Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Wow. Woops.

In all honesty I kind of forgot this blog existed and that I'm supposed to be diligently updating it every day if not every week. I'm sorry, it's a shame I haven't been as good because my life has been full of many dramatic ups and downs. I've gotten used to, fallen in love with, fallen out of love with, and finally accepted my work here in Korea. It is both rewarding and difficult. I love almost all my students, I love interacting with them, I love an interest in learning. But, I hate some in-office aspects of life, some of the courses, and my schedule can be really hard at times.
While here I've also made some friends, mostly because of the cafe I frequent, but also through other friends and such. Of course two friends from university days live in Korea so it's great getting to see them from time to time. I haven't seen them much recently though because I got a boyfriend.
For most people this is semi-big news (as big of news as men can be which, let's be real, there are more important things in life) because I went to an all girls school and I'm suuuuuupes awkward around guys. I want nothing more than to post photos of me and him together and tell everyone all the details I can about him and what we do together.
Unfortunately I can't do any of this for a little bit of time. But I promise by summer. Or by mid-summer, I will be able to post photos and I will clarify why all the secrecy had to happen etc. etc.
I can tell you he is younger than me and he loves me very dearly.

Since we have open classes coming up here at my hagwon, I have to go to bed because I'm burned out and super tired and stressed. But I will upload photos of my life so far, maybe photos that sum up the time I've missed b/c of lack of blogging? And maybe I'll start doing this thing again :) If the demand is there.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Yes, I'm Alive

I feel like I told SOOOO many people I would keep my blog updated and now I feel like I'm letting them down. SO I've been meaning to write a blog post but in all honesty I'm so exhausted all the time. This is a lot to adjust to so I hope you will be patient with me.
aside from crazy eyes this pretty much sums up my relationship with this kid. I love him!
CCTV all day every day
Miss that cut out (its gone now)
A cafe I used to frequent when I was staying in that area.
Seoul Forest.
Birthday party
Birthday parties 
Found and finally had the confidence to go inside the taco bell. Worth it. 
Seoul Forest again (I love it). 
In front of Lotte Hotel near City Hall. I love how the trees are still SO orange! 
When I stumbled on the lantern festival.
This kid. 
Seoul Forest. 
Just a little Texas representation. 
The lantern festival part II. 

Also this past weekend I went clubbing in Gangnam and it was so awesome. Also this weekend Rebekah visited and we had such a good time. We went to Seoul Forest and hung out in cafe's and went to Hongdae it was great. Other things that happened:

- My dress caught on fire (it is literally just like in the movies)
- The Mcdonalds delivery man and I had a really intense moment that Rebekah creeped on hard core in the background 
- I became obsessed with Taeyang from Big Bang and I don't know how but now that's a thing and I kind of hate myself for it b/c white people that get SUPER into Korea/ Japan/ any Asian country can be super annoying and weird so yeah. But look where we are that's the way she goes.
- My diet right now mostly consists of rice and kimchi and that really isn't a lie or an exaggeration like it's what I had for lunch and dinner.
- I've had so much kimchi that now I can tell what's good and what's not good isn't that weird (probably not weird to Koreans but I used to never taste a difference)
- Mosquitos here actually don't die ever and they are still all inside the building and there are some in my apartment and I really hate it like they NEED to die
- They don't really heat water in bathrooms here so when you wash your hands in winter it really blows
- I don't know what I'll be doing or where I'll be for Christmas and that's so weird.
- I got a Korean phone finally (and the adorable lil' guy at the phone place gave me a free phone case insisting that this was NOT normal policy but it was his gift to me and now I have to pass by every day and it's only a lil awk) (//・_・//)
- I danced w/ a cutie at da club

Sunday, November 2, 2014

First Week in Seoul...

And I can't share any pictures with you yet because my apartment doesn't have wifi right now and I need to buy a wireless router! Go to my instagram page if you want to see some immediately.

