THE KOREA KRONICLES, PART VI: Pork-Spine Soup, Fan Mail, and Why My Life is Weird

Photo 2013-04-21 02.32.35 PMI grew up in a cedar thicket. Apparently, that’s hilarious–or maybe it’s just hilarious when I say it. IDK. I guess you’ll just have to ask David and Colleen to be sure. (Inside jokes, FTW.) But, yes, it’s true. I did grow up in a cedar thicket, or something like that. In any case, there were a lot of cedar trees around. OH MY GOD I AM TALKING SO MUCH ABOUT CEDAR TREES. Moving on now, all that to point out that I don’t have any allergies. Cedar trees are notoriously profligate in their shedding of pollen and if I can survive being hemmed in by a Hell’s Horde of them, then, well, I’m fairly confident I can inhale just about any form of pollen imaginable and not degenerate into an inflamed sinus. +15 Bad-ass Points. Every Spring, whenever I hear someone talk about how terrible their allergies are, I’m secretly elated that I managed to escape that common misfortune (knock on wood). Continue reading

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THE KOREA KRONICLES, PART II: Oceans Away, Yet Strangely At-Home

I wasn't kidding when I said I was going to Korea.

I wasn’t kidding when I said I was going to Korea.

Almost one full week ago, my feet touched the soil of the United States of America for the last time for a while and I officially became an expat. Life Achievement unlocked, +1000 points. Ever since fastening my seat-belt on the Korean Air flight from Dallas, I feel as though I’ve been hurtling through a warp tunnel. So much has happened, in fact, that if I hadn’t experienced it, I’d say it’s a bit absurd to claim so much happened in such a short amount of time. What I can say is that even though I’ve only been at the English camp for a week, I can already sense myself starting to settle in, which is a lovely feeling. I sometimes think moving to a foreign and unfamiliar country is a bit like an organ transplant, which always seems to carry the possibility that the organ and the new host will reject each other. Thankfully, that hasn’t happened and I’m increasingly confident that Korea and I are going to be chummy in no time at all. Continue reading

THE KOREA KRONICLES, PART I: Dog Days Are Over

Montage of various Daegu imagesWell, it’s official. My passport is fresh back from the Korean consulate in Houston with a bright, shiny new visa on Page 8. This means that the only thing standing between me and teaching Korea’s bright young minds is an ocean. And, believe you me, if you can survive ten months in rural exile and then navigate the complexities involved in acquiring an E-2 work visa from the Republic of Korea, the Pacific is a pushover. So, allow me to recount the tale for those of you who have not been so blessed as to personally experience it in this the first installment of “The Korea Kronicles.” (I’ll try to go easy on the k’s, Tim.)

Although I wasn’t hired to a full-time teaching position at the English camp until November 15 of last year, I started getting ready to go long before. That’s an important thing to remember: once you’ve decided you want to teach abroad, regardless of where you want to go, start getting all the paperwork in order from the moment you decide you want to go. Many of the steps don’t require you to have already signed a contract and by the time I was hired, I’d already gotten the ball rolling on the most time consuming aspects of getting a visa. And, even though I overshot my original planned departure date by a week, I probably wound up saving a substantial amount of time. Continue reading