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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Nervous…

Feeling a bit anxious/nervous because none of the penpal letters have made it to their recipients in the US yet.  I have 3 different envelopes out and still waiting on all three of them.  I sent them 2 weeks ago, so I’m not sure why they’re taking this long.  They’re just letters 😦  There are about 50-70 students waiting on these letters…c’mon postal service, c’mon! 😦

Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Photos (PHOTO HEAVY)

I’ve decided that I will post my journal entries, but I have to re-take a few photos of some of the pages, so here are some photos until I get time to post the entries.

I present to you…1/8 of the pictures of my time at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Osaka, Japan!  😀  (Don’t worry, I chose my favorite photos.)

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The entrance to the HP neighborhood

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Hogwarts Express!

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Zonko’s Joke Shop

The Harry Potter neighborhood was towards the back of the park and you walk through a winding path lined with tall shrubbery, then it takes you to the entrance of Hogsmeade Village.  The Ford Anglia (flying car) was among the shrubbery too!  🙂  Pre-park photo op!  🙂

You could take photos INSIDE the Hogwarts Express but there was a huge line and it cost about $30 (3000 Yen)…so we passed on that.

Zonkos looked almost exactly like the movies and had tons of treats and gags from the books except…the Muggle version…so less-cool IMO (in my opinion).  Very kid-friendly, but not for someone looking to save some yen.

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Hogwarts Castle!  Wahoo!

We loved the amount of DETAIL in everything that we saw.  That was probably one of my favorite parts.  They tried to be as faithful to the books as possible so if you’re a super-fan like myself, you won’t be disappointed.  (They had a lake too!)

We had a Fast Pass for the Forbidden Journey ride inside the castle so we did that first.  It is a simulator ride and was pretty cool.  The inside had loads of stuff from the movies to look at.  Talking portraits (in Japanese…sadly (for me)), Dumbledore’s office, Gryffindor common room…

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Entrance to Dumbledore’s office

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Bought some butterbeer…which is DELICIOUS by the way.  I got the frozen one and my friend got the regular.  We spent an extra $3/4 (speaking in dollars because most of my family is from the US) on the souvenir mugs.  Worth it.  My drink was still cold a few hours later.  The only thing is that Butterbeer is really sweet (non-alcoholic) (tastes a bit like caramel and something else) so we probably could have shared.

*We had Pumpkin Juice as well (apple juice, pumpkin puree and one other kind of juice that I forgot…apricot??)…anyway…it was pretty tasty.  It tasted like pumpkin pie in juice form…in a good way?  Not sure how that comes across, but it was good too.  Sweet, but good.

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Took this photo at my house just now–My friend has pictures from the park, but she’s a bit slower with the uploading than I am…

Anyway, we rode the Flight of the Hippogriff ride after buying the Butterbeer.  There was a HUGE line, but we wanted to do everything so we took our Butterbeers in line and played some Harry Potter hangman on an app on my phone.

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We saw Hagrid’s hut while waiting in the line.  😀

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Crate for the Monster Book of Monsters…which broke free by the looks of it!  Watch out!

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House banners outside Hogwarts castle

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My House 😀  Slytherin House: Home of the resourceful and ambitious
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Hogsmeade Village

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Hogwarts Choir performing some songs

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The toilets even looked like school toilets (at least from the movie) with Moaning Myrtle! (in Japanese..sad day.)
She was in both the men’s (“Boys”) and women’s (“Girls”) toilets.
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Lunch in The Three Broomsticks
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Wizeacre’s Wizarding Equipment (clothing and souvenir shop)

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Honeydukes

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Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans–unfortunately they were sold out! 😦
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Chocolate Frogs–with collectible cards!
I bought two…a bit expensive at ~$9 (900 yen) a piece but worth it to me since I can’t buy them anywhere else
I have one unwrapped and half eaten and the other is still wrapped up (Salazar Slytherin was my first card.)

