back to the point of the article. It talks about the word 밥
(bap). This means “rice” literally, but it has come to mean, a meal. Because in Asia, if you haven’t eaten rice, you haven’t had a meal, and eating is everything in a poor country. So this word is very commonly used as the word “meal”, “food”, “rice” and any other variation. We use it at least a thousand times a day. But this article talks about how now, the new word to talk about your social status and wealth is no longer bap, but 명품 (myungpoom) meaning “Brand name”. It used to mean something that wasn’t no-name. Like, Neutrogena, instead of the target version of it. But now, it has come to mean “luxury brand”, such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and all the others. Instead of asking “Have you eaten?”, you might be more inclined to talk about your latest acquisition from the Department Store, the height of luxury shopping.

And I find this to be true. Many people talk about all their department store cosmetic purchases and their duty free shopping conquests, etc. I’m even guilty of it. Though a lot of the reason I buy from department stores is because the formulas are ones that won’t hurt my face and cause me to break out, though often times when you read the back of a Clinique bottle let’s say, it will state “Formulated for Asian Skin.”. Yeah, the American stuff doesn’t say that lest it be considered racism. But it makes sense when being sold in Asia. But I realize that I see results when I use the higher end products. Thus I keep using it.

People in Asia are so very obsessed with spending lots of money on these luxury items, it’s almost absurd to an American. We brag about how cheap we bought something, while they brag about how much they spent. Now, this is not true for everyone, but often times it can be. Depends a lot on one’s age as well. I thought another interesting point was the sexism within this culture. If a man buys expensive, luxurious products, he is called a 도시만 (doshinam), a smart, city guy, or even a 차도남(chadonam), a suave, car-driving guy (since a man having a car is like the senior quarterback in highschool with his car- oh so cool and sexy). But, a girl would be called a 된장녀 (duenjangnyuh), literally, a duenjang stew girl, but means, a girl who lives outside her means (it comes from the idea that someone will eat only this stew, which is one of the cheapest dishes in Korea, in order to save up the money to buy these luxurious products.). There is the male version, but it’s not used as often as the female version. This blatant sexism is also fascinating. I mean, there are more working women these days, especially in the middle aged and young generation so they can afford it.

Anyway, I know it is in Korean, but google translate it sometime if you want. I read some of it, but found the idea of the topic fascinating. I wonder what others think.

 

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Performances in Insa-dong

I would like to say that I get along with my British friends because I am able to contain my enthusiasm for certain in the way that British people express themselves. Americans are quite known for being passionate, enthusiastic, etc. I like to think I’m not easily impressed or enthused by things. I do get excited, though much of the time I feign it to get reactions. I remember growing up, my mother would cook a meal and ask the family how it was. My brother and sister would always say “Oh, it’s great, Mom!”, though later confiding that Mom really can’t cook well. But they were very encouraging. I, on the other hand, would be the less enthusiastic one and remark, “Eh, it’s not bad~”, much to my mother’s dismay. Understandably so.

When I went to see my favorite Korean band in concert, while everyone was screaming and chanting, dancing along, I merely stood there and bobbed my head lightly, singing along as well. I’m not much of the fan girl type. I would think my British friends would approve. They always jest that their wedding vows would be along the lines of, “Dear wife, you’re not that bad. I guess I can live with you for a bit. Just make sure the tea is warm when we get home.” I know they are just joking but that’s the English personality. Scottish, a little bit different. But English is quite like this.
So today I was on my way back home after getting a few things for the house and then lunch/dinner. I bought it for take-out so I could come home and watch TV while eating it. I was out until about 5:30 this morning with my British friends so I just felt like relaxing today. Nothing too crazy. I even cancelled my plans to go visit a friend and his fiancé as a result. I really cannot stay up all night. I get grouchy, tired, my stomach hurts, I get nausea, etc. I am just a pain in the ass. I give them a lot of credit for sticking it out with me.
Anyway, that’s beside the point. So, I was on my home and I noticed a performance going on right in front of my apartment building. That always happens because it’s Insadong, the commercially traditional part of Seoul. They always have these performances on the weekends for the foreigners here. I always say that I dislike Insadong because it feels so fake. It’s like a giant, living museum of old Korea with way too many souvenir shops. The name Insa-dong, means “Greeting Area”. It’s a bit obnoxious as a foreigner who lives here because I’m automatically assumed to be a tourist or a Russian Karaoke Room worker. Yeehaw.
So I decided to stop by and see what it was. To my luck, it wasn’t just the normal Sameulnori group (traditional farm music celebration group) that usually plays, it was another drumming group. Many people are familiar with Taiko (Daiko) drumming from Japan. This was similar. They play the drums frequently used in Sameulnori and they set it up on a stage on the floor. You have to sit and play it. I really love Percussion-based performances, such as Nanta or Taiko, due to the energy they bring. It’s one of the reasons I really enjoyed being apart of my high school’s drumlins group and did front line percussion. You cannot believe the rush it gives you to play in one of those groups.
Drumming in Insa-dong performance

