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We were 16 going on 17…

 

Okay so HAPPY NEW YEAR! I haven’t posted much in the last few months but I have many reasons, not all good but reasons none the less. Honestly, I had the full intention to write this post before New Years, but then I got distracted and with what little free time I had (work, friends, family) I was sleeping. The holidays really do take a lot out of you. This post is just going to be a quick catch up, and I’m going to discuss 16 good/not so good things that happened to me in 2016  (that haven’t been discussed on here yet, I don’t think!).20161216_174442.jpg

  1. I got a full-time job in Toronto! I commute every day on the GO train. It’s not easy, I’ve always got something school-related on my mind and some days my kids drive me nuts BUT it’s a full time job in my field and I could not be happier.
  2. I went to New York City! At the beginning of September my boyfriend and our two friends (and I) drove to Morristown, New Jersey. I spent Saturday and Su20160903_133153.jpgnday in NYC and it was wonderful.I also went to Trader Joe’s for the first time: I am forever changed.
  3. In relation to #2, I saw my first show on broadway!! I’ve been to broadway musicals (Evil Dead, Last 5 Years, Book of Mormon, Cinderella) but this was my first actual show on actual broadway. I saw Waitress and I became OBSESSED. If needed I can perform, at mediocre level, the entire show.
  4. In relations to #2,#3 etc… I’ve become obsessed with HAMILTON! Yes. The musical. Yes it’s amazing. No I’ll probably never get tickets to see it on Broadway.
  5. I’m still playing Pokemon go. Every day. (This is me.)
  6. I had to fight the camp I worked at for my last pay check :’) 0/10 do not recommend.
  7. I went back to the store I was working at, over Christmas, just to help them out. It was nice to see everyone again J
  8. I fell down some stairs at the Dundas subway station on a particularly rainy day and bruised my butt.
  9. I went on a shopping adventure in Michigan with some friends and went back to Trader Joes.
  10. I saw Moana (amazing) and La La Land (amazing) – Two of my favourite movies from 2016.
  11. In relation to #1, I’ve created and developed 3 whole curricula in the last two months of 2016. It was challenging and fun but great!
  12. I started Bullet Journaling and using a Happy Planner. I’m hoping to stick with it 🙂
  13. I fell in love with a new part of Ontario and I hope to go back in 2017 (just for me, not for work!)
  14. I’ve successfully cohabited with my boyfriend for an entire year. It’s been amazing.
  15. I have also started a 2nd job in my field, but a different part of my field (standardized testing!) It’s different, but fun! 
  16. 2016 was a shit year for a lot of people. I’m scared and excited for 2017
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2016 went by in a hazy death-filled blur. I can hardly believe I’ve been home from Korea for more than a year (I miss you dakgalbi from Yeonsan and pumpkin pajeon… I might have to come visit Hannah so I can get you…). I haven’t been on an airplane since 2015… It’s crazy to me! I desperately want to travel again, even if it’s not by plane. I loved my little trip to NYC. I want to see more broadway shows, I want to explore more of the earth! I’m excited for 2017 and all the hope a new year brings. I haven’t had a resolution for a long time, but I have yearly goals that I keep to myself. I recently found my 2016 goals and though I did not reach them, they seem more attainable in 2017…

I hope your year was good as it could’ve been, and your 2017 is bright and happy. So many things are in the works for so many people I care about…

I can’t make any promises of when my next post is coming. I have ideas but I’ve been so blocked creatively lately.

I hope I can get back to my old blogging self, some day soon.

My posts will always stay up! And I’ll still respond to emails if you send them!

I hope the best for all of you!

Until next time,
B

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Where are you?

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It’s been a long time. Longer than I had planned, honestly. But working 90 hour weeks for seven weeks really takes a lot out of you. Summer camp was in a word: amazing. Such an invaluable experience. I grew to love living on Fairy Lake, spending my time with kids from all over the world and spending my days off with people in Huntsville (and surrounding cities). A lot of stuff happened while at camp, some things I never thought I’d be around too, but I can’t even begin to describe all of them.

