Saturday, May 31, 2014

Finally coming home!

     **I wrote this in multiple parts over a week because of work and going out so if there are any parts that may seem repetitive I apologize, but deal with it :P**

      Well, 2.5 almost 3 years have gone by since I've left the US and was received by the loving embrace of Mother Korea's arms. I know I've bitched a lot about Korea for as long as I've been here but Seoul slowly grew on me. All of the friends I've made here have helped me tremendously during my time here and I'll forever be grateful. After I got out of the military, I laid around for 2 months, doing nothing  and wallowed in my own depression. Not entirely true, but for the most part, yeah. After fighting my dad on getting a job before I left, I folded and took an interview with a department at LG. It was only for a translating position but it turned out I was going to be working big projects, which to my surprise has been really enjoyable so far.  Post-graduation and I can't find a job, I feel a little more at ease knowing that I can always come back to Seoul and find a job...

     After applying to all those graduate schools, I got into 2 lol. Pittsburgh, which has an amazing program for biomedical engineering and the ol' alma mater. Not wanting to lean on the parentals any more, I decided to take the PhD position offered to me at Arkansas since free school is the best school and the research they're doing is exactly what I'm wanting to work on once I graduate. Also means I'll be returning home again.

     Now that I have less than 2 months before I head back to the land of milk and honey, I'm starting to get anxiety about leaving. I've grown accustomed to city life and it's numerous conveniences as well as all of the relationships I've formed here. I've always been horrible at saying goodbye, even leaving friends after a night out, I always tend to linger, or so says one of my friends here. After being here for so long, I can truly picture myself living here. I'm sure I'd miss the states occasionally but's weird. I'm torn between two worlds...

     Things I'll miss about Seoul...the smell of the streets. Walking around and being bombarded by the myriad of smells the city has to offer. Be it the wondrous aroma of a homeless man's freshly soiled pants, delicious street food, or the occasional passerby's redonculous perfume (I know, I'm a creeper, back off). One place I'll really miss is my own little Cheers. A little basement bar called "Soul".  It's like my second home, especially with the family atmosphere that it gives me. I mean, having your name adorn the wall among a few select people is pretty homey isn't it? I've met some of the coolest people there and a couple of them turned out to be some of my best friends here. It helped that they spoke English...and were American soldiers lol. I've also my fair share of Korean friends who I'll miss as well. I'm going to miss sticking my headphones in and just taking a random bus to some far off part of the city and just wandering around like a tourist. Best part about public transportation in Korea is the sheer disregard old people have for others. I've been farted on, sneezed on, almost knocked over during a geezer boxing match on the subway (wish I was lying) among many other things. Especially going to miss my youngest uncle, aunt and their three little hell raising daughters.
      And who can forget about the girls. Not having grown up around Korean girls, it was rough trying to date during my early days in Korea. I never knew what to say or how to say things without sounding like an idiot or weirdo. Now that my Korean is up to acceptable standards, I can actually have decent conversations with girls. I've been with a good amount of Korean girls now. Most of them were a waste of time aka gold diggers or just plain stuck up. A couple of the girls I've met lately though helped me develop a certain fondness for Korean women, not purely physical but the whole package. I finally found someone I am completely comfortable with and I don't know if she feels the same way I do (probably not) but I don't care, I like the feeling of these blinders over my eyes and I think I'll relish this foolhearted endeavor just because I'm almost never like this and it takes my mind off of leaving soon. It's a damn shame, Mr. Kim, damn shame.

