Over a month in South Korea

busan2It’s been a while since I could post anything. I’ve been extremely busy the past couple of weeks between teaching, lesson planning and working on my ESL certification. It’s challenging work, it’s just tedious. I like having a lot of things to do because it makes my week go by faster and next thing you know, it’s the weekend.

As you can tell from my previous post, moving to Korea…I experienced a little bit of culture shock and felt very alone the first week of getting here. I was working the same day I got in from America; at least I got in Thursday night at midnight and was working Friday. I had just had my surgery, had jet lag and I woke up feeling tired and sore, only to go to work to work a ten-hour day.

The last post has kind of been nagging at me because I feel kind of bad about it. I have met a lot of really nice people since I moved here and the English teachers I have met here are a lot of help to me.
The American teachers here have quickly become close friends of mine and we’re planning a trip to Tokyo the end of this month for our summer vacation.

I do think that Koreans work too many hours a day. It’s common for a Korean to work over ten hours a day or more, without getting overtime. They feel that working any less is a sign of laziness. I asked if I would be getting overtime one evening when I was asked to stay later, the idea kind of seemed fore

ign to them. Needless to say, no, I won’t be making overtime (even for the time when I need to be at work until 2am).

My days have been passing pretty quickly; I have almost been here two months already. On the weekends, I tend to travel around Korea. Last weekend I went to Busan, which was amazing. So far my favorite city has been Daegu and I might be biased because my boyfriend lives there but it’s also clean

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and the surrounding areas are pretty. I live in Ulsan, which is smaller than those other cities but there are still over a million people here.

The weekends for most people in Korea generally consist of a lot of heavy drinking. I have had a lot of rough Sunday mornings, where I spend most of the morning vomiting and moaning into my pillow, promising to never drink again. During my trip to Busan, I accidentally drank a bit too much and ended up buy rounds for everyone at my table. I’m not sure what is worse, the hang over or the wasted money. In any case, I think I need to not drink gin anymore. busan

I am happy to be in Korea. A lot of times I leave my apartment and think “Oh shit, I’m in Korea.” It’s sometimes hard to believe that I’m living on the other side of the world. I know that I’m really lucky to be able to see things that most Americans don’t get the chance to see. I have been very lucky to be able to live in Europe and travel around it and now to live in Asia. I want to use every weekend here to see everything that I can. I’m not sure how long I’ll be here, so I should use my time here wisely and try to see as much as I can.

I am psyched about seeing Japan at the end of this month. I will post pictures and let you know how it is. I’ll be staying at a hostel, in a room for males and females…so that will be an experience.

Building Marketable Skills

Sometimes, it seems a little disheartening knowing that the rate of college graduates is higher than ever but the unemployment rate for college graduates is still high (this also varies on where you live). Sometimes I wonder if going to college was even an investment that was worthwhile, despite enjoying my college years as much as I did.

I majored in Philosophy and English (if you’re into the humanities); there are a number of things that you might want to consider to make yourself more marketable.

You’re going to want to be aware of your online presence. The pictures that you have on your Facebook, some of them you might want to reconsider. The pictures from your college years featuring you chugging beer and smoking some mysterious substance out of a hookah, you might want to remove. Remember, if you’re employer really wants to know more about you, you’re just a Google search away.

LinkedIn is another place that you might want to consider, to get your resume out there and connect with people who have similar career interests.

Probably one of the most pressing things for a newly graduate to consider, is the possibility of graduate school. Furthering your education might not be an option for people that are already up to their ears in student loans, but if it is an option for you, graduate school might open some doors for you.

Also, if you’re considering graduate school you might want to consider trying to learn another language or, in the very least, try to have a minor in your language if you haven’t finished your undergrad yet. This will benefit you and while having a minor doesn’t mean that you’re fluent necessarily, it will mean that you know more than most people about another culture.

Now, consider your resume. You’re essentially trying to sell yourself to company with a piece of paper, going against a number of other resume. If you’re interested in adding to you resume, consider volunteer work. This shows that you’re willing to go out of your way to help others. There are a lot of different places that you can volunteer locally in your community. I volunteered at a food bank, using the skills I had learned as an English major. Unpaid work can really be stressful but I’d recommend trying to get a lot of it done in college, either through interning or volunteering. Just remember to treat these positions seriously, as if they were a real job. That way you can actually learn from the experience and you can maybe get a nice letter of recommendation if you ever need it (or maybe even a job, if you’re an intern!).

