Saturday, February 23, 2013

From the "Love Motel" to the Apartment

Ahh, now I can finally settle in.

First I flew to California, then to Seoul, Korea. The final 13 hour flight was on Singapore Airlines, which I recommend. Comfortable seats, tasty snacks, good meals and a large selection of recent movies and television shows. My flight wasn't full, so I had three seats to myself. It was as good as it was going to get!

In Seoul, it took about 20 minutes for me to find the guy with my name on the sign. He arrived a bit late. The man gave me a bus ticket and the next thing I knew, my big bags were under a bus and we were on our way to Suwon. The teacher I replaced hadn't left yet, which meant I had to stay elsewhere for a few days. Yes, the school took care of that.

Nice sofa! Unfortunately, the lips and the bed were a bit hard
We got off the bus, got into his car and drove to my hotel. It was really what they call a "Love Motel," a common sight in Korea. Most young Koreans live with their parents until they get married. When they date, the logistics of love become tricky. So, a love motel is the perfect place to ... ahem ... really get to know your boyfriend or girlfriend. I know what you're thinking. Be assured that they're not dirty or grimy at all. Or, at least none that I've seen are like that -- and I've stayed in quite a few.

My room came with with a large bed, a sofa made to look like lips, a computer for internet access, and an HD TV with the standard channels plus softcore porn (hardcore porn is banned in Korea). These places always give out bags of goodies which include condoms, douches, perfumes and skin creams. My room also had a message-type bathtub, a shower and a sit-down shower.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

My Life in Buenos Aires: A Throwback Post

While I'm getting settled in Korea, let's talk about my very first adventure overseas: Buenos Aires, Argentina!

The famous "El caminito" In the Boca neighborhood

Here is my experience as an exchange student in Buenos Aires, along with pictures!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Time to Go!

So, tomorrow I finally fly to Seoul! So, how will the process go? Let me explain:

Still trying to sort out my luggage
  1. Pack all my bags -- One suitcase, one mountain backpack, a small carry-on bag and a large purse
  2. Book a shared van to the airport ($47! )
  3. Get my paperwork in order -- my recent medical treatments, papers for dad to mail/turn in, bring extra documents for the school in Korea, etc.
  4. Say my goodbyes
  5. Head for the airport early in the morning (leaving around 5:00am!)
  6. Board two flights and arrive in Seoul
  7. Find a guy holding a sign with my name on it
  8. Get a nice ride to a hotel in the city I'm working in
  9. Hope I don't get sick again, fail the medical, then get sent home :-)
I hope it's a smooth ride, with no airport hang ups and that I'm able to find the guy at the airport! Fun fact, last time my school also sent a guy holding a sign with my name on it, but I couldn't find him. Instead, the guy stopped the one other black girl who happened to be on the plane. We looked nothing alike, of course. As I was frustrated with the new currency and trying to use the phone, that girl approached me and asked me if I was [my name]. "Mmm.... yeah there's a guy over there looking for you." Funny, but I was relieved.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Connecting with the Family

So, I am due in Korea for phase II in about a week. It's hard to tell how I feel about it. I'm not especially excited this time. Perhaps you can say that I'm a little indifferent. I'm not looking forward to the flights since I despise flying. It will take about 20 hours of total traveling time.

To wrap up my home experience I've been visiting some relatives. First, my mom invited my step-brother to her house. I came over and my mom cooked dinner for us. I was delighted to see fish, crabcakes, mac & cheese, deviled eggs and chicken. It was great getting a chance to talk to him again after all this time. It was like catching up with an old friend. And he is a friend. It's a shame that we can't get together more often.

Mom, me, my step-brother and his dad

Next, I visited my maternal grandparents. I had already seen them a couple of times before, but this time I had a gift that I wanted to hand them in person. They know what I had been up to for the past few years but in reality they hadn't seen any pictures. As a result, I created a photo book for them telling them my story. Inside, there were the pictures they hadn't seen along with information about each place and I included a world map to show them where I have been. I loved getting the chance to finally show them and explain everything I had seen and done. It gave them a visual to something they'd only been hearing about. I mailed the same book to my other grandparents as well. I'm happy to report that they all loved their gifts.