I didn’t plan on taking such a long hiatus after my last post. I thought with my job I’d be able to have downtime to blog, or read, or whatever. But the majority of my downtime was spent planning, or spending as much time with my coworkers as possible. I grew to love Huntsville, and all the rustic charm of camp. We’d spend our nights by the lake, swimming (or showering haha), or by the fire talking and having so many s’mores. Sometimes we’d camp out in the staff lounge, like on the night where the rain was so strong that it made a baby raccoon get stuck in a tree. We’d steal snacks from the dining hall, set up the projector in the sleeping bag room and watch movies. It was such a fun experience but it was also very draining.

There was not a day where I went to bed unable to sleep. I’d be doing so much during the day that I’d just flop down into bed and not stir until 7:30am when the bell woke everyone up. It was so easy to fall into the camp schedule: first bell rings at 7:30am (8:30am on Sunday sleep-in), second at 7:50am – that’s when you were to be out at the flag pole for the daily anthem. Breakfast was followed by the first challenge of the day, then clean up time, and right into first classes at 9:15. Each day I’d be teaching ESL for the first two periods, with my wonderful co-teachers, then I’d move into other activities like woodworking (who trusted me with a saw? I cut a hole into my pants!), swimming (more like beach games), and arts and crafts. We’d be scheduled to have a free period but the majority  of the time we’d have to cover other peoples lessons if they had days off (like the day I covered archery(????) and fishing – a story in itself.

After a full day of activities (and lunch at 1pm, followed by nap time), we’d have dinner and then go right into EP – Evening Program. EP was designed to tire the kids out and expel any remaining energy the kids had left. This was ran by different counselors every day and it would range from capture the flag, to soccer baseball, or even a fun variation of hide and seek called sardines. It was always fun to take part of EP but there were some days that I was too buy with ESL stuff that I couldn’t do it. After EP, we’d end the day by lowering the flag, singing day is done, and having a snack. After that (about 8:30pm) my duties were done for the day. The counselors would have to take their kids to go shower and get them to bed, but as a teacher I didn’t have those responsibilities. Working 12 hour days was very rewarding but also explains why I was so tired all the time.

The days off were the highlights of the week. We’d have 24 hours to do whatever we want. My day off was always Wednesday because all the campers would be on excursions (going to Wonderland, or Niagara Falls, or Huntsville). My fellow teachers (and the lifeguards!) would all head into town together, sometimes getting a hotel room to spend the night away from camp. Many drinks and mozzarella sticks were consumed on those days off, savoring the time away from camp. Some days we’d just go back to camp to enjoy the quietness of it all, a camper-free camp is different but having free run of the lake was awesome.

Camp is over now, and it’s been over for more than two months. And what have I been doing in the meantime? Well I’ll get to that. Those weeks are posts I’ll have coming soon, and this time I mean it. I’ve been lying dormant for too long and I’m finally ready to dust off my old blogging skills. I’ll have more posts to come about Huntsville, camp, some travel I’ve done in the last few weeks, and some restaurants in my hometown! I hope you’re ready for them 🙂

See you soon!

Until next time,
B.

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New Beginnings.

I thought about what I was going to say for weeks. Holding everything off until the last possible moment. I slowly told people, hiding my excitement and eagerness. I always get nervous telling people who are important. My anxiety levels have never changed regardless of the reassurance from people around me. I had been searching for months. Looking for something that would inspire me and make me happy.

It’s hard to make yourself happy when you’re really not happy where you are. I’m extremely happy to be home, but feeling pretty stressed out by the lack of job prospects in my city. I’m not alone in this struggle, many people my age and younger (and older) are struggling. I’ve finally found something.

