Friday, August 20, 2010

Lindsay On Rosie Radio

This is me talking to Rose O'Donnell on her radio show about my experiences in South Korea. Enjoy!

Download the Show!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Moving Forward

I sit here on the KTX train on a beautiful Saturday morning, on my way to visit Mary in Daegu. The quiet murmur of Korean language surrounds me, as I gaze out the window towards green hills, tiny towns and industrial areas. I love riding on the train. I feel like it’s a metaphor for so many things in life. You’re moving fast, but not so fast that you can’t enjoy the scenery. Sometimes you go through dark tunnels. Sometimes they are long tunnels. Some are short. But when you burst through them, the sunlight returns and (if you’re superstitious like me) you can exhale again. The point is to sit back and enjoy the ride, stay on the track, but let your mind wander and explore what’s out beyond the windows. The tunnels will be up ahead, but they don’t last forever. You move forward. It’s the only direction you can go.

Living in Korea has exceeded my expectations. I’ve met so many people from all over the world and I feel like I’ve experienced so much in such a short time. I can hardly believe it’s only been 4 months. I feel like it’s been much longer. Moving here and embarking on this adventure has been the best decision I’ve made in my life so far. I’ve learned more about myself and who I am in the past few months that I have in the last decade. I’ve found more confidence in myself than ever before in my life. It’s so funny that I had to move 5,000 miles away from home and the ones I love most, to really discover who I am and what is important to me. I’m still learning and growing, but I feel like I see a discernible shape now. It’s hard to explain.

For many of you who know me well, you know I’ve struggled with depression and a lack of self-confidence for a very long time. It’s like I was enveloped in this fog of self-doubt for so many years. I had so many people trying to reach me through that thick cloud and it makes me regret that I couldn’t see what everyone was trying to show me. The fog is starting to lift. I can peek underneath it and see the sun. It’s glorious. My work is not done yet, and I know it will be a lifelong practice, but it’s happening. I’m on the train and I’m going somewhere. Finally.

We may all be on the same train, but we all have different destinations. Some are on longer journeys and have many miles to travel. Some ride the rails for a short period of time and get off at their stop before the others. For me, I can’t quite see the station yet, but I know it’s coming up soon. For now, I’m just going to sit back, absorb the scenery, and trust that the train is moving me forward. Thank you all for riding with me. 

Monday, January 25, 2010

Bad, bad blogger

I know, I know - I'm a terrible blogger! Just wanted to inform the 10 people that actually read this blog that I'm still alive and well in the Land of the Kimchee, I've just been incredibly busy. The holidays, school "intensives" for 6 weeks which are almost done, and my whirlwind social life (seriously, I haven't been this social since my early days at college) have left me with little spare time. I have no complaints though! I feel happier than I have in years (maybe ever!) and feeling like I'm really embracing this experience.
I promise to post some pictures and more in-depth stuff in the coming weeks. I just wanted to let everyone know that I'm still here and I promise to get back on the blogging horse!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

It Was a Summer of Red Fingernails

While going through some documents on my computer tonight, I stumbled upon this freewrite I did at the end of the summer. I meant to publish it as soon as I started this blog, but the whole "moving to Korea" thing got in the way and I forgot about it.
It's a really good wrap-up of my summer, which I still claim to be the best of my life thus far. Hope you enjoy reading it ... it still makes me smile.

Red Fingernails

It was a summer of red fingernails. A summer filled with Farmer’s Markets, reading in the hammock, backyard BBQs and wine spritzers. River hair, secret Sandy beaches, suntans and dirty feet. Life-changing dances, little (big) dogs and third roommates. Walks on the waterfront, half price sushi and hilarious elevator rides. Concerts by the river, weekends at the beach and celebrating loved ones we cherish and those we miss most. Memories of first loves, first losses and wishes for the future. Stolen kisses, pillow talk and domestic bliss. A summer of heartbreak and the art of letting go.  Losing loves but not losing the lessons. Of new puppies, encouragement and travel plans. Wedding vows, family time and dancing with your shoes off. A summer of bittersweet closure and future doors flinging open. A summer of overwhelming contentment. A summer of throw-your-head-back-and-laugh-til-you-cry. A summer that reminds you of the greatest gift called Life. The best summer ever.

Korean Paradox

There are things I love about Korea and there are things that drive me nuts about Korea. Here's the list so far, which I'm sure will be edited/added to as this year progresses.


