Thursday, August 26, 2010

All Systems Go!

The final part of my preparation was to meet with the Korean Consulate General in Chicago. It was actually a fun trip and the Consulate could not have been any kinder. He asked me questions about where I was from and my teaching experience. Of course, he wanted to talk about how well the Reds were doing this year (glad I kept up with that!) and wanted to know about my family. It was a rather pleasant conversation and then he signed off on my Visa and we were finished! But, let me back up a second...

I may have mentioned in an earlier post just how easily this entire "Korea thing" came together. Please indulge me while I share another "hmmmm, okay" moment and I will let you come to your own conclusion.

Of course, I was able to take the Megabus to and from Cincy, then got a sweet deal on a hotel in downtown Chicago. So, I get off the bus and around the corner comes a taxi. I flag him, he stops and whisks me away for a little $8 ride to my hotel. I check in with no problems and have a room on the 10th floor with a huge king size bed (I sold my bed last week) and am thrilled to plop down on it with all the comfy pillows. ahhhhh...ahem..anyway, as I was saying. (teehee...I really enjoyed that comfy bed!) I opened my binder just to make sure I had everything I needed for the Consulate: Passport. Check. Picture. Check. Copy of Passport Signature page. Check. Uh oh...still need a Priority or Fed-Ex envelope to have it mailed back and a $45 money order for the Visa. Hmmm...It is 8:00 p.m. I decide there is nothing I can do about it now, so I head out to grab some Geno's (mmmmm...) and as I walk out the front door of the hotel, what do I see? A Post Office!! Yes, that is right. Of all the hotels I could have been in, I end up in the one across the street from the post office that opens at 8:30 a.m.!! Oh yeah, they sell Priority mail envelopes as well as money orders.

I then find out the NBC building where I had to go was a short 4 block walk from the hotel. No need for another taxi! Cha-ching!

Now, I don't know about you, but based on the ease of which everything has come together for me while I have been preparing for this big move, one has to believe in some sort of divine being that is watching over me and guiding me through this process. I mean, really?? Call it coincidence if you like, but I call it a God-incident. Just saying.

After I finished with my appointment, I had a few hours to kill so I wandered a few blocks over to the Navy Pier and treated myself to some yummy gelato, deep dish pizza and a ride on an insanely high Ferris wheel! Tall Ships were there (much like Tall Stacks in Cincy), so there were lots of cool ships to see. It was a perfect day. Sunny, breezy, no humidity! Absolutely perfect and relaxing!

I walked back to the hotel to retrieve my stored luggage, hailed a taxi, then hopped back on the bus. The parents picked me up once I arrived back in Cincy and I was home in my own little place by 11:00p.m. Not bad for a whirlwind trip!

I also received confirmation and an e-ticket for my flight. I will be leaving at 6:05a.m. on September 9, 2010, and will arrive in Seoul, S. Korea around 3:20 p.m. the next day. Now, keep in mind they are 13 hours ahead of us in Cincy, so while it is a long trip, it is not really that bad. Once there, I will take two buses to my new place to call home for a year. Wow. In less than 14 days, I will be on my way.

These past few days have been mixed with excitement, fear, uncertainty, anxiety, and peace. It is a strange recipe of emotions and sometimes hard to keep in check. However, I know I have a lot of friends and family who are supporting me, praying for me, and have just been so genuinely encouraging. The prayers and kind words sustain me through those doubtful times of uncertainty and fear. I cannot thank you enough, and you know who you are.

I hope I make each and every one of you proud as I am not only representing myself and my recruiting agency, but also the United State of America. I am representing each of you every time a little Korean child looks at me or mimics my speech. Every time I go to the market and the ladies chopping off fish heads look at me, I am representing you. I am very proud to be an American and will do my best to represent you and America in the most positive way possible.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Q and A

I keep getting a lot of the same questions over and over from various people, so I thought I would take a blog posting and put up some of the most common.

Q: Where are you going?