Through some weird coincidence I had a job interview on my birthday. I figured I was done for the day, I wanted to show them that I was eager, and I was serious about the job. And it all panned out. I was offered a job within the week. I’m so excited to start this new job, in a new area from where I am. Though it’s not local, I am able to stay IN Canada and in the same province. I consider myself lucky.

I’m heading up north to become the ESL director for an International Summer camp. I’ll be teaching every day and I’m so excited for it! These last few months of working retail (again) have been pretty draining to be honest, and I’m really excited to get some more career experience under my belt. I’m nervous to be around bugs, and to also be given quite a bit of responsibility, but I’m looking forward to the challenge. It’ll be 6 more weeks away from my loved ones, but I’ll come out of it with some great experiences and hopefully even better stories.

Look forward to posts about camp life, some photos of the Muskoka area, and just some stories of my experiences up there. It’s been hard to write posts about everything I’ve been doing at home because it all seemed so mundane to me, after a while. I’m sure everything gets like that though, I felt like that in Korea after a few months… Going to Seomyeon every weekend, noraebang and the like. I like the comfortability of life, and I hope I get just as comfortable up north.

Sorry this one is so short, I leave on Wednesday and I’m hoping to get as much family time as possible before I head out. I’m looking forward to some nice pictures, getting a nice tan, and teaching some kids! I don’t know how reliable my wifi will be up there but I’ll try my best to get a post up at least once every two weeks, or more frequently if I can manage.

Thanks for sticking around for so long with me everyone! Looking forward to more interesting content for you, and for me… haha

 

Until next time,

B.

 

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Temples, Traditions, and Ramen

Early Sunday morning I hopped on the subway from Dobustsuen-mae to Osaka station. I tried grabbing some delicious ebi-mayo rolls but the closest conbini was sold out… I settled for some pastries from a bakery in Osaka station and then made my way to the train.

A ticket from Osaka to Kyoto was only $6. I didn’t expect it to be so cheap and I was pleasantly surprised. I was kind of lost waiting for the train but the signage was abundant and I had enough WiFi to give me some google maps directions to exactly what train to get on. We pulled in to Kyoto station just after 11am and I was speechless.

fb_img_1451365423762.jpgKyoto station is HUGE! I wandered around for a bit, not really knowing where to go. I wasfb_img_1451365427726.jpg by myself, with a few goals in mind of where to go, and that was it. I looked for the kitkat
store with no luck, grabbed a pumpkin milk tea and then went outside. It was a warm autumn day and I was so happy. The station was bustling with people, all eager to explore the city like I was. I purchased a $5 bus pass, which  was good all day for any bus in the
city. I had three places in mind to go to in Kyoto and all day to do it. The only set plans I had were not until the evening, where I’d meet a friend for dinner and Fushimi Inari.

I set off on my first bus, to a place I’d dreamed about going for almost a decade. The bus was long and full to the gills, but I was so excited. I had my kindle with me so the journey was easy enough, and before I knew it the bus was emptying at our stop. I walked quickly up the road to see a bunch of small shops and restaurants full of life. The temple was across the street in a wooded area. I paid my $5 entry fee, completely worth  it, and made my way inside. Kinkakuji temple, or the Golden temple, completely took my breath away. I was shaking, nervous and excited. It’s completely ridiculous to feel that way about a temple but this place was beautiful. This place solidified my love for Japanese architecture and allowed me to grow as a person. I went from a teenager who wanted to go to the land of anime to a young woman eager to see more of the world.fb_img_1451365445815.jpg

It was all thanks to my friend James. He had been to Kyoto during his exchange year in Japan. We sent emails all the time and the pictures he sent me were burned into my mind forever. I was kind of teary eyed looking at the temple, I took my time, took it all in and took many pictures. Kinkakuji has been on my small bucket list of places to go for years, it was possibly the first entry on that list and I finally made it. I wandered the temple grounds, basically floating from place to place. I bought some mementos but I knew this place would be a part of me forever.

