Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What's this? Another post? Impossible!

Wow, another post in only a few days?! What is this madness?!? (*snirk*)

Lately, I've been longing for a way out. I'm tired of all this loneliness, frustration, worry, and longing for home. Any kind of home. Right now, it's mainly my childhood home, since that's where I'm most familiar at the moment. It's just difficult knowing that a home is grown and made, it's not instantaneous... well, at least not for me. If it is instantaneous, you're the lucky one.

All these difficulties in being here have made me rewind my memories back to when I was "studying abroad" in Finland (being originally from Finland, "studying abroad" is a loose term). It was just as difficult, even though it is my "home country." (that's a whole 'nother story in and of itself) I just couldn't get the hang of things, and I'd never been so depressed in my life. However, as a disclaimer, I was in high school, when our developing brains are still largely based in the emotional part of our brain (the hypothalmus? I forget which part of the brain it was...), so our emotions feel amplified whereas the rational side of our brain doesn't kick in until later in life. [THANK YOU Life Sciences Communications 350 -- a class that was based on how the brain processes images and how you feel about them! One of the best classes I ever took in college!]

I digress.

So in high school, it feels like it was worse than now (I don't know if it's just because of my developmental stage at the time, or if it really was. *shrug* I don't know). I was just about getting over it when I had to leave at the end of the year. At that time, I was finally feeling comfortable with everything, and my friends, etc., that I almost was sad in leaving.

This is also the time I came to be a Christian.

Now, it seems, I'm in a similar predicament. However, now I have more resources (by way of support) and a more rational brain to work with. I no longer feel like the world is caving in because I'm just-so-emo! *sarcastically cries* (though, I admit, I still do feel that way from time to time)

So how do I take my experiences of the past and apply them to today?

Well, I'm a MUCH different person than I was back then (thank God!!). I long for that child-like faith I had back then, when I could feel so much. Now, it's more difficult.

Especially since I have been presented with the way out I've been longing for, but not actually expecting to get... Not sure if I should go for it...

I'm still not sure what to do. I'm trying to do little things- like doing things I like, creative things- which tend to fall behind when I'm like this, trying to be around other people when I have no desire to, etc. Baby steps, I think. Baby steps.

Because I'm tired of falling apart.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Creativity and Life in South Korea

I know I promised many months ago that I would update several times a week, every week. This has not happened, and I'm not sorry. I wish I could be sorry, but I don't feel like I owe anyone a mundane, sub-par, albeit "foreign" (literally and figuratively) blog entry. It's also the fear of reverting to my teenage, emo blog posts from my livejournal blog back in the day. I also am more careful what I post online, as I understand the repercussions of what I say.

In a nutshell, I'm not sorry I haven't posted, and yet afraid to post because of the fear of dullness.

Though I can hear my friends and family saying, "But you're living ABROAD, which many people don't get to do, and you're afraid of being DULL??" Yes. I am.

Today I watched a TED Talk, which I often like to do to feel enlightened, and managed to come across Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love, a book that thoroughly moved me) talking about creativity. Particularly about how creative genius works (in her opinion), as the Ancient Greeks and Romans envisioned it, as an otherworldly thing on loan to you from an "unknown source" to enjoy and use. It is a thing apart from yourself, which is often internalized by these artists/creative people that often leads to their ruin (Kurt Cobain, Mozart, Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, etc.). As a Christian, I see this from God's perspective, that this bit of talent/creativity/whatever you want to call it, as a gift from God, and to be cherished. (please forgive the awful grammar of that last sentence!)

It really is an interesting idea. I have aspirations to possibly be a science writer. I had planned on updating this blog on a regular basis to maintain my writing skills (which my mother says are quite good...but being my mother, I don't know if she's just saying that or if it's true.). But yet that hasn't happened.

I think it could be that this transition into my own life, apart from my family and the place I consider "home," has been more difficult than I anticipated. I thought that I could be this adventurous, fabulous woman, traversing the globe in search of amazing things to do and see.

This has not happened, and it's a little troubling. I feel like I haven't lived up to my friends' and family's expectations of me being that globe-trotter.

I also have been finding my health to be not as robust as it has been in the USA. I've gotten several colds, a sinus and ear infection, pink eye, and now I have skin problems on my hands (and face...partly due to a mosquito problem). I have a feeling that my skin problems could be a physical effect of my current feeling of apathy (to put it lightly), but I have no way of knowing.

