Friday, October 7, 2011

Annyeong 안녕 Korea!

(Incheon Airport)
I guess it's time to say안녕to Korea and this blog!  My experience in Korea was life changing and a great opportunity to travel abroad/teach abroad and still make some money.  There are plenty of places teach English abroad; however, without the teaching degree/license, it can be tough to find a job with a decent salary.

The highlights of my experience are endless - but to narrow them down to a few:  

Paragliding!
 Scuba Diving!
 Frolicking around on the Great Wall of China!
Volunteering with Help Your Seoul!
 FOOD!
Lantern Festival!
 Learning Korean Culture!
 Meeting the Comfort Women!!
 Meeting new adventurous friends!
 My first ballet was AMAZING!
 My Korean Loves!!
 Traveling Japan alone!
Mountains!
 I really loved a lot of my coworkers from my first school year!  Danny, Kelly, Julia, Lucy, and Ann were so amazing!!  Outback with Lucy and Ann - and dinners at Danny's house are some of the best memories I'll keep from Korea - 감사합니다

And this list goes on and on...

I already miss my adventures but I've learned it doesn't matter where you are - there are adventures everywhere and you've just gotta decide to LIVE your life.  Yes, many of these adventures require money (which I don't have being that I am now unemployed) but there are so many ways to LIVE that don't require a cent.  There is nothing worth more to me that spending time with my nieces and nephews and to me - that's really living - making a conscience effort to be a part of someone's life.

Before teaching in Korea I read A LOT of negative comments on places such as Dave's ESL (even though I think Dave's is an awesome resource!).  A wise person once told me that those who complain on Dave's are people who are bored and lonely, sitting in their tiny Korean apartments instead of going out there and LIVING your life in Korea to its potential.  My advice to those thinking of traveling to Korea is:  GO!  Research your school the best that you can - but just take a leap.  The worst thing that can happen is you have to scrape some money together to fly home.  You never know about a school.  Not mentioning any names - but in my experience I've learned - that one year a school can be amazing and depending on a million factors we are unaware of - the school can do a complete turn for the worst the next year.  Business in schools in Korea is done much differently than at home.

My advice to those who feel "stuck" in Korea is:  be bad and bold!  Stand up for yourself and don't let any school administrator let you down!  You CAN leave, you CAN switch jobs - it just takes willpower!  If you choose to leave early, make sure you collect your pension.  That's YOUR money!  They don't question you or care at the pension office.  Just apply a day before your midnight run and it'll be in your home bank account 1-2 months later.

Thanks to my family and friends who supported my decision to run away to Asia and thanks to everyone who religiously read this blog.  I downloaded a stat counter a long time ago that tells me how many people read my blog from each city - I am truly humbled by the readers from all over the world when the original intent of the blog was to keep my immediate family in the loop of what I was doing.  At the time of this posting, there have been 11,885 pageviews from all over the world!  Sadly, the most read post comes from Jeju Island:  Loveland XXX.  When I look at the stats, it shows people google Korea XXX and get that post.  Ewwwww....

Thanks to the amazing people I met in Korea that made my experience all that much better.  It's tough to live in another country at times.  And you need good friends and neighbors to get you through those times.

I've enjoyed blogging so much - I have been thinking of starting another called "Minnesota Girl" -out to prove to the world that this great state has culture, don't cha know!

한국,안녕!!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Last Night in a Love Motel

Last night in Korea - what better than to stay at a raunchy love motel next to the bus station?  Well...to be completely honest, I didn't want the awkwardness of running into a co-worker while dragging my hundred + pounds of luggage to the bus station when I should have been at work.  So after having dinner and Baskin Robbins with my dearest friend, Amanda, I hailed a taxi to pick up my luggage at my apartment and bring it to the love motel.  First of all, taxis in Korea can be annoying - there are a lot of rules and regulations that I am completely unaware of.  Many times I got a flat out NO and an X with their fingers telling me they wouldn't take me where I wanted to go.  So imagine how happy my taxi driver was to load his car with all my luggage.

It went something like this: 
  1. "yo-gi-oh" (right here).  "waiteeeing...waiting..."  
  2. I run to my apartment and drag down my luggage as I'm sweating profusely. 
  3. Taxi Driver:  "no nooooooo noooo."
  4. Me:  Nae Nae Nae (yes)  Ok...good (thumbs up).  Nae.
  5. We load it all up as he's yelling at me in Korean and I keep saying.  Ok  Good  Nae...Kam-sah-ham-ni-da (thank you).
  6. We get in the car and he looks at me and says, "waitingggg....waitingg..."
  7. He gets out and PEES on the street.
  8. He laughs when I "yo-gi-oh" him to the love motel.  And says a bunch of things I don't understand.  And I give me one last Kam-sah-ham-ni-da.
Goodbye 553-13 Jangan Gu Cheon-Cheon Dong #304

In case you are unaware of what a love motel is - it is basically what you've already imagined.  They are all over Korea and can be rented by the hour or night.  They are the cheapest thing to a westernized hotel that you can find.  Western hotels are very expensive and hard to come by in Korea.  Your other option is a pension like you've seen in my other blogs.  The pension offers a more traditional room where you sleep on the floor and the bathroom (usually) is more traditional where you'd shower in the middle of the bathroom versus an actual shower stall or tub.

Wow...a tub with jets!  Except, who knows what's gone on in there--this is a love motel...  I opted for the shower feature.  Love Motels come with everything you made need - especially if you unexpectedly stop by after the office.  Here, you will find shampoo and conditioner.  Unlike Western Hotels, Korean hotels have CostCo-sized toiletries that you share from guest to guest.  It always grosses me out that they don't change out the soap - but then again they don't in public restrooms either - but you don't wash your body in public restrooms.

A toilet featuring all the amenities - including bidet.  
The little foliage area was hilarious to me.
You just can never know what to expect at a love motel.
This is where the magic happens.  I've even stayed at love motels with different colored light options.
A mirror above the bed...
And little stuffed bears!  All in the same room!!  
Let's just say there was more than CNN on this t.v.;)  Like I said, it comes with everything:  robes, t.v., fridge, computer, hair dryer, hot water pot, dvd player, etc...
After shave, lotion, hairspray, brushes, q-tips, you name it!
My favorite is the little pack you get from the front desk at check-in.  My gift set is complete with:  toothbrushes, toothpaste, face wash, bubble bath, and Condoms!
Lastly, shutting off the lights in a love motel can be quite time consuming.  You've got more dimmer switches that you can imagine.  So, to conserve energy you put your key in this holder when you enter the room and the lights turn on.  When you leave and remove the key, all the lights automatically shut off.  This is quite brilliant - and it helps you to not lose the key.
Soon enough it was time to check out of the Lavender Motel and board the bus for the airport.  My fun adventure at the love motel - and Korea- were over.