The two ways I've injured myself in Korea. Found at Hana ENT Hospital.
We'll just say it's been a long, uninspiring winter since my last post. Alas, the endless winter is finally over, the sun is shining, my 2 month sickness is nearing an end, and I'm therefore ready to share my world again.
Some people have been asking for details on how I lost my front tooth last weekend and I promised a blog entry. I guess it's what I needed to kick me back into writing. Though it was a traumatic experience that required a great deal of processing, I'm going to give my best shot at comedic relief.
There was a period of my life that I associate with an after school special and I'm grateful to have survived. These days, I feel like I'm playing out a real life sitcom (think New Girl). To understand what I mean by that, I'll try and set the scene.
Chase and Howl were set to arrive at 3PM. It was 12:30 PM and I'd been battling with Sinusitis for 2 months now. I needed some puppy therapy so I'd gotten the owner of Maybell bakery to let me walk his Golden Retriever, May. This was not therapy, but torture. 1) She didn't know me and 2) she was clearly not trained on a leash. I stopped to get her some water from a local store owner/friend and as soon as she turned her nose up at the cup, she yanked to run away and pulled me down the hill with her. OUCH! my wrist, shoulder, back, and hip. Never again, May. I brushed myself and my pride off and took her back to the bakery right away.
I still had time to drop my shoes off to the shoe man, run by Passion 5 for some birthday treats, pick the shoes back up, and shower, before they arrived at 3 PM. So I gave the dog back and quickly did what I had to do. Chase and Howl arrived just as I'd finished showering.
a little display I prepared for Chase's birthday. Photo by Chase www.joinchase.org to follow his adventures
All the wrapped gifts were edible so we ate everything as caught up. We had plans to meet more of Chase's friends at COEX at 5:30. Suddenly, I realized my hair was still wet and I had no make up on and time was slipping away (see what I did there?).
I hate being late, especially making others late so I went into hyperdrive. As I dried my hair, I thought about the guy I'd just started dating. He was leaving the next day for a month long trip and I was excited he was was meeting us there later. Was he going to have to wait because of me, too? I went faster.
Fast paced music played as I finished the final touches to my hair and make up. And this, my friends, is the song was playing as I took the quick step out of my bathroom to let Chase and Howl know I was finally ready to leave.
It's important to note the first few lines of the chorus that played as I took the song off pause when I returned to my apartment.
Hey baby, what's that sound?
I make a few steps and I fall to the ground.
Seriously?! I had theme music playing.
I took one quick step in my rubber slippers on my wet bathroom floor and both feet flew back swiftly. So fast, in fact, that there was absolutely no time to react. I don't have much recollection but I do remember the feeling of my slippers on the water and my legs going back then I remember my teeth clanking together, my chin, mouth, and nose hitting the cement tile of my kitchen floor. where it all went down. get it? ha!
Since my knee was killing me and it wasn't hurting from the tumble down the hill with the dog, in retrospect, I think my knee hit the lip between the bathroom and the kitchen first. My face must have followed.
Quietly, I murmured "Oh, my God." Chase ran in from the next room to find me on the floor. I hear him ask, "Are you OK?" I respond, "Ow".
In shock, I peel myself off the floor. "Chase, I think I'm missing my front tooth". Little did I know he'd already found it on the floor next to me.
"Am I bleeding? Howl, is my chin broken?" I didn't know anything. Calmly, they answered my questions. Chase cooly explained, "Janna, first you need to contact Mike and tell him not to come tonight. We're going to the Emergency Room."
Still shocked, I called him and noticed a new found whistle in my words as I explained, "tho, don't come donight becauth I juth thlipped on my bathroom floor and fell on my fathe. I may have a broken my chthin and I definitely am mithing a fron tooth." Of course, he was understanding and probably shocked as well. Kudos for him, Chase, and Howl not laughing during this conversation. I crack up when I think about it now. (See what I did there again? Pun intended.)
I hung up, ran to the mirror, opened my mouth, and the tears followed. There was no blood. My jaw and chin were in a lot of pain, but didn't seem to be broken. Still, it was very traumatic for me to see and I didn't know what would happen next. I cried for so many reasons but in the moment, mainly because I thought I'd ruined Chase's birthday.
Luckily, Chase said it made his birthday memorable and he was glad to help. That's what friends are for. And thank goodness they were there! It's like they'd drilled (get it?) this moment before they arrived. Each of them were doing exactly what needed to be done. I was so grateful to have them there.
They both let me cry and totally understood but they also provided me with some laughs and helped me to keep perspective. It was just a tooth.
