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Saturday, November 9, 2019

Ten Worst Things About Living in South Korea


Ask most foreigners living and/or teaching in South Korea about what their life is like there and chances are they will tell you it's a great experience.  I agree.  Though few, there are some down sides to living in South Korea.

Here are my ten worst things about living in South Korea.

1.  The drivers.  Perhaps your first experience in a taxi or on the bus will give a good idea of how uncoventional the driving is here.  I recall a story, I was on a city bus in Pohang heading from I-dong to the southern part of the city.  Up ahead was a red light and several cars waiting for the light to turn green.  Perhaps the driver was behind schedule or perhaps he was just impatient.  Whatever the case, the driver changed lanes, switching to the far left lane, a lane designated for turning left only and broke the red light.  While this wasn't at a major intersection and there were few cars on the road, I realized this might just be the norm for driving in Korea.  I wasn't wrong.

2.  The parking.  If you think the driving is horrible, then make room for the parking cause it's equally bad. With Korea being a heavily populated country, there are lots of cars on the road and not enigh places to park.  So, let's give some points for creativity maybe?

3.  High cost for foreign foods.  Finding Flaming Hot Cheetos on Jeju island was such a good score. However, paying close to 7,000 won for a medium sized bag, I quickly curbed my appetite for it as well as other foods foreign to Korea.  Add to the list, ranch dressing, cheese, canned beans, and exotic fruits.

4.  No trash cans.  Jeju island might be a bit different but in other cities, it's incredibly difficult to depose of trash without littering.  Most times, you may find yourself taking the wrapper of whatever treat you indulge in while out and about, with you.

5.  Cost of produce.  Foods grown locally are incredibly affordable, especially when they are in season.  However, produce grown out of season, like during g the winter, are a bit more costly.  Add to the list exotic fruits like cantelope, mangoes, avocado and sometimes apples.

6.  Racism.  Overt racism is something I haven't heard a lot about in Korea, but it's better to know it does exist in the hiring procedures and even on the social scene.  While I haven't experienced overt racism this firsthand, I have experienced some covert racial happenings.  It doesn't feel good.  Do better Korea.

7.  Co-teachers.  A source of many native english teachers woes, the dreaded co teacher.  It's a fight I fought and lost.  You won't win, you can't win.  Hope that they like you.  You play by their rules or your out.  Period.

8.  Desk-warming.  Pretty much just what it says.  Desk.  Warming.  Twice a year, students have a break from their public education.  Once in the summer and again in the winter.  While there won't be any teaching, native English teachers will likely have to show up to perhaps prepare for the upcoming semester or perhaps just be there to warm their desks.

9.  Air pollution.

10.  Over-crowding.  

2015 Ups, Downs and World Travel

I started 2015 in quiet reflection of the previous year.  There would be no drunken New Year's Eve celebration, no party hats or noise makers.  Just me being thankful for a cozy apartment, a few good friends, the finances and wherewithal to travel solo.

On the last day of 2015, I find myself in quiet reflection yet again, as I sit at my laptop in Miami, Fl.  I've been up since 5:58 am contemplating life, the drama of the Steve Wilkos Show drawing my attention away every now and again.  I remember the faraway places I experienced; the sunset at White Beach in Boracay, Philippines, packed like a sardine in the jitneys that make getting around Cebu affordable and being afraid to get in the water with whale sharks in Oslob, but managing to get in anyway.  

And though it's been bumpy at times, I'm reminded that I in fact live a pretty good life.

Here's a wrap up of the ups, downs and faraway places that made 2015 my most memorable year:

January:  A birthday in Thailand.  Birthday blue, I woke with a feeling of dread that almost always is present on my birthdays.  I thought of my grandmother and harsh words she spoke to me on my 5th birthday so many years ago.  I cried a little (a lot).  But after crying and journaling for a bit, I felt better and decided that I was okay.  I made my way to Chiangmai Zoo and took extra enjoyment in feeding the giraffes and observing the green sea turtle at the aquarium.  I took loads and loads of pictures and found myself content in Thailand traveling solo, meeting people as I go.

February:  Diamonds in the sky at White Beach Boracay.  Each time I look at a night sky, I recall the long walk westward on my first night in Boracay.  I stood there transfixed by the bigness of the world and the hugeness of Jehovah who created the earth for us to dwell in.  

March:  Being placed at Samyang Elementary School, I couldn't expect that a transition to teaching there would be so tumultuous.  It's the one placement where I learned the most from my co-teacher, and I understood fully that at times, office politics is in full play and it's best to be aware of how you're received.

April:  The Cherry Blossoms at Hallim Park, Jeju-do, South Korea.  I gush at the display of flowers that made for a nice walk through Hallim Park.  Truly, spring time in Korea is so very beautiful.  

May-July:  Studying the bible with new friends and understanding Jehovah that much more, my summer of 2015 proved to be a time for fellowship of the very best kind.

August:  Exploring Asia's World City --Hong Kong.  Taking in Victoria Peak and the skyline at Victoria Harbor, beats any skyline I've had the pleasure of capturing with my eyes and also with the lens of my camera.  It's pretty amazing!

A September to Remember:  I met my now love at a Starbucks in Kendall for the first time.  While he browsed the menu online as to avoid holding up the line, he in fact held up the line after recognizing that menu differed considerably.  Is that a coincidence or is it ironic?  Either way our coffee date turned into dinner and another dinner and Wednesday night ice-cream and well you know how the story goes :)

The Daily Struggles of Teaching at School that's Failing-- 4th Grade  I leave each day and it's troubles behind and start the next day fresh.  Teaching at an extended day school is one of the hardest jobs I've taken on.  I'm glad that I have a comfortable chair to sit in.

November, World Vegans Month and being thankful

Kissing under the Full Moon in December.  The full moon was out in all it's glory

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Five Free things to do in Washington D.C.


With a rich history of America's past, Washington D.C. was on my boyfriend, Roody's list of places he wanted to see.  And with a few days till I return to work after the holiday break, we decided on a road trip (14 hours) from Miami to Washington D.C. with a short stop at my brother Garvin's house in Fayetteville, N.C.

We're staying at a hostel in the heart of D.C. with a private room which is totally worth it as we're in walking distance of just about everything there is to see and do in the District.  Today, we saw just about all the known sights in Washington D.C. and with an informative tour provided by our hostel this evening, we learned a lot about the nations capitol and it's history.  Here's how it went: