Tag Archives: moving

a little bit brave… life and love in the land down under…

Reader, I’m so excited to share the next installment of my series, “A Little Bit Brave.”

Each month, I’ll be posting an article by another blogger who took a leap and moved themselves away from everything that was familiar to find the next “right” step in their life. You can read other women’s stories here.

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Koalas. Kangaroos. Australia has this amazing mystique about it. It always has for me. I remember when I was 14 or 15, my mum told me she just had this feeling I would live far away when I grew up. I’ve always had an adventurous heart, but I can honestly say that I never expected anything to end up like this.

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When it came time to go to university, I left my parents’ house in Shawnee, Kansas to go two hours away to Kansas State. It was basically like high school, round two. Which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but wasn’t without its challenges. The day after we moved in, I played football with my roommate and two new friends. One of these friends would impact my life in a big way, and give me the illusion of a safety net that would help me to jump into the best decision of my life. 

I decided in December 2008 that I was definitely going to study abroad in Australia for my sophomore year. The whole year. Not the measly six months everyone else did. I wanted the full cultural experience. I was now also dating this previously-mentioned friend. I was in love. So I packed my two suitcases. Whoever invented the 50lbs/23kg limit never knew a 19-year-old girl packing for a full year. You have to be able to have nice things to go out.. Aussie summers are hot… Nobody has central heating… It’s a delicate balance!

I fell in love with Australia. Head over heels in love with Australia. But how could I stay? About as soon as I landed back on American soil, I was homesick. I can’t explain the tie this country has to my heart, but I knew I had to find a way back. I was prepared to make plans to leave my family, everything I really knew, to spend exorbitant amounts of money on finishing my degree, and to create a life halfway around the world.

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a little bit brave… in Taiwan

Reader, I’m so excited to share the next installment of my series, “A Little Bit Brave.”

Each month, I’ll be posting an article by another blogger who took a leap and moved themselves away from everything that was familiar to find the next “right” step in their life. Next up: Celeste Banks. Celeste is a family friend of mine from childhood and is living (as you guessed from the title) a little bit brave in Taiwan.

If you missed it, several weeks ago, I completed a project outlining the story of how I was a little bit brave and came to Korea. (You can read them all here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4…) In an attempt to share with you how others have been a little bit braveI decided to start asking some friends to share their stories with you as guest bloggers on this site. You can read the first installment by my friend Anna, who was living in the Philippines, here.

To read more of her awesome stuff, check out Celeste’s blog, From Kansas to Taiwan.

So, without further ado, here’s a little bit brave… in Taiwan. Enjoy. :)

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I was sobbing and hyperventilating, sitting at my kitchen table in my college apartment on April 14th, 2014.

I compulsively checked my phone’s email for months. Like any good senior in college knows how, I nervously evaded the consistent, droning,  “What are you doing next year???” I celebrated for all my other friends after every acceptance and job offer came in, all the while feeling so nervous!

I was talking to my sister on the phone, but squealed out, “I HAVE TO GO!” when I saw the email.  I had won a Fulbright grant. To move to Taiwan. For a year. I called my mother, screeching into her ear, “I GOT THE FULBRIGHT GRANT! I HAVE TO CALL DAD!”

A year before, a friend of mine suggested I look into Fulbright. I met with the head of National Scholarships at Emory, where I went to university, and started pestering professors about writing me recommendations. I spent 2-3 hours a week the entire summer working on the damned essays. Then I turned in my application to Emory and awaited my interview time.

In September I met with a panel of professors from Emory to explain to them why I wanted a Fulbright grant. I showed up in my brand-new $40 black blazer from Target and practiced power posing before hand. They asked me tons of questions, from “Why haven’t you studied abroad?” to “What do you want to do post-Fulbright?”

After a few days, the interviewer let me know that Emory would be recommending me for a Fulbright, so I officially sent in my application in October. I heard back in January that I was a finalist. Three and half months of Mardi Gras, spring break, sorority and frat formals flew by, and then I was at my kitchen table reading an email that said, somehow, I had been accepted to this program; and I was hyperventilating.


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the one where “Friends” totally screwed up my ideas about “real life”…

You may not know this, Reader, but “Friends” is my all-time favorite television show. Like, ever. I finally made an effort to personally own all ten seasons on DVD; and for the last six months or so since I started to accumulate them, I play them over and over and over again. I don’t actually sit and watch them every time, but I just like having the noise. And I always, always laugh at Chandler’s jokes. Could I be any more addicted?

I wasn’t allowed to watch “Friends” growing up; the first time I actually ever watched more than an episode or two was in college. I found out a girl living on my floor in the dorms had the entire series, so I started borrowing them from her, a season or two at a time. Reader, I was so engrossed that I made it through ten seasons in a mere three weeks. I even skipped some pretty important statistics classes to sit and laugh at the characters I came to love.