A: Uljin, South Korea. It is a small fishing village on the east coast of S. Korea north of Pohang. They are known for crab and have a yearly crab festival that is attended by people from all over the country.

Q: What are you going to do there?

A: Eat crab and drink soju! lol...just kidding!! I will be teaching English to elementary students at a private school (called hagwons).

Q: How long will you be gone?

A: I will only be gone for a short 12 months. It will fly by, I'm sure! And with technology, no one will even really miss me!

Q: What about the boys (i.e. my children/kiddos/offspring/etc.)? Are you taking them?

A: Brandon is on his own and doing well for himself. He is young and makes mistakes, but he is working hard to reach his goals. Bryan decided to go live with his dad before I even began entertaining this journey. He is a freshman in high school and will be just fine. Both of the boys are very supportive and have made sure to set up Skype and learn a bit about Korea. They know it is only for a year and I will be available at the click of a mouse!

Q: Where will you live?

A: The school provides an apartment for me at no cost. It is within walking distance of the school, so plenty of exercise for me! :-)

Q: Is it expensive to live there?

A: No. One of the reasons I chose South Korea was because of the low cost of living. I am actually going to be able to save some money.

Q: Are you taking all of your stuff with you?

A: No. I am taking two suitcases and a carry-on full of clothes and teaching supplies I cannot live without! My apartment is fully furnished and I will be able to purchase some things I need once I get there. Everything I am leaving behind is being put into storage and will be here for me when I return. It's kind of sad that I can fit all of my worldly posessions into a 10x10 storage unit!

Q: Do you speak Korean?

A: Nope. Not a word. However, I have purchased a phrase book so I can learn key phrases and will carry it with me everywhere! I also will be immersed into the culture and will basically be forced to learn. It's sink or swim time! (Or maybe it is swim or starve! LOL)

Q: Don't they eat dog over there?

A: I have to laugh every time I hear this question. The answer is, yes, they do but it is not as common as everyone seems to think. It is believed to increase a man's stamina and strength. I am not a man and know that caffiene can give me any boost I need. lol Just like in the U.S., I will be avoiding foods I dislike. Dog will not even be entertained (or eaten) by this girl. I just can't do it.

Q: What are you going to do when you get back?

A: I'm sure I will want to enjoy time with my family and friends I have missed. I will begin looking for a job prior to leaving Korea next year (yay Internet!) so, hopefully, I will have a job to come home to.

These are the most common questions, but if you have others, please feel free to post below as I'm sure others have some of the same questions.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

More preparations...

I finally got through to the Korean Consulate in Chicago to schedule my appointment for my Visa to be stamped into my passport. They only do them on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings. The only time she had available next week was Wednesday at 10:20 a.m. I really had no choice, except I was supposed to be taking Bryan the rest of his things that day and had rented a truck to do so. Now what? Well, I had to reschedule everything and move things up a few days. After two hours of thinking, planning, and juggling tasks, here is what finally transpired:

Saturday: Pick up truck to take things to storage

Sunday: Pack up the rest of Bryan's things into the truck and drive them to him. Truck is a one-way rental (yes, it was cheaper that way) then catch the Amtrak train back to Cincinnati from Huntington, WV. Hmmm...I need to find someone to pick me up. I'll work on that...haha.

Monday: "Normal" day of work and more packing.

Tuesday: Dentist at 8:30 a.m., (gotta stay cavity free! 40 years is a long time to hold a "cavity-free" record!), then head to downtown Cincinnati to catch the Megabus (oh, yeah!) to Chicago, which leaves at 2:30p.m. 7:00p.m. I will arrive in Downtown Chicago and walk two blocks to my $35 deal of a hotel room (thanks, friend)!

Wednesday: Head over to the Korean Consulate office and complete the final Visa processing then hop on the Megabus at 3:00 p.m. to come back to Cincinnati. Whew! So glad I don't have to drive!!

The remainder of the week will be spent sorting and packing up the few remaining items in my place, then figuring out where I am going to sleep for eight days until I leave.

