Bliss + Resolutions Follow-Up

Just wanted to toot my own horn a bit in this post.

So, I had mentioned before that I’m not really a resolutions kind of girl.  I like to see what opportunities arise and then go after whatever come up.

However, my NY Resolutions for this year have been something that I had been aiming to achieve for awhile now.  I also knew that to make resolutions happen, they’re supposed to be short and very specific.  Not: “lose weight” or “spend less money”, but rather something you can track and actually make progress toward.  Anyway, that’s what I did with mine and so far so good!

Updates: I’m London-bound in March.  It’s a very short trip and one that I knew I really wanted to do before I got back home and essentially got tied down again.  I’ll be staying with friends the whole time so I’ll be saving massively on accommodation and I’ve already done the touristy stuff, so it’ll just be seeing friends mostly.  AND I found a great deal on a flight.  (It helps when you watch flight prices for months…)  SOOOOO yeah, pretty pumped.
Then back to the work life afterward and I’m 100% okay with that.

Also, this really isn’t anything to write home about, I guess, but one of my resolutions was to be able to do a handstand by the end of the year.  I’m not sure how realistic that is, but it seems do-able.  I actually need to edit that and make it “freestanding” handstand–that is, away from the wall. (Eeeee!!)
I tested it out last week at some point and it’s pretty difficult.  I’ve been using the wall for support, and have been practicing both yesterday and today.  So 2 for 2 then.  😀
I’m doing 3 sets of 30 seconds per day.  My hands are…about a foot and a half from the wall, but I’m able to support myself, so that’s pretty exciting.  Just gotta keep at it.

The reading 20 books resolution is…going…but at a turtle pace.  I’ve recently finished A Christmas Carol and have started on Throne of Glass, which is book 1 of a series.  Maybe I can knock out some more books on this book challenge on these international flights.

AND…I’ve registered and began part 1 of 3 of my Pediatric CPR/First-Aid course (the title is longer, but that’s all I can remember off-hand).  It’s a requirement for most pre-school or teaching jobs back home, plus a nifty life skill, so I’m excited to get that finished.
I’m doing part 1 online and then parts 2 and 3 have to be done with an instructor.  Those are the practical/exam portions.

Let’s see…I’ve got my resume updated and ready and have started selling off possessions.  I still have a lot of furniture though, so it hasn’t really hit yet.  It sort of comes in waves that I’m leaving.  It’s very bittersweet though.  I’m sad to leave the people I’ve met and my students (not looking forward to the last day with them…going to be a waterworks…), but I’m feeling very ready (or, as ready as I’ll ever be) and excited for this next chapter in my life to begin.

It also looks like I have an interview with a preschool back home as well.  I’ve been on their website and I’m so in love with what they’re doing at the school.  It looks like such a fun place for the kiddos, and I’m sure the adults too, ha.

Anyway, I’m just trying to take it a day at a time and to keep focused.  I’ve got all my to-do lists going in full-force and I feel like I’m keeping on schedule with everything, so yeah.  *exhale*

I just feel so…happy and content with where my life is going at the moment.  I was so worried for the longest time about adding in that trip to London honestly.  I kept second-guessing myself and wondering if I should be traveling so soon after returning home (two weeks after, actually), but now that it’s done, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I’m going to be able to see some friends I’ve met while in Korea but during my early years.  So, it’s been about 3 years since I’ve seen some of them, but we’ve kept in contact the whole time.
I was just so nervous that I’d return home, get my car and my job and not be able to save or break out of the routine and make the trip anytime soon.  Now, I just feel relief and excitement.
I’ll be home for Easter and the Fourth of July and just…bliss.

I’ve found peace among the madness that is going on around me.

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Done and done.

So, I went to immigration today and got myself sorted for the next year in Korea.  I’m thinking this will be my last year teaching in Korea.  I love teaching, but I’d like to further my education and I hope to teach in a more stable setting.

