Human Trafficking
Human Trafficking
Ms Parker in Korea!

Ms Parker in Korea!

Friday, January 30, 2009

New Blog...

New adventures, new country, new blog:

Sunday, January 04, 2009


Goodbye Korea. Goodbye ajummas and ajosshis. Goodbye girls who wear shorts in winter. Goodbye kimbap, kimchi, ramyan, chapjae, veggie mandu. Goodbye weird brand names that I won't see elsewhere (Ask Enquired?). Goodbye random children saying hello. Goodbye scooters that pass you on the sidewalk. Goodbye tiled rooftops. Goodbye wall of ass. Goodbye bent over halmonis with silver teeth. Goodbye taxi drivers that smell like ginseng. Goodbye hangeul. Goodbye Yudal. Goodbye Kimbap Nara. Goodbye Dak galbi. Goodbye soju. Goodbye chunners and man won. Goodbye the feeling of understanding or being understood. Goodbye Samsung and Hyundae everything. Goodbye small white or black cars (and rarely blue or yellow ones). Goodbye Konglish. Goodbye circular logic. Goodbye temples. Goodbye big bronze bells. Goodbye colourfully painted pagodas. Goodbye neon lights. Goodbye norae bangs. Goodbye boybands. Goodbye random gifts and service-eu. Goodbye newbies and lifers. Goodbye giving directions to people using a million different landmarks. Goodbye miming in the post office to buy stamps. Goodbye my awesome cellphone. Goodbye PC bangs. Goodbye skinny cigarettes. Goodbye spitting on sidewalks and being pushed out of the way. Goodbye recycling everywhere, even in McDonald's. Goodbye Mokpo and Suncheon and Gwangju. Goodbye Yeosu and Wando and Seoul. Goodbye Gyeongju and Jinju and Busan. Goodbye mountains like Jirisan and Wolchulsan. Goodbye quiet beaches (outside of beach season). Goodbye self-camming in public. Goodbye cherry blossom season. Goodbye yellow dust. Goodbye barking dogs, and mini-puppies carried as fashion accessories. Goodbye Hello Kitty everywhere. Goodbye cheap and weird socks. Goodbye young guys dressed to the nines. Goodbye technology that is ahead of its time. Goodbye squat toilets. Goodbye heated bidets with blowdryers. Goodbye flower arrangements that are out of this world. Goodbye almost being hit by a car every day. Goodbye cheap buses, in and out of the city. Goodbye the uniformity of appearance. Goodbye stripey scarves and sparkly t-shirts. Goodbye cafeteria food, including tentacle surprise. Goodbye Spam in everything. Goodbye hot goguma on the street. Goodbye fish shaped cookies. Goodbye ddeok. Goodbye metal chopsticks. Goodbye gochujang. Goodbye funny winter hats that look like animal heads. Goodbye Jeju. Goodbye "I don't know, lives in sea". Goodbye "It's Korean tradition". Goodbye annyeong haseyo and kamsahamnida. Goodbye Mr Kim and Mr Lee and Mrs Park and Mrs Oh. Goodbye Hite. Goodbye Homeplus and Emart. Goodbye fishing boats at 5 am and the Jeju ferry boat at 9:30 pm. Goodbye taeguki. Goodbye taekwondo. Goodbye flat-screen satellite TVs everywhere. Goodbye to the noise. Goodbye jimjilbang. Goodbye face masks. Goodbye ridiculous high heels (that I secretly covet). Goodbye mascots on street corners. Goodbye hanuiwan and acupuncture. Goodbye "good for health" and "good for stamina". Goodbye green tea in temple tea shops. Goodbye cranes hunting frogs in rice paddies. Goodbye bongo trucks. Goodbye ddong-chim. Goodbye being told how beautiful you are by strangers. Goodbye cheap eyeglasses. Goodbye to being waygook. Goodbye dabangs and double barber poles. Goodbye to weird Korean comedy programs on TV that involve hitting each other with inflated squeaky hammers. Goodbye "I'mfinethankyouandyou". Goodbye "Whel all you prom?". Goodbye to the crazy old men outside of the train station. Goodbye walking to the head of the line in a bank or post office because you have no idea where else to go. Goodbye lotus ponds. Goodbye amazing fireworks. Goodbye surprises every day. Goodbye quiz nights. Goodbye squeally musical instruments and wavering voices. Goodbye canned keyboard accompaniment. Goodbye French nights. Goodbye world travel. Goodbye Nami, Minsu, Thomas and the rest of the weird kids on the government approved CD-Roms for ESL. Goodbye "Maybe". Goodbye yes as no and no as yes. Goodbye friends from around the world ~ you have become our family.

