Sunday, October 14, 2012

Getting Married

So, I'm getting married.  In South Korea.  That's the plan.  Lol.  Here's the details:

My fiancees name is Min Dong Shik.  My family calls him Min.  I met Min at a dinner meeting for his company.  My friend, Alex, did English interviews for Min's company, Kyeryong, and they asked him to dinner.  He brought me along so that I could meet more mature Koreans.  Usually, Alex introduces me to his college students.  It was definitely a new and fun experience for me.  I made drinks for some of the bosses in the company, and they really liked them and everyone had a lot of fun.  After dinner, as everyone was going home, Min gave me his business card and said, "You know, I'm not married."  This was surprising for both Alex and I because we had assumed that everyone at the meeting was married.  The next day he texted me all day.  That's not unusual for a Korean guy to do, but the next day, he texted me and asked me to have coffee with his mom.  That is a very unusual thing for a Korean guy to do.  You usually do not meet someone's parents unless you are a big part of their life for a long time.  Anyways, his mom really liked me even though my Korean is horrible, and she can't speak English well either.  After meeting his mom, she invited me to their church.  It's a Korean church, nothing is in English, but I have never felt more at home in a church.  The people are so welcoming, and they often try to talk to me.  So for three months, I went to church with him every Sunday.  I was really frustrated that he never asked me on a date.  I was sure that he didn't like me.  Finally after three months, he asked me to be his girlfriend.  He said that he had waited so long because he wanted to make sure that he really liked me for me and not because I was something new and different.  Shortly after we were officially dating, he asked me to marry him.  I guess when you're sure, you're sure, right? lol.  Anyways, we kept our engagement a secret for a few months until we went to my parents' house to tell my dad.

So, that's it.  Now, we're making wedding plans.  I bought two wedding dresses.  A short one and a long one.  One for the wedding in America and one for Korea.  We also have a date: April 6, 2013.  I will be going back to the US for most of March to help with the plans for the wedding there.  It's going to be really small and relaxed nothing special.  Probably more like a barbecue party than a wedding. Then, after the wedding in America we're going to fly back to Korea with my parents, show them around Korea, have our big wedding here, and then go on our honeymoon.  Nothing else is set yet, but at least we have a general outline, the dress, and the date.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

stepping up

Alright, so many changes have happened this contract year.  I have a new apartment (it is niiiiiiiiiiccccccccccceeeeeeeee)!!! But I also have a crazy new schedule (it is painful)!!!  Thankfully my apartment is right next to my work so there is no exhausting commute.  And thankfully my schedule is getting better.  So, I have my usual three morning kindergarten classes back to back with no break.  Then, lunch with the kindies, and on Mondays/Wednesdays one afternoon class with them and then my first break.  On Tuesdays/Thursdays, I have two afternoon classes with the kindies and no break.  I go straight into my elementary early afternoon classes.  In the beginning, I had all three classes during that time, but thankfully two of my classes were combined so now I have a break during one class time.  On Tuesdays/Thursdays, I finish early at 4:15 but on Monday/Wednesdays/Fridays, I have an extra class, and I finish at 6:35.  Originally, the schedule was so exhausting that I could barely do anything after work.  Now, it's better, but my ability to do things and comprehend things is really low.  It has made exercising nearly impossible.  I tried to get back into jiu jitsu, but the truth is I don't want to do it right now for several reasons.  First, it's dangerous for me to do it when I'm not completely focused and aware.  Most of the time, I'm fighting people a lot stronger than me so I have to pay attention to both of us so that I don't get hurt.  Case in point, my third black eye.  The guys (especially the beginners) do not like it when they think I'm beating them.  Therefore, they get very aggressive.  Not a big deal normally, but when I'm exhausted already, I don't have the energy to maintain a safe fight.  Second, I can never spar to show my techniques or even practice what I know because I'm not supposed to win against the guys.  Initially, I started practicing jiu jitsu for exercise.  I stopped getting exercise when I started winning because no one would spar me; now, I can spar people but only if I don't use any skill or strength and therefore I'm not getting exercise either.  I don't have the time or energy to do something that I won't receive any benefits from.  I'm not learning anything new.  I help other people, and they become better than me because they are stronger, but also other people help them too, but no one helps me.  It's incredibly stupid.  I have seriously taught three people who now have blue belts to do armbar, triangle, guard pass, and kumera.  Maybe I'm being selfish or too sensitive, but I'm a bit frustrated.  I teach all day long.  I come to the gym to exercise and work off the stress from teaching.  I don't want to teach any more.  Plus, when I have to take the time out to teach I don't get exercise and I'm not even receiving any benefit from it at all!!!!  I'm still a white belt while everyone else has gotten their blue.  I've trained longer, trained every day and worked harder for it, but it doesn't seem to matter.  If I was super thin and didn't need exercise or even if I wasn't completely stressed out, I wouldn't mind taking that extra time.  But the truth is I'm a snowman living in a world of stick people and I'm sick of it.  So, to avoid having to take time out of my workout schedule.  I've started to skip jiu jitsu and run longer and then I go to diet boxing.  I want to start up my own exercise routine between running and diet boxing, but we'll see how the energy level goes. Right now, diet boxing is extremely difficult for me because it's only in Korean and it's difficult to watch the hands and feet at the same time.  My Korean is getting better, but the gym is so noisy sometimes that I can't understand anything and again I get frustrated.  For example, the other day Pyeong-Ha was teaching a difficult combination and I was trying to listen, but this kid (who for a whole hour sat on the couch playing games on his cell phone) decided that was the moment he wanted to start working on the punching bag.  It was all I could do to contain myself from yelling at him.  Seriously, that's the moment you decide to work out?  I really feel like sometimes its not a gym, but a daycare center.  Anyways, all I heard was blah, blah...pow pow...ka ching...pow pow.  And then Pyeong-Ha looks at me and says "ok?"  Tears were forming in my eyes I said, "no, one more time.please."  Then, Pyeong-Ha and I both yelled at the kid to stop for a minute.  Ugh.  So annoying.  I seriously like this gym.  I like the workout I get from diet boxing, and I like learning it.  It sucks that I'm a little slow at understanding it sometimes, but  that's how things go sometimes.  I really wish the gym would go back to how it was before all of the kids came.  I love kids don't get me wrong, but I just spent all day with kids that don't want to learn now its my turn to learn and the kids still don't want to learn and it's distracting!  Anyways, to try and step up my game a bit more; I signed up for a weekend dance class.  It's way more expensive than the fighting gym and its only two days a week! But, I'm going to try it and see how it is.  If I like it, I'll do both.  I've already noticed a difference with skipping jiu jitsu and going for a longer run.  So, I'm hoping that it will keep up.