-The food. It's fresh, spicy, mostly healthy and very cheap. That is, if you eat locally. I live in a neighborhood with many Western restaurants too, so the options can be bad if you so choose. I've only succumbed to them a couple of times. I blame being homesick :) I'm hooked on gimbap, ramyon, kimchee, fresh tofu, pickled radishes, bibimbap, just-laid speckled brown eggs, seafood that is still swimming at the restaurant or grocery store, amazing fruits and vegetables and meat that isn't plumped with hormones and salt water.

           Gimbap - like Korean sushi, filled with pickled vegetables, tuna, kimchee ... so delicious!

             Ramyon - wayyyy better than Top Ramen and very spicy. It's my favorite "junky" Korean food.

Bibimbap - a ricebowl with veggies, meat and spicy red pepper sauce, topped with a fried egg. The small side dishes are called banchan and are served with almost every Korean meal. Kimchee, pickled vegetables, soups, sometimes even things like macaroni salad!

-The people, for the most part. My Korean coworkers are so sweet, helpful and kind. The store owners have been patient while I learn basic phrases, handle Korean money and always smile and wait while I fumble around with my wallet.

-The weather. Although it's almost December and pretty chilly, most days here are sunny and bright. Compared to Oregon winters which are rainy and miserable, the sunny days here have been glorious. Although I've heard that July and August is monsoon season so I'll probably be eating my words while everyone at home is enjoying perfect summer days.

The beach in Busan! Gorgeous!

-The subway. It's clean, fast, cheap, efficient and very easy to get around. There are signs in English everywhere and it's not complicated to figure out how to get from here to there. It's awesome for people watching too, which is one of my favorite things to do.

-Heated floors. Probably one of the most genius inventions ever. The heating systems run under the floors through water pipes, so it's efficient too. There is nothing better on a cold morning than climbing out of bed, your feet hitting the toasty floor. Milo loves it too.

-Showering in the entire bathroom. I thought it was the weirdest, craziest concept when I arrived, but now I absolutely love it. You don't feel boxed in, it's super easy to clean the bathroom (just spray with cleaner and literally hose the entire thing down) and you're forced to keep all your stuff in the cabinet. Good for people like me who have lots of products!

-Keyless entry. My apartment door has a code to get in, so I don't ever have to worry about forgetting my keys at home. My current place has a key fob for the front door, but my new place has keyless entry for both the main door and my apartment. Score!


-The people, sometimes. For the most part, people are great. On the other hand, there are some that ruin it for 90% of the others. Last week, an old woman (called ajummas) followed my coworker from the subway station (she had been following her for 5 stops), yelling at her and basically telling her to get out of the country. She continued this into our school building, until the nice cleaning ladies stopped her from getting into the elevator with my coworker for further berating. That same day, a friend told me about how an ajumma pushed a special needs man off the bus steps, onto the street, flat on his face and then walked over him while yelling at him. This story almost had me in tears. I am all for respecting your elders, as long as they give respect back. I'm glad I wasn't present to witness either of these situations firsthand, because I don't know what I would have done. I'm sure there will be a time that I will witness these things and it makes me very sad.

Most of the old ladies here are wonderful and sweet, like this one. It's too bad that some ruin the reputation for the others. I guess that's true for any group of people though...

-Totally ignoring signs. On the subway steps, there are clear postings in English and Korean that say "Keep right," as in the flow of foot traffic. Everyone literally does the opposite. It's so frustrating! I've mastered the art of dodging people left and right, and don't even apologize anymore when I ram into others. Maybe it's an Oregon thing, but the blatant disregard for anyone else on the street or in the subway is baffling. I'll do really well when I visit New York someday!

-High heels. Specifically, the ones worn by women in my apartment building. The stairs are made of granite and there is constant click-clacking up and down, over and over and over again, at all hours of the day and night. I really hope my new apartment has more foreigners and/or tenants that like to wear flats. However, I don't think my odds are good. Women wear the highest heels imaginable here. Everywhere. The beach, hiking (seriously), on the street, in the subway. Everywhere. This place is a podiatrist's nightmare.

-No dryers. I miss warm, fluffy towels and wrinkle-free tshirts. Doing your laundry here means thinking ahead at least 24 hours. And jeans? You're looking at a two day drying period, minimum. Mmm, crunchy clothes.

