Thursday, September 8, 2016

Was It Just A Dream? Home after 3 years in Korea~

I've been home for a week... that's crazy!!!

Actually, it's not really... It feels kind of like I never left, with the exception of a few new restaurants around, but nothing really huge changed. The Super Walmart was finally built, which is a big deal for my hometown, but other that... it feels like the last 3 years were some sort of dream... Did they really happen?

I have pages of blogs and scores of pictures to prove that it did happen, but still, it feels like it went so fast that maybe I really did just wake up from a long sleep. 

Leaving Korea was hard, but I know it was the right time. I had a great last week and a wonderful homecoming. 

I'm not sure I'll keep up on blogging every week, since I'm not going to be adventuring all the time here in my hometown, but if something comes up, I'll pop it on here. 

Here's what I was up to my last week in Korea and first week home! 

It's a lot of pictures.... sorry. I did a lot haha.

Getting it all packed was really stressful

It suddenly felt so empty

Leaving my apartment was really hard. Not only did I do a terrible job consolidating my stuff, but leaving was just sad. It's been my home for 3 years, and it's the first place I've lived on my own. I loved it, and it was so heartbreaking to leave it. I met the new teacher who will work at my school, and I know it is in good hands, but still. 

The week was really busy. I had rehearsals for dance a lot, and like I said, I spent one whole day with the new teacher from my school. Sun Kyung and I went and picked him up and I probably blabbered way too much about the school and Korea, but the teacher before me didn't help me with anything at all, and I always vowed I would help the new person as much as I could.

It was interesting to be on the other side, since the new guy at my school came in like I did, not knowing anything. I got to show him what 3 years later could look like, as when we met the principal and VP, I was the one helping translate between the two parties. It was a great way to, ahem, show off and also to help him out. I could introduce him to the school, show him around the neighborhood a bit and get him off to a way better start than I had. I wanted the transition to be as smooth as possibe for all involved, so I hope I helped Sun Kyung, Young Ah and the rest of my school as well. I'll miss them all, but Alex, the new guy, seems enthusiastic and was eager to learn, so I hope the students and staff like him. But not too much. Obviously I should be the favorite. 

The rest of the week was filled basically with rehearsals, since I moved out Wednesday, helped the new guy Thursday and then we had our dance party on Saturday.

We stopped at a cute restaurant before rehearsal
the one day

After a super long day showing Alex around, we had rehearsal Thursday night. It also happened to be my dance teacher's birthday, so we stopped at Yankee Candle to get her a present.

She said she likes her gift a lot and thanks
for taking care of her~

Miss you, Soo Yeon Saem!

we did a final dance to Heart Attack to celebrate our time together

On Friday, Cesca and I finished one of our final Korea bucket list items, riding a tandem bike on the river. The river was kinda crowded so we modified it to near* the river and ended up biking around this nice peaceful park instead. The back seat was small though, so it hurt our butts. Haha. Harder than it looked, too, that tandem biking thing.

so ready

Kinda terrified

Pose near the river

we haven't ridden a bike in ages so
it was tiring 

but also super fun

Post biking, we headed to a goodbye dinner with a bunch of our friends at none other than Gusto Taco.

someone blinked in every pic I took haha

it was a great sendoff

We visited some of our other favorite places in Hongdae, and then we said goodbye to friends like Lauren, Helen, Renny, Cherie and more. I'm so grateful to have met such lovely people in Korea...

Saturday was dance day, starting with rehearsal at the studio for final adjustments.

Then we headed to the club in Hongdae that would host our event.

Grace got pulled in to do some silly event
they always manage to squeeze in

she had to get the counter up high on that thing
so it involved looking crazy

performances began

We also had an afterparty

haha grace's BF

Performance pics were posted a few days after, so here are a bunch that I collected from everyone. We looked hella good, right??

we made it into the promo shot!

We did Twice's Cheer Up and EXO's Monster

shy shy shy

Cheer up, baby!

you can call me monster~

Katie came to see us!

We got lots of love from the teachers and our groupmates. It was a great night.

Everyone thanked us for staying late to be able to do the show, since we told them we basically postponed our flight to be able to participate. I loved having a place to have fun and hang out and dance, and Dance Joa just became such an important part of my life in Korea for a year and a half, so I'm glad I got to finish my time with them.

We never had a class with her but she was always helping
and supporting us

The head teacher/owner. She's a blast

Our lovely friend Bri made this awesome goodbye card

The hardest goodbye was to our awesome teacher, Soo Yeon, who was scary at first but became one of my favorite people in Korea. Our class was just always such a blast, and it really helped my Korean haha cause I had to help translate a lot.   

We got home super late from all the fun, after some tearful goodbyes, and rested up the next day. 