The after-school academies (or hagwons) tend to be a bit more unstable as they can be opened up with anyone with enough money (really) and they’re everywhere.  I really enjoy my classes and the school that I’m at so I’m hoping for another year like this one.  This past year seemed to breeze by pretty quickly.  There’s a bit of negativity though, and that can be a bit rough, but trying to keep my head down and do my own best with my classes and sort of just do what I’m doing.

I already have quite a few things in store for the coming year, so hopefully things go smoothly.

Here’s a teaser for the year to come–obviously things change and put this is what I’m looking at as of now:
*Hoping I get the OK to carve pumpkins with my kiddos at school.  Our classes are smaller and I’d LOVE to give them this experience.  Halloween isn’t really that big here yet (slowly…) so I’d like to let them experience making a jack-o-lantern.
I’m thinking that letting them draw and scoop out the mess would be best and I’ll do the cutting.
(Plus decorating my room a bit for Halloween!  Yay!  I love having my own classroom!)

* Christmas at home (first time in almost 3 years!! Squeeeee!)

*New Years in LA (first time!)

*back with ultimate frisbee in the spring 🙂  (Too many things going on in the fall right now to dedicate the time and money to it)

*Toying with the idea of Budapest in February (Yes, winter)

*Working on another surprise of sorts for my summer vacation— I sent my mom and brother on an all-expenses paid cruise two years ago (to the Bahamas, I believe).  Expensive, yes, but it makes me happy and I think that’s what life is about.  This won’t be quite that extravagant, but it still puts an extra spring in my step and makes my heart feel lighter when I think about it. My mom is a single mom and she works her butt off (and has) for years and years and never gets a vacation, so I had wanted to change that.

*Finish contract in September

*Thailand for a bit of muay thai fighting training

Anyway, this would be the dream scenario, but I like making my dreams happen.  So, we shall see 😀

A Bit of Randomness and Some Updates

First off, I need to get better about updating, sheesh.
We’re in the middle of Winter Intensives though, so I just feel like collapsing by the time I get home..bah.  They’re over Tuesday though….finally!
And also, I partially feel like I have to have something exciting to say when I come on here, because who wants to read about me doing laundry or sitting around in my pajamas til 2pm on a Saturday.  haha

Anyway, the random bit.
I was thinking just now how weird my shopping cart is going to look when I go home (more on that in a bit) and re-stock on some lovely American goodies.
A shopping cart filled with a year-supply of toothpaste (it tastes extra pasty and less minty here), deodorant (not readily available…and when it is, it’s expensive!), 10 boxes of spiral Mac and Cheese and other easy-to-cook, overly processed, but homey-comfort foods.
Cake mixes and icings.  Food coloring (um…we have terrible powdered stuff here)
The checker lady is going to be so confused.  haha.

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Anyway, I got the school stuff sorted out and resigned my contract!  I’m coming home in 2 weeks…and it’s honestly a bit surreal.  It doesn’t really feel like it’s here.  Just sort of going about my business as usual.  It felt more exciting on the actual day that I booked my ticket.
Planning on visiting family in Chicago and visiting family and friends back home too.  I was going to go to LA to see a bunch of friends, but the flights are a bit (um…a lot…) expensive, so I don’t think it’s a wise choice to go this time around since I’ll be on a limited budget and won’t really be working for a month.  I think it would make things difficult when I got back and had to make it through the month with even less.  Still have bills to pay and everything, so…yeah.  Next time.

Let’s see, what else is new…
Oh, I found a jazz dance studio near me (and the owner?) speaks English!!! AHHHH!!!!  Classes aren’t too expensive and it’s really close to my apartment, so I’m thinking of doing that and continuing my tango classes when I get back.
It’s hard because I like tango, and everyone is super nice, but I feel somewhat like a burden at times though.  I think because I don’t understand what they’re saying and maybe they feel bad.  I don’t know.  I could also be making that up in my head completely, but it still feels that way nonetheless.  I’m going to keep at it though, mainly because I got shoes, but I also don’t want to be a coward and miss out on this just because of things that people might or might not be thinking.
I also have to keep in mind that it’s going to be the same with jazz too.  Or any extracurricular that I participate in here.  They’re all friendly, but I think it’s just something I need to get over.