The 48 hours before I left for Seoul and the 48 hours after I arrived in Seoul were some of the hardest days of my life and that is no lie I don't want to tiptoe around it and try to help myself forget it. It was so hard. I began to seriously question my sanity slash my decision to come here. I kept thinking about saying goodbye to family, how long a year was, and realizing I knew hardly anything about the city or the language. I was seriously on edge. SO MANY tears were shed those days. And then arriving, it was so overwhelming and I was so tired (emotionally and physically) from the trip that I just couldn't deal. The city felt dirty and people stare at me so much and the neighborhood was old. The first place I stayed (this is my first night in my new apartment) was right off of the river and while so so lovely a location, was older and had so many mosquitos. So the week I slept there, I truly slept horribly. Also in the first 48 hours I was here (I keep saying the first 48 in my head like the TV show does it) I got lost and walked the entire day and cried alone in the street twice, AND almost got locked out of my apartment for an entire night. Also, woke up to a cockroach crawling on the wall. Lezbereal it was really hard.

So to break it up easily, I'll quickly run through good thing bad thing and go to bed to prep for my first real day of work aka I'm going to freak out tomorrow morning.

- I have grown to really quickly LOVE my neighborhood. I get to live right by this gorgeous river with trees on either side and my new place is a 3 minute walk to a really lively and fun shopping area.
- I love my ward (local church) and actually know one of the missionaries in it from home! Not everyone speaks English but everyone tries and I need to learn Korean asap.
- I'm slowly exploring Korean restaurants and venturing into eating alone 
- I've gotten to meet up with friends and make some new ones from work
- The city has really gorgeous mountains and scenery
- I have so many places to walk and explore
- Cafes here = amazing 

- Kids bring up my weight almost every day. "Teacher why are you fat?" "Do you like to eat food?" "Why is your stomach so big?" things like this. That has been really difficult mentally and makes me really anxious every day.
- Some drama has already gone down between co-workers and inadvertently myself. So Monday will be awkward.
- Also some co-workers are just straight up jerks? So that's a bummer and really just like ugh why can't people not be self-righteous/ douchey 
- I teach some really difficult children
- Everyone from the school who I'm friends with is leaving soon. 
- My feet are SO blistered and sore 
- Homesick
- No chipotle

Well I'm going to bed. But irl I'm totally not eating enough food. I walk way too much and eat way too little. You might wonder why this matters, if I'm overweight this will help, but when I say I'm not eating enough I mean 4 real it's bad. I need to work on having real breakfast and dinner. Not nothing and ramen. Also, I really really need cream of wheat and oatmeal, what was I thinking.

Miss you all, comment if you have questions. Photos soon! So many good ones. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

I'm Packin' My Bags (King Curtis Voice)

No pretty pictures for this post, guys! Sorry about that, it's just a quick little jot about the goings on in my life lately so I can look back and remember exactly how I felt before going to Seoul (hint--- SCARED and SAD!)

I've said pretty much all my goodbyes. Sometimes I feel like I'm making this more dramatic on myself than I need to. But I take these kinds of things very seriously and always view a major life change as some sort of death and almost mourn it. I'm weird like that. But in a way, a part of my life is dying, I will never be this age with my family set up in this way, in this position in my life ever again. I've had a lot of fun and I will miss being this Julia. Because we all change as we get older, and I'll never have this mind set with these thoughts and goals again. So that's a little sad. And of course there are so many other things running through my mind, fears about the job, if I'll be a good teacher, how I'll make friends, getting used to the city, etc.

But at the moment, I am at peace. Actually, so far waking up has been the saddest part of the day for me. I've lived in this home almost my entire life. I know this bed and this room so well, they are a part of me. I'm used to the way the light filters in, the sound of the birds that live in our big tree, the feeling of my pillow. It is very comforting. Waking the first day up after traveling, especially after a long travel overseas, is very disconcerting. There have been many times I've woken up and forgotten where I am and I panic for several seconds. Sometimes I wake up and I think I'm home and I'll remember I'm somewhere else.

So yes, tomorrow is my last day here in Dallas. I've had so much fun the past few weeks, hanging out with friends and family. My Goodbye Texas Food Tour 2014 has left me with food hangovers on more than one occasion and I fear the scale at this point. So a large part of me is excited to leave (but saying that feels like a betrayal) simply because I'll feed myself better. Today I had lunch at Joe's with my dad, Fogo de Chao for dinner... yesterday we had Babe's Chicken for dinner... I have had chipotle like every day for two months hoping to ween myself off of it (I FAILED). So yeah, I'm feeling pretty sick as of late.