In the taxi to the Seoul National University Dental Hospital Emergency Room, Chase leaned over after I'd finished crying and said, "Janna, I know you don't want to hear this right now, but you have to take a picture of your tooth before they fix it". Reluctant I sniffed, "I know".
Me: trying not to cry, Chase: trying not to laugh The only photo taken of my broken tooth.
I realize this post has become entirely too involved and drawn out. Brevity has really never been my thing.
I could write another entry on my experience at the Emergency room alone. I'll spare you. Just know that the intern doctor who didn't have any assistant and was completely alone was as frazzled as I was when I was rushing to get ready for the night out. Here are some highlights (or lowlights) 1) She threw the other piece of my tooth in the universal precautions bin. Howl had to search for it and fish it out as Chase kept me calm 2) she couldn't get the x-ray machine to work 3) She kept answering her cell phone 4) she couldn't find the novacane 4) She didn't speak English 5) She asked Howl to be her assistant. 6) I finally got out of there after 2 of her English speaking colleagues showed up. It was bonded back on until I could get to the dentist the following Monday.
Side note: The next Monday, I went to a spine and neck hospital just to make sure everything was in line (teehee). Afterwards, I went to my dentist in Apgujeong to assess the damage and get a temporary crown. This could be another entry, but again, I'll spare you. All you need to know is that there were many more tears and lots of cash being handed over. Crowns are considered cosmetic so my insurance wouldn't cover it. Thankfully, I'm in Korea and the best dentist in the country is still about 3 times less than what it would cost back home. Also, my ER bill was only about $20. My heros, Howl + Chase.
If all goes well, I'll get the impression tomorrow, won't need a root canal, and get my brand new permanent front tooth next Saturday!
Back to the story. Though we missed the all you can eat and drink party, it was 7:45 when we left the hospital and before I knew it, we were on the metro headed back to Itaewon. There was still time to celebrate!
Chase's friend, Gabby, was able to join us at an amazing new restaurant, Hummus, by my apartment, where I had 2 bowls of soup. We even made room for some celebratory mokkoli after that!
As we toasted to Chase's birthday, they let me process it all as we laughed about the evening's events. "Remember that time you fell on your face like 3 hours ago and we went to the ER and they threw your tooth in the trash?"
At the end of the day, I was thankful -- thankful that I wasn't seriously injured and that my friends are truly amazing. I'm mostly thankful that I've been reminded I'm alive. I've got to get out there and keep living my silly sitcom life but as I do it, I've got to take the best advise I got from anyone and "Slow down" (-Dad).
I got another update from KC. Turns out, your donations to my virtual birthday party helped this family BIGTIME!
Here's what KC had to say about the Pablo family's progress:
"This weekend we passed by and checked out the spot. The neighbors and the dad's coworkers have all been chipping in! In Filipino, it's called Bayanihan, which is basically pride in volunteering. The dad's main profession is working as a jeepney driver, and so some of the other drivers from their union have been passing by to help clean up, and start the rebuild of the house they were renting out behind the main house they were living in (their main house was the one that completely burnt down, they were supposed to rent the other space out, but somehow during that week when the fire happened, the family that were supposed to move in were delayed, and so luckily that house was empty!)."
"... we passed by and took some pictures of the progress. One of the girls sent me photos of their house before all the rebuilding started, I have yet to edit those since I had to scan them. Hopefully I'll get photos to you within the week!"
"...yesterday, my cousin went with the mom and bought materials for the rebuild. We bought everything they would need to rebuild a new roof. They were considering using the scrap material they could find, which just wasn't gonna do! And later today/early tomorrow, we're going to buy the doors, window frames, and bearings to put them all together. All this is covered by the donations you've collected, and we still have some to spare to make sure they get their electricity back!
That's all I got for now! Truly hoping to get photos to send to you soon. Please thank everyone that participated and donated to this cause! They're super grateful, and are all working so hard to get themselves back on their feet. Slowly but surely, and with such amazing support, I'm certain they're gonna get there sooner than they expected!" - KC
There you have it, folks. You helped provide a new roof, window frames, doors, and bearings. A little really goes a LONG way (in the Philippines at least)! Thanks again to everyone that helped out in this project. It means a lot to me, KC, and, most of all, the Pablo family.
Encouraging handmade gift. Sent from a friend in 2011.
February has always been about love for me. My birthday and Valentine's Day are just 2 days apart. Growing up, it was all about me - Give me gifts, throw me a party, and give me cute cards and candy! me, me, me!
Over time, I began to let go of Valentine's Day and considered it another Hallmark holiday. Don't get me wrong, I still think it's totally adorable but it's lost it's sparkle.
