Wednesday, November 24, 2010

안녕하세요 여러분!
hello everyone!

i hope this entry finds all of you well and on your way to visit with family for the holiday season. i am so envious...a 5-day thanksgiving work week just feels so wrong! i will also be teaching on christmas eve next month! :(

despite what you might be hearing from american media, everything is just fine here in south korea. there was a skirmish on the NK/SK border yesterday, but those types of run-ins have been happening for years and years. i feel like the entire world is watching this small peninsula with bated breath....and in the meantime all of us who are actually here in korea are just going about business as usual. south koreans are so used to hearing north korean threats that they almost remain completely unfazed. i don't mean to minimize the problem, as we all know that north korea is dangerous and unpredictable. and as a girl with 2 brothers who have served in the military (one korean, one american) and another who will soon be serving in the korean military, i really take the sacrifices of the marines' families to heart. but i ask you - please don't blow the situation out of proportion. we will all watch and pray that no more lives are lost, but continue to go on with our daily business. panic won't help the situation be resolved any quicker.

in other news, things have been busy as ever. i've been severely under the weather lately & also had LASIK eye surgery last weekend - an experience and a half! hahaha. in keeping with the theme of my life, the surgery didn't go exactly as planned. i had the initial operation on friday evening, but unfortunately, woke up saturday morning unable to see clearly out of my left eye. when i went back to the doctor, they told me that something had happened to cause a wrinkle in my corneal flap, thus blurring my vision. the chances of that happening are like one in a million - a minute percentage of LASIK patients experience such a problem - but in my 23 years of existence, i've proven myself to be pretty darn good at blowing those statistics out of the water. hahaha. the doctor said "we need to do another surgery to correct it. right now. and this one will take longer than the first one. and it will hurt. sorry." comforting, right? his words were the truest ever spoken, though, and i appreciated the heads up. i'm glad to report that now, post-surgery #2, my vision is 20/20 and will actually improve as the weeks progress and my eyes continue to heal. as a contact/glasses-wearer for 15(ish) years, i must say - it is AMAZING to wake up in the morning and be able to see perfectly without scrambling for my spectacles or poking myself in the eye to get my contacts in place. even with my minor setback, i would definitely recommend LASIK and am really grateful to my korean family for the gift they gave me! a word to the squeamish, though - you are awake and fully aware throughout the entire operation. although the surgery takes only about 10 minutes, i can't lie - it's not all that pleasant to have your eye bulging out of socket & a guy digging into your corneas. sorry for the graphic description, but as they say - honesty is the best policy - right? and i'll testify that those 10 minutes are worth it for a lifetime of 20/20 vision! in addition, i got these awesome goggles that i have to wear while i sleep to prevent any accidental jabs to the eye. so trendy right now. HAHAHA.i realize that i run the risk of sounding like a 100-year old grandmother when i say this, but i'll proudly declare - modern day medical science is absolutely amazing. still can't believe that i can see so well without any help from glasses or contacts!

between LASIK #1 & #2 i also found out that i had bronchitis. hahaha. medically speaking, the past weekend wasn't one of my finest. last week i went to the doctor to learn that i had a severe sinus infection. i took some prescription medicine and was able to function almost normally without feeling like my head was going to explode, but couldn't quite shake the cough. so after i kept omma & appa awake all friday night with my coughing, they marched me to the hospital first thing on saturday morning. i kept telling them that it was nothing - my cough was just residual from the previous week's cold - but they insisted that i needed to see a doctor. well, mother knows best, i guess, because sure enough - i had bronchitis. the medicine i've been taking has helped a lot and i feel almost back to full health. i think maybe the medicine is easier to stomach when i know that i only had to pay about $10 USD for 5 days worth of antibiotics & $3 for the doctor's visit. ;)

i often end my posts asking you to pray for my korean language learning. i'm happy to report that your prayers are THANK YOU! even though i was drugged up and feeling horrendous all weekend, i was able to communicate with my family better than we have been able to in the past 2 months. a small victory, but i consider it to be improvement nonetheless. i'm still light years away from fluency but it's encouraging to see my long study hours paying off as communication becomes slightly easier everytime we meet. on sunday afternoon, my grandmother came to my parents' house to visit me and i was watching some american tv. (my family's house is near an american military base in seoul so it's possible to pick up their tv station with american shows in 100% ENGLISH! amazing!) i was watching one of my favorite discovery channel shows - deadliest catch - and she sat down on the couch next to me. after a few minutes i realized that she couldn't understand a word of what was being said on the screen...she was getting a small taste of what my life has been like this entire year. i gave her the remote to change the station to a korean show, but she insisted that i continue to watch my american show. so i took the opportunity to do my best at translating for her. i was able to explain to her things like "grandmother, a typhoon is coming so these fisherman have to work really quickly to collect their crab. they haven't slept in 2 days and they are so tired but they have to work very hard!" and "i always watched this show in america. it's really interesting so i like it a lot!" she really appreciated my efforts and i was encouraged by the exchange. it was a sweet moment of victory as i sat on the couch hand-in-hand with my grandma.

