Thursday, April 30, 2009

Down the Rabbit Hole

First off, as you can see I have made it safely back to Seoul... I feel like Jack when he wakes up, again, back on the island. You look around and go, "awww sheeeeeyit" as you find yourself back with Paris Baguette, Kim bap Houses, Buy the Ways, high school girls in their uniforms with blunt bangs and thick glasses walking in herds, pushy shove-y older businessmen and ajumas on the subway, street food, spit on the sidewalk, T-cards, fan death, Korean popsicles and ice cream!!, the Face Shop, noraebangs, the familiar unfamilar faces....

Arrived on Tuesday and have been observing my classes that I will take over on Monday. School is pretty good- I certainly feel as though I've lucked out with the students, they're smart and eager for the most part. Other teachers are very friendly and I am looking forward to getting to know them better. Last real thing that I'm worrying about is my apartment which I move into on Wednesday. I don't need a big place, I don't need a new place, I just want a clean place.... So we'll see in a few days.

Currently residing in a pretty iffy "apartment."Bathroom makes me shudder everytime I go in it. Anyways, it's now 7:00 and I've been up since about 5 and I've usually just read my Twilight book in the morning to pass the time but in an act of desperation to charge my iPod I plugged in my computer and said to myself, hey maybe I should see if I can get free internet. Wam-Bam, Thank You M'am. it works!! Aaah it feels so much better than being in a PC Bang with all the Starcraft enthusiasts.

Talking to Liz on GChat right now and am excited to learn she will be here at the end of the month!!! Met up with Jon last night in Hongdae, we had dweji-galbi and then went to a new bar by the owner of Nabi. "Cho-wah-yo!!!!!!!!!!"

Ok gonna shower and what not. It's sad when you have to wear slippers in your OWN shower because you don't want to touch anything on the floor... :(

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Special Delivery

The good man at FedEx just came and dropped off my Passport with the newly minted/stamped Visa! Looks exactly like my old one.

Went to the post office this morning and sent two boxes to meet me in Korea, this works out well as I won't have to take too long at customs with all the medicene and toiletries. Also sent my shoes, hangers, and a few sweaters in one of the boxes.

My suitcases are pretty much all packed with the exception of a few things I will stick in at the last minute.

I'm set.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Traditioooon!!! Tradition!

A week from now, I will finally be able to start what I have been planning for what seems like the last couple of months. The planning will be done and it will now be time to execute.

I've just returned from a multicity tour to get the proper stamp on my passport. Driving to Austin to get another official signed and sealed transcript (the third one actually, since the first was not stamped on the bottom, the second I had to send to Korea.... and since I was there I said, eh, gimme one more just to be safe). This took all of 5 minutes. Then drive to Houston to spend 10 minutes in the Korean Consulate. 15 minutes of actually "doing stuff."

The remainder was spent either driving or hanging out with Mandy, my dear friend and sorostitue sister. We dined on nom nom worthy fajitas (made by her very nice boyfriend) and guac. I will need to binge on Tex Mex since it's near to impossible to find good Tex Mex in Seoul... I didn't realize I missed Tex Mex until I had to go without it the first time. We then played two awesome rounds of Boys v. Girls Cranium. Boys =1 Girls =1

Being there for their ritual "Sunday Supper" made me excited to get some traditions started when I settle back into Seoul. It also had me looking forward to going back to my old traditions that occupied my time during ROK Round 1. My monthly Sunday afternoon in Itaewon (First stop at What The Book to pick up my month's worth of magazines, followed by enjoying said mags at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, then I would go to the Black Market and restock on foreign goods -oatmeal and corned beef hash- and if the weather permitted I would go enjoy a falafel at the Egyptian restaurant), the Saturdays spent in Liz's apartment watching Lost or some other bootleg DVDs with popcorn and M&Ms. I also can't wait to add some brand new traditions to this list as well.