     Now that I have to grow up and put my big boy panties on, I've been enjoying what little remains of my irresponsible ways. I've checked off most of the things a degenerate Korean person has to do while living in Seoul. Just a few to give you an idea: go to karaoke and call girls, drinking until 7 am in the morning (this is pretty much any ajussi in Korea though so it doesn't count, these folks are straight up alcoholics), throwing up while riding public transportation (I've only done it in the taxi and it was not pretty but at least the cabby didn't kick my ass for it, he was super nice. Totally not ashamed of it either wha wha wha???).
      Seeing as how similar this last part is to my last blog post in Fayetteville before I left, I can say I've come full circle and that I enjoyed the hell out of this little detour in my life. Before this, I was afraid of change. I lived comfortably in Fayetteville for most of my life and didn't have to face that much hardship. After being moved into another country and foreign environment and seeing how fickle life's path is, I'm much more comfortable and open to change. One thing that will never change is my inability to let things go easily. Koreans have a term called 정 (pronounced 'jung') that has no direct translation but can be boiled down to a certain connection you have with someone to put it in simpler terms. But it's not just that definition, it's a term colored with emotion and mixed feelings. It is because of this that I'm having an exponentially harder time letting go.
       Like I said, I'm going to miss Korea like hell but I know that it probably won't be the last time here for me. Who knows, 10 years down the road I could still be in the US or I could be here in Seoul. I wish I had some pictures to put up here for you guys from my stay here but I'm usually too caught up in the moment to even consider pulling out my camera. I hope one day I can bring some of you here to experience what I have because it's beautiful. I can say that I've finally filled the little hole in my heart that was missing a part of my heritage. I feel complete now, but that doesn't mean I won't always struggle with my identity because I probably will and I think I'd like for it to continue as a constant reminder of where I am from.
      I had an interesting conversation with a friend from the US (Korean raised in the states like me who had to come back to do his military service) before his military leave ended. At first he was depressed like me but now that he has spent some time here, he realized that he felt comfortable with his surroundings. There is a feeling you get when you're surrounded by "people that are just like you," in which he meant Koreans. Even though he spent almost all of his life in the US, he felt like he finally fit in. It seems like most of the American raised Koreans feel exactly this way, or at least the ones I've befriended here. I'm no exception. Other things were discussed throughout that alcohol fueled night but this stuck with me the most. Am I just fooling myself in thinking that I'm American? I feel like an American because that's how I was raised but I also feel a strong connection with being Korean now. There's something comforting (among other things but this is one thing that's always in the back of my mind) about walking into an establishment and not worrying about if I'm getting the stink eye or dodging glances (even though it might all just be in my head but I grew up as a victim of racism and it has left a substantial mark on my psyche). I know I'll most likely recover to my old self again but it's still something that makes for interesting discussion.

*A special paragraph for Jun since he bitched about me not writing about him.
    I value the friendship we've forged and I consider you a lifelong friend. I'm glad we met in boot camp. I always thought it was hilarious when you and J saw me during intake and thought you had to help this poor Korean American with no Korean speaking skills through camp. I was pretty scared shitless and worried about getting in trouble for not understanding pretty much anything that was being asked of us by the drill sergeants. You and J made basic training seem like nothing. The physical aspect of boot camp was bullshit, summer two a days for football were harder in my opinion, but that's besides the point. From the time we first met during garbage duty at night up to now you've been my closest friend, like a mentally challenged younger brother I've had to watch over, hahaha. Just kidding. We've had many great times together and you showed me what it truly means to be Korean. Even the times when Andrew and Tom came to visit you came along and helped arrange little outings and made it a point to show them the real Korea, not just the bullshit tourist activities. Everything from testing Andrew's alcohol tolerance (5 차, get on my level) to eating all the weird shit normal people would cringe at. They've told me how much they appreciated having you there with us in making all those memories. I'm pretty sure we almost killed Andrew on a few nights out but at least he got a proper induction into Korean culture. I know I'm pretty callous in the way I act sometimes and I tease you about your English but it's all out of love, man. Making your ex-girlfriend jealous of our relationship was my pleasure, people can't help it, I'm just that awesome. True story. We practically did everything together during my time here and it's been an honor to call you 동생. Do me a favor though, if you ever see that drunk ajussi Bruce Lee wannabe, kick his ass for me. I know you want to go back to Canada but come on, man, the US is way better :P You'll get there someday, and I hope you find someone who's not crazy or overly demanding of you because who wants a naggy Korean girlfriend, amirite or what? There's your little plug. Happy now? Daint.

*okay, thought I'd be remiss to leave out my homegirl out of this so this one's for you :)
Taytay! I'm so happy I that I met a fellow Southerner in this part of the world. Not only that, besides the dainty Korean, you've been my best friend. We've had our share of ridiculous experiences and late night, sober and drunk talks. Finally, someone I can talk to about the roller coaster of dysfunction that I call my home life among other things and not feel like I'm being judged. You're always available for counsel and your ability to be frank and just shoot down my ridiculous ideas keeps me grounded and humble. You always cheer me up and you're propensity (oh shit, he's using big words, he musta gone to havhad or sumthin. Fackin' smaht) to go out and do new things is refreshing in a land plagued with routinism. Through you I've met some of the most wonderful people and still am (shouts to Mike and Garza!) and I'm forever grateful. I hope I run into you in the future or at least stay in touch because you're definitely Craig material. Guys, as the head of the Council of Craig, I present to you Tay Craig. Welcome to the brotherhood, girl, membership is for life. We still got a couple of months left so let's make them good ones.