Goodbye Taie-lun.

Goodbye Baginia.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

It's almost the end....

As a few of you may know, it can sometimes take me a few days or weeks to think through what I am going to write on my blog. Yes, there are plenty of entries that are just fired off in a few minutes, and there are ones that are simple recountings of the past weekend or whatever, or an excuse to post photos.... but then there are blog entries that I have reflected and ruminated on.

This is a combination of writing off the cuff as well as being something that's been on my mind for a few weeks.

I had planned to compare the experience of Korea to shopping at Tesco's/Homeplus... how you arrive to bowing and greetings, how everything seems just slightly different, how the food just isn't the same, with entire aisles in the grocery store containing nothing but rice, or pepper sauce, or live octopus in the meat section. I would have described the ladies dressed like cheerleaders who stand there with boxes of maxipads or shampoo and try to get you to buy insanely huge giftpacks. I would have written about men in white coats, yelling into badly tuned, crackly microphones about a sale on watermelon. I would have talked about special holidays, and the boxes of spam presented by women in traditional dress. There would have been something about the frustration of not being able to read a label, or of having a kid point at you and scream "Meeguk!" while his mother rammed her shopping cart into the back of your legs. I could have told you about the ridiculous music (gangsta rap in the grocery store, anyone?) or the fun "exercise time" when all the employees get together and do a mini-workout to annoying music. I could have talked about the great new foods I've discovered here: green tea noodles, green tea yogurt, flavourful apples, bags of baby bok choi, unidentifiable greens that became a staple of a lot of my cooking, as well as what I was missing: real cheese, real bread, cheap coffee. And then, when you get to the checkout, after all this wonderful service, including free things stuck to your purchases (a table cloth when you buy cereal, a set of bowls when you get instant coffee), you end up being pushed down the checkout aisle by a family buying nothing but ramen noodles, staring at what you're buying, while the cashier rapidly checks you through and there isn't even a bag boy.

All of this, in a nutshell, is Korea for me. Where you find a wonderful welcome, followed by noise and confusion, amazing discoveries, some embarrassment, but that, once you've paid, nobody is even going to help you carry your bags.

I would have written all that, and probably written it better, but I decided not to.

Instead, last night, after a lovely dak galbi meal with friends, followed by Ty and I posing for photos with a few of our favourite downtown business owners (the old lady who sells flowers, the bartender from Texas Moon, the dak galbi lady...), then a bit of soju, I jotted down a list of, well, I guess, advice for people coming to Korea -

This is to be taken with a grain of salt, or a shot of soju....