I’ve been a bit lounge-y this weekend, which has been much-needed.
I saw Life of Pi yesterday (Saturday)–first movie I’ve seen by myself, and loved it.  Definitely recommend it.  I also need to read the book too.  Went for Indian food afterwards (who would have thought that I would become a massive fan of Indian food (chicken curry and butter naan) while I was living in Korea…
Today was just an errands and laundry day.  Nothing super exciting.
I did buy a new hamster ball for the class hamster that I’m babysitting on weekends.  I’m keeping him after intensives end…he’s super sweet and cute, and it’s nice having a little (low-maintenance too!) pet to come home to. 🙂  The school threw the first one away (“accident”…not sure how you accidentally throw out a hamster ball..but whatever), so now he has a new one to zoom around in.

Hm, can’t think of anything else at the moment…

Now…
Reading: nothing currently.  Recently finished Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl and enjoyed that, but as mentioned before…just a bit tired from intensives.  Planning on starting The Night Circus in the near future.

Watching: had a few hour-long watching sessions to finish the third season of Downton Abbey (!!), recently started An Idiot Abroad, which is an English show about a guy that hates traveling is sent on trips across the world and gives his opinion on things.  I think it’s pretty funny–can be a bit slow at times, but still humorous.  Not a fan of how his “friends” treat him–the guys who organize each trip for him though…but yeah.
Probably going to start Once Upon a Time after that.

I was never really big into TV series when I was home, but I think that’s because my work schedule was always so crazy that I couldn’t really have time to get into one.  Tuesdays at 7?  Ok, well that might work 1 time of the month, but not the rest.  And I didn’t know how to download shows then, or have much interest in sitting around watching it.
It’s a nice break from life now though.  And especially since I don’t have a regular tv here, it’s nice to be able to pick and choose my series, and de-stress a bit.

On my mind: going home/being home/what it’s going to be like/not forgetting stuff/etc., my brother, excitement for the end of intensives, happy that I finally have a cleaned and organized apartment  (I also bought a ginormous piggy bank today), needing to take my Christmas tree down…but mostly content.  A lot of the weights have been taken off my shoulders with only a few major things on the ol’ to-do list before I head back.

Also, as the first year is coming to a close, I thought this could be interesting.
Best things about Korea:
1. BBQ (grill meat yourself at the table)
2. overall friendliness
3. PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION!!!!!  (cheap, readily available, punctual, reliable…etc etc.)
4. The Cute-sey stuff.  This could easily go either way.  But I’m feeling positive today, so it’s going here.  Animal shaped winter hats and clever scissors brighten my day.

Not-So-Favorite Things:
1. The naivety of the people who haven’t been abroad (I know this is mostly due to the fact that the country only recently opened up, but it’s staying on my list)
2. Fashion-sense/buying clothes/shoes in general
3. Not being able to communicate properly (Me, as a foreigner.  Just a frustration, nothing against the Korean people)
4. The “For-Show” aspect of the culture

*Note:  This is just from my own personal experience and shouldn’t be taken personally.  I must like living her enough, since I’m staying a second year.  😉

Ok, bedtime 🙂
Goodnight/Good Afternoon/Good Morning!

Clarifying the Financial Side of This

First, this is a close-up of my bracelet–Wordpress kept wanting me to put all my pictures into a slideshow when I just wanted to drop it onto the page.