Drumming in Insa-dong performance

So, I thought it would just be another boring group. But they were amazing! I don’t know how to explain it. They were just so into it. I can’t even describe it. It was so amazing, I found myself crying. Just tearing up and running down my cheek. It was odd. It was like, tears of happiness. I’ve never really experienced that before. What made it more lovely was looking at the crowd. Most people weren’t really foreigners. They were Koreans. Especially older Koreans. This area is filled with older Koreans. And I saw these two men dancing to the music. Yes, they were a bit off, mentally. But they were dancing to the music in that old, traditional style you might see at a Pansori (Korean traditional folk storytelling music) that accompanies it. And I realized that the music isn’t just for the foreigners, but it’s for the Koreans too, primarily the older generation. It gives them a way to remember they old days, their youth. Back in the 50s or 60s when Korea was still a poorer country and these were more common place. It gives me a release that you just don’t see everyday. I just loved the atmosphere. I loved the performance for so many things.
2014-09-21 17.28.53

Old man dancing in front of the drummers

It made me appreciate the area and the performances they do there. Sure, it’s artificial in nature, but I think it does some good. I think I can lessen my hate of this are for it. I just wish it wasn’t so commercial, with all the souvenir stores and makeup stores polluting the area. I like the local artists, the painters there. I just don’t like these stores.
I’m glad I got to see this performance today. I have this energy in me to restart music and restart mallets again. I just wish it was easier to do so.
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Just my luck~

I’m not a religious person. I do respect other religions and understand the need for them. I merely wish they didn’t drive people to do hateful things to each other.
But when I was growing up, I was quite fascinated with Asian religions and mysticism. I love mythology and all the ideas people came up with to explain how the Earth was made, how humans came to be, and how the world works. The Zodiacs are also fun to believe in as well. That different signs match and others conflict. And when you look at the Zodiacs, sometimes they really do make sense. And when I look at Chinese astrology, although it’s a different culture, sometimes I feel like it applies to me as well.

But at the end of the day, it isn’t real. Though we really want to believe it’s real. Though sometimes I really wonder how real it is.
My father was also interested in Chinese zodiacs and would look it up online to see what his sign was and what his fortune was like. My father even bought a charm and a jade tiger to reinforce his luck. I remember him telling me that it said he was born on an extremely lucky day and that he was supposed to be a very lucky person. But he wondered why he had lead such a miserable life and felt that the reading might be a mistake about his luck. My poor daddy… He has lead such a miserable life.

Last spring, I had the chance to go see a Taro card reader near my house with a fellow instructor at the institute. I went with little expectations because the last fortune teller I went to wasn’t very good. It was a $5 palm reading in Washington D.C. when I went to go visit my friends Lily and Mariana, and the woman told me I would be conflicted between two loves and to pick the newer love. There was no two men ever and I thought the woman was a bunch of crock afterwards.