Wow, this post feels looooooooong...time to wrap this up.

So the countdown begins. The official date I'll land in AR will be July 25th. Can't wait to see all of you beautiful bastards and to all my Korean friends, I'll miss the hell out of you guys, thank you for making a brotha feel at home for almost 3 years. If you ever have the chance, come visit and I'll give you a small taste of Murica, because you know you want it. Again, thanks to everyone for giving me this wonderful gift. This point in my life will be something that I'll always cherish. This is probably the last post I will write before I get on the plane. I'll see you all very soon.

P.S. 준순, don't be a daint and cry when I leave because I know you will ^^.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Light at the end of the tunnel

     I did it. I've been put through the grinder and I came out the other end a little worse for wear but I'm still chugging along. 2.5 months left in the dumbest military obligation on the planet and I'm a free man. At the risk of scaring most of my friends off with some of the disturbing thoughts that I have endured throughout my tenuous journey in the motherland, all I can say is that I have become a better man because of the psychological crucible I have endured. Actually, I'm still dealing with some issues but I've accepted the fact that everyone has baggage that they'll never be rid of so I'm sucking it the hell up and dealing with it. Being certain about your future and always having a plan is a cliche and overly idealistic, bullshit way of looking at life. I know that now and I'm kicking myself in the ass for having drank from that koolaid bowl for so long. Having roadblocks and detours may be an adventure, but when you're taking that first step starting down a path so dark that even the terms "abyss" and "void" pale in comparison, it has a way of scaring even the manliest man shitless. It takes balls of steel and indescribable conviction to follow through with a plan where there is no end in sight, let alone the first damn step. It's a good thing though, being scared shitless. It has a way of ripping off the rose-shaded goggles with which you view the world. You see things for what they are and not what they could or should be, rooting you in the realm of realistic expectations. In other words, I have no qualms with destroying your skewed perception of life if you unfortunately happen to be in my vicinity. City life has made me a cynical old man with a layer frost around his heart, but I'm still JK underneath all of that. Don't lie, you love it.
    I'm almost done with my preparations for coming back. Just took the GRE, killed it (biomedical engineering, here I come!), and now all I have left is to finish a couple more graduate school applications and I'm worry free until the acceptance (we're staying positive on this front) letters roll in. I'm finally getting to come for a long overdue visit back to Fayetteville using the rest of my vacation days. It almost doesn't feel real anymore since it's something I've wanted for so long. I've been so sick of the city grind that even the mere thought of just kicking back in Fayetteville seems like paradise. Home...ironic though since there is no actual home to return to, haha. Doesn't matter though, it's the place where I planted my roots all those years ago and nothing can change that.
    I started this blog to document my misadventures for those of you who were interested enough to read, then at some point it turned into a place where I would bitch about any and everything that bugged me. Now, I think it's about time we shut this thing down.
       2+ years is a long time to be forced to put your life on hold for something you don't really care for, all because of a technicality. Did I learn anything from being in the military? No. Was it a good experience? The jury is still out on that one, might be for a while. Some people said that I would be remiss if I didn't take advantage of my situation to grow from it but the military hasn't taught me anything I didn't already know. That may sound like an asinine and overly arrogant statement but it's true. Most of the kids here (yes, kids, some straight out of high school and some after a year of college go straight to the military) live so comfortably in this techno age that they need to get the piss kicked out of them during their service so that they can be released back into society as productive citizens. Unfortunately, the military's discipline is lost on some the minute they are discharged, but for the most part, it's pretty effective in enforcing the hierarchical nature of Korean society. I'd like to think that I was raised properly as a well mannered southern gentleman with a Korean twist and even though I've lived a comfortable life, I still experienced my share of hardships and know how to appreciate everything and know better than to think that things should just be handed to me. Kids these days man, you would think that they'd never had a proper ass whippin' in their life. They don't know what it's like not being able to sit or lay down to go to sleep because you got the spanking of your life over some trivial shit, but it's effective...ooooh man is it effective *shudders*. So, you see? JK doesn't need a lesson in manners, hardships and respecting your elders under the guise of military service to straighten him out. I'm awesome. True story.
     Did I learn anything from being in Korea? Putting yourself out there and not giving a thought to what others think of you is one of the most liberating things a person can experience. Also, standing out isn't such a horrible thing. Yeah, I got the "what the hell does this jackass think he's doing" stare a lot when I first got to Korea but I didn't care...still don't care. Fuck yo couch. Also, I think I appreciate my heritage a lot more than I used to and my Korean has gotten exponentially better. I definitely loved spending time with my extended family here, that's for sure. They are something that will be greatly missed when I go back. I'm also thankful for making all the wonderful friends I have made while in Seoul. I saw bits and pieces of my friends in them as well as being drawn to their own individual quirks. Having lived in a city where the nightlife plays an important role in social affairs, I've managed to accumulate a fair share of ridiculous stories ranging almost getting into a fight with a drunken Bruce Lee wannabe to alcohol fueled nights of debauchery and I will be divulging them to whoever is willing to listen when I'm home. This is the last post I'm going to write until I get my grad school letters back and then this blog will be retired. I'm ready to take back the reins to the JK wagon. Thanks to all of you who stuck with me throughout my little adventure. Baby, I'm coming home!