Years passed. Februarys came and went. I was no longer a child hoping to be flooded with birthday gifts and didn't care much about roses and candy for Valentine's day. However, I was still planning parties themed around 'me'. Though my intention was just to have all my favorite people in one place at one time, inevitably, friends would show up with cards and gifts. I couldn't help but feel special.
In 2010, I had a blowout for my 30th birthday. My girlfriends met me at my favorite restaurant on the day of my birthday. The next night was full with dinner, drinks, and dancing with all my friends. It was truly one of my most fun and memorable birthdays.
They say 'age is just a number' but, for me, turning 30 was coupled with a lot of deep reflection. I thought about friends, about family, about my past, and about my future. If you know me, you already know I think a lot. Multiply that by about one hundred.
Was I too old to be having parties themed around 'me'? Was that a childish way of thinking? No. There is absolutely nothing wrong celebrating with your friends on your birthday. Go big! I'm fortunate to be alive with each passing year and have incredible friends and family in my life. It's a reason to celebrate!
How could I make it less of a 'me' celebration though? In 2011, I used the occasion as an avenue to help out a worthy cause. I started small, tutoring children during the day with a few friends then asking for canned goods at a house party at night. I still got to be with my friends but didn't feel so guilty. I loved it so much, that I decided that I would keep doing this moving into my 30s.
Last year, friends donated enough money to purchase some English books to a preschool I'd visited on a remote island in the Philippines. It was strange being abroad but getting people together to donate helped me with the self-pity of being away from home.
During this time of year, I'm reminded of two things. 1) There's power in numbers and 2) people are generous and, overall, awesome.
To see what's planned this year and how you can join the party (even if you don't live in Seoul), check out the link below. It's a quick and simple blog but the easiest way to post the event, update progress, and chart future 'parties'.
So far, you've donated $265.00 to help out in 2013!
Thank you for your love!http://addadropinthebucket.wordpress.com/
New preschool on a remote island in the Philippines. English books you helped donate went here in 2011.
Christmas Eve in North Carolina
In my previous post, I'd made 2 lists - excitements and fears about visiting home for the first time. I was filled with pure joy as every item on the excitement list was filled. I walked through every single fear, some with more grace than others. Below are the main highs and lows I experienced on my first trip to visit home.
- Reunited with family, friends, and pets (one reunion at a time)
- meeting friends' babies for the first time
- Food and beverage - my favorite restaurants, coffee shops, grocery store items, vegan/veggie options all around, southern style food at Christmas time, that Ammazza mushroom pizza, mom's cooking, and bottomless drip coffee everywhere
- Seeing Kishi Bashi perform live, meeting him (twice) before the show (forgetting what words were)
- Joel Patchell's NYE bash (dancing!)
- Christmas at home with my family
- Charleston + Kiawah Island, South Carolina with Natosha, my longest running friendship of 22 years
- The weather - cold by southern standards but oh so warm to me!
- Reverse Culture shock (week 1)
- Jet lag
- Running out of time - meaning from one reunion appointment to another OR wanting more days at the end of the trip.
- Leaving my friends and family again
- The city felt different (not like 'home' anymore)
- Not budgeting well / not enough money - I couldn't get enough gifts for all of my friends in Korea or the make up I'd planned to buy.
- gripping fear of walking around in Atlanta at night (i.e. from the club to the car)
- not seeing everyone I wanted to see (I can't stress this one enough)
Kiawah Island, South Carolina
There's absolutely no way I can elaborate on every amazing reunion and moment I had on this trip. I'd simply have to write a book. However, I'll try to highlight a little.
One of my best friends, Jennifer, picked me up from the airport. It was just like in the movies. We both screamed when she pulled up and I cried as we hugged. That moment was everything I'd dreamt of and more. I was back in Atlanta! "Our Mayor Kasim Reed welcomes you to Atlanta" flashed in front of me as we exited the airport and I teared up again. After some talk, we were already approaching Freedom Parkway. Welling up again, I was spilling over with a feeling I'd never had before. I was overjoyed to be next to my friend on such a familiar road. I knew I had 3 more weeks filled with similar encounters and I couldn't wait.
The first week was a blur. The jet lag was more miserable than I'd ever experienced. The reverse culture shock was doing a real number on me as well. I was tired of hearing loud English in my ears everywhere I went. I didn't want to know what you thought about the game, who you thought would win which bowl game, how to weather was going to be, or the fight you had with your boyfriend. I stared at US currency, not knowing what to do with it. I went dancing twice during the first week after my arrival and was petrified the whole time - guns and rape. I'd never felt like this before. What was wrong with me? I'm so grateful to have had Jennifer to take care of me for the first few days of adjustment. I say 'take care of' because I really felt like she had to babysit me. Thank you, Jennifer!