-No ovens. I miss roasting vegetables and making tuna melts under the broiler. I was never really that much of a baker, but I've had the urge to make cookies more than once since I've arrived. No croutons with old bread ends, and forget about a turkey for Thanksgiving. Sigh.

That's it so far, but I'm sure it will be amended and added to as my experience continues. Stay tuned!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Dynamic Busan

Living in a large metropolitan area has been so great. I'm definitely a city girl at heart. I love the constant energy, the throngs of people, the nonstop entertainment. I still walk the streets with a bit of awe that I'm actually living in Asia. I think I'm getting pretty good at finding my way around too. 

Other good news - I found out that my new apartment is only about 5 minutes away from my current place, and even closer to my best friend here in Busan! It's a newer complex as well, and even though the hassle of moving sounds like such a headache right now, it could be so much worse. Hopefully my school will help me move too. The plan is for next Sunday so I'll spend this week packing and cleaning this place. Poor Milo will have to deal with a third move in two months, but I'm sure he'll be fine. Good thing he's cute, snuggly and I love him so much!

Ok, on to pictures of city life!

These are shots from the Busan Train station, while I was waiting to pick Mary up last weekend. The trains to and from Daegu to Busan are cheap (around $10), fast, run multiple times an hour and the station is pretty easy to navigate. It was so great seeing Mary and we are both loving life in Korea. We would turn to each other a few times during the weekend and exclaim, "Holy smokes, we live in Korea!?!?" It was awesome.

Here is the Busan Station - it's huge but easy to get around.

Some shots around the taxi area and the front of the station. Cool art and pretty trees ...

Here are some pictures of Mary, Mel and I on Gwangalli Beach at sunset. It was cold, but beautiful. Mel is a friend of Kindra and Sean's that I met at their wedding this summer. She has been my best friend here and the biggest support I could ask for. We have decided that we were separated at birth :) She's amazing and one of the best things about Busan. And now I live 6 blocks from her, whoohoo! The last picture is us poking a bit of fun at the love of peace signs in all Korean photos, ha! Although my peace-loving self can definitely appreciate :)

Here are some random shots around my neighborhood. The McDonalds was a landmark Mel and I used my first few weeks here to meet up with each other. I still laugh when I think of how embarrassing that is! 

Mel and I attempted to see a movie this weekend but I ended up getting some great pictures from the elevator instead. Not a total loss! The last one is my subway station, taken one night on my way home from work.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Shoe Has Dropped

For the most part, I try to be a glass-half-full kind of girl. I've always thought that being cheerful and positive was the best route. Although I've had my fair share of ups and downs, looking at the bright side has always been my goal. Although I try not to be pessimistic, sometimes I think things are too good to be true and I seem to hold my breath, waiting for the other shoe to drop. This experience in Korea has gone so smoothly that I've wondered what the catch would be sooner or later. The time has come.

After numerous emails and assurance from my school that everything would be fine with Milo, I've encountered a major problem. At first they just told me to keep a low profile with him. Then they told me that if my landlord happened to see him, to say that I was just watching him for a friend. Then the other day my cable was being installed, and my crazy landlord Mr. Sung saw Milo pop his head out from under the covers. My cover was blown, so to speak. He began to scold me and pointed to the door, repeating, Today, today! Which I took to mean that he wanted Milo to be out that day. I froze and told him yes, because I didn't know what else to say. I frantically called and emailed my boss to ask her what I should do. Later that day at school, she assured me that they would work something out with the landlord and it would work out fine. Ahhhh, my first experience with the contradiction that is Korean communication.

The next day I was informed I had to move. Out of my adorable apartment. Away from the perfect neighborhood that I've grown to love these last 2 weeks. Away from the five minute walk to my closest friend in Busan. Away from the convenient landmark that always assured me I would be able to find home. I was devastated. I was also extremely annoyed. I've moved twice in the last month and I am tired of carting my things around. I finally got cable. I finally figured out the fastest route to the subway and the best place to get kimbap and pizza in a cup when I was feeling homesick. It's not fair. I want to stomp my feet and throw a tantrum. But I'm almost 30 years old and life isn't fair. Things happen and things suck. This is one of those moments. I'm trying to think positively and hope that my new apartment will be even better than this one. I have to keep telling myself that or I'll go crazy. Stupid landlord ...