Archive for the 'Moving abroad' Category

All you needed to know about living in Korea…

…is on YouTube!  My friend Kevin just sent me this YouTube video, made by a couple of English Teachers living in Korea.  This particular video covers the marvelous world of Korean snack foods (you know, those random bags of chips, cookies, and everything in between found at the local convenience stores).  It’s really funny and those who have lived in Korea can totally related.


The same creators have a whole series of these videos covering a host of random “living in Korea” topics.

I personally don’t know them – but I think their videos are great! And if you’ve got some time to kill (ahem…I know many English teachers out there do) – then check it out!

Something I don’t miss

There are a lot of things we are enjoying now that we are back living in the States.  However, there is one thing that we enjoyed living without when we were in Korea.  

A car!

Don’t get me wrong – we enjoy having the convenience of a car.  And really – Seattle doesn’t quite have it’s public transportation up to the standards of many foreign cities we visited – so we really need a car living here.  But since we’ve been home, we are now paying for car-related expenses that we never had to deal with in Korea.  And those things add up!  Car insurance, gas…oh, and let’s add in the new car battery we just had to buy today. 

Despite both Micah and I having a car, we still make an effort to walk a lot too (of course, no where near what we walked daily in Korea).  We walk to the nearby mall and Target.  And I’ll walk to the foreign food mart that’s about 1.5 miles away.  We’ll see how long we can keep this up, especially as the temperatures here DROP.

Back home and it’s L.A.U.

Surprisingly, Micah and I have been living back in the U.S. for 47 days now.  And exactly one month in Seattle.  In our last few days left in Korea, I was sad about leaving.  We’d had such a wonderful experience and had made such amazing friends – and we were parting from that – a few thousand miles parting.

But since we’ve been back, it really does tend to be L.A.U. (life as usual).  We have a great place to live, Micah’s back to work (I’m working too – but more on that later), and we’ve been able to hang out and catch up with a lot of our friends (I know there’s many more we haven’t seen yet – sorry!). 

I was having lunch with some girlfriends yesterday and was asked, “What do you miss the most about Korea?  And what do you love most about being home?”  Hmm…not easy to answer. 

Miss the most about Korea:

I miss our friends – Korean and fellow English teachers alike.  I miss the food!  But there is something about the lifestyle I miss too.  There was something about the daily challenge of navigating the streets, language, culture that was exhilarating and exhausting – but always an adventure.  And I know I’ll eventually miss the ability to travel (with such relative easiness and low expense) to all these far away countries.  The travel opportunities Micah and I had are just not realistic now.

But…what do I love most about home?

English!  It’s amazing how much faster and easier things are when both people are English speakers. :-)  I also love having a place to live that has space, a queen size bed (as opposed to the twin Micah and I shared every day), watching football, the Food Network, and HGTV!  And of course, seeing our friends face to face.  It’s hard to articulate, but there is this nice feeling of comfort and relaxation that I didn’t quite feel in Korea.  Who knows how long that’ll last though. 🙂

I do hope eventually Micah and I will have another chance to live and work abroad.  It’s an unforgettable experience that’s impossible to really understand unless you’ve done something similar.

Happy hour(s) with my WaMu peeps

Met up with a number of my old WaMu Research co-workers the other night for a little reunion happy hour (or in this case hours as most of us stayed for several hours)It was so fantastic to see everyone (well everyone that could make it – there were quite a few who couldn’t come).  😦

It was part reunion, part welcome back for me, part welcome back for Julie (another colleague who just moved back to Seattle from Cali), and part farewell to Kevin (another colleague and my very first manager in the department – who happens to be moving his whole family out to…get this…South Korea!)

We had a great time seeing each other and catching up with what everyone’s been doing.  I think one thing we all felt was just how lucky we were to have worked in such a great department and with such great people.  Even after everyone got laid off and went their separate ways…we still are friends.  It’s a pretty unique situation and not easily found in most companies/departments/groups/etc. 😦

We were at Pike Place Brewery, which not only has some delicious “refreshments,” but also some amazing nachos (which are 1/2 off during happy hour!).  There were at least five plates of nachos ordered throughout the night.  They are damn good (and about a million times better than the nachos we once got in Korea).


