Exhale

I can’t even begin to explain how nice it feels to finally NOT have to worry about sending money home/putting my paycheck directly into my bank account as quickly as possible.  Finally have some cushion and it feels fan-frikin-tastic.

//Sidenote:
I wanted to get this bit written down as well so in 5 or whatever years, I can look back and still be proud of myself for this.
I thought when I came to Korea that I’d be able to save so much money and be able to leave with loans nearly paid off and a giant wad of cash in my wallet.
However, it’ll still be nice when it’s time to go, but I’m not nearly where I thought I would be because:
*Keeping two bank accounts above water (Korean and American) is tough work
*Paying around $400 to my student loans each month
*Having pre-existing debt (and also paying that down)
*Oh, and you want to travel, that will cost money too.  So will getting yourself set up in a new country and you can’t escape buying groceries.

Saving money is A LOT easier than in the US, but not as easy to hold onto it as I was expecting.  Anyway, I just wanted to make sure I had that written down so I didn’t forget and later wonder why the heck I didn’t roll out of here debt-free.  (Which IS possible, but it would take longer than I’m expecting to stay.–Probably could be debt-free after 5-6 total years here)…tempting, but I think I’ll be ready to move on well before that.

Go team,ME!  Hoorah! Hoorah!

Stuff

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what I want to do post-Korea and when I’ll leave and all that.  I’ve also talked with a lot of my female friends here, and we got into the issue of women travelers.  Not about solo-travel, but about the woman that wants a career, a family and to travel.  We talked about how difficult it can be and how different it is for men and women.
Ok, before you dismiss the topic and think I’m about to go on a feminist rant (which may happen in another post, but not today), just hear me out.
We talked about how women (in general, and maybe men as well…I’m not a man, so I can’t speak for them)–women typically have a general idea of when they want to be married and start having kids and all that.
If you asked my teenage self when that would have been, I would have been married already with a kid either under my belt or on the way.  Instead, I went down a completely different road than even I couldn’t have predicted for myself…and I’m happy with it.  But, what we talked about is that how men are able to continue on as a traveler or a nomad for longer without having to also worry about wanting to start and plan for a family (or not as early as women, anyway).
As a woman, they say that you should be about finished having kids by age 35 to reduce risks of disorders and health complications.  Ok, great…I’m 27, so I have PLENTY of time (as people remind me).  “Carpe Diem” , they say.  “You’re living the dream!”
Yeah, I know, but I also want a family.  And factoring in time to actually date and try to find/meet this future husband (seriously though, where are you?), and get married and make sure I have my career situated before I start popping out kids….annnnd that window seems a whole lot smaller.

I have a few friends here that are closer to that 30 mark (or past it) than I am, and they’re definitely feeling the pressure.  They’re also “living the dream” and really enjoying life…but also wanting a family. It gets even more difficult if you want to find someone that doesn’t have children already and hasn’t been divorced, as you get older.  “But you’re so young!  You’re only 27!  Enjoy your life before you have kids!”…you might be thinking.  And that’s true…I want to travel and I have dreams of climbing mountains and going to all seven continents…but I also really, really want to get married and have kids of my own.  And that also takes time.
Trying to find a balance between the two seems to be the difficult part.

I came to Korea to get my life in order, and by the time that I do, I’ll feel very good about leaving and being ready to start the next stage in my life…but I think in the back of my mind, I had hoped that I could find a like-minded traveler over here.  But…alas, that hasn’t happened.  Oh well.
Anyway, I just needed to get that out.

Note: I would still love to travel when I find my person/fiance… (a honeymoon trip to the Himalayas (!!!) or Fiji or the MALDIVES!!!…*sigh*…the list is endless), but…as I said, I really want to be a mom.  :(

Other updates: 
*My goal is to be home for Christmas this year
*Making good progress on paying off my credit card (Yay!  Go me!)
*I’m on Chapter 11 in my Korean book (last update about that was from 12/29 and I was on chapter 6)–A New Year’s Resolution was to finish my Korean book (30 chapters…)
*My planned time to leave Korea is Fall 2015.  (next fall)  I’ll have enough money saved so I won’t be broke as soon as I try and get started back in the US and I’ll have a good chunk of my debt paid off.  (And a DSLR camera in hand.)  Happy Lady.  :D

Re-Grouping

So, I’ve been feeling kind of blah recently, and I think it’s because I haven’t really had anything going on (and I’ve got the winter blues) because I’ve been trying to save more money…which leaves me with less here to play around with.  It’s fine and I’m not starving or anything, I’ve just found how much I can actually live on here and been trying to cut out expenses.