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The beginning of the end

Heyo, long time no see. I forget when my last post was but I'm guessing it's been at least a couple of months.  A lot has changed in that time. I'm working two side jobs proofreading documents/contracts/research papers for translation companies. Taking advantage of my foreigner card here :) I've pretty much quit drinking all together. I guess I've finally passed the boozing part of my young adult life. Don't get me wrong, I'll throw down with the homies if there's reason to do so, but pretty tame otherwise. Now smoking is another story. A cruel mistress nicotine is I tell you. Never thought I'd be hooked on cigarettes but my drive to quit is there. I didn't really smoke that much to begin with and since I've cut out drinking, I'm down to 1 cigarette a day with  2 or 3 days in between where I don't smoke. I can see the light at the end of the smoke free tunnel folks, yeaaaaaaaus.

It's already spring 2013 and I feel like I've been served a temporal bitch slap. Time flies hella fast. I've only got a little under 10 months left of my military service before I'm free. Since deciding not to pursue a graduate degree afterwards, I'm now focusing on finding a chemical engineering job in the states. I know this is going to be pretty hard to do since I'll be applying as an international requiring a sponsor for a work visa, but you gots to try, right? Even if I get shot down by every single company in the US, I won't quit until I've exhausted every possible avenue for employment at "home." Funny isn't it, how I have to bust my ass to get back to the place I call home. If worse comes to worst, I'll look for jobs in Korea in the engineering sector of international companies. This wouldn't be that bad if they were willing to relocate me to the states, but this is my last resort. Or I could just go for a graduate degree if I really don't want to live in Korea.

Since I've been on the healthy living track, I've been working out again after a long hiatus and I feel great. I don't like going to the gyms here because the douchey looking trainers keep bugging me about my form or saying that I'm lifting too heavy. I get it, most people want the crazy ripped, cut body. I'll be content with a leaner version of myself but I want to retain most of my strength. I wasn't enjoying the atmosphere of the gym I was going to so I quit after a couple months and have since been doing workouts in my room with dumbbells and kettle bells. If only there was a cross fit gym in Seoul that didn't cost an ungoldy amount of money for membership, sigh. I wish I had more pictures to post on this blog but I really don't take a lot of pictures. I usually just get too wrapped up in what I'm doing, I kind of just forget about it. I think it sullies the experience, constantly taking pictures.

I know there's been a lot of threats from N. Korea lately in the news. There were a couple of scares where I really thought they were going to try something to the South but that subsided quickly. For the first time in my life I've been interested in reading international news. Back in the states, it was all far away so I really didn't pay attention - out of sight, out of mind. Now, being the target of a power hungry, war mongering, brain dead dictator puts things into perspective.  In this day and age, there is no way any country could get away with a nuclear attack on another country without facing the harshest of punishments. People here in S. Korea know that it's a bunch of hot air coming out of Kim Jong Un's pie hole so it's no surprise when they act like nothing's really going on. Sometimes I wish they would attack us just to get it over with so we can retaliate. A country full of men who are forced to do their mandatory military service for 2 years and nothing to show for all that training. What a waste.

