Thursday, August 30, 2007

One whole week in Korea

I have now been in South Korea for one week.

I'd like to say that I waited a week to post anything to truly reflect on what it means to be in a foreign country and not be judgemental, BUT that is not at all the case.

After 27 hours total of travel time, we found ourselves on the other side of the world by way of Toyko, by way of Chicago, by way of Syracuse (or newark). United was an fantastic airline. Very friendly, and they somehow bumped me up to economy PLUS. More leg room, but just shy of business class. Anyway, after 50 something games of gin rummy we landed at Incheon Airport in Seoul, South Korea around 9:30pm. I wish i had had my camera out from the very beginning because after going through customs and getting our baggage, we walked through a gigantic set of doors out into what only reminds me a movie premiere. Hundreds of people crowded behind a line screaming out people's names, and holding signs of welcome, and flashes of lights from cameras. We recognized our people holding our names, and tried to get through the massive crowd to meet them. From there on out it was just surreal.

We drove about 40 minutes to Suji (the city where my school is) in a car that smelled like it was made in a factory to specifically smell like an ashtray and dropped off our stuff to our apartment. If it was one thing I learned in my first 24 hours, Korea is land of the cigarette. Even though I was praying to any type of deity that would listen for just a tiny bit of sleep, we ended up going out to dinner anyway at a nice place for some Korean BBQ. Which is really amazing stuff, and i'll write more about the food later. I eventually found myself in a spare bedroom of an apartment dead asleep by 1am.

At 7:30am sharp i was awake in a room that had no AC to head off to school at 930am to be even more surprised by the school that I will be spending most of my time in. I had no real expectations, but it was very bright, and colorful, and loud. The teacher's room is cramped but cozy and everyone's got their own desks, and the staff hangs out in there during their 10 minute breaks. After a meeting with the director, and a SHORT tour, we were taken to the bank downstairs to open up our accounts and exchange our traveler's checks. Then back up to the school to get our schedules and start obvserving classes. MWF school goes from 10-7, and T/Th it goes from 10-6, BUT this whole month i get to come in at 11:30am and leave by 5 or 7. Its really not so bad.

And to keep this 7 words short of a novel, after my friend was so kind enough to share 3 nights of his a hotel room to get some AC and some sleep, we FINALLY moved into our apartments, got access to internet, and a great night's sleep after our first official day of teaching.

Basically the jist of all of this is that my first week in Korea was insane, good and bad, and full of some serious cuture shock (a concept i never really believed in until now). Overall, i'm excited to be somewhat settled in here and have loads to tell you all about in the future. Also as soon as I have all of my information, those that are close to me will also get it as well (phone/address/etc etc).

this is where I would put goodbye and goodnight in korean, if i knew it.

**OH and if anyone knows how to make blogger be an english website instead of showing up in ALL korean, that'd be absolutely amazing.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Goodbye New York!

Today was a very very bittersweet day. I’ve never had this feeling of leaving something and being completely ready to leave it, but knowing that its still going to continue on the same way without me. Sure, I’ll be missed (who wouldn’t miss me?) and of course I’ll keep in touch with so many people, but in the grand scheme of things my friends will continue to hang out, and go to cool things, and meet amazing people. Not that I won’t, but there’s something I truly enjoyed about going through all of the motions with the people I keep closest to me.

All of that comes out of my head at 11:40pm when I sit alone in the Jet Blue Terminal at JFK airport awaiting what was supposed to be a 10:55pm flight to Syracuse. Not only will I be leaving at the exact time I should have been landing, but once I get to Syracuse at like 1:15am, then there’s that great 45 minute drive in darkness to Auburn. At least my brother and his fiancĂ© are nice enough to pick me up and do the driving.

Overall I’m just so ready to get back to CNY. I wish I had more time there, but I’m kind of glad I don’t. I’ll enjoy it more that way. I work well under pressure, and this will force me to get some stuff done and visit some people. The best part is the sleeping in on Friday.

My last day at WMA went way too fast. How is that I spent however many days there where time would just tick by ever so slowly, but today just FLEW? I sent out my reports at 930, had my exit interview at 11am, sent out my goodbye email around 1130 and then the rest of the day was spent replying to some of the nicest emails I’ve ever gotten from people I have come to call good friends, and some I barely even know, hell haven’t even met (in other offices). I wanted to leave around 515, but honestly couldn’t tear myself away from the place until 630. Overall a crappy place to work after a year or two of being there, but I’m ever so thankful for it as it really was a transition from College to Entertainment Business.

**Anyway, I wrote most of that in the airport at that time, but the flight didn’t end up leaving until 115am, and I got into Cuse at 2, and was home and in bed dead asleep by 330. Overall an extremely long trip for no real reason, but its nice to be home, and I’ll be out to South Korea on Wednesday. Time flies… and I’ll miss you New York.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Visa Fun

Stuff has kind of taken off since I got the job in Korea, and basically I have just been hammering out details, and just enjoying the last remaining weeks in NYC:

(the group of us before a River Rafting trip down the Delaware in early July)

Aside from all the fun, I've managed to move 98% of everything I own up to Central New York (the homelands). I'm currently crashing on what used to be my living room couch in New York City, and will be finishing up work on August 16th. Then off to Korea on August 21st by flying out of Syracuse, to Chicago, and then that looooong flight to Seoul.

Everything with my Visa is all taken care of and was pretty simple in all honesty. I sent my Visa materials off to the SLP school in Seoul in early July. The school requested my original diploma, transcripts, 2 pictures, signed contract, copy of my passport, my first born child, and a resume to be Fed Ex'ed to them instead of using the US Postal Service. Well, after going to Fed Ex and realizing that it would cost $100 to send - I opted not to. By going to the Post Office and sending the same exact package that weighed .3lb to get there in 4 days (same as Fed Ex offered) it was $25 and gave me a tracking number, just like Fed Ex would have. *So a tip from me to any of you who are thinking about mailing stuff internationally, do not go to Fed Ex first.

Anyway, it was just a waiting game after that. The school issued me a visa confirmation number last week (about 3 weeks in total waiting time), and I went to the Korean Consulate here in New York City this week. After giving them more passport pictures (the people at the Walgreen's photo department and I are now on a first name basis), my passport, my transcripts, the confirmation number, my second born child, $45, and a copy of my contract, I was told to come back the following day to pick it up. The first thing to ever enter my passport is now a really fun looking huge sticker that says the Republic of Korea on it. Not too shabby.

Other than that, I'm just wrapping up life in New York. It's so hard for me to believe that I've been here for 3 full years, at the same job, and that I'll be leaving it within a matter of days. BUT the way I look at it... is if you don't go big, you might as well go home. And I think I did a pretty good job of coming up with something bigger than New York.