So my coworker and I got two readings (also $5) and this time was for Love AND Work. The woman said for love, that I was in a relationship but the person I was with was more in love with me than I was with him (True). She told me it wouldn’t get any better and that I should just break up.
As for work, she said that it looks bright and that I should change my job in the fall. I was surprised by this response because everyone’s contract starts in a different month, but mine is in the fall, in October. I asked her about the Summer or Winter and she told me the cards say Fall and only Fall.
I had this reading and didn’t think too much of it. But then during the summer, an opportunity presented itself and I was able to start as soon as my other contract ended in the Fall. And that is what happened, just as she said.
It could be luck, it could be timing, but the way it worked out couldn’t have been any better.

Also at the time, I was looking for a way to break up with my ex and had finally found a way. At the same time, a friend of mine offered the services of a Shaman. You see, in Korea, they used to practice Shamanism, and the priests were very often women. Those charms you often see in Japanese animes at the shrines, well, Koreans have a form of them as well. You can buy cheap Japanese charms from these shrines for yourself. I bought one for my dad in Japan when I studied abroad there in hopes that it will improve his luck. He keeps it in his car and drives around with it. Sometimes I think it keeps him safe because he has gotten into accidents that could have killed him but he came out perfectly fine, just needing a new car. So maybe it is working? I can hope, anyway.

Anyway- my friend said she could get a charm for me from this old woman who could help get rid of my ex-boyfriend and improve my life. I was interested until she told me about the price. $300. Yes, you heard that right. It’s quite expensive. But the difference, I was told, is that these are personalized, rather than just a general one written for anybody. Those are less effective. So many laugh at me for having one and then spending so much. But the old woman prayed day and night for 3 days straight to make this charm.

And was it effective you might ask? Yes. Very.

I am a lucky person. It sounds odd but I can feel my luck. I know I was born lucky. I can’t describe it but good things (as well as bad) happen to me but the usually in a very good way. The bad is just momentary. And the bad only happens when I am around negative people. There are really negative people who just suck your luck and energy away. My mother and ex were those kinds of people. Once I got away, life improved drastically. Once I got away from my ex, I felt better, I got better housing, and I ended up with a nice bit of extra money in the bank almost immediately after receiving this charm. It has paid itself back many fold.

When I met my friend this weekend during Chuseok, she told me that the old Shaman woman said that I was a very lucky person, that she felt it too. But she also said that this year, I won’t meet anyone for love. It’s too soon yet. And it makes sense with the charm. They usually last for a year. So she told my friend to tell me to hold off and just wait until next year. Next year will be a better year.

And it sounds really strange but it is really comforting to hear that. I always think I’m doing something wrong but it’s not me, it’s just timing. It’s just not the right time. Later. Now is the time for learning. Learning how to be me again. Learning what me is. And it’s nice to know I don’t have to focus on that right now and can focus on other things. And although it’s odd to say I believe, I kinda do. It’s that reassurance I needed right now. The push to focus on things that need more immediate attention. I’m so worried now about some people in my life but it’s like life telling me, if they’re there next year, they’re worth it. If not, they’re not. Don’t bother yourself with those who don’t stick around. But I think everything will turn out just fine.

Categories: korea, life, luck, mysticism | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

The Butterfly

I’m not sure if it’s normal of all women, all people, people living abroad, etc, but throughout the month I go through periods of mood swings. Naturally, at that time of the month, I find myself depressed and that every tiny thing causes me to doubt myself, my existence, my everything. It lasts for about two weeks, oddly enough. It’s a fog really. They say people who are depressed literally do see the whole world in a shade of gray. And that’s exactly how it feels. I feel that I am a horrible worker, who can’t do any project right. Or that I’m unattractive, because many women just generally feel this way. Or that there’s a flaw in my personality. I get down about my language ability and it’s a constant source of frustration. I feel excluded from many things, such as work conversations or jokes, etc. And this isn’t always their fault, it’s mine too for not studying more when I know I should.