Take THAT WordPress.  Heh.  😛

A bit blurry because I took it with my phone…and it’s an up-close shot, but you get the idea.
I was eyeing these bracelets (they’re pretty common in the little shops here) the other day but talked myself out of buying it.  Good thing 🙂  I love the colors, the daintiness of it (not a fan of chunky jewelery) and the little star on the end. Love it.  🙂
The two chains are attached at the ends and I suppose are supposed to look separate, but yeah..love it.  🙂

Onto my original plan for this post.
This should actually be a pretty quick one actually.  (Keyword: Should)
I knew that with coming to Korea that I’d be able to have money and to save and all that, but I guess for whatever reason, I had that money accumulating a lot faster in my head than how it works in reality.
I’ve been very good about sending half my check home each month ($1000), which is all great and dandy, but I don’t really have anything to show for it yet.  I’m basically fixing the mess I created for myself before I left.  I was pretty much down to nothing in my checking account (living check to check will do that to you) and my credit card…well, it’s seen better days.  It was at a zero balance before I decided to come to Korea, but got a little out of hand with the costs of coming here, laptop purchase (and external hard-drive), booking vacation trips once I got here..and well, life happened.
Now, I’m repairing what I did, but I don’t really see any other way I could have gone aside from the route I chose to take.  I know that with time I’ll actually be able to save, but I’m impatient by nature, and I like to see results.  And well, I guess I’m just human in that regard.
Anyway, if you plan on coming over, keep in mind that things won’t magically get better right off the bat.  However, I AM doing well over here, but money still gets tight at the end of the month, but that’s more from sending half my check back home (immediately.  no questions asked) and well, living over here.
I still have bills back home (student loans, storage unit and credit card)…and over here.
I guess I just wanted to write about the fact that yes, I get to keep a large portion of my check…but no, I’m still not rich yet.  haha.

I really think that once I get more settled here that I could stay for another year.  Obviously, it’s really early to say either way, and life might have something else to throw my way…but, this is a very real possibility.
Once I get this credit card knocked down, pretty much all of it would be able to rest safely in my account back home…which…is a pretty amazing feeling.

And…I’d want to go home to car payments, gas prices, rent, car maintenance….why?  haha.

Not to worry, it’s still really early to say, and I definitely do not see this as a long-term thing, but just as a tool to get myself back on my feet and ready for the next stage in my life.  In my opinion, it’s better to go into a relationship with some money under your belt. It opens a few more doors and creates more opportunities where there weren’t any before.  Plus, I’d rather be able to put more down on a house with someone than have to struggle to make rent in a tiny apartment because we both don’t have anything in savings and are trying to pay off student loans.  🙂

Baby steps.  I’m a planner/organizer/list-maker at heart, but making myself focus on one thing at a time really helps me keep a grip on my sanity.

(Note: after my checking account is a bit more stable back home, I won’t be sending home money each month, but rather making a running tally of how much I have “available” to use in my Korean account.  I lose a decent chunk of money due to fees and such, and I’d like to be able to just send it over in bigger chunks to minimize the loss…  Again, getting there…in the next few months, I’ll be where I want to be.)

//Want to read my about my journey from the beginning?  Go here.

Well…this is new + Expenses

You know what’s a weird feeling?

Actually wanting Monday to come, so I can go to work.

Wow.  There must be something in the water here.  lol.  😛


I wanted to wait until I had a few bills here before I did this post, and I have…so here we go.
I wanted to compare my financial stuff here to that back home.

US
Salary: $10.20/hr–40 hours per week
After Taxes/Take-Home Pay: about $650-$720 (depending on whether or not I hit overtime that week or not)–averaged around $650-660 every two weeks.
About $1400.00/month (at $700 every two weeks)

Rent: $465.00/mo
Car Insurance: $60/mo
Cell Phone (with data plan for smartphone): $88/mo
Student Loans 1:  $117.94/mo
Student Loans 2: $196.59/mo
Car Payment: $159.48
Gas $240/mo ($40 every 5 days at $3.40/gal):
Internet: $19
Utilities: $60 (average)–around $80 in winter and $20 in Spring
Credit Card: varies

Total: 1406.00

Good thing I had that savings account to chip away at, because I didn’t include groceries.
Granted, before I had my apartment, I had a good amount in savings, gas was cheaper and I didn’t have anything on my credit card. Then I started planning for Korea…and then I had a credit card bill.
Anyway, fun times.