With that being said, I was looking at gyms and dance studios but ended up deciding on Ultimate Frisbee.  Totally out of left field, and I’ve never played before, but I’m pretty excited. That doesn’t start til spring though, and I’ve still been working on my Korean when I have free time.  I’m teaching myself and going at a relatively slow pace, so I still feel pretty beginner, but I love when things start to click.

I ALSO decided that I want to get back into learning Spanish.
I have a lot of free time because I don’t really go out to bars and that sort of thing anymore, AND I’ve had a long-standing goal of being fluent in 5 languages before I die, so…why not start while I have some time on my hands.
I was looking at Spanish course books online and they’re only like $15-20 AND I still remember A LOT from when I took it in school…so that makes me pretty happy.

Anyway, that’s pretty much what’s happening around here.

4 day weekend next weekend for the Lunar New Year!  Wahooo!!!  (Next holiday isn’t til like March or April, so yeah…bah.)

//Also looking into grad school programs and teaching certifications…a weeee bit overwhelming to look at.

Just Stuff

So, I think I’ve finally settled on a DSLR camera…the Nikon 3200.  It seems to be what I’m looking for…nice quality photos, good for a beginner but not too beginner where I might get bored easily with it.  Video features and the ability to make the whole portrait black and white except for certain colors.  Not horribly expensive either.  Expensive, but I’ve been wanting one of these for a few years now…hoping to have it around March-ish…  :D  Perfect timing as Spring will be here and the Cherry Blossoms :)

Also, I’m in love with the movie ‘Frozen’…love love love.

There’s a song on the soundtrack called ‘Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”, and I kinda want to introduce it to one of my classes.  I have an intro class that I teach songs to once a week.  We’ve done “Wheels on the Bus”, “5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed” and “Itsy Bitsy Spider”.
The snowman song might be a bit difficult, but I think it might be kind of cool because it’s from a movie soundtrack.  //impressive\\  (And because I like the movie.  haha :D)

Anyway…I think that’s all for now.  Have a good week!  :D

//Edit:  Oh, and I also signed up to play Ultimate Frisbee in the Spring…first time for that, haha.  I’m excited to go play another team sport and to meet some new people :)   I’ve never played before, so this should be exciting.  :D

In the Market for a New Camera

This is a simple post really.  I’m in the market for a new camera (point and shoot) and/or something that has good video-taking capabilities.  I’d really like to be able to make a few videos about life here…just walking around here and there and then learn to edit them myself.  
I’ve had a few people recommend programs like Windows Movie Maker, etc, which I’d like to look into.  Definitely nothing serious, but videos are a bit more fun than photos and they help capture the actual atmosphere…

If anyone out there has any ideas as far as good cameras or camcorders, etc, feel free to send them my way.
I might just try and use my phone or my current camera (it’s my same camera from high school though and not sure how the quality will end up…)

Anyway…I think more photos and videos are my next project.  Get excited :-D
It just might take awhile to get everything sorted as I’m still trying to save as much money as I can.  

Facebook Hiatus and other ramblings

As I’ve mentioned, I’m working on spending less time online and I feel like I have an addiction of sorts to Facebook.

I think it’s just that I like having something to do when I’m bored or if there’s idle time, but I think I spend too much time online so I’m trying to fix it.

The fact that it’s been two days and it’s already difficult doesn’t make me super happy.  Although, I think I’ve been pretty productive without it though.

I’ve deleted it from my phone so I don’t get updates and took it off my “favorites” tab from my browser so I don’t have access to it.  It just feels like when you accidentally leave your phone at home…my hand knd of twitches and wants to check the happenings online.

I’ve also been making more of an effort to go to bed around midnight instead of the wee hours of the morning.  I don’t work til the afternoon and I’m a night owl so I can usually stay up late without an issue, but I want to be more productive.

Anyhoo, just some random thoughts that would have likely made their way onto Facebook:

“Why the heck is it SO WINDY?!?!”
In summer, most people say that “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity” well, in the winter, I’d have to say that it’s not the cold, it’s the wind.
My poor face.
However, they do have these little hot packs here that you can crunch up (think glow sticks) and put them in your pockets.  A friend of mine lent me some of hers one night and they were A-MAZING.  Need to add them to my Costco list.

and

something along the lines of “Why the heck are they building ANOTHER coffee shop?”
I really need to get a video camera out so I can show you this.  As an example, I’ll use my last apartment…I had 4 coffee shops within 2 minutes walk of my building…all less than a block away.
I went over there the other day and there were two more. So…6 coffee shops all on the same block.  And this is normal.
It makes me crazy.
I think it’s either because of my business major or a logical mind…but why would you build more of what you already have too many of?