After a thoroughly enlightening experience, I wandered slowly back down the street. I stopped in the shops along the roads and looked at all the souvenirs they had to offer. I wasn’t really in a shopping mood, and that’s an odd feeling for me. I was completely and utterly happy. I fb_img_1451365480169.jpghopped on a bus back to Kyoto Station (my centralized point) and decided it was time for lunch. As I ascended the many escalators in Kyoto Station I was treated to a wonderful performance by a high school orchestra. Not only were they really good, they were also playing Disney songs. I sang along and sat and enjoyed the show before heading to Ramen Street. Ramen Street is a name for a section of the department store in Kyoto Station. Famous enough to have its own name but I didn’t think it was the greatest. The restaurants all seemed to serve the same stuff and they all had varying lengthy lines out front. I figured I couldn’t go wrong with ramen in Japan so I just picked one that looked appealing and bought my ticket. Turns out I was not wrong, and I enjoyed the second best ramen I’ve had  in Japan. Nothing beats that creamy delicious ramen I had in Shinjuku though… After filling up, I headed back out to Gion, where I’d explore the historic area of Kyoto, maybe catching a glimpse of a Geisha…

Originally this was only going to be two posts but to save your eyes I’m going to make a 3rd post. It’s hard to believe I was only there for 2 days but my last trip to Japan was one to remember. Sorry for the delay in my posts, lots of stuff going on at home so I’ve been a little busy!

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Next post really soon!
Until next time!
B

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Time flies when you’re eating everything

20151104_102526.jpgI can’t believe it has already been a month since I left Korea. It seems like just yesterday I was rushing to the airport after cramming everything in to a cardboard box and mailing the things I couldn’t get into my overweight suitcases home. It was such an overwhelming and emotional day, and I just remember chit chatting and talking with the American border guards, happy to be able to talk to everyone. It was such an exciting time. It’s been so weird coming home and expecting things to be different but things have been shockingly similar. It’s so weird being home but at the same time it’s comforting. Like putting on an old sweater that still fits perfectly but you know is past it’s prime.20151104_193207.jpg

I hopped back into the job I left last year, so in some ways it feels like the
last year of my life did not even happen. But of course it did, and I’m
reminded of Korea almost daily still. There are lots of things I don’t miss, and lots of things I do, and of course I’ve had moments of reverse culture shock, so to speak… One of the main things that sticks out is how small everything is. I was so used to the shelter provided by all the tall buildings in Korea. Everything is so small and short and spaced out here. The tall buildings at home are fewer and far between.20151105_165544.jpg I am not used to seeing the sky so clearly every day! I miss looking out at the mountains on my way to work every day, and my lovely little walk through the park. Small things like that. I miss that so much!

I love my drive to work every day, it goes by so quickly and I missed being in a car (without paying for it, haha). It’s been super convenient being at home as my boyfriend, Andrew, has got his own car since I’ve been gone! I love the little road trips we’ve been going on. It’s changed a lot of things, making me feel almost grown up completely… even if I don’t really think I should be a grown up. I still feel weird about being home sometimes because I had prepared myself for things to be different and in some respects they were, but in many they weren’t.

It was really odd for me to come home first because a: I was riding in the car with Andrew for the first time with him driving (on a highway! in his car!) and b: the place I had called home before leaving for Korea did not exist anymore. My mom moved while I was gone and I had made arrangements to live with my boyfriend. We’ve been together for a long time and it is the next logical step. Our first month of co-habitation seems to be going well. It was just weird for me to go home to a place that didn’t really feel like home yet. It took me at least two or three months for my apartment in Korea to really feel like home… this place is a little easier to adjust to but I feel like I’m missing things!  It’s gonna take a bit of time to get completely comfortable but I’m getting there.