For those in Korea already, or who HAVE been there, let me ask you a question: What traditions do you have that are unique to Korea? Is there a place that you regularly go to or that you save for a specific occasion?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

You. Betta. WORK

Got my visa issuance number!! Got my visa issuance number!! Doing a happy dance!

Going to Austin on Sunday to pick up my sealed transcript then driving to Houston to go to the Korean Consulate. Goal: To spend as little time in Houston as possible.

After receiving my number, I went to the Korean Consulate in Houston website to make sure I had the necessary documents. Found that I had to get ANOTHER set of passport size photos so I went with mom to take them at FedEx Kinkos.

I always used to be the kid who would get stressed and high strung when it came around to picture time at school. Not only did I plan out which outfit would best complement the background (will it be the neon light sabers or black with stars?) but I would actually rehearse- REHEARSE my poses and best side. This went on throughout school and would continue when the time came for my drivers license photos I always made sure that it was a good hair day. I understand there are those people who just don't give a hoot but these things were always mountains and not mole hills to yours truly.

So let's fast forward to Kinko's yesterday. My mother tells me to toss my hair and flip it to give it body. I might have been the only person to have done this in that particular Kinkos-ever. My "stylist" then proceeds to work my bangs as I sit down on the chair and reflexively swivel to my left. I place my right hand on my lap, because I remembered an old photographer from 4th grade saying that this straightens your shoulders and posture. Instinctively, I tilt my chin down and look up with my eyes and then flash a smile by slightly opening the mouth and then pressing my tongue up to the roof of my mouth.

"Ok! I'm ready!" I say without so much as moving my lips (a ventriloquist would be jealous).

Kinko girl looks at me, unamused, and says, "You need to look straight on and directly at the camera." Dammit. So instead of giving my best Top Model pose I just look bug eyed into the camera and flash a big ol' "Well I'm going to Korea so EAT IT!" smile.

Brandon says I look Mexican in this picture.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I'm in a Dallas State of Mind

Today was my "Appreciate Dallas" day with Bobo. We started out trying to find a lovely field of Texas Wildflowers to take some pictures (Thanks Lady Bird!!) and ended up at White Rock Lake. Sadly there were no flower fields around the lake. Just cement and water. It seems Lady Bird and her posse prefered to scatter wildflower seeds on the highway and on medians in Plano. Seeing as we'd get hit by some sort of passing vehicle we didn't get any pictures with the wildflowers this time. But we did drive by some lovely houses in "The Cloister."

After cruising White Rock we headed over to dine al fresco over Spinach Enchiladas and Veggies DeAnn at a nice TexMex joint off East Mockingbird. And really what's Dallas without NorthPark Mall? When one thinks of DTown one always thinks of Mia Farrow taking a skinny dip inthe NorthPark Mall Fountain, n'est-ce pas?

Alright so it wasn't a typical Dallas day but truly what made it so Dallas was that I was able to spend the day with my dear friend, Bobo who can truly make you appreciate this town for all itscampy glory. I missed Dallas the first time I left it, so I know I'll miss it again when I'm in Seoul.

Update on Casey to Korea: I have my flight ready for the 27th. Still no word on a Visa Issuance Number...I go to Chicago and then from Chicago to Incheon. Last time I went to Korea my route was from DFW to San Fran to Incheon. Dunno how I feel about flying in the wrong direction.... But it's Korean Air which is pretty comfy so let's hope I can sleep on the plane or at least find enough stuff to keep me entertained (movies, crosswords, books, iPods). Being an only child, I'd find ways to amuse myself in the backseat during looooooong road trips. However, I will try to be more considerate of the airplane passengers and not sing at the top of my lungs to my iPod, whereas I would belt out tunes from Lion King and Aladdin on my walkman hours on end from Indianapolis to Huntsville, Alabama. But I can't promise no humming.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Little boxes, little boxes

And they're all full of ticky tacky...

Perhaps I'm being a little "too prepared" in going off to Korea. I don't even have my visa issuance number yet and already I have four boxes ready to be shipped to Korea... You may say, "Casey! 4 boxes? You're only there for a year!"