The first day, I was so tired and raw with emotion that I was tearing up left and right. I remember tearing up when I walked to my old coffee shop in the Highlands. I sat there with my drip coffee and watched the baristas I no longer recognized. It was a strange but comforting feeling to be there again. Just then, New Order starting playing over the speakers. No where I knew of in Korea would play New Order, even this popular song. "I feel fine and I feel good. I'm feeling like I never should. Whenever I get this way, I just don't know what to say. Why can't we be ourselves like it was yesterday?" Tears came but I wouldn't let myself fully cry.
Jennifer, picked me up and took me one of my favorite brunch spots. I ordered frech toast, fruit (which included blackberries which I hadn't had in over a year and a half), and a side of vegetarian sausage. Again with the tears. If only I could bring Radial to Seoul!
3rd visit to Radial: Tofu scramble, grits, fruit, bottomless drip coffee.
One incredible reunion after another and the first week had come and gone. It was time for me to pack up my Scion and head 5 hours East to Charleston, South Carolina. My parents had come earlier in the week for us to see each other and drop my old car off so I could make this special trip (still trying to sell it if you know anyone interested in a Scion xB).
Natosha and I have been friends since 1990. I was set to be in her wedding but left for Korea just one month before she walked down the isle. Living in Texas now, her and her husband were visiting her sister who's attending law school at The College of Charleston.
I'd never forgive myself if I didn't make the treck. Good thing because it was totally worth the drive and time and one of the highlights of my trip. It felt just like old times with Tosha and, newly pregnant, we got to talk about how more amazing her life was about to become!
JoAnna's (Tosha's sister) boyfriend's family has a house on Kiawah Island so not only did we get to soak up the amazing city (and food) of Charleston, but we got to experience all the secluded beautiful nature of an exclusive island on the Atlantic coast. Grilling out, reading, and walks on the beach at sunset with dolphins swimming right up to shore. It was simply perfect.
Natosha and I pose on the beach of Kiawah Island, South Carolina.
Charleston was amazing and, before I knew it, was over. I headed northwest about 5 hours for upstate South Carolina to spend Christmastime with my family. I drove straight to Greenville for a late lunch and met my brother's wife and her mother along with my parents. It felt good to be back with my family.
That night, I went with my parents to the church I grew up in for their Christmas candlelight communion and special memorial service for the Newtown shooting. It was a somber (and long) service. After, it was nice to give respect to/hug all of the people who have had me in their thoughts the entire time I've been away. They are the people who've loved and supported my parents in 'letting go' of their 33 year old daughter. Though we live in different worlds, I honor and respect the people there and it felt nice to show them that in person.
I went from one Christmas dinner/gift exchange to another. The kids in the family (my cousins' little ones) are growing fast and some of them don't know who I am. My cousins are getting engaged, married, and graduating college. My aunts and uncles are getting older and so are my parents. Things are changing (they always were) but it was Christmas at home and I loved every minute of it!
Christmas Eve in North Carolina
After Christmas, I drove back to Atlanta to spend the last leg of my trip with my friends. The reverse culture shock was over and the jet lag had completely vanished. It just felt like I was driving back after the holidays. I stayed with some of my best friends who had a guest bedroom in East Atlanta Village with my name on it.
I had just 6 days left and every second was slipping away faster than I wanted. I packed in appointments to see friends back to back. Some days I didn't make any appointments because I wanted it to feel organic. I was torn because I wanted to see friends I hadn't seen yet and wanted to see friends I'd only seen once during my awkward first week. Where was the time going?! I look back and there were people in my life I didn't even get to see.
Rockband with friends in Atlanta, Georgia
Nearing the end of my trip, New Year's Eve was a definite highlight. I drove with my friend, Albert, to Athens to see my current favorite musician, Kishi Bashi, who I'd discovered last year around this time. Albert had fallen for Kishi Bashi too and decided to join in on the adventure. I was so happy to be joined by him as we enjoyed amazing vegan food, engaging conversation, and, of course, Kishi Bashi!
Clip from the Kishi Bashi in Athens, Georgia. December 31, 2012
When I like someone, I really like them. I started the Kishi Bashi fan club with my friend, Raines, and have been fangirling out ever since. I never thought I'd actually see him live. I was giving up the New Years Eve party of the year with all my friends but this had to be done. In retrospect, I made the right decision, I got to meet him and his wife before the show and was totally blown away by his performance. You guessed it -- I cried (during his performance of "I Am The Antichrist To You"). How did I end up here? I could write an entire post on the impact of his music. Maybe I will one day but now's not the time. The point is, it was unreal.