I really miss the transit in Busan. I miss being able to hop on the subway and zone out. I did not miss the city bus here, which has increased its fare to $2.75 a ride, and always has an odd smell. The subway was quick, easy, and I usually never had to worry about small talk on my commutes. I also really miss my students a lot. I’ve been talking to a few of them on Kakao Talk but it’s not the same! I’m sad I won’t see any of them, probably ever again :(. I also miss a lot of the foods. Mostly pumpkin pajeon if I’m being honest, and also being able to get a delicious lunch for under $5.

Food here is amazing, I’ve almost made it through my entire list of wants from when I was in Korea, but it’s so expensive! I had a meal with my friends one night and I spent four times the cost of a meal in Korea. I didn’t even get any drinks with that…. I miss the low costs of Korea (food wise) but I also love being able to fold up my freshly dried clothes, sit in a huge lovely bathtub, and bake anything I want!teacher

What’s next for me though? I still don’t know. I feel like I keep repeating

that but I also have an idea of what I want. Andrew and I are at an
interesting point in our lives. We’re in between a lot of things, and I think that this could be a great opportunity for growth. I think I might be moving soon, and if I want to continue to teach or work in the ESL field, I know I have to do that. I also want to travel more! But that will have to wait until I get some more money saved, and get into a better paying job.

img_20151106_174228.jpgFor now, I’m content to hang out with some good people, eat delicious food, and spend the holidays at home. I’m so happy to be home for Christmas, and I’m loving all the holiday things everywhere. I do miss the lovely tree in Nampo though, so if you’re in Busan please go and see the lights for me! 🙂  My next post will be a well overdue travel post! Look forward to it!!

Until next time,
B.20141130_174447.jpg

 

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Why I was happy with a hagwon.

wpid-img_20150923_142530.jpgI began writing this post two months ago after a weekend away with some EPIK teachers. One of the girls, who I really admire and like, made a comment that made me really think about the reputation academies in Korea have and how all the fears I had before working at one were unfounded. I thought this would be a helpful post for anyone looking to come to Korea to teach, and may have been rejected by EPIK or wanting to avoid the public school route all together. Both public and private schools have their pros and cons, I’m just going to write about my experience and what I’ve learned over my last year in Korea.

A hagwon is an academy is Korean. Academies are after school schools where kids go to do extra studying on top of their already busy schedules. Hagwons have notoriously bad reputations in Korea because most of them put business before education. Hagwons are not regulated, they’re owned and operated independently from the metropolitan government. They have their own rules and can be kind of intimidating, but they can also be really rewarding.

Hagwons can be a crapshoot, even after all the years of teachers being forced to deal with 11th month firings, and lack of pension or healthcare. Recently a group of hagwon teachers got together and SUED their academy for poor standards: no vacation, no pension, no healthcare. The only reason schools in Korea get away with this is because people let them! They take job offers at schools offering the bare minimum of things: 3 month-long internship periods, no pension, no healthcare, no access to a current teacher. If no one says anything, they’ll continue to do it!

If the school is offering you a contract look for these main things: salary clearly stated, teaching hours clearly stated (no more than 30 hours or you could be killing yourself, it’s a lot of work), vacation days (usually 10 plus the 10 red days -national holidays), round trip or one-way flight (this seems to be the new trend a one-way flight but there are still some schools offering round-trip airfare), and the two biggies the LEGAL biggies: NATIONAL PENSION – which your academy HAS to pay into by law if you are a full-time teacher, and NATIONAL HEALTHCARE – also has to be paid into, legally. DO NOT take an extra $100-$500 a month and not get healthcare or pension. To be contracted as anything other than a full-time or part-time teacher on your E-2 visa is ILLEGAL! If you’re not getting healthcare or pension your school is breaking the law by filing you as an Independent Contractor. The last, and probably the most important is access to the current teacher. If the school refuses to let you talk to them that’s a HUGE red flag. The current teacher knows the ins and outs of the school. Talk to them before signing anything.