Even though I was a little aware of the fact that technology was changing life around me rapidly and that there were things about “Friends” that were becoming – or in some cases, already – outdated, there were plenty of things I observed on the show that I hoped and expected to experience once I became a “real adult.” 

Well. Having been a said “real adult” for several years now, I can tell you that I have been sorely disappointed in some ways. My life has totally not turned out like the lives of the “Friends” party.

Here are ten things I thought life would be like or that I would have once I became a “real grown up”:

1. I would record a cute, corny answering machine message.

There are a few times when we hear the outgoing messages throughout the years of all the “Friends” gang – when Rachel moves in with Phoebe and they alternate every other word (before Phoebe changes it because Rachel gets all the “good words”) or when Ross moves in temporarily with Chandler and Joey and makes a message to the tune of that “We Will Rock You” song. I’ll never do this. No one has a home phone anymore or a physical answering machine, for that matter. I’ll never get to share this fun with a roommate, should I ever have another one. Everyone has their own cell phone now, and messages are not shared. Bummer.

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what to expect when you’re expecting… to move to Korea… Part 2

Hey there, Reader. Let’s pick up where we left off last time and keep the tale going. (If you didn’t read Part 1 and are interested, you can read it here.)

So, we last stopped when I had been offered two “phantom” positions via the two recruiting agencies I applied through, Aclipse and Footprints. When I received these offers, it was late June of 2012, but I didn’t plan to leave the Americas until February 2013. Because everything you need to compile for leaving to teach in Korea is time-sensitive, it’s good to have a cushion to work with. Eight months is way more than enough time. I was so incredibly early that I did what I could, which wasn’t much, and then I sat on my hands for almost five months.

I don’t remember what kind of information I received from Footprints, but I’ll give you everything I’ve got from Aclipse. :)

Following my initial phone interview with my recruiter, she sent me an email saying that she was pleased to tell me she would be recommending me to the Chungdahm Learning headquarters team in Seoul for review. In addition, I would need to prepare and send some other materials in order to complete my application with them. I needed

  • a completed Chungdahm Learning application
  • an application essay, up to 500 words – a list of ten basic topics were provided for me to choose from
  • an additional copy of my resume (which I had already provided to Aclipse initially to start the process at the very beginning)
  • a professional-looking photo of myself, neatly dressed and with a solid background
  • a photocopy of the picture/signature pages of my passport
  • a photocopy of my college diploma
  • a video introduction – instructions were provided in her packet

I had exactly one week to get all this crap together and I didn’t waste any time. Most of it was really easy – making photocopies? Yeah. Easy-schmeasy. I filled out the application as requested. I double-checked my resume to make sure I hadn’t screwed anything up or needed to change anything. I took a picture of myself in my house against a beige wall. I sat down and finished the essay in an evening without breaking a sweat. The most challenging thing of the lot was the stupid video. It wasn’t hard, it was just super awkward. You talk about yourself on camera… It’s just weird. Also, I’m not a technical girl, so it took me a while to figure out how to save it correctly in the right format that would be acceptable according to the instructions. I had to FaceTime a friend to get it done… (I know, sad. I’ve come a long way!)

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what to expect when you’re expecting… to move to Korea… Part 1

Hey there, Reader. This is a post I’ve meant to write for the last two years… Literally. When I arrived in Korea, I meant to spell out exactly how I got here, the headaches that ensued as I prepared, and also tell exactly what kinds of things might be smart to pack and what’s not so much worth the space/baggage weight. Well, I never did… Obviously. So, if you’re a regular reader, you probably won’t find this too interesting. I definitely intend to give people out there looking for information a decent gloss-over so they have a good idea of what to expect. I didn’t find exactly what I was looking for online when I was preparing to come over here, so it seems appropriate that I should share my wealth of knowledge with others who are making the jump across the pond (whichever pond that may be…).

To make this very long story easier to digest, I’ve decided to post it in pieces. Hence the “Part 1” in the title. You’re welcome.

And so, dear regular Reader, I feel I should tell you that while you may not gain any valuable knowledge for yourself, you can rest assured that I will write in my normal, slightly annoying, sarcastic, story-telling tone. There might just be something entertaining here for you after all…

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I decided to come to Korea sometime between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, 2011. At the time, I was living in Portland, Oregon and working at a company that had moved me there from Denver, Colorado. When I took the job nine months before, I loved it. Six months after starting, though – once they had shipped me off to Oregon – it was clear that things weren’t as they had been promised and I felt like I was drowning. I’ve struggled with depression on and off for more than ten years and I can honestly say, that time in Portland was filled with some of my darkest and most challenging moments.

I didn’t really know what to do because I definitely didn’t want to stay in Portland, so I wasn’t keen on looking for a new job there. I wanted to move, but to where? I have a sort of unspoken rule that I should never return to a place that I left, so going back to Denver didn’t seem like a good choice. (Not to mention I would have felt like a complete failure going back to where I had just left. But on the plus side, going back would have returned me to the world of bountiful breakfast burritos, which I sincerely missed…)

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