Kishi Bashi live in Athens, Georgia. December 31, 2012
We left the show at 11:30, counted down in the car with the windows down, screamed for a second, rolled them back up and made it to our friend's party at 1am. It was just in time for some Moet and loads of dancing with so many of my favorite people! I think I got to sleep around 4:30 AM. A truly epic night!
The next day, New Year's Day, was spent relaxing. I had a farewell dinner with my two Jennifers at one of my favorite places to eat - La Fonda. We stayed longer than usual and didn't talk about Korea, me leaving, my experience there, or anything related. They totally made it feel just like home. We hugged and got in our cars. This time, I didn't tear up. I fully cried. I called Jenn and told her, "there wasn't enough time". With her poignance, she responded, "there never would've been enough time".
"We miss you here" and she got me off the phone. My friends are amazing.
I continued my drive from Candler Park to the Hilton Airport to meet my parents. They'd been in town for the Peach bowl and were going to see me off and drive my car back to South Carolina the next day. We ate apple pie a la mode in the hotel restaurant as they gave me all the exciting highlights of Clemson's winning game. I wanted to thank them for making that feel like home but didn't want to mess any of it up.
Before I knew it, it was January 2 at 6:10AM and I was quickly and tightly hugging my parents good-bye at Hartsfield-Jackson airport once again with a newfound perspective on life.
A long 22 hours of travel later, I was looking at Namsan tower, freezing yet happy to be 'home' in Seoul.
one of my amazing friends, Devyn, with her children, August (front) and Peyton (back). True love.
Tomorrow, I'll be boarding a plane bound for America. After almost a year and a half, I'm going to see my family and friends! I'm filled with both excitement and fear about my first visit home. To help me understand my emotions and for a reference for later reflection, I've decided to make lists of why I'm excited and scared.
My first 'white Christmas' at my parents' place. Pickens, South Carolina 2010
I'm excited about...
- being with my family (for Christmas!)
- reconnecting with all my friends
- going to my favorite restaurants
- people saying 'excuse me'
- Christmas decorations
- spend the night parties
- The Atlantic Ocean
- a home cooked meal
- the Kishi Bashi show in Athens
- Charleston with the Garners
- checking out Amazza
- warmer weather
- shopping (I normally hate shopping but there's so much I need now)
- Reading labels in English
- people being the same (i.e. same barista at same favorite coffee spot, Dougall being the same ol' Dougall)
- people being different (i.e. engaged friends, friends with new babies, etc...)
I'm fearful about...
- reverse culture shock
- leaving my family and friends again
- not having enough time
- things being the same
- things being different
- bowing to strangers
- English being spoken all around me
- it not feeling like 'home' anymore (and if so then where's 'home'?)
- not fitting in (what if everyone else grew closer together while I grew further apart and I don't fit in anymore?)
- people being the same (i.e. living the same lives without much advancement)
- people being different
- wanting to come back to Seoul
- not wanting to come back to Seoul
- crime (I'm so afraid of this one that I may not even bring my fancy new camera. I'd never forgive myself if something happened to it)
- budgeting my money right
- jet lag
- no public transportation
- Not getting enough Korean gifts for everyone
- Not bringing back enough American gifts for everyone
EEEK! My fears list is way longer than I thought! That doesn't mean I'm not totally excited -- I am! It just means that this is a big trip for me and I tend to worry more than rejoice. Just getting it all down already helps calm me down. I'm looking forward to what the trip has in store for me and writing about it when I return!
This is the best postcard I've ever received and a great way to start my day! Pictured here with President Obama is my friend, BJ Hill.
We met in 2008 when he was walking across America. When he arrived to Georgia, he had already been walking for about 8 months from California and was headed north back home to Boston.
Why was he walking? There was more to it than Forrest Gump's answer, "I just felt like running" . BJ had a mission - to collect the thoughts of the people and give them to the next President of the United States.
When he started his walk, nominees hadn't been elected yet. Some of the entries started out, "Dear HIllary..." or "Dear Mr. President..." Therefore, these letters weren't geared to a personality, just to whoever the next leader may be, to our next President of the United States of America.
After a long walk and about 3 years later, BJ finally secured a meeting with the President. How do you think he got there? Yep, that's right. He walked from Boston to DC to deliver 4 large bound books full of letters from people of all walks of life. People in big cities and small towns. People with high paying jobs and people who were homeless on the street.