I am excited. I am nervous. I am scared. I am empowered.

How will this all turn out? Who knows? Not everyone understands why I am doing this and believes I am running away. The reality is that I am not running "from" anything. I am running "to" an opportunity. This is an opportunity for me personally as well as for my teaching career. I am taking time for me, just me. I am doing something because I want to and not because I am expected to because of a status. Some may call it selfish. Maybe it is. All I know is I feel a calm and peace about this decision that I have not felt in a long, long time about decisions I have made.

At the bottom of my blog page, there is a song list of songs that have inspired me. One of those songs is, "Live Like You Were Dying". Listen to it. Hear the words. Understand the message. Life will simply pass us by if we don't go out there and grab it and take it. We will get out of life what we put into it. I believe that, and I don't want to be old and gray sitting around wishing I would have taken a chance and done something I really wanted to do.

Friends, if you are reading this, you know how much my friends and family mean to me. You know I am passionate about what I believe in and can be a bit stubborn. (stop laughing...I hear you!) You do need to know this. People may come and go in my life; some stay longer than others. You are all important to me and have played some role in my life. I will miss you and think of you often. You will be in my prayers and thoughts daily. I may be halfway around the world, but that doesn't change the way I feel for any of you. Ya know?? :-) Besides, we always have Facebook!! lol

Well, the moving truck awaits and I have gotten sappy enough today. Time to move the boxes. Preparations continue. Until next time....

Thursday, August 19, 2010

FINALLY!!! My Visa Has Been Approved!!!

WooHoo!!!!!!! I just received word that my Visa has been approved. I can't believe it is finally real. It is happening. My target departure date is September 8th or 9th. I really don't know what else to say! I'm excited, nervous, thrilled, scared, and energized all at the same time! I have to call the Korean Consulate first thing in the morning to get my appointment to have my final face-to-face interview and get the Visa stamped into my passport.

Wow. I'm really going to Uljin, S. Korea! Jung-Chul English I come!

Friends, if you are praying people, please keep me and my boys in your prayers. For me, pray for strength, wisdom, courage, and safety. For my boys, Brandon and Bryan, please pray for strength to persevere, courage to stay strong, wisdom to make good decisions, safety in all they do, and happiness in their lives.

Stay tuned for more Adventures by Angela!!!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Oh, Where Is My Visa???

I talked to my recruiter from Korea last night and my Visa is "in process" and should be approved by the end of the week. One of the hardest things to do is W.A.I.T. Of course, while I am waiting, it has given me quite a bit of time to prepare myself mentally and get all of my "worldly" affairs in order.

Part of getting my affairs in order has to do with my two boys. Brandon (19 y.o. son) and his girlfriend came over for dinner tonight. I really wanted to get a good feel on what he is thinking of my adventure and how he is feeling about me being gone for a year. Surprisingly, he is very supportive! He works a lot, spends time with his girlfriend, and hangs out with his Grandpa pretty often. I feel good about where he is in his life and believe he is going to be just fine with me being over 7,000 miles away. Wow, that is far!

My youngest, Bryan (15 y.o. son), seems to be excited at the idea of coming to visit me during his summer break in June. He is with his father and starts high school tomorrow. It is going to be a huge adjustment being away from my boys and them being totally away from me, but it is time for them to fly a bit. I want them to know they can do anything and they have the power within themselves to make life happen. I can tell them that until I pass out, but they need to see that it is possible. I believe my current quest gives an example of how to make life happen.

Everything else I need to do seems to be falling into place. Storage unit? Check. Boxes? Check. Big stuff sold? Check (except the piano is still lounging around...) Medical checkup? Check. Dental checkup? Check. School supplies packed? Check. Clothes packed? Almost! Laptop? Not yet, but close. Visa? UGH!!! I am so impatient!

So, again I ask, Where Is My Visa??? Soon, the recruiter says, soon. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Learning is a process...