Anyways, onto my personal life.  I've been hanging out with more of my Korean friends lately, and I've met some new people.  I've started going to church again.  The only thing is this church is all in Korean so it's difficult for me to understand.  However, I feel more comfortable there.  The thing is English services in Korea (in my experience) are often filled with people who are at the English service to learn English and not study the Bible.  It's a bit disheartening to me and it makes me feel uncomfortable.  It is more comfortable for me to attend a service in Korean knowing everyone's heart is focused on the service and not on something else.  Plus, the people there are very welcoming.  Many even speak English well.  As I mentioned before, I've been meeting a lot of new people lately.  It's fun and exciting, but as we grow closer sometimes I feel like the only reason they want to hang out with me is to learn English.  Honestly, I don't mind because its fun, but at the same time, usually that means that they are going to eventually get tired of English and go away.  I wish they would tell me in the beginning that way it hurts less when they leave.  

Wow, I know this post seems a bit depressing, but I'm ok really!!!!  I like the challenges of living in a foreign country.  My life here is never boring.  For example, the other day I walked into the gym and found a dead, dried out fish lying on the floor staring at me.  Naturally, I was disgusted and asked what it was doing there. Jung Su just told me one of the guys knocked it loose while sparring.  I was like, "yeah, but what is it doing here?"  Apparently, in Korea, some people believe that if you put a fish in your new business it will be profitable.  Whatever works right? lol.  But seriously, I can't unsee the fish.  It's always staring at me while I'm working out now. lol.  Anyways, now that my schedule has kind of sorted itself out for now; hopefully things will get better and less stressful.*^^*

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Ok, so several weeks ago I got LASEK done at a clinic in 둔산동 called 눈 사랑. The total cost was 1.2 million won. You can get it done for cheaper at other clinics (or so I've heard), but you often are stuck waiting for long periods of time to be seen by the doctor. This I know because I tried one of those clinics first. Plus, this clinic is pretty reputable with well educated doctors that speak English well. Most of the doctors graduated from Chungnam University with some sort of honors in their fields. Another bonus, is that all of the visits are covered by the 1.2 million won. The pre-op/assessment visit, the operation, and several follow up visits. I'm not sure if this is the case at other clinics. Also, I've never really met anyone that went to another clinic so I'm not completely positive how well their doctors are or how well you are treated. This has just been my experience.