Our President reads letters from citizens every night and thanks to BJ, he'll be reading letters that may normally not have ever been written. I'm so happy I was able to share my thoughts on education and that BJ finally got that meeting!
P.S. BJ was the first to let me know about his 2 year teaching experience in Japan which inspired me to teach in Asia. Thank you for planting the seed, BJ!
The people in my life continue to absolutely amaze me!
For more information about BJ's walk across America, visit
Today was Halloween Day and also indoor fun day at my school. Friday, my class will take a field trip -quite a busy work week. Originally I'd planned a personal day off to have time to spend with a friend visiting from Hawaii. He came and left earlier than expected but I kept the personal day to recover from the busy week of hosting him, activities at school, and participating in my first run (10K!) this past Sunday.
So I'm taking the planned personal day off tomorrow, which now happens to coincide with bronchitis and a sinus infection. I'm happy to have a job that allows for time off when I'm sick and even more happy with the health care in South Korea.
One of my biggest fears in the States was getting sick because I couldn't afford the doctor's visit. Even with insurance, I never got sick enough to meet my deductible. Every visit in the winter, meant paying in full. Often times, I knew I didn't have the ~$150 so I'd tough it out or spend loads of money on over the counter medicine. I dreaded those times. Since moving to Korea, my attitude towards being sick and visiting the doctor has dramatically changed.
I've said it before and I'll say it again. I love visiting the doctor in South Korea -- for a number of reasons. To name a few, doctors' offices have late and weekend hours, staying open until 7PM and on Saturdays until 4 or 5PM. They're high tech with all the latest equipment. There's never a wait in the 'waiting room' and they always seem to accept walk-ins all day. As with most Koreans I know, the staff and doctors are super friendly. Finally, my visits to the doctor here are super cheap!
Today, proved to be no different. I walked in off the street to an ENT specialty doctor, gave them my ID, and 1 minute later, was talking with a doctor. I was treated with a smile and given my Rx within 5 minutes. My bill was under $3 and all my medicine at the pharmacy was under $2!
If I have to be sick, I want it to be in Korea!
Autumn -- my only excuse for not writing in over a month. Sincerest apologies but you'd understand if you were here because, well, it's simply magical.
Chuseok is the most popular holiday in Korea; it seems to mark the beginning of Fall here for me as it's celebrated around the Harvest Moon. With a long break, usually foreign residents take this time to leave to country and travel but I stayed in Seoul and spent time with a friend before his departure from Korea.
Streets were empty and stores were closed but the day and night were full of festive celebrations at folk villages and temples. Perfect weather, Live traditional music, traditional clothing, art installations, light shows, a good friend, and the full moon. I couldn't have asked for anything more.
After Chuseok, Seoul came alive with festivities --The Street Performance festival, The Korean traditional music festival, Korean Drum festival, Ukelele Festival at the Han River, Itaewon Global Festival, and an impromptu free PSY concert at City Hall! Attending all of the previos, I chose to skip the recent Fireworks festival and a few others. Man, when the weather's good, this city takes full advantage!
Yesterday was a day trip with a friend to Chiaksan National Park to get away from the buildings. The gingko tree at Guryeong temple was worth the 8 hour round trip commute!
Other than cramming in festivals into all the nice weather and scenery, over the past month, I've had 4 visitors from out of town, 2 of which I had to say bittersweet farewells to. With 14 months of farewells, I'm continually reminded at the quality of people in my life and am so grateful.
So that just about catches you up!
In case, I fail to write for a while, here's what's coming up:
This week is a big one!
Mon/Tues/Wed - Assessing Students for Parent/Teacher conferences, School Assembly Prep, Halloween prep / 10k Train (Tues)
Thursday - Parent/Teacher conferences all day / 10 K Train
Friday - International Education Conference -- All Day conference for all the International Schools in Korea (pumped!) good friend, Tim from Maui arrives as conference ends.
Saturday - Show Tim around the city!
Sunday - We Run Seoul Nike 10K. OMG!!! My first race. So nervous about this one!
and next week's pretty full, too:
Monday - Lesson Plans for November due / Janna the tour guide after a long day at work
Tuesday - Janna the tour guide after a long day at work
Wednesday - Halloween Day! and Indoor Fun Day at School! School Assembly Day! School Trick-or-Treating with the PTA / Halloween Party or head to Soraksan Mountain with Tim if he's still here
Thursday - If Tim's still able to stay, taking the day off and headed to Soraksan Mountain to hike! if not, taking the day off to ....
Friday - Work / Farewell to Tim .... Crash early!
