Many of you may not have noticed, but we’ve officially been in Korea one year. I honestly didn’t notice until I was asked on our one year anniversary…how long I had been in Korea. Thank you stranger for reminding me, or this blog post may not have happened.
I guess this month also marks a year of blogging. I couldn’t be more in love with my blog…thanks for reading it. I’ve actually been quite surprised and blessed with my readers. I originally just made the blog for my family and friends to read, but then 10,000 views later I realize that it may be (hopefully) benefitting others too! Thank you for your comments, suggestions, and emailed questions.
One year. What can I say? It’s gone way to fast. I am so thankful that my husband and I have had an open heart to staying for a few more years, or otherwise this last year would have felt like more of a dream than reality.
This is our life. It’s not a ‘trip’ or a ‘vacation,’ its our everyday, normal life. I can’t explain to you how normal it actually feels. For the past few months, Korea has felt like home. Very shortly this small country will become the longest place that Derik and I have spent our married life together in.
As the year has passed by, we have had a few changes, and will continue to notice more. Our schools have changed, our housing has changed, and our outlook on life has changed. They’ve all been growing experiences, but nothing we regret!
As you may remember, Derik switched jobs from working at a local private academy (hagwon), to working for DSME (Daewoo) Shipbuilding as a business English teacher. I will be switching my locations as well to three smaller schools, working a more chilled schedule. Thank you Jesus for that opportunity!
We have been so blessed with the opportunities that have come our way. Not only have the job changes happened smoothly, but the housing changes have as well! We became friends with Mike and Alissa (they were in Korea about 5 years), and built great relationships with them over the past six months. They had something come up back home in the US and needed to either break their contract on their apartment and lose the hefty deposit they put down, or find someone to take over. This worked out perfectly Derik and myself, because we had started the search for a place to live. The added bonus? The apartment is literally right across the street from DSME. We took over their contract and have been living in their place for the past few weeks.
In the past year our outlook on life has changed. It’s hard for me to remember how naive I had been to cultures, places, and events. I wouldn’t have even considered myself naive, but how could I without having the opportunity to experience life outside America? This past year my husband and I have lived in Korea and traveled to Bali, Vietnam, and Japan.
Being immersed in each culture has only wet my appetite for wanting to know more and more about the way people live, think, breathe. I want to know what is important to each culture? What do they consider is the most important for a quality life? Where do they place their value?
I have learned so much from every place I’ve been to. It’s not something that I can explain fully or even communicate to you. All I can say is Derik and I have only just started our traveling adventure. God has made a HUGE world out there for us. There are so many opportunities out there to travel. It would be a tragedy not to!
I’d like to share one of my favorite quotes of all time. This basically sums up how I feel right now about the world and traveling:
“I beg young people to travel. If you don’t have a passport, get one. Take a summer, get a backpack and go to Delhi, go to Saigon, go to Bangkok, go to Kenya. Have your mind blown. Eat interesting food. Dig some interesting people. Have an adventure. Be careful. Come back and you’re going to see your country differently, you’re going to see your president differently, no matter who it is. Music, culture, food, water. Your showers will become shorter. You’re going to get a sense of what globalization looks like. It’s not what Tom Friedman writes about; I’m sorry. You’re going to see that global climate change is very real. And that for some people, their day consists of walking 12 miles for four buckets of water. And so there are lessons that you can’t get out of a book that are waiting for you at the other end of that flight. A lot of people—Americans and Europeans—come back and go, ohhhhh. And the light bulb goes on.” -Henry Collins
So that’s where I am right now.
What do I miss about the US? What do I not miss? The list is below.
-I don’t miss the news. I rather enjoy living in oblivion, in a country that isn’t obsessed by the things they watch on TV. I didn’t hear about the North Korean nuclear testing until 3 days later.
-I don’t miss the crime. Korea is a rather safe place. I can leave my car unlocked (heck I can leave it running) while I run into the bank, and not have to worry about my iPod, or better yet my car being stolen. I can walk down the street at night knowing I’m most likely not going to be killed or raped.