  • Wherever you end up in Korea, be it Busan or Seoul or the far-flung republic of Jeollanamdo, spend at least one weekend away from your town. Get on a cheap bus and wander around the country. No matter where you go, you will find cheap accomodation, cheap food, and something wonderfully hidden. The places that have the best memories for me are the places I've found that were off the beaten path... or that took a bit of effort to reach. Taking a weekend or two a month to explore will also keep you from spending every Friday and Saturday night drinking with the same people.
  • Allow yourself to feel culture shock without feeling guilty or evil about it. You don't have to apologize for not liking something that is unfamiliar... just don't spend all your time complaining about everything or you will alienate yourself from other possible experiences.
  • TRAVEL. You are next door to Japan and China. You are a short hop from Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. A few more hours, and you're in Australia, India, Nepal... Get out there. Yes, you are probably here to pay off debts, but what kind of memories will that zero balance give you? The world is a big place, and it's the right time to discover it.
  • Adopt an animal. Yes, it will be hard to balance your new dog or cat with your weekends away and your travel plans, but it's the one, true, concrete way that you can make a difference here. If you can't adopt, then donate your time or money to KAPS and their animal shelters. Also, answering the door with a big orange cat will keep the annoying daily visits from people who want to talk to you in broken English about Jesus to a minimum (Korean women seem to be very afraid of kitty cats).
  • Leave the country, your apartment, your school better than when you came.
  • Cultivate friendships with people you may not have had an affinity for back home, but don't make excuses for not being friends with people who may have different value systems. Just because you are a foreigner and living in a small town doesn't mean that you have to be friends with the person next door if you honestly don't want to.
  • You're a teacher. That's why you are here. Whether you approach your experience as a simple "gap year" to make some extra money, or the start of a career, don't disrespect what a lot of us take seriously - our students, our classrooms, our lesson plans....
  • Be kind to those who treat you right. Without the many people here who have helped me out, I would have been 100% lost. It *is* hard to get to a familiar level with certain Koreans but this past week, saying goodbye to people I've dealt with on a daily or weekly basis, has shown me that I will really be missed by a lot of the people in my neighbourhood... even if they don't know my name.
  • Keep an eye on your contract, your money, your rights. Don't back down because you think it's the "nice thing to do". If you don't stand up for yourself when you are being cheated or treated poorly, nobody else will, and things will just get worse.
  • Korea is uppy-downy world, as my friend Helen always said. There will be days when everything is wonderful and days when you would give anything to be able to leave. It's easy to say, "Just roll with it"... but it's not that easy. Remember the good (in a journal, or blog), acknowledge the bad (rant with friends), and keep in mind that you are entitled to both your negative and your positive feelings.
  • Don't do anything (like eating a dog that has been raised in appalling conditions, only to be beaten to death in the name of male sexual power) that you wouldn't do back home.
  • Love it, hate it.... just experience it!

End of lecture....

And yes, I will be following my own advice in a few days, when I arrive in Abu Dhabi....

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Moving, Phase 1

Well, yesterday we emptied and cleaned the entire apartment. Fallon, Wim and Nina were on hand to help us, with Zach stopping by as well to help Ty at the post office. I truly felt blessed to have these people around us, helping us with the heavy lifting and the emotional stress of the move.

We're having to ship more and more of our things because we can only carry 20kg each on the plane. Is this not the most ridiculous thing ever? Twenty kilos is NOTHING.

It's going well so far, we're living in Fallon's un-used apartment. The cats are either hiding under the bed (Sonagi) or lurking at the top of the wall unit like a Mountain Lion (Jakob). On Monday, we will pack them (and ourselves) up and head up to Seoul and then to the UAE.

Tomorrow we've got to sort more things out - what to ship, what to pack. Then Friday is the last day for things like closing bank accounts and such.

My school, in true inefficient Korean fashion, is paying me the money they owe me for my severance pay TWO WEEKS after I leave Korea. This money should have been in my account on Dec 24th, but since they are apparently unfamiliar with Korean labour laws, and/or can't read hangeul, they appeared to have messed up the final steps here. This is not money that only comes to ESL teachers, by the way, but every single employee in Korea is entitled to it.... just saying that it's not like a special process that only the waygook gets. As it's almost a holiday, you can imagine that nobody is answering their phones - add to this that the supervisor is currently on vacation, so she isn't necessarily checking her e-mails every day...

I guess it's the final confusing, miscommunicated, non-sensical Korean mess-up that I will have to deal with for a while (bring on the Emirati miscommunications from now on... woohoo!), and it will hopefully all work out in the end.