Saturday - SLEEP LATE! and I'm not planning past this ^^
P.S. I received the best gift ever from a blog reader and dear old friend -- a Canon EOS ti3 !!! I'm humbled and forever grateful; it's my obligation to produce amazing photos. Get ready, world!
I've been promising a year in review for over a month now. The captions with the photos provide a detailed break down of some of the major events I've experienced. Here, in my writing, I'll attempt to provide a true reflection on what the last year's been like for me.
The past year has given more than I could have possible dreamt up on my own. I've grown on so many levels -- as a professional, as a daughter, as a friend, and as a woman.
In the middle of the process of moving, it didn't seem real. I'd had going away parties. I'd turned in my car registration. I'd received my Korean Visa. Reality didn't hit until strangers were strolling up to my yard and began going through things I'd carefully laid on blankets. A man exchanged $5 for bag I'd held on to just because it reminded me of a good time in my life. I didn't use it and I certainly didn't need it anymore but I'd need that $5 to contribute to my move. As I took the $5 and he walked away with it like it was nothing special it all, I cried inside, wanting to tell him to story of that bag so it's special meaning would live forever with his son. This happened item after item until there was almost nothing left.
Friends visited and I served them lemonade. We laughed and caught up as I tried not to see my belongings being picked over. The day ended and I took the remainder inside. I remember so clearly taking the last load in and collapsing on that old wooden floor, weeping. What was I doing? Where was I going? Why was I going? I cried more with each question that raced through my mind.
I picked myself off the floor and remembered the reason for my journey. I remembered heart to heart talks my parents and close friends had with me. I continued to do what I had to do to make my move. The days before my departure whizzed by and the next thing I know, I was hugging my parents and my Scion goodbye at Hartsfield-Jackson.
The first 6 months was more than difficult. The photos would suggest otherwise. Trust, I had unforgettable moments that received photo credit. However, in the night in my apartment or on walks home from school, I went through a dark, strange, and lonely place in my mind and heart that I'd never experienced before. It's hard to even describe.
Making it through this time is the showcase of my first year abroad and I'll do my best to describe what it was like.
I had a space in my heart lacking confidence just like any first year teacher has. There were many days I wondered why I chose to be a teacher, slowly walking home with tears in my eyes.
I had a space in my heart lacking a sense of community. I love to talk to everyone around me, being friendly every where I go. I couldn't -- I couldn't talk; I couldn't listen. I didn't understand anything or recognize any of my surroundings. silence and confusion.
I had a space in my heart lacking the companionship of my close friendships and family. They weren't with me any more.
and I had a space in my heart lacking the comfort of a man. He was gone.
I went through the motions like I'd been taught to do. I got active. I joined Tae Kwon Do. I was the chairperson in charge of bringing Christmas to the local orphanage. It still felt wrong but I kept going to work, going places, meeting people, and trying to learn the language.
I woke up one day, and Winter had passed.
I realized I'd become a confident, sought after educator, being offered a new job in my area of study in Seoul. I'd earned the respect of my students and co-workers. I witnessed learning happening in my classroom. This is why I wanted to be a teacher!
After crying on the shoulder of my next door neighbor from California and watching Sex and the City with her on Sundays, I thought of her and the other women that I'd become friends with in Ulsan. I realized I had made life-long friends with whom I would've never met if I hadn't made this journey.
I made connections with my neighborhood. Most places knew me by name, gave me coffees on the house, and it felt like home.
The love my friends and family in the States have for me had been demonstrated in ways I'd never experienced. I'd never been in such a position. It reminded me what love really is.
I let go of what I'd been holding onto in Atlanta and decided to open myself up to the possibility of anything. "anything" turned into advancing my career, polishing my abilities, and pursuing hobbies. I still want love but I'm not losing sleep anymore.
So a little over a year ago, from the hardwood floor of my studio in Atlanta, I chose to pick myself up to seek out what I'd wanted to do for years -- live abroad. From there, I moved to tearful walks to my apartment in Korea, still wondering if I'd made the right decision. Time went on and so did I. I got through the fear and finally my questions became answers.
Looking back, it's obvious that through this experience, I've become better for it.
Though I've missed being present at multiple life events in friends and family's lives (and it saddens me more than words), I hope everyone in my life would agree to be happy I was here -- becoming a better me.
My 2nd year away puts me in a new city of 11 million people and a new job. There are new friends to make, new places to explore, and much more to learn about teaching and about my abilities. In the coming year, I aspire to keep challenging comfort zones for continued personal growth.
Pushing the boundaries of what I thought were my limits really sucked but when I came out on the other side, I've never been more happy!
Yep, so that's my year in review. my long, sentimental year in review.