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Inside Zonko’s Joke Shop
“U No Poo: The Constipation Sensation That’s Gripping the Nation!”
Techhhhnically, this should be in Weasley Wizard Wheezes, but ah well.  You can have it Zonko’s,  Nice to see it in the shops 🙂 haha

Need to Re-Group

I never thought I’d be at this point as a person.  I need to work on controlling my temper.  I know I can be stubborn and want things a certain way, but I’m feeling sort of mixed on this.

In Korea, especially working at a hagwon (the private schools that are independently owned  and are a dime a dozen), it’s fairly common knowledge that schools can (doesn’t mean they all do…just have to be very cautious.  Many are in this just to make money, not because they care about actually educating children) just close up overnight or you might have a director that doesn’t pay you on time, etc.
We have a new director and he seems nice and is investing money in our school (which our last owners didn’t), so that’s all good.  But…
Ok, I was going to try and make a long story short, but I think some backstory is necessary.

I (along with previous employees) got 5% taken out of my check by the school–they said for tax purposes, but we all assumed it was actually to keep the foreigners from doing a midnight run (to the airport and going home), because it was written into the contract that you’d get the money back at the end.  Uh…which is also not legal.  They aren’t supposed to take things out that aren’t allowed by the government).
But anyway, I resigned a new contract when the new owner got here (new owner, new contract), and insisted it was removed.
The other foreigners get paid on the 10th of each month (1st for me–apparently because of that 5% clause…which doesn’t make sense to me)–and I wanted to still be paid on the same day and have the clause removed.  I can’t just not get paid for an extra two weeks because of that.  Sorry.
Anyway, fast forward to now–last month I had issues getting paid and had to ask about it 3 times but it was apparently something with the accountant.  “The accountant hadn’t sent them the paper showing how much money to take out for taxes”.  Um..ok..even if that’s the case, then you should have been working on that well before my payday.  That payday also happened to be the day I was supposed to be leaving for Seoul so I could leave the next morning for the Philippines.  Without a paycheck.
They said they could just put the full amount into my check and I could wire back the money from the taxes…which…whatever, but they should have been getting the information from the accountant BEFORE payday happens….not just “Oh sorry!  Please understand the situation….”

Btw… “Please understand”  is the most common thing you hear here when there’s some sort of dilemma.  And there’s never a solution attached to it.  Just “Please understand”…it’s more of a “Please understand what I’m saying”…not a “please understand the situation.”
It’s one of my biggest pet peeves.  Ugh.  There’s no way of SOLVING anything…just “understand”.  And if you say “I understand”, then it’s your way of agreeing with them and saying that whatever is happening is completely ok with you.

Anyway, so my payday rolls around this month (yesterday), and I was already going into it with my expectations very low because of the previous month’s issues.
I got another schpeal about the accountant (IMO, get a new accountant).  Apparently “she’s lazy” and hadn’t sent over the form again (HOUND HER..paying your employees is important).   I was pissed off inside and just really annoyed.  The head-teacher and director said I would “definitely” get paid Monday after they talked with the accountant.  I left and was basically like “Right.  Monday for sure.”
Which, in my contract it says the 1st of each month, and I was talking with a co-worker after I left and she reminded me that I shouldn’t have to put up with their crap and feel extra stressed because of their laziness/mistakes/etc.  If I get paid on the 1st, I should be paid on the 1st.  End of discussion.
So, I went back up to the school after our conversation, hoping to see someone who could fix the situation and our director was sitting at the front desk working on some paperwork.

I talked with him and said that I needed to get paid today (yesterday).  That I have bills to pay and I needed to get paid.  He asked if I was angry and I said that I was a little angry and frustrated.  He apologized for the situation and brought more of the “Please understand” crap into the conversation, but wired the money over right then and there.
I also mentioned that the other teachers were nervous about getting paid on time (because they are—there’s a bit of tension running through the school–which I suppose is normal because we have a new owner.  Another girl had issues getting paid last month too, except she got too much, and they never got back with her when she was trying to right the situation.)