Nachos from Pike Place Brewery.  Salsa, sour cream, guacamole, cheese…mmmm.


Let’s compare that to the Korean nachos.

korean nachos

You’ve got about 10 individually dressed chips and a big ol’ pile of cabbage and mustard.  Oh, and I’m pretty sure there was mayonnaise on there too.

A welcome home surprise!

Our friends orchestrated a really fun welcome home surprise for Micah and me.  Weeks and weeks ago (when we were still living in Korea), we were invited to a surprise birthday party for our friend Aaron for September (when we would be back in Seattle).  

When we got back to Seattle and saw Aaron, we made sure to not mention anything about his upcoming surprise birthday party.  We fished around to see if he knew anything about it…but it seemed like the secret was still in tact.

So fast forward to last Saturday.  We are driving down to Renton where the birthday party was…and we are stuck in some bad traffic.  I immediately call my friend Martha to make sure that if we are a little late, we won’t be ruining the surprise.  All is well she tells me.

We knock on the door and what?  The birthday boy is already there.  Enter confused look.  And what?  Some of our other friends are there too.  Now, I’m really confused but happy to see them of course.  Their shouts of “SURPRISE! WELCOME HOME!” finally made it all click for me.  We were totally surprised…as in absolutely 100% unexpected. 

We were treated to the most delicious spread of foods, delicious drinks (including some amazing Napa Valley wines), and of course, wonderful convo with our great friends.  I have to give a major shout out to Martha and Regina for pulling it all together. 

welcome home party

It’s nice to be home!

Hello U.S.A. – we missed you!

We are back ladies and gents!!!  We landed yesterday morning in Honolulu, Hawaii.  And due to such differing time zones, we flew out of Korea on a Thursday night…to land in Hawaii on Thursday morning! 

Got through immigration, customs…and got all our massive bags! 


Although I was feeling a little bit off from our flight…first things first: time to eat!!

Can’t decide between pizza or Mexican?  Get both!!  SOOOOOOOO yummy! 

After a bit of relaxing and unpacking – we then headed out to get Micah a new cell phone (I’m still deciding on what phone I want – so having one cell phone at the moment is good enough).

What did he decide?  


Ta da!  The Samsung Captivate (via AT&T)!  He went in thinking iPhone 4, but left the store with this hot little thing in his hands.  It’s pretty kickass and I’m considering getting one myself! 🙂

Plus, it’s a Samsung – yeah – shout out to South Korea!  🙂


After this trip, we literally crashed!  Jet lag had fully set in and we were zonked. 

We are in Hawaii for just over two weeks.  Here’s a rundown of what’s in store:

  • House chores – we are already creating a mini-list of things to do/fix around Micah’s mom’s house
  • Wedding crap…er…I mean stuff – meeting with all our vendors, checking out the wedding/reception site, cake/menu tasting, etc. etc. etc.  It’ll be busy.
  • MAUI!!!  Sunday – Tuesday we will be in Maui visiting our fellow teaching friends Gabe and Charissa.  It will be fun to see how their first few days of transition back to U.S.A. living has gone.  Plus, we were promised many delicious drinks and homemade Mexican food!
  • Football – We are heading to Aloha Stadium to watch USC take on UH in their first home game of the season. 
  • Birthdays!
  • Seeing our friends and family!!

Then, we head back to Seattle on Sep. 11th!!

Last day of Korean elementary school

Wow…it’s my last day being a Native English Teacher at Jincheon Elementary School.  I’ve been cleaning out my desk, recycling files, and writing a welcome note for the next Native Teacher who starts in a couple of days. 

It’s really surreal.  As the old adage goes, “time flies.”  And I think when you are living in a foreign country (and enjoying the experience), I think times flies even faster! 

My teachers are so cool.  I come to school this morning and they are waiting with a cake (an unexpectedly delicious sweet potato cake), matching couple’s t-shirts for Micah and me, and some awesome Belgium chocolates (from the P.E. teacher who just went to Europe for his summer vacation).  I am really going to miss them.