Thank you for sharing in this journey!
In my last post, I promised a year in review. Lawd knows I haven't forgotten this but first I want and need to participate in this blogger relay, accounting my top 3 travel memories.
to find out more about what inspired me to do this :)
1st place - that monkey dressed in baby clothes outside a club in chengdu, china at 2am.
Need I say more? I'd just finished taking all my finals, writing all my papers, hanging my iPhone photography for the show's opening
, and was on my way to study in China for a month before graduating. I'd been in Chengdu, Sichuan province for about a week and my classmates and I were ready to take a break to see some of the city. After an evening of enjoying the Chengdu nightlife, we were ready for taxis. As I exited the club, I shouted, "That lady's carrying a monkey!" A friend replied, "No, Janna. That's a baby
." Protesting, "No! No! It's a monkey", I ran over to see it up close and personal. The old lady had that grin that crossed language barriers as she passed him along with arms outstretched. I'll never forget the thrill and fear of that 1 minute moment when a little monkey dressed in clothes was fondling my hair and holding me like a mom in the middle of the night in the busy city of Chengdu, China.
2nd place - that map that led me to the christ church cathedral in dublin, ireland
I'll never forget the moment I looked at the map as it matched up to the road that had led me to the Christ Church Cathedral. Ireland was a post break up trip I took in attempt to get away from my sadness. With only a few short days to enjoy Dublin and Bray, I did as many of the Lonely Planet suggested items as I could squeeze in. I remember surveying my surroundings and checking the lines drawn on the map once more thinking, "I'm doing this all on my own". A few more steps in the right direction and there was the church! It was that freeing feeling that no one else could give to me. It was independence and self-love. I'd gotten just what I needed from that trip. For more than just my traveling spirit, now maps hold very special meaning to me.
3rd place - those best friends, a jack russel TERRIER and a monkey in palawan, the philippines.
OK, so I swear there's no obsession with monkeys there just happens
to be a monkey in 2 of my 3 top travel memories.
On a trip to the Philippines, I joined a 5 day open excursion with Tao Philippines
, who provided me with one of the most amazing trips of my life thus far. We were on a boat during the day for snorkeling and stopped off to camp and cook on remote islands each night.
On the first night, we reached our first camp base. It was there I met 2 best friends -- a jack russel terrier and a rescued monkey. The two had grown up together as babies; I found it entertaining to watch them fight and play like siblings.
Kneeling down to take a photo of them in a calm moment, I recognized their paradise backdrop and carefree lives. I'm reminded to strive for the playfulness of their friendship and to be aware of the paradise that surrounds me, wherever I may be.
honorable mentionS: kayaking next to humpback whales and swimming with sea turtles in Hawaii
It was breathe-taking. There's no other way to put it and I'll never forget that humbling moment in the sea. If you ever have plans to go to Maui, Hawaii book with my long time and dear friend, Tim of Hawaiian Paddle Sports
. Make your trip from December to March to not miss out on experiencing the humpback whales. You won't regret it.
passing the baton
I challenge to following friends to share their top 3 travel memories. Take me there!
Hyunwoosun of hyunwoosun
Hannah of hannahsouthkorea
Iryna of irynastravels
Ashley of how-i-love
Scottie of donttellscottie
If I've tagged you, please make sure you include the following for a chance to win:
- mention that you're with TEAM ORANGE (my team!)
- include the following link somewhere in your post: must have at least one redirection to this link from your site for the chance to win http://www.lowcostholidays.com/where-to-go-on-holiday.htm
- write a short blurb about your top 3 memories
- Pass the baton onto a blogger of your choice, simply nominate them by listing them in your post
- Promote your post using the #BloggerRelay hashtag (not required to win)
- Entries must be sent to email@example.com in order to be consideredPRIZES!
- The prize for the overall winner will include an iPad2,and a Nikon D3100 Digital SLR Camera, including a 18-55mm VR lens kit
OK so I'll be honest, this prize was a major motivation for me to enter this contest. I've never owned a camera and have dreamed of a D-SLR for years. I simply haven't had the money and have made my cell phones my means of photo taking over the past some years. Winner or not, I had fun recollecting some really great memories I've had the opportunity to add to my life story.
- The prize for the longest chain will be one flex pocket organiser for each entrant in the chain
Just by being in the chain of TEAM ORANGE
, you also have a chance to win a prize. I'm not sure what a flex pocket organiser is but who cares?! Let's try to make Team Orange be the longest chain!
For more details on how to get involved in the lowcostholiday.com Blogger Relay, click here
. The competition closes at 12pm on Friday 28th September 2012.
Happy memory jogging!