I leave Thursday morning everyone! And I arrive with literally like 5 suitcases Friday night. As soon as I can get internet, I'll update you again. I would appreciate everyone's thoughts, prayers, well wishes. See you in Seoul!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Countdown Begins... Homesickness Sets In Prematurely

So I'm listening to overly bubbly music at night lately. Why? Because if I listen to the few downloads I've done recently (Runaway by Kanye West, Run from Me by Timber Timbre, etc.) I really begin to spiral into a bad place. Seriously people underestimate how much music can effect your mood. It's insane. Do not give into the sadness by listening to sad music! It is a danger zone! 

The past few days have been really hard as I've been thinking about next week. Really what gets me really sad is when I imagine saying goodbye at the airport. The future I have is very unsure, I don't know what the school and my co-workers and boss will be like. I don't know how I'll find the bus, if I'll get off at the right stop, how I'll communicate with everyone, etc. I'm leaving right before holidays and that makes it extra emotional. I'm also leaving right after our dog died so I've been kind of anxious and sad. My arm is also giving me a lot of grief and I have to figure out what's wrong with it before I go, so I'm nervous and hope that my scans come back normal and hopefully this injury will go away soon. 

So on occasion I look up articles on homesickness. This has been a topic I've been interested in for a long time, actually, because I've noticed there are so many reprieves and various levels of homesickness while away from home. 

1. So the first thing that can loosen that kind of tight feeling that develops in your chest and heart is finding anything that reminds you of something from your home country. This could be a mcdonalds, a cafe with a turkey sandwich, finding peanut butter in the grocery store, finding a bookstore with books in your native language, etc. I always find that helps at first. It's like, "ok, ok, I'm not so far away that these things aren't accessible. I'll be ok."

2. Finding people that speak your language. There would be times in Paris or Vienna when I would hear someone pass by with an American accent and I would do a double take and actually chase after them to talk to them because I'd be so lonely for Americans. That would be an even better relief than a burger.

3. Making friends and making foods from home. Getting together with a group of new friends and doing things like making brownies and watching tv shows from home really starts to make you feel good. If you don't look out the window it's almost like you're back home, so for a while you can laugh freely and feel good.

4. Being back in the United States, but not your home state. This is pretty satisfying because you can finally talk to baristas and people in stores without any language barriers! It feels so good. But it's not home so you don't feel totally whole.

5. Being back in your state or city but not being in your neighborhood. This is like 98% of homesickness is gone. It's like an almost satisfied feeling because you know the restaurants in the area, you see all the places you used to hang out and stuff and it's like, "oh yeah, I got this."

6. The end of homesickness? Is there one? IMHO the closest I can get is lying in between my parents on their bed. Or just being in my childhood home. 

There are problems with this though. What happens when you've traveled for so long that being home feels good, but you miss where you came from? What happens when you've spent your life traveling and you can't really identify a "home" anymore because so many places are home to you? What happens when your parents move from your childhood home or out of state? What happens if you get married and settle in a foreign place? Basically life is really hard. I feel like I will live with some vague feeling of homesickness my whole life and that's the truth. Because I'm always missing some place all the time. Today I miss Paris. And yesterday I missed Norway. And the day before that I missed Austin. And before that, Brooklyn. 

I was reading this article and it really struck a chord with me. Because lots of people associate homesickness with kids moving out of home for college, but I think lots of adults suffer with it. I don't think it makes you weak. I just think I love my family a lot, I know I'll miss them a lot. I also have kind intense anxiety at times and worry someone will get sick or die while I'm away. And I really just don't know if I could handle that. The longer you stay somewhere the harder it is to leave. So this will be a really hard move. Here are some good comments from the article. What's your best remedy for homesickness? 

