Thursday, August 25, 2011

One Year Later...

Well, here it is: one year in.

It doesn't seem real.  I recently returned to Seoul from a ten-day vacation in Las Vegas and back home in Alberta.  Many things took me by surprise: first, how much I missed being here in Korea while I was home, and, in the last few days, how severely I miss being back in Canada.  Just a little taste of being home with friends and family made me realize how much I miss them.  It sounds silly, but the last couple of days leading up to the start of my second year have been incredibly hard.  Knowing that I could have been going home for good, but rather, I'll be spending another year here has hit home in a very real way.

I've met so many amazing people here, and I have many good friends, but I almost feel like I did in the first few weeks after I arrived here a year ago.  I'm eager to meet new people and get out and explore.  One of the reasons I opted to remain another year here in Korea was to have more opportunities to travel throughout Asia, something I have not done at all yet.  I have explored many areas of Korea quite thoroughly, but other destinations in the region such as Japan, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Thailand have all eluded me thus far.  I would like to think that I'll have many opportunities to visit them in my second year, but I have a feeling that it will fly by much like the first one has.

I'm sorry that this particular entry has sounded so melancholy.  As such, it really matches my mood of late.  I will have an opportunity tonight to reconnect with some friends here in Seoul at Dillinger Pub's trivia night, so I'm really looking forward to that.  However, I think some Skyping home to friends and family might be in order.

I love you all, and I hope to talk to all of my friends soon.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Thoughts from Places: The Train from Seoul to Daegu

Written Saturday, May 7th, 2011

In the past couple of weeks, the weather has taken a distinct turn in Korea.  Gone are the chilly mornings in which one can still see their breath and the ever-present chill in the hallways of the school.  Instead, we have sunshine and warmth, a sharp rise in humidity, and that small bit of sweat accumulating at the small of your back as you walk the busy streets of Seoul

Summer is on the way!

As I gaze out the window of the train, the Korean countryside rolls by, bathed in the nearly oppressive heat of the late-spring sun.  Oppressive, that us, to this Canadian, who is more used to seeing snow on the ground in early May than battling the heat.  The warmer weather in the past couple of weeks has turned the landscape from dreary tones of brown and grey to the green of grass and leaves and the many colours of the flowers and other flora we pass.  Shelby, Meagan and I are on our way to Daegu this afternoon, leaving behind the noise and smog of Seoul for a couple of days.  Of course, Daegu is still a very sizeable city, so we'll be greeted once again by noise and smog at the end of our journey.

The landscape of this part of Korea is reminiscent of home.  As I watch the trees pass by, I'm reminded of the Wapiti River valley, or the area around Dunvegan.  Sunlight plays across green leaves and wide fields, and the nostalgia hits.  I am loving my time here, but part of me is always eager to see my friends and family and the familiar Alberta countryside again.  This leads me to think about my friends the happenings in their lives while I've been gone.  It is supremely unfair that life does not simply stop or pause while I'm away.  No, the lives of my friends go on, seemingly oblivious to the fact that I am not there to witness it.  One of my best friends is going to be a father soon, and I am sad that I won't be there to meet his new kid when he or she is born.  Is it not the height of selfishness for them to go on with their lives when I'm so far away?

I think it goes without saying that I am kidding.  But part of me does regret not being there with my friends and family, for the good times and the bad.  I am traveling to Las Vegas with some friends in August, and I will have some time afterwards.  I'm contemplating going home for four or five days at that time.  If I do so, it would be the last time I'd be home for a full year.  Perhaps it would be worth it?  I'd be able to meet Serge's new son or daughter, see my parents, visit with my friends... I haven't booked a return ticket back from Vegas yet, so I still have some time to think about it.

In the meantime, I'll be here, enjoying the beautiful weather and the company of new friends.  But my mind will, on occasion, return to the beautiful expanses of wide prairie and lush forests of home, and the friends I've temporarily left behind.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

All Our Yesterdays

I have now been living and working in Korea for approximately eight months.