I need help to get by. I'm currently seeking it out, so no worries, but I reflect onto what Elizabeth Gilbert said. That my creativity (which I've been craving) is not to be internalized, but to be recognized as a gift from God, and to use it for what I need it for.

So, in that, I'm hoping to update this blog more (I'm pretty sure I said that last time too). If not to update my friends and family about the goings on in my head, but also to have some sort of a creative outlet, which may be just the thing I need to survive here in Korea.

In conclusion, here's the Elizabeth Gilbert talk. I highly recommend you watch it.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

South Korea-- The First 3.5 Months

Hello there!

It seems that I have fallen off of the bandwagon of updating that I had hoped to be on before. Life got a little crazy but I will explain in full. I'm hoping that this post won't be a super long one, but I'll try my best to wrap up my first few months here!

When I first got here, I wrote a post about my first day at school. It was alright, but at first I wasn't really "teaching" anything. My co-teachers would teach most of it and I would just stand there and pipe in every once in a while. I thought that was how it would always be. A few weeks of this go by, and my main co-teacher tells me that now I will be doing most of the teaching, starting on the next Monday (I think it was Thursday when she told me). I was a bit surprised at the sudden change (which seems to be a common habit here), and I asked why I wasn't teaching before. She told me that she wanted me to "take it easy" at first. Alright, I'll give her that much, but a heads-up would have been nice! So I taught mainly for a few weeks, but then me and my main co-teacher had a bit of a falling out. It's mainly just a personal conflict of interests, but we're working on it. It turns out that the way to a Korean woman's heart, is through her stomach. I started getting her her favorite doughnut once a week for a few weeks and now she's more friendly with me now! Who knew??

Overall, I'm starting to like my school. To be honest, I wasn't a huge fan of kids when I got here, but now they're growing on me. My kids make me laugh and they like me a lot. Every day I hear at least one "Laura Teacher, I love you!!" and a hug to go along with it! I do have my favorite students, and my favorite class, but I try not to let it affect how I teach. I want the students to learn English, and have fun with it. Which leads me to my next big project at work, summer camp.

I have to teach three weeks of summer camp this summer. I have to come up with the curriculum and lesson plans by the 30th of this month. I'm currently working on getting the themes of my camps down, and then lesson plans. I think that I'll do my first week as: "Travel the (English speaking) World!" -- this is to introduce the students to different styles of English, as there are many teachers from many countries who are often "criticized" for not speaking "American" English. The next week will be a "Pirates" themed week. This is just a fun way to teach them pirate words! The last week will be a "Week at the Movies" kind of thing. I'm still working out the details of this one, but I think I'll show snippets of a movie (probably something from Disney), and teach them movie-theater vocabulary. I'm mainly doing this movie-week because it's my last week before vacation, so I want to make it as relaxing as possible, heh. I'm hoping that this summer camp will be a chance for me to prove that I CAN indeed teach, without a co-teacher, and have fun while doing it! A chance to spread my wings a little bit, figuratively speaking.

After summer camp, I'll be going home to the States for 2 weeks. I'm really looking forward to it, seeing as during these past 3.5 months here I've been getting homesick a lot. I think it's partly because of the culture shock factor. There are different phases, and I think I hit the second phase (disillusionment- where you hate everything about the culture) pretty hard. I think I'm over it now, seeing as I'm getting out and doing new things and meeting new people. For instance, I started taking a Korean class about a month and a half ago, and I've met some cool people through that class. **I'll post some pictures later, as soon as they download off of my camera...** I've also started a hot yoga class, which is interesting since my Korean isn't nearly that good that I can follow the teacher's instructions. I usually just watch what everyone else is doing and they correct my posture occasionally. It works out! Hopefully I can burn off some of the weight I've put on since I've gotten here, heh heh!

I think that's a good start to catching up on posting! Maybe I'll post again tomorrow between work and Korean class, but we'll see! Hopefully it won't be another three months before I post again!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Waah Finally Here!

I'm going to update quick, for my followers!

I made it to Korea and I got a job at a local Elementary school, just across the river from downtown Seoul. I live in a district called Dang-juk. It's a rather lively place, maybe not so bustling as downtown Seoul, but then again, I haven't been there yet, so I can't say! I teach 3rd and 5th graders, with two co-teachers, one from each grade. My 5th grade co-teacher is my main co-teacher, and she helps me with anything I need! She's very nice, I'll have to upload a picture sometime!