Monday, October 6, 2014

36 Hours in Brooklyn

So this week I've been visiting my younger sister Jordan in Washington, D.C. I still have no idea when I leave for Seoul (somehow....) but I know it will  be in just a few short weeks so I'm trying to visit all the people I can before I leave. Yes I know it's probably only a year but this move feels serious and I feel a big change coming so for some reason, I feel like I won't see some of these places for a while. 
The morning after we got there it was raining a ton. It was awesome though! I love the rain and the weather in Brooklyn this past weekend truly felt like fall. We bundled up (all I had was birkenstocks though so I had to make an emergency shoe buy) as best we could and headed to Five Leaves for brunch. That place can do no wrong! All the food was delicious. The atmosphere is cozy and let's be real, it's brunch in Brooklyn, so life was really good that morning.  
 I accosted this waitress about this shirt which is a quote from one of my favorite youtube videos. It was from her failed clothing line. If only I had known about it earlier, I would have purchased this shirt! RIP, her independent clothing line.
 Ricotta pancakes, BALT sandwich, & the big brekkie, respectively. Did you know Heath Ledger created this restaurant? He died before he could see it's birth. How sad is that? But good job, Heath! The place is great! 
 While waiting for brunch we made a pit stop at Peter Pan Bakery in Greenpoint. The red velvet doughnut there is so good! The inside is excellent and very much old New York feeling. The women who work there wear what looks like a 1983 uniform in teal and pink colors, and the people who are eating at the bar have the aura of being regular customers. Also, look how cute my sisters are. What will I do without them (reasonably) near me? :( 
 So this was the skyline of Manhattan that morning. It was awesome.
 After the harbor visit we did some shopping and stopped by Toby's Estate (or, as I remembered the title being, Jacob's Cavern). Great drinks! Great interior! Love this place and will definitely be back again. 
 After this we did some more shopping, got our nails done, and saw the scary movie Anabelle which was pretty horrible all around. 
 After the movie got out we walked a long way for some garlic knots before getting some take out and retiring to Mary's apartment for some skype and k-dramas. 
 We also passed the point of an actual alien abduction. I mean what is this? What's happening here? The drink and the snickers bar package? And a set of shoes? This was the real mystery of the evening.

Then I got really sad as I started thinking about the future and leaving everyone and tbh guys it was really sad. 
 The next day we rushed over to the bus because we were late and I had to hurry and get on but then I was so sad and I lost my sandals on the bus as I ran out to say bye to Mary one more time. Let's be real this was a true movie/ tv moment because I was crying so hard in my socks on the sidewalk of New York as the Bolt Bus people were (I'm sure) confused/ surprised/ annoyed with this sudden onslaught of emotion. But guys I'm really bad at saying goodbye?

Logically I know I don't live near my siblings. I know if I were getting a job in the United States I still wouldn't see them that often. But there is something about the distance of this move, the strong feelings of fear and the unknown I have associated with it, that makes it more difficult. There were a lot of things I was sad about and crying to Mary about, but I think the bulk of it was my fear for her and her future and happiness, my fear of the unknown (when will I see her again? will I be ok? selfish thoughts), and sadness because of a parting. She and I are both going through strange and difficult life transitions. My fear for my future is also linked with my fear for her future. Will we be ok? Will we get through this? Anyway, I walked back onto the bus with a blotchy face and a couple of little "aww" remarks and took the eternal bus ride with Jordan back to DC where we drowned our sorrows in Shake Shake and Rich Kids of Beverly Hills. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Film from Norway

I just got a roll of film developed from a couple of different trips over the past year and I'm really pleased with the results. I find the photos I take with a film camera have more meaning and purpose, as I know they are expensive to develop and I have to trust my alignment, film speed, etc. are all in order. It takes more work and I find it more rewarding.

Anyway, the first set of photos I will post and discuss are from my trip to Norway early this year. I went towards the beginning of January and returned in late February. I split that time between Paris as well, so no, I wasn't in Norway for a month but rather 2 weeks. I didn't see the actual sun until my second week there and it felt so strange and wonderful to see it again. I got to visit my friend Annika, bum around her grandmother's adorable farm house, sleep in freezing temperatures (my favorite) (no really), visit said grandmother (who is in her 90's), knit, visit towns, and participate in many other adventures.

This is the frontyard. No, really, it is! You cross the street and this is what is there. You look out the window in the morning (yes this is the morning and also a few hours before the light would disappear) with your feet in hand-knit chunky socks and your cup of warm herbal tea and look out to this. It is as dreamy and unreal as it sounds. I want to relive this moment over and over again. 