Although we come to Korea to help teach English to students…really, I feel I’ve been most beneficial to the Koreans who are more my age.  I can tell a dramatic difference in the English fluency and confidence of the teachers I sit with every day.  And I hope they can feel that for themselves as well. 

Micah and I have been ridiculously busy the past few days.  Packing, moving, dealing with administrative issues (to put it nicely), goodbye dinners, and even an overnight trip to Seoul to be instructors at an orientation session for new EPIK teachers.

We’ve been running around like crazy (hence lack of blog updates), and still will be running around like crazy for one more day…but then…we say goodbye. 

I can’t say it enough that this experience has been one of the best ever.   Annyeong!!

And….we’re back!

And then one week to go until we are really back (to the US that is).

Our 12 days of Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Singapore were FANTASTIC!!!  (We especially loved Hong Kong and Singapore – seriously the two best places we have ever visited!)  We had such an incredible time sightseeing, relaxing, shopping, hanging out with friends, and of course…EATING!!!

I don’t have time now…and might not for a while to recap our adventures :-(  It’s surreal to think about us no longer living in this country…just one week from now. 

Micah and I are still debating about what we’d like to eat first when we touch down on US soil.  My pick: Taco Bell!!  Micah’s pick: pizza and poke’. 

The sound of summer

How do you know it’s summertime in Korea?  Well, yes…when you are sweating buckets and you haven’t even gotten out of bed in the morning.  Or just listen for the sound of the cicadas. 

Cicadas are new to me (not to be confused with locusts).  They don’t live in the Seattle area because it just isn’t hot enough.  So when we first arrived in Korea (almost one year ago – whoa!), we would hear the trees just buzzing with the LOUDEST sounds ever and were clueless as to what was making the noise.  Turns out that Korea’s hot hot summers are perfect for these huge, black, loud, and harmless bugs.


These things are huge…maybe 1.5 to 2 inches long.  And they look super freaky (I think).  Source:

They feed off the trees and you don’t tend to see them flying around.  But you always know where they are because off their LOUD buzzing sound.  You get a whole tree going and it sounds like a thousand rattlesnakes rattling their tales.  And pretty much every tree in Korea is buzzing away during the summer. 

Some Most times it’s really annoying.  If I’m walking down a block that’s lined with trees, I can hardly hear myself think because it’s so ridiculously loud.  Fortunately, they are quiet at night (when it’s cooler). 

While I do find them annoying, I do appreciate that each tree full of cicadas seem to have this interesting synchronization ability.  For no apparent reason at all, hundreds/thousands of buzzing cicadas in the same tree will just pause – at the very same time.  It’s instantly quiet (and peaceful), and then a second or two later…it’s back to buzz-ness.  🙂

Check out this YouTube clip I found that can give you an idea of the noise they make.  Just amplify by 100…and that’s what we deal with on a daily basis. 

“Summer is like hell”

That’s what we were told by a Korean friend WAYYYYY back during the mind-numbing freezing winter months.  My reaction then, “Good…it’s too freakin’ cold.”

Let’s fast forward to now.  It’s hot.  It’s humid.  It’s sweltering.  It’s broiling.  It’s stuffy.  Yes, I often think – our Korean friend was absolutely right.

“Lucky” for those of us who live in Daegu, Korea – this city boasts the HOTTEST summer weather.  I think it has something to do with the geography or topography.  However, most of Korea is freaking hot…but Daegu tends to be at least 4 to 5 degrees hotter.

The past few weeks have been consistently in the 90s (Fahrenheit) and add in a few extra points for humidity – and some days you are topping 100F.  And it pretty much stays that way for the entire day.  The lows around here are in the upper 70s or low 80s. 

It was 11:30pm the other night…and still in the upper 80s. 

So needless to say, I’ve been a little lazy about updating my blog – well because I’m conserving my energy in this ridiculous heat.  It’s so hot that we haven’t left the comfort of our air-conditioned apartment – and that means I don’t have much to blog about.  Hot, oppressive weather makes for a lazy-blogging Lisa.

Where in the world…

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