But then, the fog clears and you feel normal. Not that you care about any in particular, but things don’t particularly affect you as much as they did during the fog. The fact that someone hasn’t immediately responded to my text message doesn’t mean that they hate me and don’t feel like talking to me. Perhaps they are busy. Perhaps I just don’t give a flying-. And when I’m in the shower at the YMCA, I look in the mirror. I see that while I’m fat, I’m not as fat as I was. I see the progress I’ve made. I see the sexiness that is and that is still possible. That soon quickly gets crushed by girls who walk in with their small little waists and cute butts. But then I see some with no boobs, or droopy boobs, or flat butts. And I feel better. Mine do that too! And it’s comforting. And the fact that I’m excluded from stuff at work is their fault sometimes too, not mine. They don’t want to take advantage of my vast knowledge of useless information. Or acknowledge that I know some Korean. Or truly get to know me more than one day. They’d be lucky to see how fun and happy and talkative I can be. Yes, I talk about strange things sometimes. But it’s better than complaining about things all the time. And I’m good at Korean but I will get better.

My moods feel like the butterfly stroke in swimming. There’s the wave, the up and down wave of the body, in and out of the water. My head constantly feels like this loud happiness, this breath of air, then back into this suffocating drowned out filtered noise with an ugly bottom. A soft kick and a strong kick, to propel you forward and keep you going. Sometimes you have the energy and sometimes you don’t. But after 25 meters, there’s usually an end. And what a relief it is. But then you remember you have to go back. Again through the water. Life is like a butterfly stroke. Tiring, but somehow satisfactory because of once you’ve done it, you can look back at how magnificient you must’ve been doing it.

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Spring in full bloom with changes

Spring has finally sprung!

I’m not sure about the weather back home, but the weather in Korea is absolutely beautiful these days. Of course, we get a slight chill at 10*C, but I think that is hardly something to complain about. Clear skies, some breezes (some stronger than others) and now the cherry blossoms are blooming around Korea. Quite a lovely site to see. I haven’t gone out to see them because they are everywhere, even on my way to work and around my office. And if I want to go to a special place for cherry blossoms, personally, I like to go with others to experience it.

Many people say, “You speak English! You can go anywhere and meet people!” which is true, I must say. I’m fortunate enough to speak English as a native language and so have a somewhat easier time getting around some places than others. But I personally derive pleasure from not just that moment but being able to recall it later with others whom I was with. A bad situation seems more bearable and more hilarious when you are with someone. Alone is seems so daunting and scary. But together, I can conquer anything. So perhaps during the spring or the summer I will take a long weekend and finally go somewhere like Bangkok, Boracay, Okinawa, somewhere like that. Even Tokyo again. Maybe not China due to the expensive visa required (around $140 from what I’ve read, even for 1 day), but I plan on going somewhere. Just to escape.

As far as an update as to what I’m doing, I haven’t been doing much. I had my birthday a few weeks ago and it went by relatively quietly. My coworkers were very kind and gave me Starbucks gift cards (Koreans love to get coffee together after meals and we always do that for lunch. I’m trying to get a gold card at Starbucks. I’m almost there!) and we went to Outback for lunch together. It was nice. I got some messages here and there from some people but none from some people I was hoping to get them from. But I did get them from unexpected people which made me happier.

So that came and went and I’ve just been chugging along, shopping all the way. If you have been in contact with me frequently lately, you’ll have noticed (it’s hard not to) that I’ve become a bit of a shopping addict these days. I’m always shopping for something, buying
something. It’s a lot of ridiculous stuff, but to me it seems essential at the time. It occupies my thoughts and free time, especially at work. And we always have these grand thoughts that with this product, the heavens will part, I will transform into Giselle Bundchen’s slightly sexier twin sister, men will flock to me in stampedes, I will resume my rightful place on some grand throne, and everything will be perfect. However grand that might be, it never seems to happen. It seems to be a way to cope with something. With boredom, for one. With loneliness, two. With unhappiness in myself, three. It’s a vice for many reasons. Fear not, I don’t spend more than I can afford. I’m not the kind that can’t pay the bills and avoids reality due to this addiction. I do put money away. I do pay off bills and on time. And I am making a concerted effort to make sure to use everything I buy completely so as not to feel that I waste my money. I made the habit in the past to buy stuff but never use it for fear that it would be a waste of money to use it up. It’s a waste of money to never use it. And curiousity will always lurk behind.