-I don’t miss the American pride. Sure, I’m proud to be an American too…my dad’s been fighting for US freedom for 25 years. I’m just saying America isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Just live somewhere else for a few months and you’ll think the same thing.
-I don’t miss the over-processed US food. My palette has been made up of mostly ‘clean’ food for the past year, and I don’t think my stomach could handle the fried, greasy, fat-filled American food. Blah.
-I don’t miss following traffic rules. Yes, I’m a rule breaker…but everyone in Korea (make that all of Asia I suppose) is. The cops are a joke, the traffic lights and seat belts are just a suggestion. I don’t remember the last time I actually looked at a speed limit sign and made sure I was going the right speed. No worries, I’m not a drag racer.
-I don’t miss expensive rent, car insurance, and heath bills. I love the system here. Everything is easy and cheap. Perfect example happened a week ago. Derik hurt his ankle, so we went to the hospital to get an x-ray. The whole trip without insurance cost us 100 dollars. That’s with the X-ray, splint fitting, buying a set of crutches (no return necessary), doctor’s diagnosis, and prescription. Not bad eh? Without insurance back in the States, it’d cost me 100 dollars just to say, “hi,” to a doctor.
-I don’t miss the public transportation. Back home you did your best to avoid public transportation lest you be shot or kidnapped. Public transportation is the way to go here. Subways are convenient. Busses are quick and easy to figure out. Trains are pretty cool too. Oh, and Taxis? Cheaper than cheap!
-I don’t miss the expensive plane tickets out of the country. In Korea I’m able to travel country to country for the cost of traveling from the west coast to the midwest. Yay!
-I miss my family. I haven’t seen them in over a year, and who knows the next time I will. I’m excited for the day that I can finally meet my precious niece. I swear she’s the most beautiful baby I’ve ever seen.
-I miss cheap fruits and veggies. I’ve gotten used to paying 6 dollars for a bag of oranges, 4 dollars for a bag of potatoes, and a hefty 4 dollars for an avocado. Where are my $0.50 apples or my $1.07 heads of lettuce? I swear I’m going to go crazy once I get back. The expensive fruit here sure has put a damper to my juicing hobby.
-I miss the availability of international and exotic foods. There are so many recipes here that I’m not able to complete do to the fact that I’d need one ingredient that is impossible to find in Korea. I will never take food shopping for granted again back in the US. A person really has no idea what is available to them until they only have a select amount of items to choose from every day; and every grocery store is the same.
-I miss safe drivers. As I mentioned above, it’s so great driving with no rules…but some people are plain crazy.
-I miss shopping for clothes. Being 5’8″ (almost), its very hard to find anything that fits. Thankfully my upper half is quite small, so I can usually find shirts, unless the sleeves are long, then I run into an arm length problem. I might as well forget about pants. My legs are about 3 inches too long…that’s not something that I can fix easily.
-I miss proper dressing rooms. On the same note as above, Korean clothing stores are quite a bit different. If they do have a dressing room, it’s a little smaller than the size of a port-a-potty, and makes it nearly impossible to get anything on. Another negative factor is that the mirrors are always on the outside of the door. That makes the trying-on experience that much more awkward. Im sure many ladies like myself can attest to the fact that 9 out of the 10 items they try on look absolutely atrocious. By no means do I want to walk out of the dressing room just to have everyone in the store evaluate my clothing choices, as I stare at myself in the mirror.
-I miss being able to communicate properly in my native tongue. I can’t wait for the time when I’ll be able to go to a restaurant and order a salad with dressing on the side, or a sandwich with no pickles. Here? That’s definitely out of the question. You point to the menu item you want, and that’s exactly what you’re getting.
-I miss the gas prices. You think 4.00 is bad? Try $8.00.
Korea is our home now. To wrap what I miss/don’t miss up, I miss the things I love the most. I miss friends, family, places we’ve called home in the past. I can’t wait to see and experience them again. I’m not sure when that will be…but I’m hoping within a year or so.
Until then, I hope you continue to enjoy the stories of our lives as it’s being given to us. We are so blessed with each and every opportunity that’s presented. This is a time in our lives that will not be forgotten.
Thank you for your love and support!
(Check this out! The post from when we first came over here one year ago!)