On my first day, Wednesday, I met with the Principal, and he seemed pleased. He took me out to a welcome dinner, Korean barbeque, of course, and he was impressed that I drank beer and could use chopsticks! I also heard said that if I like my students, that he'll like me. Ok, Got it. (*snirk*)

My apartment, if you can call it that, is really one room with a bedroom and a ridiculously tiny kitchen (by that I mean I have a stove, a sink, and a washer under the stove, and very few cupboards). I also have a small refridgerator, not much bigger than the one I had at University, a bit of a bummer. They also got me a closet, and a desk and chair. They also bought me recently a microwave and some dishes (the dishes were a bit of a struggle to get, but I eventually got them!).

So I may not be updating as much as I would like, since I can't get internet or phone coverage until I get my Alien Registration Card, which may take me a while to get (probably 2 weeks). At least today I got a desktop and internet at work, so I can at least stay in touch with some things until I get my own. (and Skype, so I can at least call my parents somehow!)

I'm expriencing a bit culture shock, but nothing too off-putting. I think it's really just the suddenness of it, and being, esentially, alone here in a foreign country. The food is great, at least. Good thing I like spicy food!! haha! I'm hoping to explore my neighborhood this weekend, if not downtown Seoul. I'm also going to try to find a Korean class, hoping that will help me get used to things a bit.

Korea is different from China, but there are still some similarities. Korean people are more polite, and you bow quite often, where as in China you don't bow to anyone. I'm still getting used to it, and it will be ok, I think.

Well, I should be off, lunch is coming soon (which is very good!! It comes out of my paycheck, but $2 a day shouldn't put too much of a dent in anything!). I'll write when I can, bye!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

On Bravery

Stop calling me "brave." Really. I'm not.

Many people, upon hearing that I am going off to South Korea by myself, without knowing anyone (something my extended family seems to be worried about), I hear that I am "so brave!" Well, if you know me, and my history, you'd really see that this choice to go and teach English abroad has nothing to do with bravery, but within my nature.

You see, I am a child of immigrants. My parents and I came over from Finland 20 years ago (21 this August). Wanting to keep up my Finnish language skills (which we have spoken at home always), they would send me to Finland every summer to see my extended family starting at the age of eight. This went on until I was about 15, when I "studied abroad" there for a year, staying with my uncle (which is a whole story in and of itself, but I digress). My grandparents have seemed to be oh-so-grateful that I seem to be the only one in my family who goes to Finland to visit every year (usually summers, but this year I ended up going in January as I have mentioned before).

Well? What do you expect? This has been hard-wired in me ever since I was a very little girl. Every summer-sent to Finland. I mean, is that so hard to understand? It has nothing to do with me. It's just the way it's "always been."

When I started college, my father took a job in China and I have been to China several times, including a semester during which I studied Chinese. Asia seems to be my new frontier, so to speak. I fell in love with Asia since I have been there, and have many Asian friends.

Therefore, taking in my past of traveling, and my current love of Asia, is it so hard to rationalize that I put the two together...while getting paid for it (a definate bonus)? The idea isn't so hard to figure out, at least to my knowledge. It may be more difficult for those who have not had the same experiences as I have. (not that I meant that in a boasting way at all!!!!) Since I have no outstanding talent in anything, what else would I do?

So to say that I'm "brave" for doing this crazy Asian adventure, keep in mind my past history, it's really not so "brave" at all. It makes sense. In fact, I'm absolutely terrified. I get scared at every major juncture in my life, such as: starting high school, "studying abroad" to Finland, starting college, and now this. I don't deal with transitions well. It's just a fact of my life. I have often been very "self-aware" of where some of these issues come from, but this one I'm just not so sure or at least I haven't figured it out yet. I am being shaken to my core at this major life change. I've spent most of today in a semi-panicked mode because I realized that I only have a week left here in the States, with my family and friends (and dogs). I've pondered and worried about every possible scenario that may happen while I'm gone (like what if something happens to my dog, what if something happens to me, what if something happens to my mom etc.??) It is only by the Grace of God that I am sitting here somewhat sane right now.

This is perhaps the biggest change of my life. Though I've always had the feeling that this will be a good thing for me. That something good is waiting for me out there (I'm hoping it's a future life partner, heh, but I digress). I'm taking it a day at a time. Trying to think positive. Trying to lean on God's support, since I certainly can't do it alone.

Am I "brave?" Absolutely not. I am a terrified wreck. Does this mean I'm chickening out? No. Way. I'm in it all the way, and I think it'll be a blast (once I stop worrying about it).

I won't be translating this into Finnish. Sorry Grandma.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It's official!