While I am waiting for the blasted Visa, I have connected to a couple of teachers in Korea to try to figure out exactly what I may have gotten myself into. So far, a wealth of information has come from an American teacher named Jaclyn who has been in Seoul for just three short months. As my preparation progresses, Jaclyn has been teaching me more and more about what I don't know.

Here are some examples:

1. Final Visa Interview: Well, I thought I just sent paperwork to Korea (after getting it Apostilled and notarized and blah blah, they issued a Visa, and off I could go on a big airplane! Nope! Apparently, I have to go to Chicago to the Korean Consulate General and have a final interview there and my Visa will be finalized within three days of interviewing. Who knew?? Not me! The good news is I found Megabus!! Oh yeah!! For just a mere $39 I can hop on this Mega Bus and be in Chicago in just 5 1/2 hours, take care of my business there, then hop on the bus for another $39 back to beautiful downtown Cincinnati! Why would anyone even think of driving?? I will be taking the Megabus! (fyi...Cincinnati to Columbus is only $12 bucks!!)

2. Cell Phone: I have been investigating cell phones in the States to see what kind of international/global plan would be best. Of course, I have a loyalty to Verizon because my son, Brandon, works there. However, this stuff is EXPENSIVE!! Apparently, cell phones (or "hand phones as they call them in Korea) are much easier and less expensive to pick up over there. The same is true of phone cards. Of course, my plan to purchase a laptop with a web cam is in order so I can Skype ( my family and friends back home. Korea is 13 hours ahead of Cincinnati, and I will be free in the mornings when you will all be free in the evenings! Perfect! And FREE!!

3. Internet: I suppose since I will be an "alien" in Korea, it will be difficult for me to get some bills in my name. This would include Internet and cable. Well, I have no real need for cable if I have Internet, so that is a MUST. It seems that most schools provide some way for the foreign teachers (yes, I would be a "foreign" teacher) to get Internet access in their apartments. I mean, what will I do without Internet in my little dwelling??? I must find out how my school handles this.

4. Trash: I suppose there is quite the trash problem in Korea, especially in the larger cities like Seoul and Busan. Recycling is mandatory and there is not a lot of room for disposable trash to be disposed of properly, nor are there many (if any from what I gather) public trash cans along the sidewalks. And get's okay to litter! Seriously! There are people who are hired to simply pick up wrappers and trash off the sidewalk that people legally drop there throughout the day!! This issue will be interesting to see how it differs from big cities to the small village where I am going to be.

5. Korean Kindness: Everyone I have talked to expresses how sociable and kind Koreans are. I sure hope that is true. To date, I only really have one experience with Koreans. On Sunday, I approached an Asian couple at church. I had noticed they always carry a foreign Bible, and it appeared to be Korean text (hangul). Upon speaking to them, I discovered they had come to the U.S. from Seoul 25 years ago and settled in Cincinnati. I asked Mrs. Kim if she could help me learn some Korean before I leave. Well, she has a CRAZY work schedule, but called me yesterday with the names of two Korean churches that offer FREE Korean lessons! I thought that was very sweet of her. I checked out the websites and will be calling them to get more details. I figure I really should learn how to get directions, shop and eat. :-)

So, these are the little things I have stumbled upon thus far. If you have any tidbits of info, please feel free to post them here! As for now, the waiting continues...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Waiting....and waiting...

One of the hardest things in the world for me to do is WAIT. Actually, I think it may be hard for a lot of people. Right now I am waiting on quite a few things and each thing is dependent on something else. The big wait is the Visa. Once that gets approved, things will speed along pretty fast. I have a buyer for my car (thanks, Mom!), someone is coming to look at some of my furniture tomorrow (Yay!), the storage unit has been reserved (started with a 5x10...traded up to a 10x10), boxes are filling up, being taped and labeled, and the boys are all set. It's a regular roller coaster, but I am totally lovin' the ride!

The recruiter told me yesterday all of my paperwork is in order and was on it's way for approval. She says I should know in 7-10 business days.

Ugh...wait, wait, wait. So, my friends, we wait. Until then... :-)