Tonight, yes, it is New Year's Eve. Nina and I are too tired to party with everyone else, so we're heading back to the apartment to relax and hang out together.

Best wishes for the new year, and may 2009 be one of happiness, health, prosperity and joy for you.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Three years...

Last night, Ty and I sat at our respective computers and read through a few of the archives of my blog.

I've had this thing for about 3 years now (since Jan 2006) and it's neat to see the evolution. I re-read posts where I talked about friends, weekend trips to temples, trips to different countries, funny "Only in Korea" moments, visitors from Canada, my pets, the teaching situation, and all the good and bad things that have happened since I first arrived.

As I read, it occured to me that I was very lucky to have come here when I did. I got to do everything that I set out to do: Travelling, paying down debts, escaping the "normal" life back home, and all within a lifestyle that allowed me to have a lot of fun while I added to my pedagogical portfolio.

We're only one week away from our fly-out date to the UAE (we leave Jan 5), and that date will mark the end of this blog. Once we get to Abu Dhabi, we'll have a few days there before we head to Madinat Zayed (it's better known as Beda Zayed or Bida Zayed - a google search on those terms will give you more information and pictures than searching for Madinat Zayed), where we will live in a hotel until our apartment is ready at the beginning of February.

I will certainly start up a new blog, but I doubt that it will be updated as frequently as this one has been. Still, it's a great way to remember the big and little events of my life over the past 3 years. Even if no one ever reads it, at least I have it for myself.

The apartment is a disaster - today we are taking suitcases and boxes to the post office to ship them off. Anything that is left here now is either being tossed, being left behind, or being packed.... and there is still a lot of stuff, or so it seems. Next Monday, we will leave Mokpo, each with a suitcase, a backpack and a cat.

So, for those who have been faithful readers, I guess I have to say "Thank you" for being a part of the journey, and I hope you enjoyed reading about all my different adventures out here. The UAE is going to be completely different from what I've had here, and I really just can't wait to get on with it!

One more week....

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Seoul, Christmas, Moving and Packing....

Well, I decided to leave the wedding post on top for a bit, just because well, it's kinda important, but now I have to update the past week...

As romantic, barefoot, hippie weddings on a hilltop aren't recognized as legal marriages in Korea (actually, no marriages except those done in a district office are recognized - not even church weddings or the hideous "wedding hall event" type things), we were legally married in Seoul the following Monday (December 22). This process was, well, less romantic, as we had to first go to the South African embassy and get Ty's letter of no impediment (proving he isn't already married - it's the document we've been waiting for since October), then to the Canadian embassy where we had to fill out 2 different forms in triplicate and have them stamped. Then, we had to get to the Jongno gu office and fill out another form, while a few of our forms were stamped and signed - our actual wedding certificates. And then *ta-da*, it was all legal.

We celebrated by having Indian food for lunch, getting Ty's visit visa for the UAE (yay!), taking a nap, and then having Mexican food for supper (mojitos! Yay!). Seoul was really really just bitter cold, which quashed our plans to have a bit of a touristy afternoon. The thing with embassies is that they only seem to be open 2 hours a day for their own people, so we had to do as much as possible in the morning, then wait until the next day to continue the process.

The next day, we had to take our wedding certificate back to the Canadian embassy and have it stamped again (so that it's all legally recognized in Canada - there is a different process for South Africa that we'll take care of later), then off to the UAE embassy so that it could be notarized by them so that we can legally live together there and so that I can sponsor Ty for a residence visa.

We got to the UAE embassy and were told that we had to get it legalized by Korean Foreign Affairs. We were given a phone number (so that our cab driver could call to find out where the building was) and sent on our way with the warning that the embassy closed at noon. It was 10:20.

The great thing with taxis in Seoul is that most of them have very advanced GPS machines on their dashboards... full colour 3D screens. All you do is type in the phone number and, like a video game, you get a virtual showing of your route. Most taxis also have big "Free Interpretation" stickers on their windows, meaning that if you need service in a language other than Korean, you can request it.