If you’re considering education, you might want to consider getting your TEFL certification. Teaching English as a Foreign Language could be really beneficial for you. While you do have to pay for this, sometimes you have to spend money to make money. Never hesitate to go back to school to get certificated in something that might help your career. Certifications that you might want to consider, while they really vary by your career choice, there are some that are beneficial across the board. It’s always good to be up to date on new technology or to freshen up on some skills you feel you’re a little rusty on.

My last piece of advice would be, keep in touch with old bosses and professors. They have offered me priceless guidance on my rocky path to starting a career.

For more information check out: http://www.webucator.com/   and http://www.webucator.com/microsoft/index.cfm (they offer free courses here in MS Office)

What do YOU want to do when you grow up?

I typed “What career is right for me” into my Google search bar while I was stuck at my last job. My co-worker next to me laughed, “Yeah, ask Google .” I laughed too but I’ll take anything at this point. I have no idea what I want to do when I grow up.

It’s now June, meaning that my one year graduation anniversary has officially come and gone.  The last job that I had could be done without a degree and I hate that I have these two wonderful degrees that I’m not doing anything for and, more importantly, they’re not doing much for me at this point.  

I do, however, need my degree for this job that I’m currently doing, so I’m finally putting it to use and seeing the world. Truthfully, while I’m very excited to see Korea, a large part of it was because I have this time that I don’t know what I’m going to do.  I still am not sure if I want to go to graduate school or, for that matter, what I should even continue studying. Should I do something entirely new or carry on with English or Philosophy?

Because graduate school is such a huge investment, I don’t want to attend graduate school until I’m 100% sure that I know what I’m ready to do for the rest of my life. I’d hate to enter graduate and discover a year down the road that I hate what I’m doing. Of course, I can quit at any time but at that time, I’ve already wasted a lot of money and time. How does anyone really know what to do with their life, I wonder? The best thing I’ve found so far has been hearing other people’s stories.

So, I’m in South Korea….

I haven’t been writing because I have been so busy. If you’ve been reading by blog for a while, you knew about my plan to move to South Korea. Well, I’m here! It will be exactly a week since I’ve landed in Seoul this Saturday. I am here teaching English. The contract is for a year. I got here almost an entire month later than I meant to because of medical reasons.
Now that I’m here, my first pay check will be 500 dollars but I’m not getting it because there is a deposit that I have to pay the school (as a way to promise that I’m not going to leave the school in the middle of the night) 600 dollars and at the end of the year, they pay me back. So my paycheck it basically going to be -100 for this month, which sucks but there is not much that I can do about it.

If I’m going to be completely honest, I have to say that I really have hated my time here so far. I have hated the school that I’m teaching at and a lot of the students have zero respect for me.

On my first day of classes a student told me to suck his dick. I was really alarmed by this because he was only 13. A lot of my students will just text all class and when I take away their phone, they close their textbook and put their head down in protest. There is no winning with them and it’s realy frustrating. I’ve essentially had to sit down with each student one on one to help them complete a homework assignment because they are to lazy to do it themselves.

I generally get home at 10:45 every night. By the time I get home, I’m exhausted. I take a shower and eat and then all I want to do is lay in bed. I try to get up early so that I can still have a life outside of work.

All week, I’ve been thinking about the weekend. During class when my students are working on an assignment (if they’re working and not texting) I’m generally writing down goals and possibilities for the future. I think my dreams are the only thing keeping me sane at this point. I’m hoping that over time I will start to enjoy my job a little bit more.

If anyone asks me if I’d recommend teaching in Korea, I would advise that they teach through Epik -go through the publics school, not Hagwon. It’s a little bit more work to get there but it is worth it, you will be much, much happier.

 

My IUD Experience

My IUD is slipping out of my uterus. I got it about two years ago, the paraguard, which is a non-hormonal form of birth control. The idea behind getting a paraguard was that I wouldn’t be putting hormones in my body and that I wouldn’t have to worry about forgetting a pill that I have to take everyday. I sincerely hated the pill. I’m awful at remembering to take it and the pill makes my vagina…different.

After hearing that it’s falling out, I briefly felt annoyance towards my OBGYN doctor, who I had told I was feeling discomfort. I told her that my cramps were unbearable and I was bleeding through out the month and that sex was excruciating sometimes. She took a peek and told me that it must have been in my head.

