Thursday, August 28, 2014

It's Been 1 Year!!

Wow!  I know this sounds cliche, but this year has gone by unbelievably fast.  I remember Aug. 17, 2013 so vividly that I cannot believe it was a whole 12 months ago.  I remember waiting and waiting for the day of my flight to arrive, and when the time came, I was choking back tears, saying goodbye to my family, and wondering if I was making the right decision.  Now, 365 later, I know that moving abroad was one of the best decisions I've ever made.  It hasn't always been easy living in Korea (missing holidays, time with family and friends and special events), but I wouldn't change anything that's happened to me in the past year.

A collage of some of my experiences this year, also featuring some of my favorite people here!
(Family visiting, rafting, Taekwondo lesson, paragliding, basketball game, etc.)

Learning Korean hasn't been easy, but it's slowly coming along.  The stuff in this picture is sooo easy now.

In honor of my first year in Korea, I’ll tell you my top 5 likes and dislikes of living here (in no particular order):

1. Clothes DRYERS!!!  I could desperately use a dryer, but there non-existent here, so everything must air-dry.  I hate waiting...and I just want fluffy clothes again.

2. Food, food and food.  Yes, I've adjusted to Korean tastes and I will definitely miss certain Korean dishes when I decide to leave, but nothing beats the variety of American food.  If you want PopTarts, there's literally 30 flavors to choose from in the US.  And the only time I can get good Mexican food here is when I travel to Seoul, and if you think I'm paying a reasonable $7 for a meal that includes free chips and salsa, think again.  I also miss crab rangoon, root beer, hotdogs, mac n cheese, etc.  Bottom line here, I'm definitely not starving, but American cuisine wins the food battle hands down.

3.  Time Zones.  Of course the time difference just plain sucks.  Korea is 14 hours ahead of the U.S. which can make calling/texting/Skyping family and friends a bit of a pain because these things can only be done in the morning and late at night.  Have something exciting to share with your parents at 3pm here?? Well, you'll have to wait because it's currently 1am for them.

4.  Age.  The whole age difference thing is just damn confusing.  Korean has their own special way to calculate age, while the rest of the world is calculating the normal way.  So when people ask me how old I am, I have to stop myself from saying "23" (which is my real age) and say "25" instead.  Why do Koreans want to be older than they are??

5.  Relying on Others.  I'm a really independent person and like to do things on my own.  I've had to face the reality that I can't do everything on my own here.  There a huge language barrier (even though I'm slowly learning), and some things are just impossible.  Luckily, I have an awesome co-teacher who is readily available to translate for me in cases of emergencies (phone problems, doctor visits, bank problems, etc.)  I hate having to ask her to do things for me--especially because they're occurrences which I'd be able to handle on my own in the U.S.--but sometimes you just have to ask for help.

One of the people I rely on most in Korea: Jae Hee, my awesome co-teacher

Sooo enough about the negatives; let's focus on the positive aspects of living in Korea.  Of course there's too many to count, but I'll try to narrow it down.

1.  Easy-living.  I'll be honest, I have a really comfortable life here.  I make a decent paycheck with no taxes, my apartment is provided for me, vacation time is substantial and I only have 3 bills a month that are pretty minimal.  Korea is also a really safe place with very low crime and I never worry about walking alone.  I couldn't live this comfortably in the U.S. that's for sure.

2.  Travel.  I LOVE TRAVELING. During my vacation time, I'm always going somewhere new whether it's abroad or within Korea.  This past year I went to Japan, Thailand and Cambodia, along with numerous places in Korea as well.  I already have a list of places that I want to explore this year: Vietnam, Indonesia, etc. When else will I be able to explore Asia??

Petting a tiger during my trip to Thailand in January.

3.  Music Scene.  The Korean music scene is unlike anything I've seen or heard before.  KPOP is in a league of its own, but I love it.  KPOP is so catchy, and I've already developed favorite groups and singers (check out G-Dragon if you don't know who he is).  I still have faith that it will make its way to the U.S. soon.

Teaching! Because that's why I'm here...but look closely and my students are playing KPOP-themed UNO.

4.  Friends.  I didn't know ANYONE when I came to Korea.  I didn't even meet any other English-speakers until about 3 weeks into my time here.  Well, it's safe to say I'm no longer friend-less, although it did take time to meet and develop relationships with people here, Korean and foreign alike. I can say now that I've met some amazing people, people who I will definitely stay in contact with for a very long time.  I have so many friends here now that it's hard to make time for them all!! Oh, woe is me..

Some of my friends during last Thanksgiving

My partner in crime, Cara, who has made this year a lot more fun and interesting to say the least.

5.  Seoul.  I love city life, which may be odd considering I grew up in a town of 5,000 people.  In my opinion, cities are full of life, interesting people, and city lights at night are absolutely beautiful.  Seoul may be similar to other big cities, but it's still a really cool place and there's a lot of fun to be had there.

So I’ve known this for awhile now, but one year in Korea is just not enough.  So, I recently decided to extend my contract for another year.  Here's to round 2, and only time will tell the rest...   


1 comment:

  1. Missing you Kylee, but I can see why you wanted to stay another year!