Taxi drivers in Seoul are, presumably, not from Seoul, have never driven in Seoul, and don't know where *anything* is. Small aside: We also had a cab driver who sang "Silent Night" to us as he drove and another one who couldn't find one building we were looking for on Monday, so he stopped a police car and asked them for directions.... which was awesome! Some of them will admit this, but only after about 10 minutes of tooth sucking and playing with the GPS. Then, you have to get out of the cab and find another one, so that you can repeat the whole process, which we did three times outside the UAE embassy before finding a guy who would actually drive us where we needed to go. It was now 10:55.

Once we got to the office (it's now after 11:10), we were greeeted with the inevitable giggling by the educated adult woman behind the counter, presumably because we weren't Asian. Therefore, it was hilarious. Maybe I should mention that we were both coming down with some kind of weird flu and looked like pale narcoleptic zombies with dark circles under our eyes. Maybe she was laughing at that. Anyway, being faced with a Canadian and a South African with a Korean wedding certificate that needed stamping for the Emirates almost caused a rift in the spacetime continuum, which meant we had to get yet another stamp (from a different office, happily located only one floor up), before we could get the rest of it done.

We finally got back to the UAE embassy at... 11:55! Woooohooo! I really think that Ty and I would win the Amazing Race if we ever did it....

Feverish and shivering, we headed back to Mokpo, instead of spending another day in Seoul.... besides, we had to get back for Christmas.

We celebrated Christmas eve with a small group of close friends (pretty much the same people as had been at our wedding), watched the Grinch - the cartoon - and listened to Wim read "The Littlest Angel", in between a rather hilarious version of Jenga. Not the most traditional way to celebrate, but then, nothing here is the same as home.

The rest of the week was dominated by our actual packing up of things for the move. We are going to ship three suitcases and one box of stuff - books, a sound system, some clothes, and all our souvenirs from travelling here, there and everywhere. It might take up to 2 months, and we're crossing our fingers that everything makes it there. We've had to downsize (again) on some of our treasures, as there are things that might not make it through UAE customs.

With just over a week left before we fly out, and only two days left in this apartment (we'll be staying in a friend's empty apartment until Jan 5), it's suddenly becoming a lot more real. We're leaving. We're going to a new place. We're in this together.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Wedding

Alright... here's the blog you've been waiting for: Our Wedding!

Saturday morning dawned grey, cold, windy and cloudy...not the best weather for an outdoor wedding, and somewhat of a let-down after a week of sunny weather. We spent a very chilled-out morning, drinking coffee and praying for sun until the Suncheon crew (Nina, Patty, Melissa and Chris) arrived. Nina gave us pretty silver necklaces (V&T and T&V), and I had a surprise phone call from my Mom!!!

Nina stayed behind to do my hair and makeup and help me get dressed, while the others headed off to do the final preparations at Wim's house. We headed off, a bit late, to get a cake and then to the florists. Hey... it's *my* day, I'm allowed to be late, right?

We arrived at Wim's house and were met by Alex who escorted us up a forest path to a clearing. My first view of everyone was a group of people, all armed with cameras - it did turn into the paparazzi wedding, as each guest took about a million photos - and Ty, standing in a suit, barefoot, under a group of trees that had all been festooned with bunches of flowers.

I'm crying...

Suddenly, it occured to me what exactly was going on, and I just started crying. We stood together, clutching each other's hands, facing the flowers in the trees.... Wim arrived, Stu stood beside Ty, Nina stood beside me, and it all began...

Breaking the wishbone

It was a short ceremony: Wim read a part of a Navajo poem, we broke one of our precious wishbones, we exchanged vows and rings, and then... it was done!

You may now kiss...

Our friends took turns posing with us...