During an ultrasound the other day, my doctor said that there is no visible damage but that I need to go to a doctor as soon as I can because my IUD is slipping out. When I want back to my OBGYN the next day, the doctor let me know that it was lodged into a muscle (a muscle? There’s MUSCLES DOWN THERE?) so they’re going to have to put me under to remove it sometime this week.

So, apparently the mistake was me getting an IUD before having children, which is risky because it increases the chances of either inserting the IUD wrong or it moving. For now, the only alternative that I am willing to do is go back to what I was doing two years ago…because the devil you know, right? As much as I hate the pill, I hate the idea of getting pregnant even more.

People told me “I have never heard anyone say anything positive about their experience with paraguards.” I didn’t listen. I wouldn’t add my voice to the choir just yet. For the time that it was working, I really did love my IUD.

Woman Bashing

futurefossils:

OH, I wrote this.

Originally posted on BITCHTOPIA:

silhouette-of-two-women-arguing-uid-1344566-1

I find it hard to believe that this is an experience that is only limited to myself. I often hear it in class, I hear it at bars, and in groups of friends: women proclaiming, “I just can’t hang out with other women” or “I prefer to be around men, they’re just easier to get along with.” Also, my personal favorite, “Girls just create too much drama!” If I have any pet peeves, this is probably it.

There are a couple of things that come to mind when I hear this. First, that I am a woman and that I am next to this person and I have ears. So yeah, I’m a woman with ears and you don’t like hanging out with me (or would prefer not to) because of my sex. Secondly, and maybe this ought to leave me more confused than anything, the speaker is also female.

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Writer’s Block and My Notebook

Carolyn said that it would take her 24 hours to fill up an entire notebook. I’m not sure if I can fill up an entire notebook in a week. The idea was that a bunch of writers get together with our own notebooks, to fill it up in one day- it’s kind of used as an intense writing practice to defeat writers block. I have kind of just been sitting down, looking at the notebook. Sometimes I even doodle a bit on the notebook. Something about having a pen and paper in front of me just causes me to draw random shapes… nothing artistic by any stretch of the imagination.

I have a lot of ideas in my head for stories but a lot of times I just don’t know where to start. Or I fell like if I start when I’m not “feeling it,” I could possibly destroy the story. If I have a good plot and write it down poorly, it’s forever tainted and it’s harder to repair it. I’ll feel like I’m working off of a broken story. I’ve done this a million times in the past.

In order to reform a story, I have to abandon it for months before I can even look at it. This helps me feel like I’m reading someone else’s work and it’s easier to critique. When a story ripe in your mind, your eyes skim over the words because you’re familiar with the story. So, to me, writers block is the fear of fucking up something that you feel has potential.

Fear isn’t really a helpful feeling (unless it’s related to survival instinct; writing a bad story won’t kill anyone). In order to be a writer, you have to write and read daily. You’re going to read some not so well written books in your life and you’re going to write some garbage in you life as well (we can’t all be David Foster Wallace). Just as long as you’re working towards something, because believe it or not, I may have a degree in writing but I still have to write daily. Use it or lose it, it might sound dorky but this dork is correct.

The notebook is a good idea because it is harder to get distracted. Granted, I still had my phone on. It was on the whole time, next to me staring at me with what I imagined were puppy dog eyes. Clearly I’m addicted to technology. I hadn’t written in a notebook since I was in college, writing notes. Fiction-wise, I hadn’t written a story in a notebook until my middle school years where I embarrassingly wrote Harry Potter Fan Fiction. Notebook writing helps free me from the ever-intruding world I live in. I’m homeless right now, more or less. If I didn’t have such great friends around me, I would be homeless. I’m a couch surfer and I miss my privacy but even in my own apartment, the internet and phone kept me more connected than I felt like being.

I guess the idea is just to keep writing. Get over the fear of fucking up. It’s easier said than done but that’s all writers block really is, a fear…. a fear of fucking up, the fear of a blank page in front of you. Open a notebook and turn off your phone, get stuff done. Make time for your friends and family but don’t give them your life. Keep some time for yourself. If you love writing, do it!

Happiness?

Happiness, for most people, is the ultimate goal in life. You might not think so, evaluating our actions where we chose careers that pay well but don’t make us happy, where eat and drink ourselves into poor health, when we complain and overlook all the things that we have going for us and question our worth. It is a task to be happy; it’s conditional and anything that blocks us from that shining beacon of “happiness” just brings us more and more suffering.

