Daegu

What Are You Doing with Your “Korean” Life?

I wrote this post with the intention of having it published by the Daegu city blog, but after careful consideration, I decided to publish it on my own. 

If you don’t live in Korea, that’s okay. Instead of reading it like you’re in Korea, insert your own life circumstance. It could be your physical geographical location, your job, or whatever you want it to be. But no matter “where” you “are” in your life right now, take a good look at your surroundings and consider what you’re doing with your opportunities. If you’re not happy, where can you make a change?

As we exit the first month of our new year, to me, it always seems as though people (myself included) lose sight of the goals and aspirations we had when we broke into our new calendars. This year, reignite that flame you had. Chase after those dreams you dreamt. Pursue the things that matter most to you.

Make this your year, Reader.

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If you’re like me, you love living in Korea. The day I arrived in Seoul, I was scared out of my wits, but I knew I had made the right decision – literally the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.

I decided to come to Korea to teach because I was tired of being in dead-end jobs that I loathed. I have an undergraduate degree in psychology and like so many others of our generation, I realized too late that I didn’t want to work and retire in my chosen industry. So, what did I do instead?

I worked in sales. And I was really good at it. But I effing hated it.

There is nothing in life quite like doing a job you hate. I was always stressed, always sick to my stomach, and I watched as the companies I worked for turned me into someone I wasn’t. I was tired of standing on the sidelines of my life and whispering to myself that there had to be “more out there.” I decided to do something about it.

I came to Korea to teach for a year. And lo and behold, a year has turned into nearly 3.

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happily ever after: a traditional Korean wedding…

Over the summer, I had the honor of attending an American friend’s traditional Korean wedding. I’ve been lucky enough to be invited to a couple of weddings in Korea – both celebrations of love between a dual-Korean couple – but this was even more special, as the ceremony was steeped in history and tradition that is absent from the popular Westernized weddings in Korea today.

My friend, Nicole, was gracious enough to let me take photographs at her wedding and share some of the exciting moments with you, Reader. 

Contemporary Korean Weddings

Traditional Korean weddings are somewhat of a rarity in Korea today. Instead, Western-influence wedding halls seem to line the streets in popular areas of town and are sometimes even tucked away in unlikely places – like in my neighborhood, tucked behind a “Debec Mart,” a neighborhood mini-mart.

Korean weddings are interesting because even though they seem like they’re trying to imitate everything about Western-style weddings, they’re also totally different. What’s fascinating about Korean wedding halls is that they sell the bride and groom an entire package for their wedding, much like a wedding planner might do in a Western country.

It’s truly a mix-and-match situation: the couple is presented a list of all the offerings the hall has, and they choose from this proverbial buffet how their short ceremony will go.

Korean wedding hall

Lobby of the wedding hall where my co-worker, Emily, was married.

The Wedding Necessities

Everything, from the gown the bride wears to the photos, is provided by the hall. (That’s right, ladies! Korean women don’t buy their wedding dresses; they rent them from the hall. They choose one, wear it on their big day, and give it right back.)

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I didn’t mean to leave you, Reader… I promise…

READER. I’ve been a terrible blogger. I know, I know, I’ve been absent for a good three… maybe even FOUR… weeks… This isn’t an April Fools joke. I for reals left you for a while.

And I’m really, really sorry. The good news is that I’ve got lots to tell you. (Because let’s face it – even though some of my stories are crazy, they’re totally, TOTALLY, entertaining.) The better news is that I’m not going to do it all in one post. (You wouldn’t want to be stuck reading the same post for a full day, would you?)

I’ll make a big “to do” post on goals for April tomorrow; but for now, I think we should just get caught up on where things have gone since we last, erm, “spoke.”

So, let’s get down to business.

  1. Our school got a new teacher, Brandi. She’s super-awesome and the even cooler news is that she and my little sis, KSD, share the exact same birthday. That’s right, folks, random birthday twins. As a result, I feel super protective of her and have been dragging her around to all my activities, including dragging her to Busan for a day of fun. (She doesn’t seem to mind, though, so don’t get the idea that I’ve been evil or anything…)
  2. I posted a blog post written by my friend, Anna Wickham, about being a little bit brave. Hers is the first in a series I’m planning to carry through much of this year. If you missed it, you can read it here. You should also check out Anna’s blog, The Worldly Blend.
  3. I have been out on not one, but TWO Tinder dates since posting about Project Tinder. One of them was great, the other one was the worst nightmare I’ve ever had while awake. More on that in a coming post. Trust me, you’ll want to read all about that one…
  4. I am totally behind on my reading schedule because of the aforementioned bad awful Tinder date… Basically, I fell off the bandwagon on everything because I was so shaken up by that situation… I also went back to ingesting sugary stuff… In essence, the March intentions are almost all completely smashed. :( But you know, whatever.
  5. I paid off a GIANT credit card! I had $1000 left on one that I’d been carrying a balance on since 2010. I also closed that account in 2010 because I couldn’t afford the regular monthly payments… The company agreed to lower my payments if I closed the account; so I had a credit card with a nasty balance that I couldn’t even use. FINALLY paid that b***h off! And you know what? Once my dollars transfer into my account in a couple of days, I’m going to pay off another one that is sitting at $1875. Paying down credit card debt never felt so liberating and painful all at the same time. (That’s a lot of money I would have preferred to use elsewhere, you know?)