It's a beautiful spring day in Seoul today. I'm sitting in this cafe facing the street with the wind in my face, accompanied by overplayed pop songs blaring over the sound system. It's in settings like these where I finally shut off the rest of the world, shut off my brain, and just enjoy the present. Kinda like this guy:  Bockelman and Bri sent me a care package a couple days ago and I can't wait to get it. Should be here in a week and a half. Surprisingly, they're the first to send me a package and I'm excited. Truly worthy of Craig status, love you guys. I might be jinxing myself again but my plan is to make a visit in late December to Fayetteville and maybe other places in a span of 2 weeks since that's all I get for my vacation. Until then, y'all take care and know that I miss the hell out of you guys. You Craigs are as good as family to me. 10 months and counting :)


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Holiday update!

     It's been a while folks!  What has this Korean been up to you ask?  Working my gundae(military) post, studying a little, and enjoying myself with the guilty pleasures the city has to offer (mostly alcohol), the latter of which has managed to completely drain my bank account at the moment, haha.  I've seriously never spent this type of money when going out back home but it seems so much easier here.  The biggest contributing factor being that imported alcohol is marked up anywhere from 30 to 100%.  I'm ashamed and I wish I could just go out for dollar beers like I used to but what are you going to do, hehe.  With my heterosexual male companion, Jun Sun (or Lars, as named by his Canadian host mother), I've managed to stave off boredom for the better part of almost a year.  I've also become quite adept at typing in Korean now too, which is crazy.  Only took a couple months of forcing myself to chat to my Korean friends in Hangul.  Other than that, I've been meeting girls here and there but none have connected with me that well.  I really want a girl!
     As most of you know, I was planning a glorious, two week visit to Fayettenam, but those plans got cancelled due to personal reasons.  Have no fear, Captain Craig shall make his triumphant return in the year of 2013, believe that!  I play it off like it's no big deal, but I really was devastated.  I wanted to see my friends, my brother, and my dog.  I dreamt about it.  I imagined breathing in that tantalizing, Arkansas air once again.  The smoky smell from all the fireplaces being burnt, awww yeeeuh, that's the stuff baby.  It's ok, I can vicariously experience the joy and warmth of my loved ones through Skype and free calling for now.  
     I've become horrifyingly complacent with my current routine and I don't like it.  Most days I just come home from work, eat, watch my shows, play a couple hours of video games and just knock out for the night.  When did I become such an old man?  With all that free time, I'd rather be working a second job after work but tutoring/teaching jobs have been hard to come by.  Most people want to hire full time or they hire someone from one of the good colleges here to teach their children.  Not being the slightest bit of envious, but come on people, do you want your children to learn book English or do you want them to actually be able to speak the language?  I understand they need to pass their tests and what not and have no problems with that.  I quit my old teaching job a while back because of the commute from there back home.  I would have to go straight there without time to eat dinner and I'd get home around midnight on the days I would work.  Plus, for the services I was providing, which were speaking/academic writing and the occasional math tutoring (I am an engineer after all :)), I wasn't getting competitive enough pay when compared with other people with lesser skill sets.  Not to mention the majority of the students, who weren't in the slightest bit motivated to do any work I assigned them or learn while in class.  I can be the best teacher in the world but if they don't match my enthusiasm in class, my desire to teach is going to fade.  Anyway, I've been looking for opportunities to make extra cash but nothing yet.
     Music.  I met a person through Craigslist (don't laugh at me, I'm desperate) who was looking for a guitar player to gig with a while ago.  We met a couple times and they seemed enthused about my playing but with my luck, they shaded out and haven't contacted me since lol.  WTF.  I'm seriously going crazy without my music.  One of the last remaining pure joys in my life here and I can't find anyone to play with.  Why not gig by myself?  Have you ever played with other people?  Playing off that musical chemistry you have with someone, it's orgasmic.  I've neglected Natalie (my guitar) for a long time and the only musical satisfaction I get these days is when I go to noraebangs (karaoke) with my friends, which is quite often.  If you guys have any music that gets your jimmies rustled, let this brother know, I want to be inspired to play again.  I've been thinking about picking my sax up again, after all, I was originally known as Saxyman :)  
     Christmas is around the corner so it's time for me to go and buy everyone cards again.  Apologies if they get there a bit after, international mail is so slow.  If any of you want, I'd really like the book The 4 Hour Chef by Tim Ferriss.  Perfect book for a wannabe chef/foody like me, it has other really interesting content in it.  If you've never heard of it, look it up on Youtube and read about it.  Even if you're not a chef, it's probably one of the coolest concepts for a book I've heard of in a long time.  If I don't receive a copy from you, it's ok, I'll just hate you for a little bit.  Haha, not really, I'll probably end up ordering it off Amazon anyway.  What else...I need to find out if Pittsburgh wants me to reapply to my graduate program since my deferral to the program will only last until Fall 2013.  That is why I've been studying for the GRE again, just in case.  I really can't wait to be back in school, but more importantly working so I can actually contribute to society.  All my friends out there working and advancing your careers, I'm jealous of you.  Try taking a 2 year break from work.  It sounds like a dream, but it is not lol.  Too much time inside of one's head is the path to insanity I tell you.  
     That's about it for this one guys.  Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  I didn't get to celebrate this year nor did I get to watch all the football games.  ESPN updates on my phone doesn't do it justice.  Everyone stay warm too!  It's bloody freezing here.  The wind chill is nothing to be trifled with.  So cold, your snot will freeze and that's no lie.  Not that I would know or anything...Love and miss you guys.  I miss you guys this much <-----------------------------------------> x infinity.  ^^