Now, scary stuff aside hagwons can be great. Shop around! As a newly graduated person with a B.A you’re going to have pick of the litter, if you’re patient. I had to wait quite a bit before finding my job. It took months. I had a few offers, and I nearly signed a contract, but I did some more research and found the academy I almost signed with failed to pay severance or even pay their teachers on time. Thank god for the internet because I found an old teacher on Twitter of all places. Had I not found her I would probably be writing a different story right now. The important thing is to have standards. All jobs have the same offerings but find one that caters to your hours, and has a good rep with their current teachers. Don’t jump on the first offer you get because likely, it’s not going to be the best.

I get really offended when people say things like “You couldn’t pay me enough to work in a hagwon.” or “all hagwons care about is money.” This stuff is TRUE for most places but my school was AMAZING. I have to be 100% honest I got very, very lucky. I had an amazing boss, super friendly coworkers, and mostly great kids. Of course there were kids I wanted to banish to the hallway for an eternity, but I had flexibility in my classes, I got to sing songs and do dances for kids, and even watch movies with my kids! We had a great curriculum that approached English in a way that was inviting. It was so much fun and super rewarding. When I listened to my friends talk about their EPIK schools and even other academies I felt pretty lucky.

Here’s some anecdotes and comparisons I made about my experience and the EPIK experiences I heard about:

  • EPIK class sizes are about 35-40 kids PER class. You see them once a week. My classes maxed out at 12 kids and I saw almost all of them 2 times a week. Smaller classes are so much easier to handle, especially for a first time teacher.
  • EPIK teachers seem lonely: one foreigner in school, your co-teachers aren’t always friendly. This is the case for most people. My school had one other foreign teacher and my Korean co-teachers did not hesitate to ask me questions, chat about kids, or invite me to dinner.  Even having one other foreigner was great because you had someone to chat with when you needed it. Contrary to popular belief being the only foreigner teacher at an academy is not a bad thing, nor does it mean your school is poor, some schools are just smaller than others.
  • Sometimes you have to teach at 1-4 schools a week with EPIK, transportation not provided. This means you could have to bus to different places during a single day. No thanks. I had a 5 minute door-to-door commute from my apartment to school. Some teachers got a bonus for working additional schools but the bonuses barely cover the monthly transit.
  • An academy allows you to get closer with students: learn their Korean and English names, and you can spend one on one time with them. I spent hours with my students joking around with them, etc. I could even see them outside of class and say hello. When you teach an ENTIRE public school it’s hard to remember each face and name. When you teach a smaller portion of a school at an academy you can make better connections with your students.
  • When there’s a problem with your apartment sometimes nothing happens. And your apartment (EPIK or academy) can be really crappy depending on how many teachers have used it before you. When I had a problem in my apartment my director had it fixed within the week I asked. I never had any issues. It really does vary school to school though.
  • Vacations: EPIK is WAY better for vacations. I think you get the majority of August off and the majority of January. At an academy the most you’ll get is 5 days in winter and 5 days in summer. If you have a good school. I am jealous of the EPIK vacation time. Second only to the university vacation time (like 10 weeks!!)
  • Bonuses: maybe $100 more, if that, plus your settlement bonus from EPIK. You’ll get more there but not much more than you would at an academy.
  • EPIK has the cushioning that is safe, but it’s not where you’ll make the most money, EPIK is a long-standing program with a good reputation so it’s more secure than most academies but some academies have been around for many years. My academy, though unknown to most foreigners, is pretty famous in Busan and has been around for 16 years.
  • If you want to make more money in EPIK you have to be working in a rural area which sucks most of the time. Being the only foreigner in a small town can be draining on the most confident of person. EPIK in a rural area can be super rewarding but also really difficult. Not for the weak hearted that’s for sure.
  • From what’s been going around the internet: the EPIK program is on the way out. This program was not meant to last. Each year there are more and more schools cut from the program due to lack of funding. It’s sad really.
  • Recently I’ve seen that the EPIK program is really discriminatory against tattoos. From a thread on reddit, several new applicants to EPIK were rejected right away and the one common factor: they all had tattoos. Or they all were crap at writing an essay, the jury is still out.