————-

However,
Korea:
Salary: 2.3 million won/month
Conversion:
$2, 032.32/mo (depending on the exchange rate)

Expenses:
Storage Unit: $72.00
Internet: (not sure yet?  like $20?)
Phone (smart phone with data plan): $54
Utilities: $20 (Feb-March)
Student Loans 1: 117.94
Student Loans 2: 196.59

Total: $480.53 + food.

2, 032
-480.53
= $1552 (- food) in take-home pay.

Yes.  Seriously.
I’ve lived check to check for pretty much my entire working life, and even growing up, there was never really money to throw around.  So THAT is pretty incredible.  I’m still trying to wrap my head around it, and I’m sure it’ll take awhile.
My goal is to send $1000 home every month.  My credit card is kind of in a sad state right now (preparing documents to come over here is EXPENSIVE), so that’s first on the list, but then it’s going to bills, student loans and into the savings account.

Anyway, I’ve had a wonderfully productive Saturday (lots of cleaning…heh.–and I got another unit on my TEFL course done!  And I worked out for the first time since being here!!).  Feeling Good.  And really tired.
Hopefully more productivity tomorrow.  But until then…headed to bed.  Probably going to watch a movie (on my laptop…no tv) and then head to bed.  It’s just after midnight here.
Adios!!

Goodnight and Happy Easter!!!!!  (Easter doesn’t seem to be celebrated here…or not at least in the pastel-explosion form that we do back home :-P)

TGIF!! (In more ways than one)

So, I’m sitting here writing this at 5am–It’ll be a quick one.  I went to bed early (or relatively early…heh.  Just earlier than my usual time) because I wanted to actually be rested going into Friday.
Apparently my body had other plans, because I woke up around 4am with an upset stomach.  😦
So much for having a good night’s sleep…heh.

Anyway, I finished updating that Seoul entry, and even though it is now 5am, that also means it’s officially FRIDAY!
YES!
And this isn’t just any Friday, mind you…this is my first official payday since I’ve been here!
My boss put in a week’s pay once I got paid, but I get the rest today 😀 😀
I’m so beyond excited for this.  I didn’t realize how much I’d spend on setting up my apartment and just getting to this point, so I’ve been coasting in on fumes.

So…

YAY!
(For some reason, when I typed in various versions of “Payday” or “Korean Won” and that sort of thing, I couldn’t find a good picture of a person jumping around in a giant pile of Korean Won…only US dollars. )
Anyway…I had less than 100,000 Won ($100USD) in my Korean account (more in my US account, but I didn’t want to transfer any more of it over in case I needed it for bills).
And I think my boss put in around 600,000.  ($600).  WAHOO!!!
Feeling much, much better.
I’m going to be over the moon once the real one hits.  Also, that would technically make me a millionaire 🙂  I get around $2000/month, which here is 2.4 million Won.

No biggie.
Who wants a new car?
😛

Anyway, I’m going to try for bed again.
Also, once I get paid, I can move money to my American account and put some bills on auto-pay…for the first time ever.  I’m one of those people that has always had to worry about money…living paycheck to paycheck, as they say.  So…to be at a point in my life where I won’t have to do that anymore is a very, very welcome change.

And with that, Goodnight!

(I’m going to be doing a post in the near future on expenses too, btw)
(And, my sore throat is still here.  GRR.  It’s fairly mild, but I wish it was gone altogether.)

I SOLD MY *FIRST* CAR!!!!!!!! (exclamation x 50)

I sold my car today!!  So so so excited! I think I got a decent amount for it and I’m just a smidge away from getting enough back to pay off the rest of my loan. 🙂

Ahhhh!!!! Also, this was my first time selling a car and I did it solo!  I do have a wonderful set of friends and family that coached me through the process, but I did all the in-person stuff on my own.  Really stressful and everything, but still so exciting.  Definitely a learning process and I just can’t believe how fast everything happened!

Anyway! Hoorah!! 😀  Second to last big hurdle before the big day…the last one is moving day on Feb 18th!

Also, I just filled up with gas for the last time for the next year 😀
Price: $3.29/gal
I want to check against this when I come home.