    LOOK!

    LOOK!

  6. I went back to book club and invited the ladies to join me for a food project I’m working on for the city. We ate at a buffet/steakhouse until we were about to explode and then walked to the nearby river and played a hilarious game of Cards Against Humanity. Not surprisingly, I won. (I’m truly a terrible person on the inside…)
  7. It’s officially spring in SK and my allergies that I always try to ignore are kicking in, full-swing. I had BKFF take me to a doctor this morning because the last two nights, I’ve been waking up. Ugh, it’s gross and I’m semi-miserable. Yuck, yuck, yuck. At least the cherry blossoms are beautiful, though!
  8. I started taking a Korean class again and it is way more challenging this time around than it was last time. The teacher is using a different book series (which I don’t really care for….) and she doesn’t speak English in the class except when I ask a question and need clarification. She is really sweet and high-energy, which is good because I need someone exciting to keep me awake; but most of the time I have no idea what’s going on… She speaks so fast. I figure the challenge is a good thing, but sometimes I ask myself why the hell I signed up for the class in the first place…
  9. I’ve been questioning whether or not leaving Korea next year is the right move for me… In some ways, I am ready to go home and be there for a while. However, on the other hand, I keep thinking how great it would be to have just one more year to save now that I don’t have all that credit card debt hanging over my head. I’ll never have another opportunity to live like this again, most likely – to have such low living costs and the ability to see this part of the world. I read yet another “wanderlust-y” article today on Wander Onwards that inspired me to change my plans again, so, here I am, considering change… The next step in my plan seems so close, and yet, I’m not sure if I want this part to end yet… I’m sure more on this will come up soon.
  10. I’m currently in the process of getting a Korean drivers license so KBFF and I can make a pilgrimage to the new IKEA Korea. She’s never been and I truly believe she needs to be subjected to the awesomeness that is the maze of IKEA. Plus, I really want a lamp and they’re crazy expensive here.

So there you have it. Ten things to get you quickly updated on where things are with yours truly. I promise that I’m going to be back with you regularly, twice a week, from here on out. Sorry I was gone for a while, Reader. I had to recuperate from that Tinder date and my schedule just went crazy for a while. I’m so glad we’re getting back together – I really missed you!

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Enough about me… How have you been?! I hope to hear from you in the comments!

project tinder… a “real life” science experiment…

Happy Tuesday, Reader! Let’s get down to business.

Lately, I’ve been taking notice of what “search terms” randomly lead people to my blog and apparently, something along the lines of “Tinder in Korea” is a big one. I’m here to tell you that if you found this blog that way, Tinder works in Korea. But enough about that. Let’s move on to what this post is really all about.

Several months ago, I was introduced to Tinder. I was immediately hooked. And I realized quickly after I started swiping faces left and right that it was more of a game to me. Let me explain.

First, if you’re not familiar with Tinder (maybe you’ve been living under a rock, or somehow don’t have regular access to internet, or you live in North Korea), it’s a rather simplistic “dating” app. Well, it’s more of a “hookup” application, if we’re being really honest. Basically, you set up a VERY limited profile about yourself – you can add up to six photos and write a “blurb” that’s around 500 characters. You can also link your Facebook account to show similar interests to other users who also link their FB profiles. You choose your search parameters – age, gender, and the maximum radius for a search. Once you’ve done all that, you’re ready. The application “scans” within your preferred radius and you’re suddenly presented with up to six photos of potential “matches.” The beauty of the system is that you’re allowed to be completely shallow and the other person will never know. If you like what you see, you “swipe” the photo to the right. If you’re not so enthused, you “swipe” to the left. If you and another user both “swipe” each other right, it’s a match! Simple as that.

Now that we’ve had our lesson, let’s get back to the meat of this [very one-sided] conversation.

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what to expect when you’re expecting… to move to Korea… Part 4

*This is the final installment, Part 4, of my series chronicling my journey to South Korea.

If’ you’re late to this party, you can catch up by reading Part 1Part 2, and Part 3 if you’re interested.

Two years ago today, Reader, I hopped on two separate planes to make my way to Korea. How appropriate, then, that we will finish chronicling my journey here today!

Last week, we left off with me hearing from the Korean consulate office in Chicago that they would be sending me back my passport. I emailed my recruiter to let her know about the new update in information.

My recruiter called me and said that she had received word from my school, and they wanted to know if I would be willing to drive myself to Chicago to pick up my completed passport – in person – in order to ensure I could leave for Korea on time. 

I said no way.

I didn’t have car insurance anymore; I had cancelled my policy two weeks before and hadn’t driven since. Chicago was a four-hour drive away, one way. It would have been eight hours of driving there and back. Not to mention, who was going to pay for the gas to complete this arduous mission?

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