I just want to get my opinion out there! I’m not bitter that I got rejected from EPIK. I  was sad when I first found out, but also happy I got to work at my school. My school was wonderful and I could not have asked for a better first place to teach at! I think there are a lot of misconceptions about hagwons/hakwons/academies in Korea and before working at one myself I had my own reservations. Take your time, ask questions, and don’t feel rushed into anything. If it doesn’t feel right then it probably isn’t.  Check out Facebook for groups like: hagwon blacklist (bad schools in Korea), and Teachers in Korea. It’s full of people who have done the jobs you want to do. Trust your instincts and ask others for help!

Sorry for my lack of posting, I’m still adjusting to life in Canada again. I’ll have some more posts up soon! Thanks for your patience, I love you guys!

Until next time,
B.

4

Home.

This post is a few weeks in the making. I had three posts up for my anniversary weekend, I should have staggered them so that I had some content going up while my life was going crazy. If you haven’t guessed from the title: I’m home. I’m home in Canada and I’m happy as a clam…ada. Now let’s talk about this in one of my favourite blogging styles; story time!

I’m home after a whirlwind year in Korea. For a time I was sure it was not going to be my last, but now I’m not too sure. I’ve met some amazing people during my time in Korea and I’ll always be thankful for them.

The last week of October rushed by. I had a quick beginning of the week, explaining to my classes it would be one of the last times they saw me, then introducing the new teacher to each and every class, and basically training her in two days. Not to mention two of those days were the school Halloween parties! SO much fun but not the common teaching time. Not nearly enough time but we had to deal with what we had… Which included a crash course in all things Academy on Friday evening. I talked until I couldn’t talk anymore and then we went out for drinks and more conversation. I hope my replacement, Ros, does great in Hwamyeong. I loved it a lot and I loved my school. I shed some tears when I left and my coworkers were so kind (cake and presents, like my birthday!!!). It was really hard to leave them, but this is what I have to do…

My final weekend in Busan was great. It was Halloween! Alice and I had dakgalbi at the best place in Busan, and then we met up with Megan and Oliver in Seomyeon for some soju at the Penis Bar. I would’ve felt incompletely doing anything else on my last weekend, to be honest. Then we finished off the night with some noraebang and snacks. It was a great evening! Until, of course, the taxi driver called me fat and told me I needed to diet. Man. I thought I could have a super happy last weekend but of course, someone had to ruin it… At least I tried to not let it bother me too much, and I still enjoyed my last few days in Busan.

I met up with some friends on Sunday evening and had a delicious BBQ dinner, followed by an amazing chocolate bingsu from Sulbing, the perfect final meal in Korea. Thankfully it wasn’t my last because Gillian, Megan and I had a delicious lunch at The Agit on Monday morning. I was happy to see all the people I cared about in Korea, and the byes were tough but I know it won’t be the last time I see most of them. I’ll be looking forward to my trips to California and New Zealand, so you guys better be ready to put me up ;). More on that stuff in a later post but for now, you guys know who you are, I love you and appreciate you and miss you lots! See you soon!

I packed everything up, had a bunch of stuff thrown out by the cleaning lady, but my apartment was sparkling and ready for the new teacher to move in. I shipped one more box home, and said bye to my coworkers one last time, and then we were off to the airport. My director made some funny jokes, thanked me for my work, and helped me to the check in desk. I was flying out of Gimhae Airport, which is super small, but since it was an international flight I still got there 3 hours early.