And although I am lonely, I need to get used to it. Well, getting used to being independent, is the better term. Stop relying on others for my happiness. Try to find activities that interest me completely and make me feel better. When you come out of the relationship that I was in, you question many things about yourself. Who am I? What do I want? What is my voice? What is my opinion? What did I do before them? What are my real interests? What are my real feelings about things? What are my real imperfections? What did they manufacture out of jealousy and shallowness? Life becomes tainted. Social interactions are different. The words out of my mouth are different. So life now is about change. And taking control back, especially after having lost so much control. I am trying to take back that control, over many aspects of my life.

It’s not just an emotional overhaul, but a physical one too. I am more focused on my looks these days. I am losing weight again. I lost 2 kilos in these past two weeks! I just need to keep up with my meal plan and exercise. I am also focusing a lot on beauty, as you can see by my makeup reviews that I might post on here as a way to stress and also get out my urge to help people. So do excuse those. I’m also going out more and being more sociable, meeting more people. Sometimes I get hurt in trusting people too much, but such is life. I was always this kind of outgoing person. Though now I need to learn when to hold back and stop trusting so many people. But I only have today. I want to live with no regrets. That’s the point of my life right now. After living and worry about if I’d see tomorrow or next year, I’ve learned that regrets are the death of me. I will stop worrying about regrets. We all make mistakes. Even big ones. Just do what makes me happy. Who cares what other people think? Just don’t hurt anyone.

Spring is the perfect time for change.

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Just an update

It has been a few weeks since I’ve posted and I apologize. Been busy and I’ve been trying to write about my trip to see a musical from a few weeks ago and I keep getting side-tracked at work. I would write it now but I saved the thing on my work computer (don’t ask) and don’t want to rewrite the whole thing. So I’ll just write a simple update for all who actually read this thing.

 

Life has been boring and busy. It’s very routine, which can be monotonous after a while but it’s good for me. I like routine. I go to work and then leave at exactly 6:00 (sorry coworkers! side note: In Korean culture, nobody usually leaves at exactly closing time because it is seen as a bad worker.  Usually they leave around at least 6:30-7:00. But my boss understands that I’m not Korean and that I do work until 6:00 and then throw my stuff together to leave. He doesn’t take this personally or as a bad worker because as long as I get my work done, he’s happy, right? Right.) After that, I run home, pick up any deliveries from the creepy building maintenance man and then get ready for swimming class. I go to class around 7:30 and then get home around 9:30ish. I then do something for 30 minutes, then get ready for bed at around 10 and then sleep at 11. Not too much free time. But I do do other things like meet friends on the weekdays when they want.

Some of the things I’ve been doing when I skip class? Eating. Hahaha. Usually it’s eating. Wanna see one thing? ImageThis is pizza from the pizza place next door, Pizza Heaven (피자헤븐). The place’s pizza is cheap and delicious. I highly recommend foreigners to go there if they don’t have access to 59쌀pizza or Pizza School, where they are much much cheaper. They don’t have them around here so I eat this. On Friday night, two girls from swimming class came over and we ate this and talked. I really love my swimming class friends. I’ll talk about swimming class a bit more in another post.

Image

This is from one of my favorite restaurants called Cheer/Cheer or 치르치르. This is called 치르치르미치르. It’s carbonara pasta over chicken tenders. It’s awesome. And they have these fries that are amazing. They are served with sour cream sauce but it tastes awesome. Doesn’t doubt it, just order. It’s good. So that’s just some of what I eat. I should put up more food porn later.

Anyway, life is like that. Eat, hang out with friends, and just enjoy life.

Oh! I thought I should tell you. So, you remember how I posted about old men liking to hold my hand? One of the men was a guy from swimming class, who I didn’t mind too much. I’m polite to him and try to humor him since he is a longstanding member at the YMCA and I don’t want to be rude to elders. He’s nice and tries to boast about how awesome he is. It’s quite amusing, really. 