At night, and until the early hours of the morning, you can look out the window and hopefully catch an incredible aurora borealis show. I was so lucky with the one I saw. It moved all across the sky, was bright green and swirled in the most unbelievable way. We also got some red in there, as you can see from this photo. I feel really lucky to have captured this moment. Annika and I were running all over the yard like madmen. This night was truly magical because my fingers were frozen, the moon was so bright, and the wind was pretty fierce so the northern lights were moving rapidly across the sky and I was worried I wouldn't capture all the incredible moments. Visiting Scandenavia is expensive but as you can see it's so worth it. 

This is a pretty awesome picture which shows 1) how insanely bright the moon was (bright enough that you could see around you pretty well in the middle of the night) and 2) how full of stars the sky is there! The area we stayed in (roughly) is called Andøy. I say roughly because honestly I have no idea. The area is so small and hardly anything is labeled. We were near a really cute town called Sortland which was full of wonderful people, including the sweet Camilla who knitted a sweater for me at my request! It was a sleepy, dreamy little town and I really hope I can go back again someday. 

The best thing about all of this is the older generation doesn't really get tired of seeing the northern lights. When I met with Annika's grandmother, who we call "farmor" (meaning grandmother from her father's side and is pronounced far-moore), we talked about this incredible light show. I'm glad the locals don't ever take this beauty for granted. Farmor also taught me how to knit, let me shower in her awesome shower, and knitted me a few pairs of socks. She made us waffles to eat with cloudberry jam (so good, let's not think about it or I'll cry) and she also had a coffee break what felt like every hour. She also is probably more active than I am, which is saying something because she's like 95. I feel spoiled having known her for only a few weeks, everyone should have a farmor in their lives.

After a week of being there we went on a whale safari. This was totally cool though I warn anyone who doesn't like roller coasters or who has neck or back problems to NOT SIT AT THE FRONT OF THE BOAT. Phew, that was tough. We used Sea Safari Andenes which I highly recommend. Maarten is awesome and knows the landscape really well. He's also amazingly caricatured. He would guide the boat with a cigarette dangling out of his mouth, he has curly grey floppy wavy hair, his outdoorsy coat. He's just a nature guy from the Netherlands and it's great. He's very nice and takes excellent nature photos, particularly of animals. You can buy prints from him of past photos, as well as photos + a USB of your whale safari adventures. 

If you want to see puffins, go in the summer. If you want to see whales, go in the winter. 

I met a British nature enthusiast who was on the other boat (two go out) who took photos of us. He e-mailed me those as well as some bonus whale pictures. The photo above is his work, thanks David! 

I know I took more photos of the whales but that might be on another camera roll. Also, the picture above the whale photos was taken in Andenes, which is at the top of Andøy. You will eat the freshest and bestest fish there. Annika's brother Jeremy lives their and he is a fisherman. I never ate fish before but I ate the fish Jeremy caught and cooked! It also helps he's an amazing chef :) That town had one great cafe with free wifi, you should go there. It was called Jul Nilsens Bakeri & Konditori as. They have some delicious baked goods and hot drinks. Around the corner from that are some good clothing stores and an excellent knitting store. 

The last photo I'll share is one of this town. This was the first time I had seen the sun since I'd been to Norway, and this is the effect of the sunlight hitting the side of the mountain. This was on our four hour drive down the Lofoten Islands, to the very end of the islands, to a little place called Å (pronounced oh-uh). We got to stay in the fisherman's cabins which I highly recommend! Very cool and cozy and right by the water. My goal is to come back to the Lofotens in the summertime because they are truly breathtaking. Then I'll be able to hike and be more outdoorsy because in the wintertime poor Annika wanted to hike but I was so grumpy and only wanted to stay indoors.

That's all the photos I'll share for now. If you are ever in the area, send me a message if you want to know anything or if you have any comments to make! Listen to Radio Bø for me (you can also listen to it online if you want, which I highly recommend), go get soaps and AMAZING treats from Alveland, which is also a bed and breakfast and would be an incredible experience for anyone, and enjoy the Fjords and beauty that Norway offers!