On Returning Home…

It’s been ages since my last post, which has been becoming more of an occurrence.  I guess no news is good news.

A handful of updates:
*I’ve begun studying for the GRE exam, which I plan to take in January
*I’m leaving Korea and US-bound in March–after FOUR years (contract ends at the end of February)
*Classroom stuff is going swimmingly and I’ve been able to try my hand at video editing, which is pretty fun.

GRE Exam
In case you weren’t aware, the GRE is a graduate school entrance exam.  It’s not required by all schools, but as I want to keep my options open and I have some free time, I figured it couldn’t hurt to have it under my belt.  I bought a big (and I mean BIG) book with lots of practice questions and it’s really helpful.  I’m feeling dumber than a bucket of rocks as a lot of it has leaked out of my head, but I have a nice frosty winter to re-learn a thing or two.  ha

USA-Bound
It’s true, it’s happening.  I’ve mentioned it on and off for awhile now, but it’s really happening.  I’ve been reading a lot about reverse culture shock and repatriating online as I’ve been experiencing a wide range of emotions.  At first it was relief and excitement, and everything around me seemed to be brighter, warmer, crisper and more cheerful.  Now, I’m feeling so…lost and I guess anxious would be the right word.  I keep going back and forth (with feelings, not on the decision itself) about whether I’m making the right decision, or whether I should just keep traveling for a bit.
Leaving feels right and it frees up a lot more possibilities, but the money is so addicting.  The other part that really gets me is that I’ll have a good amount saved up by the time that February gets here, more than I’ve ever had in my bank account at one time.  Ever.  Then I go home and buy a car and it’s all but gone.  Not even an expensive car…just a general used car.  It’s so depressing.  I was thinking about how far that money would go if I were to keep traveling after Korea, and I could go for about 8 months.  Maybe longer if I stayed in SE Asia.  It hurts me knowing that cars are essential in the midwestern parts of the US.  :-/

I feel like I’m on an emotional roller-coaster.

With the reading that I’ve done though, it’s really reassuring that I’m not alone in this.  I’ve also talked with friends who have already returned and they’ve given me advice as well, mainly: have a plan and keep busy.

I’m half-tempted to make a pit-stop in England before returning to the States because (1) I love it there (2) I have friends from Korea there who I haven’t seen in about 2-3 years.  (3) The Harry Potter Studio Tour in London
I do have a free return flight from Korea, which would get me there…I would just need to pay the return from London to Chicago.  Which takes away from the car fund.

I also really wanted to fill up my passport pages before it expires (in 2019, I believe).  I know going home isn’t permanent, but it feels like it.  I think that’s where part of my anxiety is coming from.

Anyway, this blog in particular was really helpful in fighting back the current anxiety that I’m feeling, especially in the comments.
*Have a plan B
*Make time to travel in your own country–which I’m actually working on as well!  I want to drive the PCH next summer.  It’s been on my bucket list for a very long time, and it would be great to see the west coast during the summer.  PLUS, I could stop in Cali and visit a friend from Korea who lives over there 😀

This is from the above-mentioned blog:
it seems that in life doors are always opening to us that we didn’t even see when we were all the way down at the other end of the corridor, so be brave, take one step at a time, and remember that even in going back, you can still be moving forward!”
(Steph 5/24/2013)

Anyway, that’s enough for now as it’s late (as usual).

I just found this and it.is.perfection.
boundaries

Anyway, goodnight! 😀

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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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Honeydukes
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Honeydukes

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Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans–unfortunately they were sold out! 😦
Honeydukes

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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

Japan and Wizarding World of Harry Potter

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Osaka Castle, Osaka, Japan

I have a bit of a headache, so this might be a fairly short post, but I wanted to make a post about my trip to Japan (Osaka, specifically) and THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER at Universal Studios Japan (USJ).

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Hogwarts Castle, Universal Studios , Osaka, Japan

The theme park was everything I was hoping for it to be and I’m happy that I bit the bullet and bought the plane tickets.  (Which is how it usually works out…just buy the tickets.)  Also, I loved Osaka, so that was another perk.
The only downside about the theme park was that is was CRAZY crowded.  Which, it’s only been open for two months, and we knew it expect it, but it was a bit nuts.
The morning wasn’t too bad, but it got more and more crowded as the afternoon went on.

Also, coming back to a three-day week is pretty awesome.  🙂

So, I wrote TWELVE pages (front and back) in my travel diary, and I was thinking of posting it here as I really don’t feel like re-hashing all of what I already wrote…would anyone even read that?  I dunno.  Anyway, I’ll leave a space for it and come back and add it later.

^^Hogwarts castle in Osaka 🙂

I’m also working on decking out my classroom for fall, so I’ll have another post up soon with the finished product.  Just give me a few more days 🙂  I’m working on making a big tree for my door with a bunch of colored leaves…time consuming, but should be pretty.  My boss also loves my classroom, so yay!  I like decorating it though…it helps if I also enjoy my workspace…and it helps the kids, so it’s a win-win.

I have Speaking Parties occasionally with my classes (I try for once a month), where I create a list of speaking topics and they sit around and pretend they are in a cafe and just chat about topics off the list.  I bring in snacks and drinks to create a sort of “coffee shop” vibe and they still end up reading off the sheet instead of talking naturally…but, that’s ok, right?  I guess they have to read before they learn to create the questions themselves.
Anyway, it’s pretty fun and the kids generally seem to like it.  Also, Costco is the main source of imported/foreign goodies around here and they recently got pumpkin pie in stock for the holidays, so I’m thinking of picking one up for tomorrow’s speaking day…for…cultural purposes.  So they can…ya know…learn what pumpkin pie tastes like (and because I tried it last year for the first time…I know! *shock* Say whattt? *gasp!*) and I think it’s delicious.
But mostly because that is something they’d never normally have and it would be a fun and different fall treat.

Mmmmm! Pumpkin pie on a Friday!  Oh happy day!

Also, 22 days til my birthday! 😀

//New Favorite Song:
One–Ed Sheeran

Still loving this one too:
Richard and Jasmin–“All of Me”
The Voice Kids–Germany