Anyway, I finished swim class on Friday and I had just showered and started getting dressed. Well, I saw one missed call but it was a number I didn’t know so I messaged asking who it was. They called me back and when I pick it up, it’s that guy. He asked me out to dinner. When I told him I had plans with the girls from swim class (see pizza above, yum), he asked about this weekend. I told him I had plans and he sounded a bit sad and wanted to meet “sometime” (I say that in quotes because anyone that has met a Korean knows that time references aren’t literal or actually used properly. It’s like saying “I literally died”. They’re just matters of politeness in Korea. Even if you have no intention of ever meeting someone, you say “Let’s meet up soon!” Ticks me off when I think people I like really wanna hang out with me but just leave me hanging. So I use it now too.). I was quite flattered but I had to decline. The age gap is at least 20 years. I think 5-6 is about as far as I could go. He’s at a different life stage than me. He probably has children my age. No can do. I’ll just meet him at the swimming class monthly party and go from there. It’s these funny little things during my week that make me smile. 

Also, I’d like to say, for my friends at home, since you are so curious about what cosmetics I buy and how I use them, I will be posting make up hauls when I get them and my thoughts of them. And it will probably showcase my horrible shopping addiction but I don’t care. Shopping in Korea is an important part of life for everyone here. I haven’t gotten to home shopping but I’ve mastered internet shopping. That’s the last step. But anyway, I’ll show you guys. That’s it for now. I think I’ll give you the first makeup haul today as well. 

 

 

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The New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!

I know I didn’t really post something about Christmas and the end of 2011 because there wasn’t much to say. Christmas was really shitty. Everyone was busy so I spent Christmas studying with a student. I didn’t get to do anything fun. I know I shouldn’t say that about said student but it’s not their fault. Nothing else I can do about that. So, I was in the worst mood for the rest of the week after that. That is, until Thursday.

Thursday was my trip to Japan for New Year’s! And it was AMAZING. I can’t stress it enough. It was absolutely wonderful. Better than my first trip to Japan. By a bajillion times. Nothing could top it. Why? Because we did what we wanted and had no real plans. But we did lots of great stuff. I’m so happy! So, I will describe my activities.

Day 1:

I took the first bus (4:30am!) with my coworker to the airport since she was going to Tokyo just an hour after me. So, I hung out at the airport for a little bit and then flew off to Fukuoka. I met up with Rina at the airport, though it took me 40 minutes to go through immigration. Ugh. So annoying.

So after I met Rina, we went to her home and dropped off my luggage. Then we bought a bus pass to take us anywhere for 3 days, which is amazing considering transportation costs an arm and a leg. So the pass cost $80 but transportation would have cost $160 or so if we didn’t do the pass. I’m happy about that. So we took a bus for 2 hours out to Saga, Kurume or someplace near Saga. We went to Yoshinagaro Historic Village. It was pretty nice. When we went there, since Rina and I speak Korean to each other, some people would kinda just look at us in curiousity. It wasn’t English so what could it be? And it just so happened that he was the volunteer tour guide for that facility. A Japanese man who knew English, actually. So he would explain to Rina in Japanese and then to me in English. His English wasn’t too bad but it was fine. But he would point at these Asian gates and say “See those birds with their wings out. It means attack! Attack!” and then point to another one with birds with their wings at their sides and say “This means Defense. Defense!” Oh, it was hilarious. Then he just left us suddenly at the top of a tower. But we didn’t mind. We wandered a bit more and then left, meeting up with Rina’s mom and Aunt. They are the sweetest people in the world!! Her mom got me a pretty little rice bowl for coming, which was so nice of her. Her aunt is also really cute, who watches Korean dramas so knows a couple Korean phrases. We had some awesome Italian food and then went back home.

Day 2:

Day 2, we took another 2 and a half hour bus ride and we went to Kuramoto for a pretty garden/park made by two scholars a couple hundred years ago (I think). It was absolutely stunning. I must say. Well done! So we took a walk around there, then went to the castle. Unfortunately, during my stay there, they decided they would close the castle for the holiday. So we only got to see the outside of it. It was still really pretty and there were cute stuff around it, like a new year’s market and such. Then we went into town and walked around the shopper’s street and restaurants, and even department stores. I finally got my CocoIchiBanya’s so I am happy! Korea’s version is a little better but not bad. I was overall very happy. I didn’t buy anything. I should have but I’m saving my money for when I go home in April to go clothes and everything else shopping. I really wanted to buy a Samantha Thavasa wallet (It’s a Japanese designer brand. SO CUTE!) But I didn’t want to spend the money just yet. I can’t justify the purchase yet. My wallet was so damn expensive and it’s not dead yet so no need).