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A year in the land of unicorns

     Well kiddos, it's almost been a year since I've arrived in the motherland and it has gone by in a flash.  Seems just like yesterday that I was sulking over how much I hated it here and how much I missed Fayetteville.  That is no longer the case and I find myself turning into a full on Koreano more and more each day.  I've acclimated so well that sometimes I find myself entertaining the thought of living here after my service.  Too bad we don't have teleporters so that we could go back and forth as we pleased.  Someday though, someday ^^.  Having experienced virtually everything that I could have here, all that's left is finding me a woman, yeah!  Actually, I've been meeting girls here and there and although it's fun, I still haven't been able to find a keeper.  When I mention that I'm going back after I'm done with my service, they seem to put in their mind that I won't be as serious a partner as someone who would live here afterwards.  The youngest girl I was talking to was 20 years old (go ahead, call me a cradle robber) but it turned out she was too immature for my taste.  Out of all the girls I've met though, the ones I really liked were nursing students/nurses.  Actually, I still like one of them but I haven't said anything because they kind of think I'm a man whore because I went around and collected all the girls' numbers.  How the hell does that make me look like a man whore if I didn't have a hidden agenda in getting the numbers.  Korea's funny that way.
    I haven't had anything exciting happen to me in a long time.  Just going out after work with friends and enjoying the bountiful pleasures the city offers in the evening.  I'm patiently waiting for winter to get here.  It's only been up in the 90s here but that coupled with the retarded high humidity and there is no way that you can walk around with sweating and feeling nasty the entire day.  It seriously feels like the rainforest here, especially on days when it rains or the days following it.  A couple more months and I finally get to come back home for a week and a half or so.  It'll be the last time I visit Fayetteville before and after I finish my service so I need to take advantage of every single day I'm there.  So much to do and so many people to see, my brain's exploding just thinking about what all I want to do when I get there.
     I wish I had more to say, but honestly I've been way too busy lately and never even think about writing in this thing anymore.  It used to be that I'd be looking forward to writing about what I did that day, but these days I find that it's more of a chore.  No matter how much I write to show how much fun it is here, I feel that words will never do the actual experience justice.  If it means anything, anytime I go and do something really fun with my friends here, I can't help but think that it would be even better if all of you were here to enjoy it with me.  Especially to all my friends who love karaoke, the noraebangs here (private karaoke rooms with food/alcohol service) are like heaven for people like you and me.  Around $18/hour plus however much time the front desk gives you as service, it's awesome.  Drink as much as you want and belt out your favorite tunes with no fear of embarrassment or judgement from complete strangers.  My Korean has gotten to the point where I'm comfortable singing/rapping in Korean now.  Haha, if only you guys could listen, it's a trip.
    That's it for now, don't really have anything else to say.  I don't know who reads this anymore (Russell you bastard, can't believe you haven't read a single post) so it might be last post for a long time until something worthwhile happens.  모르겠다, 담에보자 친구들아, 빠이빠이! ^^
Korean typing FTW bitches.  Miss and love y'all.