Post dance feast
 On Sunday, Cesca and I went to Insadong to buy last minute souvenirs and necessities, and to meet up with Young Ah one more time. My hardest goodbye :/

I can't really say much more about Young Ah than I probably already have. She was my best Korean friend and one of my overall best friends in Korea, my favorite co worker, and one of the nicest, most helpful and fun people I ever met. We had so many great discussions and days together, and I'm just so grateful I was placed in the school that I was, so that I could meet her. Thank you for your constant support for the last three years, Young Ah~~

Cesca caught our parting. We promised
to see each other again. 
On Monday, it was time to reorganize our bags and go. It was more stressful than we wanted, and just hard to leave.

We got a text from Soo Yeon teacher telling
us "don't goooo"

But at the airport I got excited about going home

Having some time to unwind with my friends and to finish our dance show after our contract really helped me finish out my time in Korea, so I could leave fulfilled and happy with what I had accomplished there. 

Now that was a capstone to Korea~ Heechul from Super Junior, one of my favorite kpop groups walked by me while I was waiting for a snack in the foodcourt. I managed to get this shitty pic of him but I'm not crazy and didn't want to chase him like I saw some other girls doing. Him passing by was awesome enough.

We apparently had good luck, because when we landed in LA after a not bad 11 hour flight, we found a Coffee Bean right outside the exit area, which was thrilling for Cesca, even if they didn't have her regular drink. What was more fortuitous was that Pete Wentz from Fall Out Boy (band of my middle and high school heart), ended up right in line behind her. I was waiting with our bags, thankfully able to get a creeper picture. 

we were too excited about coffee bean to realize

then someone asked for his autograph and
Ces turned around and realized it was him.
She then gestured frantically to me

So I took this

We found peanut butter pie and I was overwhelmed by the amount
of options BK has. I forgot about all the choices!

after another 6 ish hour flight, we
arrived in Buffalo at 6 am

Where my mom, dad and Aunt Monica were waiting!
And someone else special who made the sign hehe
 After 3 years and an eternal day (thanks to timezones, Ces and I spent a good portion of our time stuck in a perptual Monday), we finally arrived at home, where a Mamma Bear hug was waiting for me.

3 years of separation suddenly felt like
nothing when I could hug them again.

Dad made a super advanced sign. It means a lot he did this, though.
He tries to be all cool guy but I think he missed me.

Veronica, the sigh maker, flew up from Atlanta to
surprise us, and she made us an awesome, cute
sign. I wasn't expecting it at all, but it was so nice!

Nymeria welcomed us home. She's rounder than
I remember haha.

Did we bring enough face masks home?

Overly excited about roast beef

Bootsie found his spot very quickly

This guy came over... not excited to see him
at all

Mom got a cake

I tried to make it through the day, but I was really faltering by 8 pm. Ces and I lasted till about 8:45 before we called it quits and went to bed.

Cesca and I braved driving on day two because we woke up early
and I wanted a mcgriddle

Reverse Culture Shock: This Oreo Section Is Too Big Oh My God
What Are All of These?
Ces was in Chicago seeing Show Me the Money, so Ronnie and I hung out a lot. We watched kdramas, started Stranger Things and the Voltron reboot, and went on some adventures. 

I'm readjusting to some old traditions well... 

Slurpee Saturday (and Pokemon hunting since I can play Pokemon
Go now)

We went to Panera and found pokemon

And I got to try things I missed, like the new reclining armchairs at the movie theater.


We saw Kubo and the Two Strings, which I HIGHLY recommend. It was great. 

I don't understand why this soda is the size of my head

we stopped for sushi/sashimi after as well.

On Labor Day, my brothe came over and we went to Long John Silver's, a family favorite.

L'immagine può contenere: 4 persone , persone che sorridono , spazio al chiuso e cibo

then we gotice cream. So nice to have custard again!

I love Halloween time so I'm excited to
be home for it. AKA Nightmare Before
Christmas season

We also got to meet hometown Lauren's baby, Olivia! I can't believe my friend is a mom! To such a cutie! Damn 3 years changes stuff!

she likes selfies cause she likes to see her face on the screen

Ces left for Kentucky but I had one more day with Ronnie~ We watched Stranger Things, got steak with her parents, got ice cream, hunted pokemon and watched Doctor Who with some of her old Panera friends. It was a great day.

Handmade ice cream YUM
 Bootise decided my chest was a great place to sleep today.

Nymeria creepin.

Now that Ronnie is gone and Ces is away again, things settled to a quiet day today. I unpacked everything of mine, and started researching some things for the future. Slow and steady, but I think I'm ready to start making a life here in America. 

It feels good to be home, even though I miss some things about Korea. But then I go to Tim Horton's and get a huge coffee that would have cost me $6 in Korea for $2 here, and I'm reminded that America isn't such a bad place to be living, since it's my home, and it has welcomed me back. I'm hoping I'll have good news and fun to share often, so don't forget to check up on me!

 I can't promise it will be as strange as Korea, but I'm determined to make it a great life, whatever I end up doing. Just you wait!

Thanks for following my adventures, hope I'll have many more to write about in the years to come!

Goodbye Korea and everyone who made it amazing. I don't know if or when I'll be back, but I'll carry my experience with me for eternity.