However, we did end up going to Loft, my favorite Japanese store. It has the cutest stuff ever there! I really love it. Anyway, I remembered from a Youtuber that I watch that they were raving about this Japanese beauty product called Cure. It was a skin exfoliating gel that removed dead skin. I was a bit skeptical but after trying it on my hand, OMG, it was amazing!! SO MUCH DEAD SKIN. It was kinda gross. But my hand was soooooo soft afterwards. But it was $30 or so. But I bought it. It was amazing. But it was also over the limit for carry-on liquids so I would have to figure out how to bring this on. Hmmm.

Day 3:

New Year’s Day! So what do we do? We decide on a whim to take another 2 and a half hour bus ride (notice a trend here. hahaha) to Beppu! What’s in Beppu? It’s famous for it’s hot springs! So we decided to go to a famous place that has 7 separate world famous hot springs. There were also some full body hot springs you could go into as well as foot hot springs. Since both Rina and I are so shy, we only did the foot springs, which was still wonderful. I highly recommend it to anyone. It was just a great way to end the new year. Relaxed! And it was funny, we were waiting for a bus but it was so late. 15-20 minutes late, actually, which is not very usual in Japan. We were worried because we had to catch another bus back to Fukuoka and the small village bus were were trying to catch only comes once an hour. So we see a bus going in the opposite direction but has a transfer station we can get to so we decide to jump on it. But as soon as we do, the other bus comes. So we leap out of the bus and DASH to the other one frantically. It was hilarious. This kind of thing happened the entire time. We would JUST miss or JUST make a bus or tour to get somewhere. So our phrase for the trip was “우리 운명이다” which means, It’s our fate. Our luck was very good or very bad. But during this trip, it was just fine.

So then we take the long bus ride back and go buy a cake for new year’s, just like last year. (We spent last year’s new year’s here in Korea at my place) We then went to a Karaoke Room for a couple hours then went back to Rina’s apartment to watch the countdown and music shows until the new year and eat cake. It was very low key, but it was perfect. Just the way I like it. I love being home with friends, ringing in the new year’s with them. It was perfect. And to make it better, I love getting texts from friends right at midnight, telling me happy new year’s. Everyone was a little early. But one person, JS, messaged me right at midnight. I was very very happy. Nobody, not even my family, realized that it was new year’s for me. And JS is in NJ so I was happy. And the funny thing is that I was going to message him first to say Happy New Year’s but i decided to wait a little bit. Good thing I did. And it’s funny. Girls love the small things guys say, even if guys don’t mean it to be sweet and mean it to mean anything. Don’t sweat the small things, they say. But the small things in life is what makes up life, they also say. Very, very true.

Day 4:

My Last Day ;_;

My last day in Japan was a very lazy day. We woke up around 8:45ish. Got ready and left the apartment around 10 to go shopping at Hakata station since it’s New Year’s Day and Fukuoka Tenshin station is closed. However, Hakata has their department store and shopping center open and it’s absolute madness. Japan is usually very quiet but not on this day. It’s crazy and noisy. And the way shop girls catch your attention is soooo hilarious. Their calls are so high pitched (even old women do it too) and cute and so dragged out. You just have to hear it to believe it. But anyway, there is tradition in Japan for the first couple days for shops to sell Lucky Bags. What they are is a shopping bag with products inside. You don’t know what you will get, it’s completely random and you just pay a set price. So, Rina and I saw a popular Jewelry designer with very cute accessories and decided to buy it for 3,100Yen, or about 35-40$. I got some tiny-ass pendant but a pretty set of earrings. The pendent itself is pink gold with a small diamond and is worth about $90-$100 separately, the earrings about $50, so it was kinda worth it. Rina wasn’t very happy with hers but hers was so cute! A long necklace and a barret. I would’ve taken it too.