Of course, I was too early. The check in desk did not even open until 4:50pm, and I was there over an hour early. My flight was at 7:05pm, so I had a lot of waiting to do. I made friends with a girl in line, and we passed the time quickly. A few hundred dollars in overweight/extra baggage fees later, I was waiting at my gate. My trip home was starting and I couldn’t have been more excited. Until I realized my phone was not where I thought it was. I emptied my backpack, and dug through my carry on before realizing my phone was nowhere to be found. Distressed, I approached the Asiana staff member that was helping with our flight. She instantly took me over to the service desk where they had a staff member take me around the entire airport to search for my phone. I was treated so nicely and taken through security in a flash, and we finally found my phone waiting for me at the service desk. I shed a few thankful tears and gave the girls who helped me some chocolate for their help. I sat back down, one hour of waiting passed due to my phone emergency, and waited for my boarding time.

The flight from Busan to Guangzhou was only 3 hours, was had a simple meal and it was a quiet old plane.They only showed one movie but it was dubbed entirely in Chinese with Korean subtitles. I tucked into a new book and the flight flew by (no pun intended). We handed in Guangzhou and hopped on a humid stuffy bus to the terminal. After going through some extreme security I found my gate in the bowels of the airport… What’s next is my writing during the time in Guangzhou. I was a bit emotional but grabbing my pen and notebook helped me deal with it. Here’s what I wrote:

This is easily the worst airport I’ve ever been in. Worse than the shitty construction-riddled LAX with no signs… I found my gate in the musty bowels of the airport. It hasn’t been updated since the 80’s, or at least that’s how it appears, and it smells that way too. It’s honestly just the lower gates (A1-6) because the upper gates are all brightly lit and around nice smelling foods and coffee shops. But of course, a 15 hour International flight to JFK airport deserves to be boarded in the worst area. Maybe I’m just eager to get home, I’m writing this down while sitting in the dim light of the terminal. I was trying to psyche myself up for the trip so I could think about all the things in my near future… Here’s what I came up with:

Home is…
-Catching up with friends after not seeing them for ~1 year
-Eating familiar foods at familiar places
-Baking!
-Taking a nice long bath (without other naked women, but I still love you jimjilbangs)
-Buying clothing that fits
-Smiling at people and having them smile back
-Trusting others. (I tried to give someone in Korea the 400w they needed for a drink at Starbucks -they were holding up a line about 5 people- and she wouldn’t take it. Swallow your pride and accept the 40 cents. I just wanted you to stop wasting everyone’s time because you didn’t bring any cash with you)
-Watching TGIT with my momma
-Slower wifi
-Good morning kisses 😀
-Chats with my every talking niece
-Chapman’s ice cream
-PEROGIES!
-Running into people you know (and sometimes mutually avoid).
-People who know you unlike anyone else
-People eager to hear all the details of your life in another country.

I may or may not have found nirvana in the airport: an abandoned desk area where I can stretch out, put my feet up, and colour my adult colouring book…

It was a great hour and a half wait for the boarding to be called. No one bothered me (after the yelling Chinese couple left) and I was alone and so so happy. If I end up back there, for whatever reason, I know where I’m waiting out my boarding time. The 15 hour China Southern flight actually went without a hitch and with a few hours of sleep. I watched a movie or two, finished a book, and overall had a good flight. The in-flight entertainment on the China Southern Flight was one of the best systems I’ve ever used. Touch screen, lots of movies and other things, it was awesome! The 15 hour flight flew by and before I knew it, I was chitchatting with the border guards in NYC and then boarding my flight to Toronto. The plane from NYC to Toronto was hilarious in comparison to the giant plane I flew on from China to NYC. It was a quick flight, less than an hour, and before I knew it I was reunited with my family. Many hugs and breakfast later, I was settling in nicely to my new home.

I’m home now, meeting with some friends during the week before I start back at work next week. I love retail and I’m excited to get back to it before I buckle down and look for a job in my field. So what does me being home mean about my blog? Well, I’m still here. I’m going to be here as long as I have an audience, and as long as I enjoy doing this.

Bear with me, I’m going to keep traveling and find the dynamicness in every city I end up in.

Until next time,
B.