I first learned about 눈 사랑 after passing by their office on my way to see another doctor in the building. I decided to look them up online later. After looking them up online, I asked around my office about them and my coworkers had said that they were a reputable company, and that a lot of people get LASIK or LASEK done there. So I decided to check them out. I went first to the office on the 2nd floor where I discovered that floor was just for regular checkups. I was then sent to the 7th floor to talk to them about making an appointment to have a counseling session and an evaluation. They suggested making it a bit later since I had been wearing my contacts every day. I think they said two full weeks without your contact lenses was best. When I came the next time, I waited maybe five minutes and then was ushered through a series of tests to determine which procedure was the best for me. The nurse who helped me spoke English well (I got an English speaking nurse every time, however I think some don't speak English well). Immediately after the tests, I saw the doctor who examined the results and did a checkup. He then told me that I should get LASEK done. I have steep corneas so I am not a good candidate for LASIK. I think LASEK is better anyways because it lasts longer, and the recovery process is really not all that painful. He showed me a quick video about the procedure. After, the nurse gave me a few more instructions about the surgery and post-op care instructions. I was then able to setup a time for the surgery for the following week. I couldn't believe that I was getting the surgery done so soon! Then, I remembered that I didn't ask how much the surgery would cost. For some reason, I began to feel really nervous because when I had inquired about it before in the US it was about $5,000 at one of the reputable clinics. When she told me that it was only going to be 1.2 million I was thrilled! So fast-forward to the surgery day, I had chosen that day because we had a four day weekend starting the day after. I always have a bit of break on Wednesdays so I scheduled it for the break, and I had planned parties for the classes that I was teaching after the break so that I wouldn't have to really do anything. I went to the clinic and was given one more series of test to ensure nothing had changed. Then, I was off to the surgery room. Of course, I was a bit nervous. I would be awake and see every part of the surgery. However, I often operate on the theory that if it's meant to be then some how, some way it will happen no matter what. So, I figured if I'm meant to be blind then here it is. Anyways, on the table, I watched them cut into and peel away part of my eye as I stared at this light above me (something was holding my eye open so I couldn't close my eyes). I was told to only stare at this light and try not to move my eye. Of course, there were moments where my eyes wanted to close, but the thing held them open and I didn't move them. They sprayed liquid in my eye, replaced the part they peeled away, and put a corrective lens over my eye. They repeated it on the other eye too. The whole procedure took less than 10 minutes. The total visit was maybe 45 minutes. I was able to go home and take a bit of a nap before returning to work. When I got to work later that evening. I found out that I had to make my lesson plans for the new semester using all new books. I really could not see very well, but it wasn't too terribly painful. I spent over an hour reading and writing right after my surgery. It didn't hurt it was just difficult to focus on letters. The next few days I rested and went out with friends. I was able to do everything normally. I was already able to see way better than I could before. The only pain came three days after the surgery, and it wasn't really all that bad. Actually, the night before I had gone to eat at a 삼겹살 restaurant, and I had also worn a strong perfume. I think the mixture of the smoke and the perfume aggravated my eyes a bit. I wasn't able to open my eyes fully the next day, and they watered a lot. It was more of a mild discomfort than a pain. It felt like I had slept in my contacts and couldn't get them moistened. I just repeatedly put the drops in. That weekend, the doctor checked my eyes to make sure that the procedure had gone well, and of course it had. Then, on Monday, the doctor took the protective lens off of my eyes. It felt so good to have the lens off. It almost felt like the lens was causing most of the discomfort. I went back again a few days ago to make sure the process was going well. It seems to be going really well. So I'm definitely really excited about it. Oh, I almost forgot post-op instructions. The big one is putting drops in your eyes. Also, no drinking/smoking for a month. Take vitamin C. No exercise or makeup for two weeks. After two weeks, light exercise, but no sweating. Sweat cannot touch your eyes for one month. No exercise or activity that could be harmful to your eyes. Always wear glasses outside for one month (sunglasses during the day, clear lenses at night). I bought an additional pair of glasses with no prescription for the sole purpose of wearing them out at night. I think that was about it. I would totally recommend this surgery to anyone. I would definitely recommend going to 눈 사랑 in 둔산동. It is very convenient for me because I live near Time World and there office is right across the street. If you have any questions about the differences between LASIK and LASEK, this site: is really informative. If you want more information about 눈 사랑 their website is It is mostly informative in Korean. However, they do have a short page in English.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Another year in Korea