There are questions that I have regarding happiness. Is happiness an attainable goal for everyone? Is happiness conditional? Does happiness, for instance, depend on other people? Recently I have heard “My happiness is up to me.” This seems like a radical claim to make and I question the legitimacy of this statement in certain regards.

Sometimes our emotions don’t line up with reason. If happiness is a choice, then our emotions can always be reasonable and that automatically implies that your state of mental health is the same as others, which is not always true. I just don’t believe you can change “something”, unless you understand “it”. You have to acknowledge something before you can really examine it, consider it or even, if need be, work through it. Some people don’t have the means to do this. Some people don’t know how to be happy. It’s not their fault, I don’t blame them and I sympathize.

For all that I don’t know on the subject of happiness, I do know that there are things or mindsets that can radically reduce your happiness. First would be the idea that your happiness rests on other people. If you are happy because of another person, there is no stability in that. You have to know that you can lose a person at any time and make peace with that from the very beginning. When happiness is attached to another person, your attachment can bring stress for the other person and yourself. I know that Buddha was on to something when he said that suffering comes from attachment.

But there can be an end to suffering, don’t put that power in another person. If you want to be happy, when you love someone, love unconditionally. If you want to be happy, don’t linger on your suffering; linger on the suffering of the world. You won’t feel alone and you will gain a since of solidarity and love and compassion for the world. You will change how you feel about everything when you let your own suffering leave you like a drop of water dropping into the ocean of the world’s suffering.

We might expect happiness, but don’t. Don’t expect anything. Don’t think about the conditions of happiness and dwell on “but if’s” and “if only’s”, you will torture yourself. Do yourself a favor and let go of the idea of “happiness” and just be. You are here. You are alive. You can’t change what you don’t understand, so try to understand. Try to understand the human condition. Open your ears and eyes to the world. You might not find happiness, but who needs happiness when you have transcended happiness? You’re awake. You’re liberated.

Lowell, Massachusetts

wiki lowellMy claustrophobia made my flight back to the states almost unbearable. The random men I was sitting between were not extraordinarily large but because I didn’t know them, I did my best to keep my legs and arms close to my body so we didn’t make any awkward physical contact. At some point I was able to dose off; I woke up with a horrible ache in my neck from sleeping in an odd position, only to see that they had both passed out as well. I managed to stay awake the remaining hours of the flight. I stuck to drinking my coffee, not wanting to fall asleep again in case I inadvertently ended up using my neighbor as a pillow.

Oddly enough, I can’t remember much prior to getting on the plane. I was jittery because I hadn’t slept much the night before. I spent the night unzipping my bags, making sure I had everything I needed, then zipping them back up.

At 20 years old, I was living in my parent’s house in Germany in a tiny room that was pretty bare. I had a mattress on the floor and folded clothes piled on the floor next to the door. My mother handed my two plastic containers and told me, “Everything that you can’t fit in these containers, I’m throwing it out.”

I didn’t have a lot with me anyway. I had a small container of nick knacks I had collected from different countries I had been over the years, on the bottom of the container I hid my journals that I had been keeping since I was 13. This container and the books that I had on my bookshelf were the only thing that I believed to be worth keeping. My mother promised me that my containers would be left undisturbed in the basement until I could come back and get them from the house whenever I got my own place.

I only knew one person in Massachusetts and I had no idea what to expect of Massachusetts because I had never been there. However, for whatever reason, I wasn’t nervous. I felt that me leaving was long overdue and there is an amount of security that certainty grants you. I also knew that I wanted to move to New England more than any other place in America. I was from the west coast and I needed something new. I was tired of the west coast environment and all the family members that would be breathing down my neck the moment I land at seatac.

But I wasn’t entirely alone in Massachusetts; my good friend lived in Lowell. I felt better knowing that in all of New England, I at least knew one person.

Sean and I had been friends for years. We had stayed in touch via MSN messenger. While Sean and I got along pretty well while we talked online, I soon discovered that we didn’t really enjoy many of the same activities. I was a little anxious to see him, because a few weeks prior to me getting there he had told me that he was in love with me. I was a little unnerved by this.

He asked me if I would consider dating him once I got to Massachusetts.

I was quiet for a moment, then said, “Let’s play it by ear.”

He seemed to think that was a reasonable response and left it at that.