So now it's official. I will be in South Korea on March 1st (less than two weeks from now!). I will go and get my visa tomorrow, and now I have to worry about packing! I have no idea what to pack, but I'll figure something out!

I also have a hard time realizing that this is a long-term deal (well, at least a year). I have a feeling that this is just a short visit and I'll be back. I guess it will just take some time to come to terms with. I have a feeling that this will hit me when I'm on the plane over to Korea. We'll see how it goes!

Nyt on virallista. Ne haluaa että olen Etelä Koreassa 1.3. (joka tulee aika pian!) Menen hakemaan viisumin huomenna, ja nyt täytyy huolehti pakkaamisesta! Ei oo aavistustakaan mitä pakkasin, mutta keksin jotakin!

Mulla on myös vaikea ajatella että tämä onkin pitkä-aikainen juttu (No, ainakin vuoden). Mulla on semmonen tunne että tämä on lyhyt-aikainen juttu, ja tulen pian takaisin. Kai se kestää vähän aikaa tottuu siihen ideaan. Mulla on semmonen tunne myös että sehän iskee muhun kunnes olen lentokoneessa. Katsotaan miten menee!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Got my Contract!/Sain Kontraktin!

Short Post today!

I got my contract today! Now it's real! It seems pretty straight forward, just gotta sign it! Now I have to figure out my Visa situation...hmm...

Lyhyt Postaus Tänään!

Sain kontraktin tänään! Nyt on totta! Kontrakti vaikkuttaa ihan selvältä, tarvitsen vain alekirjoittaa sen! Nyt täytyy keksii miten minun viisumi menee...hmm...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Hello all!

Sorry I kind of went silent after I left for Finland! I was waiting for official word from Korea and was really worried for a moment...but more on that later.

My trip to Finland was good. It was good to see my family before I leave for Korea, since I don't know when I'll be back there again. I also saw some friends from my time in high school over there, as well as one of my American classmates (from my university's Chinese class, heh), so that was fun!

So Korea.

I had all my paperwork ready when I left for Finland, except my Degree Confirmation Letter. My Letter came, got Apostilled, and the whole packet sent out while I was in Finland (thanks Mom!). I hadn't heard any official word that I would get the job, and I was getting nervous. My advisor (my contact with the company) also gave me some other options, such as private schools or deferring until AUGUST (which was NOT going to happen!). I got word yesterday that the Seoul Ministry of Education (SMOE) approved my application and my Notice of Appointment (NOA) was sent out. (According to Fedex, it should be here tomorrow!!) So it's official: I will be in South Korea on March 1st. It's such a relief to officially have the job, but now I have to figure out my visa situation (which I guess will be explained in my NOA), what to pack, etc. It's starting to sink in, but I won't fully accept it as real until I get my NOA in hand.

I hope that this experience in Korea will be the start of something new. A chance for me to spread my wings and figure life out on my own. That's not to say that I won't miss my mom or anything, but I'm hoping that I can be a single, independent woman and live the best life that I can. :) :)

I'm just a little bit excited, heh...

I'll let you know how everything goes in this final planning stage. They've advised me not to book my flights until I have my visa, because if my flight is late, then I won't get a penalty (or something of that sort). I can't wait!!


Anteeksi etten kirjoittanut mitään sen jälkeen kuin lähdin Suomeen! Minä en ollut varma oliko mulla se työpaikka tai ei... oli pikkasen huolissaan, mutta ennemmän siitä myöhemmin.

Suomi oli ihan kivaa. Olipa kiva nähdä sukulaisia vielä kerran ennen kuin lähden Koreaan. Näin myös muutaman kaveria, yksi lukiosta suomessa kunnes opiskelin siellä, ja myös yhden Amerikkalainen yliopisto luokka toveri minun kiinankielen tunnilta. Oli ihan hauskaa.

Niin Korea.

Ennen kuin lähdin Suomeen, mulla oli kaikki paperihommat hoidettu, paitsi minun "degree confirmation" kirje (siis se kirje joka selitti että onkin yliopistosta valmistunut). Kuin olin Suomessa, kirje tuli, sain Apostillen, ja koko paketti oli lähetty (kiitos Mami!!). En ollut kuulut mitään pitkään aikaan, ja tuli vähän pelko että onkohan sitä paikka olemassa vai ei. Minun advisori (minun kontakti ihminen siellä firmalla) rupes antaa minulle muita vaihtoehtoja, niinkuin privaatti koulut ja myös että odottaisi ELOKUUHUN. (kiitos, EI.) Sain tietoa eilen että Seoulin Yleiskoulun Ministeriö (SMOE englanniksi) hyväksyi minun hakemuksen ja lähetti minun NOA (englannkisi, siis se paperi joka selittää mitä nyt tapahatuu). Ja FEDEX:in mukaan, se tulee huomenna! Elikä nyt on virallista:
Olen Koreassa 1.3.