Ok so I'm about to begin my third year here in Korea, and this year some things are different. For starters, I had to completely renew my visa. Meaning, I had to get an FBI background check and get my university diploma apostilled. In case you have to get a visa for Korea, please make sure that you give yourself about six months to do so. Sound like a lengthy process? That's because it is. You see, I sent my fingerprints to the FBI in mid November. It arrived in their system December 15th. My parents got the FBI background check on February 5th and tried to get it apostilled. However, the state of Georgia doesn't apostille federal documents so then they had to Overnite it Fedex to the US Department of State. They mailed it to the address that the FBI and the Superior Court Clerk's Office suggested to have it processed within a week. When they didn't get it back in that week, they called to find out the status on my document. They were then informed the address they sent it to was not the address to process it in one week but 2-3 months. Did I mention that my visa expires February 28th? Yeah, so that doesn't work out well for me now does it? Anyways, my parents made some calls, I made some calls, and my boss made some calls. My parents are still working on getting my background check, but my boss and I were able to get a two month extension on my visa. It was a miracle! I'm so thankful! However, I still know nothing about my background check...this weekend was Presidents' Day so obviously the offices were closed. It's funny how we get so excited about days off of work, but when we really need someone to be at work and they're taking the day off, it seems really inopportune. So yeah...stay tuned! Lol.

On to the next one, this year I'm getting a new apartment. I will be living a block away from my school! I'm really excited about this because right now I live about a 15 minute bike ride from school. I also live about two blocks away from Time World in Dunsan Dong (in case you don't know Daejeon, that's one of the prime shopping/eating/partying areas). I'm also a lot closer to my gym now. Really, I'm a lot closer to anywhere I really need to be. I will be living on the 10th floor. I have two huge windows overlooking the city. My apartment has a loft, a bigger bathroom, a bigger refrigerator, more closet space, and a washing machine with a dryer!!!!!! I haven't had my clothes dried in two years!!!! I'm pretty excited about that. Lol. The downsides: I have to take an elevator everyday (or walk up 10 flights of stairs), my bills will be twice as much, and they say not to flush toilet paper down the toilet (I still haven't decided if I want to try it or not). Lol. All in all, it seems like a pretty good deal.

Also, I'm getting paid a bit more. Since my bills will be higher, it's definitely a good thing!!! But none of the Korean teachers got raises this year even though it states in their contracts that they should get a raise. Most of them aren't too upset about it, but it makes me feel wanted knowing that my boss wanted me to stay so badly that he gave me a raise and a nicer apartment. Seriously, my new apartment probably costs twice as much as the one I live in now. I do feel badly and a bit selfish that I asked for and got what I wanted, but in Korea, that's kind of how things work. Foreign teachers (especially ones with experience) can usually find a better job somewhere else and will walk if they don't get what they ask for. Also, I didn't ask for nor did I get a raise last year. I asked for a different apartment but they didn't give it to me. So at the same time, I kind of don't feel as bad.

This year, we will only have three foreign teachers at the school. I'm kind of worried about this because I might have more classes, but at the same time, right now I'm working the maximum number of hours that I can before receiving overtime. So, if I get more classes, I will get overtime.

Anyways, I'm pretty excited about these changes, and I'm definitely looking forward to another year here in Daejeon. I move into my new apartment after orientation on Saturday, graduation is next week, and then the new semester starts the week after. A busy end to this semester and a busy start to the next one. I can't wait for things to slow down and get back to normal. I miss my regular schedule at the gym and now that it's warming up some, I want to start running again! I can't wait!!!!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Things that I've learned

I'm coming up on the end of my second year here in Daejeon. I've learned a lot about the city and how to live and get around without knowing the language well. I like to share as much as I have learned with others because it was difficult learning it at times. I will break it up in two parts: medical and general living.

Health is pretty important so I will start with the medical:
1. Always go to a doctor that is comfortable speaking English. Ok, this may sound like a no brainer, but I made this mistake. I'm fairly comfortable speaking Korean about a few things, and I'm a pretty busy person. So I decided to visit a doctor's office because it was closer to my work. While he is a very good doctor (according to Koreans), he cannot speak English. My tiny problem turned into a bigger problem which would have been beneficial to have a doctor that I understood and that understood me better. While I did get through it, it was not fun and not comfortable.