Sean didn’t meet me at the airport. I hate being a burden to anyone, so I told him that I was going to find my own means of transportation to get from the Logan airport into Lowell. I regretted this almost instantly.

I had never been to Boston and once I stepped out of the Logan Airport, I wasn’t entirely sure if I was even in Boston. In the same way that the SeaTac Airport isn’t exactly in Seattle, I felt that it might be the same scenario for Logan.

On a whim, I hopped into a cab and asked the driver to take me into Lowell. I had the address scribbled down on a scrap piece of paper. I pulled it out from my pocket and smoothed out the wrinkles. I read the address to him.

I fell asleep while we were stuck in traffic. I landed into Boston right in time to make it on the road during rush hour.

It was the summer, but I was wearing a hoodie. I tend to travel in comfortable clothing and there is nothing more comfortable than a hoodie. However, sitting in the summer heat wasn’t exactly the best time to wear a hoodie. While the car was diving, I would get a nice breeze, making it easy to fall asleep in the back of the cab but the traffic prevented that from happening.

Once we got to Lowell, I was a little taken aback. Lowell was much more industrialized than how I imagined it was going to be. You could be in a heavily populated area in Washington, but you could drive a few miles out of the city and you’re back in farmland. From Boston to Lowell, there was not very much of a scenic view.

Generally I gauged my appreciation of a place by its natural appeal. I had never been a big fan of large cities. I enjoyed places like London and Paris but I knew I could never handle living in a place that big. While Spokane was a decent sized city in Washington, there were easy escapes from the city.

Lowell was much older than any other place I had lived in America. After I paid the cab driver an obscene amount of money I carriage my duffle bag to my new room.

I realized almost instantly how under packed I was. I didn’t have bed sheets. I didn’t have towels. I had no shampoo or soap. I felt like both laughing at myself and slightly panicked that I wasn’t going to be able to make it to a store anytime soon and would have to carry on without deodorant or showers. I caved and told Sean that I needed some help.

Sean made it over to my place in less than 20 minutes. He was sweating and red faced when he got to my door.

I first asked him if he was okay.

“I’m fine, I just ran up the stairs.”

“You ran up fourteen flights of stairs?” I was amazed.

He nodded, still out of breath.

“You know there are elevators, right?” I asked him.

He nodded again, “yeah, I didn’t want to wait for them.”

My entire year of living there, I had never once attempted to climb up the 14 flights of stairs.

He walked into the room and collapsed onto my bare mattress for a moment, waiting until he could breath properly again.

He sat up and laughed, “Hey, we didn’t even hug.”

He came over and we hugged each other.

When we finished hugging, he held me at arms length and told me, “You’re very pretty.”

I said, “thanks” and asked if we was ready to go into town.

It was very apparent that Sean, though he had lived in Lowell most of his life, did not know down town Lowell at all.

“But where do you hang out?” I asked him.

“Well, sometimes I go to movies,” he replied. I felt as though I was making him feel guilty about being a homebody, so I dropped it.

I found a CVS, which was good enough; I bought some chips, toothpaste and other necessities.

When I got back I put a movie on my laptop for Sean and I to watch while I began unpacking my things.

Since I had come in early from out of the country, my roommates weren’t there yet so Sean and I were alone in my room.

Sean had no issue lying down on the bare mattress. I told him that he might get STD’s but he just shrugged.

Sean wore glasses now, thick-framed glasses that he took off while he laid on my bed.

He was thin but had a beer belly, yet he wasn’t a beer drinker. I couldn’t even get him to go out for a drink, when I had turned 21 a few days later.

“Are you glad that you moved to Massachusetts?” he asked me.

I looked outside, it was getting late, the sun had already gone down and I wondered how safe it was for him to walk back home alone.

“Of course, I’ve wanted to move here all my life and now I’m living on my own,” I was overjoyed to have independence.

“Are you worried about walking back alone?” I asked him.

“Nah,” he replied.

I was tired and wanted to go to sleep.

I took some of my clothes and laid them over my mattress so I could sleep on it without sticking to the blue plastic material the form mattress was covered with. I began to dose off, without meaning to. I woke up around 4am to go to the bathroom to see that Sean had passed out on my roommate’s mattress. My laptop was still open; the movie had ended hours ago. His hair was soaked in sweat I didn’t think I could fall back to sleep. It would have been around ten am back in Germany.