Blog entry 7/5/2012

It’s been almost a month since Andrew’s been here.  Although I’ve had to work for most of the time, we’ve still managed to venture into Seoul and enjoy its’ offerings, the main course being alcohol and the food.  Korea, unlike the US, has a limited amount of tourist spots.  Lots of old palaces and temples, historic villages in the countryside, and regions that have their own particular tourist attraction.  I can see how someone who’s visited a fair amount of the attractions could get tired of seeing the same thing in a different location.  Don’t get me wrong, seeing the culture and history of a foreign country is interesting and all, but I find living like a local to be far more appealing, especially if your stay is longer than a week or two. 
            Andrew has seen most of the touristy spots with and without me.  I’m sure he’ll post plenty of pictures, as he doesn’t hesitate to take pictures of the little oddities and quirks that you come across while walking the streets of Seoul.  The funniest of them being the ridiculous English fails on signs and posters.  Aside from the tourist stuff, I’ve taken him with me around the city to all the places that I frequent and met some of my friends who showed him how real Koreans spend a night out.  This usually ends with Andrew passed out on the table while my friends and I are still drinking and eating.  Also, thanks to Andrew I’ve been able to find some tasty new places to go to when he leaves.  One of them being this Mexican place called Tomatillo.  Oh how I’ve missed the taste of home and this place satiates my intense love for south of the border cuisine.  I also had to increase my alcohol tolerance for the first couple of weeks since I rarely get to go out and imbibe due to my hectic schedule. 
            Even though my room constantly smells like fart (thanks, Craig) and has been hard at times, it’s been nice to have someone from home to hang out with here.  Aside from my trip back to Fayetteville this November and Andrew being here, I probably won’t be seeing anyone from home for a very long time so I’m enjoying every moment I can.  I feel bad at times that I have to work and can’t show Andrew around some more but my hands are tied and it’s shitty.  I’ve some long overdue pictures to post so here they are.  Enjoy.  Until next time, love and miss y’all.

            We took a trip to the biggest water park in the world by square footage this past weekend called Caribbean Bay.  Went with Craig, my mom, and my youngest uncle’s family.  It was probably similar to Silver Dollar City size wise, just imagine Silver Dollar City converted into one, big water resort and that’s what it was.  The rides were all fun, the most thrilling one had to be this one called the Aqua Loop.  You stand inside this chamber with a trap door for the floor.  It counts down from 3 and the door releases, sending you plummeting straight down about 25-30 feet inside a tube and at one point you go up the tube and the tube twists again sending you down into the landing zone.  Watching people from the outside, they look like mail packets being sent up the tubes you see at the bank.  I also saw some girls who couldn’t make it up the tube since they didn’t have enough speed going down. 
            Another fun attraction was the wave pool.  However, the fun was sullied by the sheer amount of people and jackassery that took place there.  I can’t believe how big of safety Nazis the lifeguards were.  They had rope setup to limit people from getting too close to where the waves were being generated (don’t know why they would, but whatever), but they stopped generating waves because people were too close to the rope.  What’s the point of the damn rope if you’re not even going to let people up to it?  I kind of understand their point of view though since it did look like the Titanic had sunk and all the survivors were floating in the wave pool.  I’m surprised no one drowned.   It was also hilarious because I’ve never seen a lifeguard jump into the pool at any pool I’ve ever been to but at Caribbean Bay, I saw 3 to 4 lifeguards jump in, all within 30 minutes to drag people off or diffuse a situation. 
            The other thing that was worthwhile was the lazy river that ran through about half the park.  I floated it with my Uncle and his daughters first.  I just attached myself like a barnacle to my youngest cousin’s tube and floated with her.  Though it was fun, again, it was way too packed to be really enjoyable.  It really made me miss floating the rivers in Arkansas.  Don’t think anything could beat floating the Buffalo with an armada of Craigs in the middle of summer with a nice  flow rate and high water levels.  Anyway, Andrew leaves this Friday and I’m working the entire week without a break, which es no bueno.  The journey has come to an end for a Craig and hopefully his stay was pleasant.  Even though he could’ve partaken in more of the stuff you could only ever do in a foreign country, it was fun regardless.  

