Getting on the plane to come back to Korea was bittersweet. My mind and heart were at war with each other. Saying Goodbye another time to my family, knowing that I would not see them until October 2013 put an ache in my heart. However at the same time, the excitement I had to return to my surrogate family as well as my friends is indescribable. And as much as I loved being home, spending time with Dad & Denise, Mom & Mark, Juju, Matt & Carson, and Sue, I wanted my Korea life back. It was unexpected to feel the way I did.
Since I got back on December 1st, a lot has happened...many adventures full of laughter and excitement, along with sad moments - a readiness to get back to the states.
Let's start with the adventures first. In December, I had the chance to spend a fun-filled Christmas Eve night with Ben. I made dinner then we opened presents and visited. We both worked on Christmas but in the evening, I made Christmas dinner for a few friends. On the main menu was: baked chicken, veggies, mashed potatoes, and salad. For dessert, my friend Lauren brought an amazing ice cream cake she picked up at Baskin Robbins. After dinner, we watched the famous "Christmas Story" while visiting and playing cards. I must say, it was a success. For New Year's, I had to work (no surprise). This didn't stop me from spending it with Ben and our friends. We got ourselves dressed to impress, then met up with his friends in Gangnam (located in Seoul). It's amazing how big American holidays are. Korea always does an amazing job recognizing our special days - making special events at restaurants and bars to help us celebrate. Unforgettable to say the least.
Fast forwarding through January to the end of January/beginning of February. Ben's departure was at the end of January, therefore not able to be here for my birthday. As soon as he arrived in Washington, he sent a birthday card to make sure it arrived on time. Mom & Mark also sent a birthday package for me to open the day before my birthday. I LOVE RECEIVING MAIL!! In the package was a cupcake kit - all the things I needed to make birthday cupcakes. They turned out well considering I made them from my toaster oven. Everyone at work devoured them. For my 2nd birthday in Korea, I decided to keep it small - with my closest friends. There were ten of us total. We went to COEX Intercontinental Wine Buffet located in Seoul. It was 35,000won for all you can eat and drink. The food was prepared really well; I was impressed. Needless to say, it was a successful birthday evening. On my actual birthday, because it was a Monday, it was a co-worker birthday dinner - we had Korean BBQ, which as always, was amazing. We kept it to an early night due to our work schedule. Getting close to present time...the Korean New Year (Seollal - Lunar New Year) was February 9-11. This is one of the holidays that DYB (my work) ACTUALLY gives us a break. My friend Mel (Melissa) is from Washington. I met her through my co-worker/friend, Brig (Brigitte). Her and I knew we wanted to do SOMETHING special. At first, we talked about flying to Japan until our conscience got the best of us and we decided not to spend so much money on a 3-day/2-night trip. Therefore, we resulted to another Busan adventure. It is a beach located south of where I live. We signed up with a group which was perfect because we both knew a few people that were going. Friday night, we left on a bus with the others in our group. After an all-nighter on the bus, we arrived in Busan around 6am - just enough time to check-in to our motel and get about 4 hours of sleep before waking up and meeting the group downstairs for our first day of fun. We spent Saturday playing shuffle board, eating a delicious American breakfast, and then walking/talking/hanging out on the beach. In the evening, we went to a restaurant/bar that served us a delicious meal of pulled pork, beans, and vegetables. We ended our night, dancing the night away. On Sunday, we went sight-seeing. Our tour bus took us to a lighthouse located along the beach (it was a beautiful lookout point). Afterwards, we headed to the famous Jagalchi Fish Market. It was most interesting to see the customs associated with the fish market. Watching Koreans handle the different types of fish and examining their lifestyle struck my curiosity. It is so different from the Korean lifestyle in Seoul. This was our last night in Busan. After we got back to our motel to take a nap and shower, we headed to Haeundae Beach (another side of Busan). Here, we went to another foreigner bar called Wolfhound to have another western meal. I have to be honest...it was TOO much western food for me. I was hoping and wishing for Korean food again (looks like I'll need to be able to cook it for when I get back to the states). We ate, enjoyed singing some songs of the weekend. The next day, before we headed home, we visited a famous temple that is located right near the ocean. It was beautiful; pictures coming soon (hopefully). Overall, this trip, I can report to say it has been one of my most favorite weekends in Korea - traveling-wise. The people I met are easily becoming some great friends. The things we did were monumental!! LOL
Here we are in the present. Don't get me wrong, I am still enjoying my time in Korea. I still love my students and co-teachers. My co-workers are awesome and we get along great. With this, I have new friends and old friends that I get to spend a lot of time with. But I have to be honest. At times...most recently, I feel that I have fulfilled my time here. I know my family and friends will like this next sentence. I am ready to get home. There are goals that I have yet to accomplish back home. It's going to be time, come time in September/October, for me to apply for my Master's - get the REAL degree - Master's of Arts in Teaching. I WANT to be a certified/licensed teacher. MY time here in Korea has most definitely solidified the fact that this is my "calling." I can't wait to be a licensed teacher and hopefully get back into coaching high school sports. Hence my earlier point of stating that I have had sad moments - for the mere fact that I feel ready to take the steps to accomplish my long term goals.
There are seven months and some change left. I have every intention of living it up! Currently, I'm involved in a women's Bible study every two weeks, church on Sundays, fun with friends on Fridays and Saturdays, and small trips in between. Also, Ben and I are helping each other train for a couple 5k's...hopefully reaching to a 10k...if our interest and desire continues....we want to train for a 1/2 marathon....possibly as far as a full marathon. We may be 5,600 miles apart, but we continue to encourage one another in our goals. I'll keep you posted...
A new goal for the New Year...keeping all my readers updated on my life until I'm back in the states. Commitment. Coming at ya!!