Anyway, he seemed worried when I mentioned that people were worried about getting paid on time.  (Which is true, because there’s a lot of tension around the school due to having a new director, and not being sure what kind of person he is).
I’m a bit worried whether I said too much, but I also feel more confident that it won’t happen again.
I feel that I also need to stand up for my rights, because here especially, you need to look out for yourself because there aren’t many others that will.  Especially when it comes to the workplace.
I think it’s the lingering part of my western mindset that makes me feel like I may have overstepped a boundary line, but when I take into account the experience I have here so far, I feel like I did what’s right.  A bold move, but a necessary one.

It isn’t unheard of here for hagwon owners here not to pay on-time or to just leave in the middle of the night (and no one notices for a few days) while taking the money and leaving.
It’s not super common from what I’ve heard, but it’s still an issue either way, and I still feel like I need to look out for myself.
Another thing is that I have bills at home set for automatic withdrawal back home and if I don’t have any money in my account because I’m not paid on time (and it takes a bit of time for the money to clear once I make a transfer) then it’s my own neck on the chopping block when loans or other bills are late.  Not theirs.  And they won’t give a damn about it either.  Not that I expect them to, but yeah, I also don’t want the new owner to think he can just push me around.
He seems nice, but that’s common here too.  Everything is for show.  Look nice, get a fancy degree, but there’s a whole different something beneath the exterior.

(Note:  I’ve met a lot of great people OUTSIDE of the business/work/school world here that are great, but that is the general mentality.)

Anyway, I think it’ll be better once I get home to a bit of normalcy.  It’s also supposed to be easier the second year because you already know the culture and are familiar with things.  So, here’s to that.

Oh, and 7 days!!

TEFL Course is COMPLETE!!

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHhh!!!!!!!!   I’m in shock right now.  I just submitted my final unit (#20) on my TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) Course (to get my TEFL certificate).
Granted, my tutor still has to grade the last few units that I’ve submitted to him, but aside from that…I just get to sit back and wait now.

I’m in shock.  It’s been 7 months.  SEVEN MONTHS.  Yeah.  Seriously.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! *happy dance* *happy dance*

*fingers crossed that I don’t need to fix any of my responses*

FLIGHT INFO!!

Just got my flight itinerary!!!  OMG!!! 😀 😀
Everything looks good…a bit heavy on the layovers I suppose, but everything else looks good.  I don’t leave here or arrive anywhere at horrible hours of the day, so it looks good.
I’m happy with my international airline and..it looks like I leave my last US city for Seoul around midnight, so hopefully I’ll be wiped out after a good few hours of travel so I can get some sleep on the plane.

Still waiting on my passport/work visa to arrive back in the mail…
Not sure if I mentioned it, but I sent in my paperwork for my second background check.  Got re-fingerprinted and everything for that again too…sooo..yay!  Paperwork is almost done…again.  🙂

I can’t believe this is happening!..ahh! lol. 🙂

I also turned in my final rent check today too…and completed my taxes 🙂  Very productive day.

Visa Application: Submitted…and just one more thing to get my heart pounding a bit faster!

So yep…I submitted my visa application today.  It apparently takes about a week…and a few extra days if it’s sent by mail (which is what I did, since I don’t feel like spending $100+ to go back up to Chicago for the day to drop it off in person).  Should be there on Thursday.  Thanks FedEx! 😀

Also, I got an email from my recruiter and she asked what international airport I fly out of.  Meaning that she’s now hunting for plane tickets…
Sure, that’s not a whole lot, and I feel like a little kid when I get all excited about the little stuff, but I think that’s what it’s all about.  I like feeling excited/anxious/etc. about the process…even though it plays havoc on my emotions, it feels good to have something to get excited about.  If I’m not excited, then I probably shouldn’t be going.

So…good thing I am.  😉

Lots of progress on my to-do list today too! yay!  Well, at least it feels like it. 🙂

Off to work on unit 8 for my tefl course…