     I started teaching again for some extra money.  It's only for 4 weeks and I'm teaching math this time around instead of English.  My pay got bumped up some so that's a bonus.  Other than that, life is back to normal for me. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Bringin' that Fayettetrille flavor to Seoul

     Hello my loves.  Life's been quite eventful lately.  My public service job is taxing on the mind and the soul.  If you like doing nothing all day and meaningless work, let's trade spots.  You're thinking, oh shit, doing nothing sounds awesome, I wish that was my job.  NO YOU DON'T.  It's enough to drive someone crazy.  The monotony, lack of intellectual stimulus, and just the prospect of having to do the same, lackluster job for 2 years is frustrating.  I make do with what I've got though, through reading and trolling around on Reddit, a portion of my sanity is salvaged.  A couple weeks ago, we had to attend mandatory lectures given by the National Man Power Administration.  What's funny is that most of the lecturers were fairly attractive (good guy government, if you don't get the reference, you should Reddit =P).  From 9 am to 5 pm we were force fed things we already knew ranging from manners/etiquette to the dangers of dating crazy girls (why this was pertinent is beyond me).  There was also the expected "love thy nation" and military lecturing going on but all in all, they were basically telling us not to act like hooligans during our service but rather conduct ourselves in a manner that is befitting of a Korean man in the "military."  My "pod" mates during the week have been really cool and I actually befriended all of them rather quickly.  I find it funny that I'm treated like an object of splendor when people find out that I've lived in the states for as long as I did and that I can speak English lol.  It gets old fast though, when people constantly ask you where you're from, when you left, blah blah blah, the obligatory "oh damn, you're not from here? Cool" questions.
     Weather here in Seoul completely vaulted over spring and went straight into summer.  In celebration, I of course, had to break out the good ol' Rainbow flip flops.  This particular pair I've worn for at least 2 years I think and they're still going strong.  I recently moved downstairs from my grandma's house to a little apartment/house thingy.  My own separate haven, full of privacy.  I can sing and play guitar as loud as I want to without thinking about anyone else.  I can listen to music, play games, anything I want.
     WinCraig is coming here to stay for a month from June to July.  I'm excited to introduce him to my friends here as they have never really interacted with a full on foreigner before (I don't count apparently, I'm Korean  -_-).  The only unfortunate thing is that I'll be working while he's here, but I don't think it'll be too much of a problem.  Finally, someone who will go busking in the subway with me on my day off.  I know I've been slacking on the pictures lately but I promise I'll post some soon.
     Most days I feel like a beat up rag doll that's been trampled on by a stampede but I don't have the option of quitting.  I may bitch and whine to my parents about not wanting to go to work or my service but I do it anyway, always on time, with a damn smile.  I've gradually ringed the bitch out of my system to the point where there is only a remnant of bitch-ness.  I'm almost bitch free.  I can feel that it's close.  It'll soon be a relic of days past.  I will be.  Bitch. Free.
     Other than that, it's business as usual here in the future.  You know what's crazy?  Sometimes I entertain the thought of actually living here.  Most of the schooling is in English, including tests and what not.  The companies here are all international in some way so there would be opportunities to work in those places.  I just don't know if I'd pick living here over the states.  I still find that my cultural background clashes a lot with Korean society and although I acknowledge the culture here, I secretly loathe it.  The biggest thing that is apparent is the lust for wealth and material things.  Sure, I'd like to have the nice things that come with being a successful person, but I don't see it as something that I can't live without.  Even if I do make a lot of money, I'm still going to conduct myself as a laid back, Fayetteville hippie.  While most people my age are dressed to the nines, I'm perfectly content with walking around in shorts and my Fayettechill tee, haha.  I do dress nicely when there is an occasion to go out or what not, but I don't see a point in going through the trouble when there isn't an occasion to put the effort in.  Maybe that's my laziness talking. Aside from these inconsequential first world problems, I'm getting on just fine.  I've met a lot of chill, genuine people and my life here has been enriched because of them.
     Not much else has been going on.  I'm coming back in the fall to Fayetteville for a quick visit using my vacation days so await my glorious return!  Until then, love and miss y'all.