There are SO MANY convenience stores, makeup shops and coffee shops…I can’t even begin to tell you.
I did ask about this to a Korean friend and they said that people here think of it as “Well, this business is doing well, so I’ll build one of my own close so I can do well too.”
Instead of…”what else could we use?”
Speaking of the convenience stores and my old apartment…we had 3 convenience stores within a block of eachother. Need a bottle of water or some gum?  Look left, look right and look straight….walk about a minute and you’ll find one on all sides.
The thing is, that this is why people who own those stores have to work nearly 12+ hour days.  They can’t afford to hire more workers to cover shifts because of the expense, so they work more hours themselves to break even or make a profit.

I’d also really like for more buildings to have store hours posted outside of their buildings.  Not all businesses seem to be open during the day…I found two dance studios and I’ve been to both of them 3 times and at different times on different days of the week and they never seem to be open.  I just want to get a schedule and idea on cost to see if I can even join, but I can’t even find out when they’re open to ask.  (They have phone numbers posted, but I can’t speak enough Korean to call.)
I’m thinking that I might just join a regular gym because even if the dance studios do open up, they don’t seem to be open at the times when I’m available anyway.

Asia has a really big drinking culture and if you don’t like to drink there aren’t THAT many options for you.  I’d really like to see some other sort of things to do around here aside from going out to bars.
They have gyms, but they’re pretty expensive (probably because the rent is expensive too)–but…it would be great to see:
*rock climbing gyms (again…they have them, but you have to provide your own ropes…which in the US is unheard of. Ropes are about $300.)
*dance studios
*MINI-GOLF!
*go-kart tracks (or something like The Infield at home, where they have the batting cages, mini golf, bumper boats and go-karts all at one place)
*wine and painting studios (I keep seeing people doing these at home and I really want to do one too)…It looks so fun, but they’re super competitive here, so I dunno if something like that would be a hit or not because they’d be so focused on it being perfect…and not doing something just for the fun of it
*a coffee shop…that’s different.  Maybe different seating (hammocks, beanbags)…more lounge-y
*a western-style bakery (garlic bread without SUGAR!…etc)
*something like Panera/St. Louis Bread Co…I miss going to a place and getting sandwiches and soup.  (They do have sandwich shops, but it’s not the same concept)
*a place to get home goods, etc for CHEAPER (ie: like a Target…goodness…I think I would die.  haha)
*a Western sizes shoe store…I would LOVE to be able to go shoe shopping in a shoe store again.   If you’re a woman with a shoe size above about a 7.5/8, you will not find shoes here.  It just astounds me (again) that they wouldn’t take the opportunity (with all the foreigners here) to open a shoe store for people with”western” sized feet.  So much money could be made.  Instead, we all just shop online and have it sent home and then have family send the shoes here.  But…instead of doing that, they could just extend the sizes and pocket the money instead of laughing (yes.) about how big our feet are.
You wanna be tall…you’re going to have bigger feet.  That’s just how it goes.

So many business opportunities…and yet, there’s more of the same being built.  Makes me crazy.

I’d also like to have more diversity and other types of restaurants aside from Korean, Italian (fusion), Indian and Mexican, but I can get that in Seoul. Seoul is just super crowded, so I save those special meals for weekends in Seoul and then pop back down here to relax.
So that part, I can get…but yeah, just some random thoughts on things that I would like to see.  It’s just a lot of the same here, so I miss the unique-ness that can be found in the West and the creativity of a lot of the places that pop up.

I don’t mean this post to come off as whining or complaining.  They’re just observations that I’ve made and things that I personally think could make life here better.  I understand why a lot of these things that I miss and want will not come to be, but again, these are just some things that I personally (as it’s my blog) would like to see.
I don’t want to drink all the time and am honestly trying to break away from that area of life anyway, because I would rather meet people when they’re sober instead of shouting at them across a table in a loud bar, talking about the same old things.  I’d like to invest my time in actual hobbies and activities, and these are just some of the things that I think would be nice to see here.  :)

Oh, and speaking of 5,000 coffee shops…I have a new favorite drink.  Caramel Cafe Mocha.  :D :D :D  YUMMMMMM! :D
Ok, off to work!  Have a lovely day :)