We continue shopping for a few more hours, though didn’t buy anything else and then I get ready and go to the airport. Check is fine, luggage seems to be going well. So we sit around and talk for a while and then I have to go through security. Moment of truth. And damn those Japanese, they do their job well. In Korea, I just whizzed right by, but not these guys. They found my cure bottle and other stuff. They took my cure away! I just about cried. I dunno why. Everything was going so well. I begged him not to take it (I still don’t know why I tried. It’s kind of a futile idea) but he didn’t let me. So I asked him if I could give it to my friend, who might still be waiting. We checked but Rina left. So he took it. I was very sad and messaged Rina that he took it. Luckily, Rina was just on the small airport shuttle bus to the other terminal so she would run back to get it. And the guy gave it to her!! How wonderful!! So she will send it to me someday. Hahah. That’s okay. Even if she just uses it, that’s okay. I just don’t want to waste the money.

So, I’m waiting for my plan and the next problem arises. The plan is late to board. WTF? I have a bus to catch at Incheon. My plane arrives at 10:30pm and the bus leaves at 11:00pm. I have 30 minutes to get off the plane, get through security, find the bus, and get on. OMG, is what I’m thinking. But it also sucks that they make these stupid announcements in Korean and Japanese just fine, but when they do the English announcements, they don’t give all the information. Just small bits and pieces. That’s a bit rude but I don’t say anything, though I wanted to. However, we only board 10 minutes late and the plane still leaves on-time. Thank goodness! So, I fill out that immigration and customs form ahead of time so there is no waiting at Incheon. I get to Incheon and dash! The foreign line isn’t too bad but still kinda long. But you know what? Incheon has their head in the game! It only takes 10 minutes! Japan took 40. I was very proud of Korea. There was no bullshit here. I was hoping there would be a reentry for foreigners line but no. Not necessary. Makes me wonder what corners they are cutting to make it speedy. But I don’t care, I move quickly past luggage and run to find the bus. And I find it! It’s really close to immigration! So I have ten minutes to spare! I made the bus. Except, Koreans treat foreigners like the plague and nobody wants to sit next to me until it’s the only seat left. And then there was a cute guy who spoke pretty decent English sitting next to me. I was happy, except for the really loud old men behind me who wouldn’t shut up the entire ride home. But that’s Korea.

I noticed in Japan, people don’t shout too much, they don’t stare at others, they seem in a very good mood (even if they aren’t), and it’s just more individualized. Men seem to take great pride in their families and spend time with them. They are such loving-looking fathers. I hope to marry a guy like that. And girls here don’t try to look like one another. They try to be different. The fashion is so different than Korea and it’s awesome. It really renewed my love for Japan. I remember why I loved it so much when I was young. They are polite but still know how to have fun and be unique. But family and friends are still important. I know it’s just me as a short-term foreigners looking at Japan through rose-colored glasses, but it was the best of times. I really found myself again in Japan. It was 4 days of no complaints about anything, smiles, waking up and going to bed whenever we wanted, doing whatever we wanted when we wanted, eating whatever we wanted and it being delicious, and just being free. There was not a worry in our mind, (except for maybe not making that one bus back to Fukuoka from Beppu but besides that…). I came back to Korea myself. So happy. So full of life and energy. I don’t want it to end. And I realized, this is how life should be. And so I learned that it’s also about the people around you. My coworkers are very tired from our schedule, and I understand that, but they complain an awful lot. I don’t want to hear it. I’m tired of the complaining. That’s why I left home. I wanted to get away from such negative energy. It makes you sick and unhappy. It’s how I was all last year. And now I’m so much better. I just wonder how long it will last. My one coworkers always tells me “How long are you going to keep acting so happy? When will you go back to being miserable?” I know he says it jokingly but somehow, I feel like it isn’t. So I need to get away from those people. So I will try not to hang out with them unless I have to if they are going to complain. I’m not in the mood. I wanna be happy and me. Carefree and such. 

Next entry will be about my New Year’s resolutions for this year. I’m still thinking about them though I have some down. More on way.

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