Sehän autta jo paljon että tiedän on mulla onkin se työpaikka, mutta nyt tarvin huolehti visasta, mitä kannata pakata, jne. Se rupee tuntuu että tämä on nyt todellista, mutta en täysin usko ennen kuin mulla on se NOA paperi kädessä.

Toivon että tämä Korea reissu tuo jotain hyvää minulle. Että voin nyt kokeilla olla aikuinen, ja jatkaa tästä eteenpäin omilla ehdoilla. En sano etten tulee koti ikävä, mutta toivottavasti tästä on jotain hyvää.

Jännittää kyllä vähän...heh.

Ilmoitan miten tämä loppu vaihe menee. Sain myös tieto etten kannata varata lentoliput ennen kuin saan visuumi käteen, etten tule mitään "rangaistuksia" myöhäistä lennoista. En jaksa odottaa!!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Almost There!/Melkein Valmis!

Ok, so the last of my paperwork is coming together. I had to wait until all of my grades are in (no thanks to professors who like to wait until the last minute), to get my letter saying that I did complete all of my degree requirements and did, in fact, graduate. I also ordered my final transcripts, and that's about it! I just need to send my letter back to Madison to get the Apostille (which I got the next day last time!) and then compile all of the papers together and send them off to Korea! Waah!

Though I am a bit nervous since they sent me an email claiming there are only 150 spots left.. My mom tells me it's just a scare-tactic, but I'm still nervous if I will, indeed, get a job...Trying to just focus on the positive.

I also leave for Finland on Thursday. I figured that I should go and visit my family before I leave for Korea, since I'm not sure when I'll be able to again. (especially since I'm not sure if I'll have free flights through my dad's work anymore...) I'm debating on whether or not I'll bring my netbook with me (I'm only away for a week or so). I will be bringing my little video camera I got for Christmas, so I may be posting some videos! (waah!)

I also have all the Lonely Planet books for Korea and Seoul (and a Phrasebook)! I also have a book on modern Korean History. When I lived in China, I took a Chinese History class before I got to China and it helped me to understand the culture better. I just have to get around to reading it! heh heh.

So that's about it! I'll post as soon as another development happens!


No niin, viimeiset paperihommat on kohta valmis. Piti odottaa kunnes minun viimeiset numerot oli julkaistu (joka kesti aika kauan koska jotkut professorit eivät tehny ne aikaseksi mutta ihan viimeisen tinkaan) ennen kuin pystyin tilamaan semmosen kirjeen joka sano että tein kaikki hommat valmiiksi ja että valmistuin. Myös tilasin minun viimiset "transcripts" (eli semmosen paperi joka näyttää kaikki kurssit ja numerot) ja eihän ole paljon muuta! Vain täytyy lähettää minun kirjeen takaisin Madisoniin saamaan sen "Apostille" (joka sain seuraavana päivänä viimeistä kertaan!). Sitten täytyy kerätä kaikki paperit esiin ja lähettää ne Koreaan! Waah!

No totitesti sanoen, sain sähköpostin että ei oo enää kuin 150 paikkaa jäljellä. Äiti sanoi että se on pelottava niin että ihmiset saisivat paperit kuntoon nopeammin... silti vähän pelkään onkohan paikka minulle... Täytyy vain ajattele positiivisesti.

Olen myös menossa Suomeen Torstaina. Ajattelin että kannatta nähdä sukua ennen kuin lähden koska en tiedä koska pääsee uudestaan (varsinkin kun en tiedä saakohan niitä ilmaisia matkoja Isän työn takia enään...). En ole varma otanko minun netbook mukaan vai ei. Otan ainakin minun pikku videocameran (sain joululahjaksi!) mukaan, eli saattaa laittaa videot tähän!

Sain myös ne Lonely Planet kirjat Koreasta ja Seoulista (ja myös fraasikirja)! Mulla on myös Korean modernihistoria kirja luettavaksi. Kunnes menin Kiinaan, otin Kiinan historian kurssi ennen kuin lähdin, ja autto minun ymmärtävän Kiinan kulttuuri paremmin. Täytyy vain lukea sitä! heh heh.

Eiköhän se on siinä. Kirjoitan jospa jotain uutta tapahtuu!