post-lasik, my eyes need a lot of rest so i'd better close this entry & shut down the computer for awhile. my thoughts are truly with all of you stateside folk this week as i long to have a few hours of sweet gluttony with my family...not to mention the post-food-fest turkey comas. :) i'll take heart in knowing that we will have next year to spend together. everyone please be well, travel safe, and count your blessings. i know that i have PLENTY to be thankful for in 2010! :)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

have you noticed a trend in my blog entry openings? they all begin with an apology. this one is no exception. i'm sorry - i realize that i'm the worst at updating!

things are going well here in south korea. it's colder than snot as we were blessed with an autumn season that lasted approximately 4 whole days. i'm not kidding. unfortunately, we went straight from a blazing hot summer right into winter. the heated floors (still one of my top 5 favorite things about korea) have been turned on in my apt for about a week or 2 now. if you know me at all, you know that means i've gone into hibernation. i despise the cold as it is, but thanks to my (american) parents' lovely black lab, i'm coming up on my 2nd anniversary with the wonderful metal plate in my ankle. (another GREAT story if you haven't heard it already) the cold weather really irritates the plate and makes it hurt a lot so i basically wear those horrendous uggs everyday to keep the ankle warm...and stay inside as much as possible!

i've been busy on the weekends traveling north to see my family. i have only 12 short weeks remaining in korea, so we're making the most of the time while we have it. a few weeks ago, we drove (forever) to a beach on the eastern coast of korea. a popular vacation spot during the summer, it was rainy & cold on the day that we visited. :( but here are a few shots: (above) crammed in the backseat with my cousins so-mang & sun-mi. we started the drive at 6am...bugh!(above) with omma & appa behind the creepy sand mermaid. some random korean guy made this on the beach! (above) with my cousins on a boat.

last weekend, my family invited some of my american friends up to seoul so that they could meet them. it was a lot of fun for everybody despite the language barrier & we ate until we thought we were going to explode. the night was a big success and my family already wants to know when my friends can come back up to visit. (above) at my parents' house with joshua, john, & cousin sun-mi. (above) after dinner, omma laid out this spread. we were already SO full but she prepared all of this food and yelled at us to "eat a lot!" we thought we were going to die. (above) my cousins are so cute. sun-mi & so-mang were sort of our unofficial translators for the evening. their english is better than they would admit. (above) joshua & john, 2 other english teachers in my program. i consider them to be 2 more brothers...they are absolutely wonderful to me!

next weekend, i will be having lasik eye surgery. my horrendous eye sight comes from my father, and he and my younger brother have both had the surgery with great results. i went and had the consultation last week and was run through a whole gamut of tests. they say i'm a great candidate for surgery and should see 20/20 after all is said and done. great news for someone who will literally run into walls without her glasses or contacts! the consultation was interesting since the staff had to speak in english to me and answer omma's questions in korean. i felt bad for working them so hard -- we should probably give them a really nice tip! i'll let you know how surgery goes in the next update...pray for a quick & painless recovery!

before i came to korea, many people told me that i should write a book. my life has always been really ridiculous & hilarious -- i seem to find the strangest situations possible and meet the weirdest people. my "korea" chapter has been no exception. i think any foreigner living in korea could write a really interesting & helpful book for others interested in travel. but given my being a korean-less korean in korea, my situation proves to be much more challenging/hilarious/confusing than others. then you throw in the birth family reunion thing, and it gets REALLY interesting! what do ya'll think about a book-writing endeavor?

quick shout-out to the great folks @ trevechoes down in nashville, tn. they wrote a great article about my experience meeting my birth family and were thorough (and patient!) enough to interview both me & my little brother in china for the story. good work...thanks again, katie & morgan! be back soon with more stories & pictures.
i'll be seeing you stateside folks sooner rather than later!

be well.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

if you're in nashville, go ahead & pick up the latest copy of 'trevechoes' for a recent interview i did with them. i know a lot of you have a lot of questions, so the article might help clear some things up. any lingering thoughts, questions, or concerns can be sent via email ( or private message! i will compile & address them on the blog later this month.