When I came, I signed a contract for one year.  If I stick to that original plan, then there are fewer days ahead than there are behind.  However, that no longer looks to be the case.  I can't believe how quickly the time has flown by.  I am really enjoying the people and the country.  I've met some amazing people, both Koreans and ex-pats.  Still, because the time has gone by so quickly, I find myself wanting to stay longer.  Therefore, I am writing this entry to inform my friends and family back home that I have officially decided to renew my contract with the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education for a second year.

What has brought me to this decision?  A number of things, actually.  First, one of my goals in coming here was to explore areas of the world I haven't seen before.  I've always had a desire to visit many countries, a desire that hasn't been fulfilled yet in my life.  A friend that I met here has now declared that she has been to thirty countries before the age of thirty.  I'm twenty-eight, and I'm nowhere near reaching that number, nor will I be able to in the foreseeable future.  As of now, I've been to a grand total of seven countries.  Yes, that's right: seven.  I definitely have some catching up to do!

My second reason for wanting to stay may not come as a surprise to many people.  I've met someone: a wonderful person by the name of Shelby Martin.  She has made my time here truly special, and I feel that I'm not ready to end that time soon.  I honestly don't know that I would have lasted this long without her here.  She has opened my eyes to new experiences, and seeing the world through her eyes has made me appreciate it all the more.

Even though I've decided to remain for another year, I realize that the time is still flying by.  Even with my decision to extend my contract another year, having completed eight months means that my time here is one third done.  I don't know about you, but that blows my mind!

I don't know when I'll be able to return home for a visit; like I said, I would like to use the time I have here to explore places I haven't been.  I miss all of my friends dearly, and I hope that we will all remain in close contact. I love you all, and I hope to see you all again soon!

All my best!

Monday, January 10, 2011


As many of you already know, I'll be returning home to Alberta, Canada in a little over a week!  I really am enjoying my time in Korea.  The culture, the food, and the sights are all fascinating, and I truly am having the time of my life.  That said, there are a number of things that I miss.  First and foremost, obviously, are my friends and family.  I've been away from home before, but I've never gone longer than two months between visits.  By the time I arrive in Grande Prairie on January 21st, it will have been nearly five months since I've seen my parents, and I miss them terribly.  I also really miss all of my good friends, and I hope to see everyone at some point during my two-week visit.  To that end. I've decided to compile a list of the things I want to do while I'm there.  Some involve friends, and others involve random things that I really miss from home.

  1. Game night/get together at Dan and Ronnie Hallock's place.  Some of my best memories from the past year have been getting together with friends there, watching 24, playing Worms or Settlers of Cataan, and generally just having an awesome time.
  2. Enjoy a pizza from Ramona's.  Best pizza in town!
  3. Go to wing night with the guys.  Even though a few of the guys have moved on, I really want to go to "wing night" with Steve, Corey, Dan, and Chris.  I miss you guys!
  4. Have a Harvey Wallbanger at Original Joe's.
  5.  Go to Wendy's or Arby's with Chris.  I miss those times!
  6. Have "movie night" with Pam.  This is huge, I hope this can happen, I really miss movie night!
  7. Visit my friends and former colleagues at St. Joe's.  I'm told that I'll be in town during exam week, so it should be easy to drop in and say hi to everyone!
  8. Turkey dinner with my parents, to make up for missing it on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
  9. Watch Deep Space Nine with Bobbi.  In person!
  10. Get a haircut from Central Barber Shop.
  11. Go to McDonald's with Michel.  Just like university!
  12. Visit Edmonton for a guys' night with Patrick and Phil.
  13. Watch The West Wing with Pat.
  14. Have a huge get-together with all of my friends at The Golden Star.  Let's re-do the one we had at the end of July, minus the ridiculousness of my horrible bout with hay fever!

I really want to make all of these things happen!  I can't wait to see all of my friends, and making this list has gotten me more excited than ever!  Also, if you have any other ideas, please leave suggestions in the comments.  I can't wait to see you all!  I will be home from January 21st until February 5th, but I would like to spend a day or two in Edmonton as well.  See you all soon!