2. Only go to a regular doctor for mild medicines. Basically, if you want the best over the counter medication go to a regular doctor. If you want something stronger that will take care of whatever it is your kids gave you this week, visit a specialist. My favorite specialist is the 이비안후궈(the ENT) because it never fails that's what my kids give me. My favorite ENT is across from Time World in the building next to the NongHyup with the pharmacy and the eyeglass store on the bottom floor. He's on the sixth floor. I think its called 주인이비안후궈. His English is pretty good, but the medicine he prescribes works every time. The best part about visiting the specialist is that it doesn't cost much more than going to your regular doctor. Unless, you go to a big hospital or the OBGYN.

3. Unless its an emergency, don't go to the emergency room. I've visited the ER here in Korea a few times. Twice at Eulji University Hospital in Dunsan Dong and once in Boryeong. One thing I have learned, no one speaks English. Two of the times that I went, it was an actual emergency that I needed medicine for. It was definitely cheaper than the emergency room back home, and they were able to give me medicine to ease the pain. One time I had to stay in the ER because the doctors office closed, but they wanted to give me an IV. That time was horrible. None of the nurses would check on me because they didn't want to speak English. My IV stopped 5 times, and an old lady in the bed next to mine flagged down the nurses every time until she left. After she left it stopped two more times. A 5 hour IV turned into an 8 hour IV. I told the nurse to just take it out, I was leaving at 7 hours there was still a good 1/3 of the bag left. It was ridiculous.

4. Go to the hospital for most specialists. Except for the ENT I mentioned before, the hospital is the best place to go to for specialists. My hospital of choice is Eulji University because they have an English translator on staff during regular business hours. She will accompany you through your entire visit, and she ensures that you understand everything.

Now onto General Living:
1. Live close to your work. Winters suck here in Korea, and it is not fun trying to get to work when you live a 45 minute walk from work. Taxis are impossible to find in the morning when there is ice on the ground. You will end up having to walk which for me takes 15 minutes longer when there is ice because lets face it when has anyone in Georgia ever had to walk on ice?

2. Buy a bicycle. Rush hour sucks in Daejeon so most of the time it is faster to ride a bicycle. Not to mention it saves a ton of money!!!! The only time I don't ride my bike is when there is snow and ice on the ground (if your wondering why refer back to #1).

3. Join an activity. It doesn't matter what the activity is. Meeting new people is never a bad thing. If you're worried about joining alone, don't be. I've done just about everything on my own since I got here including joining two different gyms and a church. Yes, it's nice to join with a friend, but you will meet more people by yourself. Korean people are kind of shy when it comes to talking to foreigners. So if you are always around another foreigner, a lot of the times they won't talk to you.

4. Learn Korean. Even just the reading part. I cannot tell you how many times being able to read Korean has saved my butt. It just makes life easier being able to tell the taxi driver where you want to go, read the signs that are in Korean, and order things properly.

5. Diversity!!!! No matter what aspect of your life financial, friendships, food...diversity is important! But in this case I mean friendships. I am in no position to give advice in any other area. lol. No matter where you live be it Korea, America, Canada, Mexico, Africa. It is very nice to have a very diverse group of friends. It makes things interesting! You can learn new things, try new foods, and play new games. But more specifically in Korea, have a good group of foreign friends and a good group of Korean friends. Foreigners are always leaving Korea. It is very nice to have a person that understands you and your culture. Most Koreans will always stay in Korea. It is definitely nice to have some one constant. It is a balancing act (TRUST ME). Often Koreans don't understand your foreign friends and your foreign friends don't understand your Korean friends. If it is too much, just keep them separate.

6. Fighting Gyms. I've been to two fighting gyms here in Korea and have run into the same problems at both gyms. From my understanding, all fighting gyms are like that in Korea. Here are the reasons. Most Korean women hate to exercise (sorry to generalize this is what I'm told and this is what I've seen), but they also want to lose weight. Most of the time, they join a gym for a month, maybe 2 max and then they quit. From my observation 1 out of 7 stay longer than a month and 1 out of 20 stay longer than a year. Therefore, instructors don't spend as much time training women as they do men, so often women that actually want to train feel excluded. Also, a lot of Korean men are "too shy" to fight women, and by "too shy" they mean they don't want to be embarrassed if the fight doesn't go well for them. Another problem, Korean high school boys and college boys say what they think without filters. This is everywhere! And even if they absolutely love you, they will say stuff that seriously hurts your feelings even though they are only high school kids. So my advice, find a gym that the owner is very understanding and that will help you get through these things.

These are just a few things that I've learned, and they are my experiences. Maybe there's a different Korea out there somewhere, but this is what I've seen. lol. Feel free to post your own advice and lessons on here. I'd love to not have to go through some bad experiences. lol!