Melissa and ChrisFallon and WimDave and CamilleNina and Stu (our witnesses)

... and we all headed back down to Wim's house (that had been beautifully decorated by Fallon), for speeches, champagne, wine and cheese (and birthday cake - for Chris and Nina). Ty and I danced to a piano version of "Nothing Else Matters" by Metallica (it was a whole CD of heavier music done on piano... very unique!), and Alex gave us a picture he'd done of us.

The rest of the afternoon was wonderfully relaxed. People came and went, and eventually, we ended up with a very fun going-away party/reception, with quite a few of our closest and dearest friends from our time in Korea.

It was exactly what we wanted: small, simple, romantic, meaningful, and rather hippie-ish. I'd not have wanted it any other way (mmm, except maybe a bit sunnier), and I was really touched by how our close friends came together to help us organize the day (whether it was photos, flowers, bringing wine, or general helping out, they ended up being participants in the festivities as well).
Alex, Fallon, Chris, Melissa, Patty, Nina, me, Ty, Stu, Zach, Luke, Camille and Dave...
Wim is taking the photo.

Of course, we were both missing our families and friends from back home... don't worry! There's a wedding video (shot by Dave), and about a million pics of everyone. The photos here are favourites from Stu and Zach, but there are others that still have to be sorted, uploaded, or that can already be found on Facebook.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Somebody's Getting Married....

I'm going to let the magic of the Muppets explain this...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Baginia, bye-bye, Seosan! ㅜ.ㅜ

These days, time is both flying and dragging. It's hard to believe that it's only been about a month since I did the interview for the UAE job and, somehow, today is my last day at Seosan Elementary School.

The kids have been wonderful ~ giving me little gifts, or cards, or telling me how much they are going to cry when I leave (ㅜ.ㅜ <-- that's a Korean crying face). Surprisingly, things have run very smoothly with my school administration. It still takes a bit of, well, nagging on my part to get stuff done, but all in all, it's not as bad as I'd expected.

In preparation for our departure, we had an apartment sale last Sunday. We invited people to drop $10 in a box, then leave with whatever they could carry: books, clothes, household items... We donated the money to a girl named Nerine, a South African ESL teacher who was burned up pretty badly in an apartment fire. The outlook had been pretty grim, and she died after about 2 weeks in a coma. The good news for the family, however, is that private donations have helped cover most of the medical and transportation bills. You can read more about it here.

I sorta kinda pretty much have a departure date: January 5. We may end up living in a hotel until our apartment is ready (!!), and I've been in touch with another teacher who works in the same city (same school?) as I will be. It's making me nervous, but in a good way.

And... in the spirit of saving the best for last:

Tomorrow is our wedding day. We're going to celebrate with a few close friends before our big going away party. This is going to be followed, on Monday, by a 3-day trip to Seoul to, basically, run around to various embassies and get the forms all stamped so that it's a real-live official marriage. We are also collecting donations (in lieu of gifts or cards ~ we are downsizing for our move, right?) for KAPS, the Korean Animal Protection Society. If you are reading this, and not in Korea, and would like to , please donate to your local Humane Society or SPCA.

And really really saving the best for last:

Last night, Ty wrote "Will you marry me?" on our window in dry-erase marker, got down on one knee and really proposed (re-proposed?) with an engagement ring. It's a rather non-traditional choice ~ a hammered silver band with a hammered gold band around it, symbolizing the path of life with all its ups and downs ~ and I love it.

Photos to come...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I signed up for a life less ordinary, I should start living it that way...

The title is a quote from a girl I knew back in Suncheon. Her name escapes me, but it came up during a conversation where we were talking about how our life paths didn't exactly match what our friends were doing, what other people saw as "normal". It's about not just being at peace with, but embracing the somewhat strange life choices one has made.

And so...

In about three weeks, we're going to be heading to the UAE. While it's certainly an exciting time, it's also one that is full of stress for both of us. It's also a pretty exciting time...

We're getting married.

Like, for real.

Like. OH MY GOD.