Yes, dear reader, I know that I have a problem with the term "traveling light" but in my defense, I have a fabulous mother who only wants her daughter to live more than comfortably. A few weeks ago, I went to the post office and found they no longer do shipping by boat (only by air) and the two boxes would have cost about $160 to ship. So initially I thought I would have to lighten the load. But mom found something called "tae bek" in Dallas' Korea town that ships packages at HALF the cost... Nice-uh.

So after trolling I had an idea of what I should pack/send to Korea and what I should wait to buy once I arrive.

Shipping to Korea:
  • Fitted bed sheets (400 bamboo threadcount baby!)

  • My big towels (2 of em and 1 handtowel), and a beach towel

  • pillow

  • toiletries (toothbrush/toothpaste, floss) and medicine (Nyquil, Dayquil, Tylenol, etc)

  • some sort of mattress liner thingie

  • books

  • DVDs

  • Clothes that I won't wear before I leave

  • Shoes (yes. All 17 pairs)

If I could, I would pack my cat.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Deja Woo-Hoo

There are times when you reflect upon past experiences. The good, the bad, and the ugly. And then the moment comes where you ask yourself, "If I could do it all over again, what would I change?" Usually this is the part where you hypothesize different scenarios and endings- kind of like when you used to read Choose Your Adventure stories.

When you ended up eaten by zombies or your car battery dies causing you to fall off the cliff you would backpedal several pages to when you had to choose between picking the map over the box of matches.

Alas, my life has turned into a big Choose Your Adventure book.

Knowing how my first "real world" job turns out, I'm now going back a few pages to a chapter that has become familiar and secure.

At another crossroad in this wasteland known as post-grad, I find that this junction looks strangely familiar. Have I been at this fork in the road before?

Going back has been an even more interesting prospect than the first time. Armed with "experience" and no longer a rookie, I'm prepared and excited to see how I will follow through with my own answers to how "I would do Korea differently."

What WOULD I do differently you ask?
  • Travel Asia: Not have my head up so far up my butt to completely ignore the proximity of Korea between, hmmm all of Southeast Asia? I was so amped on going to Europe that I disregarded the entire hemisphere while I was there...
  • Shop more in Dongdaemun (it's a shame that I only really discovered this place a month or two before I was leaving)
  • Make more Korean friends (although the Korean friends that I DID have rocked but it's like that Girl Scout song, silver and gold, ya know?
  • Use the time on weeknights to be productive.... At SOMETHING. I don't want to just come home and be bored like I was after the "honeymoon period" ended. Whether it be a yoga class or a language exchange, something. I spent way too much time watching On Style's reruns of America's Next Top Model.
  • See more of Korea. Yes I plan on returning to Boryang's Mud Fest, and I would love to go to Seoraksan one more time, but I'd like to go to Busan, see the proper DMZ (and not just the amusement park version), maybe "camp" out in the countryside- and I use camp very VERY loosely as I don't mean "roughing it" in a tent somewhere. But I'll have plenty of three day weekends or even regular weekends that I can venture out of Seoul more than I did last time.

So with that being said, I will be documenting my Korea 2.0 sojourn on this here blog and would love for you to take a passenger seat to this adventure. Those that are going to be in Seoul with me, I will let you know now that your identity will not be kept secret or protected so swim at your own risk. For those that will be "back home" I would love to hear from you so don't be a stranger. Perhaps you can give some feedback and input in this real life, Choose Your Own Adventure.

Every so often, I will present you with a "Choose Your Own Adventure" style choice. It could be as simple as "what Korean food would you like to see Casey try?" or "Where should Casey go for her summer vacation?" and I'll go with what you, Dear Reader, will suggest. I would say this could be a weekly thing, but I'm not sure if I'm creative enough to come up with 52 weeks worth of Choose Your Own Adventure choices... But heck I'll try to make them up as much as possible and will also provide photo documentation as evidence! Deal?

Alright departure date looks like April 27- a little less than 3 weeks... Get ready!