Next Saturday, we'll have a small ceremony with some of our closest friends from our time in Korea (followed by our Going Away party/Reception).

The following Monday/Tuesday, we'll run around to various embassies in Seoul, trying to get appropriate stamps that will make it all legal. We only really have those two days to get everything done, as the South African embassy is closed from Dec 24 to Jan 2!!!

There are, of course, other things happening. Tomorrow, we're hoping to sell off/give away most of the things we have in our apartment. This is, naturally, making me think of the last time I did this - in Montreal 3 years ago. The downsizing is liberating, and we will be able to ship things to the UAE, but I'm still absolutely floored by how much one acquires just through the normal processes of life.

Speaking of shipping things, the cats are, literally, requiring more paperwork than the two of us put together. We know that we can't leave them behind here (not in a feline-unfriendly country where the ex-pat population is so in flux). Ty has been in communication with an animal transport company in Incheon, and a vet clinic in Abu Dhabi, and our own vet in Mokpo... I'm really lucky that I'm not going through all this alone.

And then there are other things too. When you leave Korea, you have a certain process to go through, including getting your pension back (that's on my list of things-to-do next week) and making sure that your school has paid up all the money they owe you before you close your bank account. I've watched friends go through this "simple" process, which inevitably turns into a most complicated and stressful time for them.

As the final day of term, and the first day of vacation for my school, is Dec 24, and in the interest of making it simpler for them, I proposed this idea: Make Dec 24 my last day of work, but let me keep my apartment until Dec 31. This way, I thought, everybody wins - they wouldn't have to pay me for the final week of December, and I would a) know that the paperwork was completed, with time to spare if/when they forget some key element and b) we wouldn't have to worry about where we would be living until we left, sometime in the first week of January. As no good deed goes unpunished, the reply from my school was that if my last day of work was on the 24th, I'd also have to leave the apartment on that day... Yup. Getting evicted at Christmas? No thank you!

I've taken back my offer and told them that my last official day of work will be the 31st but, as absolutely nobody speaks English at my school, and as everyone is on vacation from the 24th, I still don't know how it will all work out. Needless to say, this is not the time that I want to hear the ever-popular Korean "Maybe" from anyone!

Getting married, moving, changing jobs, going to another country - these are all complicated enough when you are in your own country and can make sense of what everyone is saying to you....

Of course, there's also the fact of saying goodbye to people who have been my friends, and the country that has been my home, for over two and a half years. I've always been on the other side of it, and while I am super-excited about experiencing a new place (and returning to the Middle East!), it's going to be very difficult to say goodbye to my friends.

Finally, there's the general freak-out in my brain about the new job. What if, after all this, I get there and I can't do it? Gaaaaah... can't even go there right now.

Wow... this has been a really long blog. And a cathartic one too. Thanks for reading and letting me blow off steam.

In short, here's what the next few weeks look like:
  • Marrying the man I love (yay!)
  • Legally marrying the man I love (yay!)
  • Getting rid of stuff (boo? yay?)
  • Convincing the cats that they'd better be good, or they'll be back on the mean streets of Asia...
  • Saying goodbye to my friends (boo!)
  • Saying goodbye to my students - it's impossible not to get attached after over a year! (boo! Except for the bad kids - yay!)
  • Packing and shipping stuff (boo!)
  • Packing and carrying stuff to Seoul (boo!)
  • Arguing with my school over outgoing paperwork (boo!)
  • Moving to a new country (yay!)
  • Arriving in a new country, getting to the new apartment, unpacking, figuring out why our suitcases are in Madagascar and not Abu Dhabi, sneaking the cats in, getting settled and exploring a new place (boo! yay!)
  • Starting a new job where I will put my experience, education and training to better use...(gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!)
  • Heh... enjoying UAE school holidays that start about a week after we arrive (yay!)
I don't think I can put into words just how amazing it is to know that Ty and I are doing this together. It's the first step of our journey together, and a future that will probably be a bit less ordinary....