Sunday, May 31, 2009

Korea retains her grip..

Life continues to be interesting, in the Chinese sense, for my family. At 31 weeks, Kim's water has broken, and she's now at Severance Hospital in Seodaemun-gu. They have her on antibiotics with the intention of trying to keep the baby in there for as long as possible. 31 weeks isn't the worst prognosis in the world for a premature birth, but of course the closer to term we can get, the better.

The timing on this really sucks. I start the Police Academy next week, so there is no time for me to fly out there. Since the wife just quit her job, I can't quit mine or even postpone it, because we need the income. She cannot come back to the US on our original schedule; she sure as hell can't fly in her condition, and once the kid is born she's going to need months before she can fly.

She's going to talk to her boss about retracting her resignation, which I think is about the only option we have; otherwise she's stuck in Korea without an official reason to be there. That plus I don't even want to know what my new job's health insurance would say about a situation like this.

Shit, I'm not going to be able to see them for almost nine more months! The academy is 26 weeks long, after which I start the field training program; using vacation time is absolutely out of the question during that entire period.

On a positive note, our friends hare really stepped up for us; they are taking care of Emily, and they're also covering Kim during her stay at the hospital (in a Korean hospital, family and friends are expected to help out). These people are our family now, as far as I'm concerned. Thanksgiving, Christmas, the whole bit; we can even argue politics if they want.



Friday, May 22, 2009

Car ownership in Seoul

Just posting this on the extremely off-chance that anyone actually wants to buy a car in Seoul; driving in Korea is definitely an.. interesting experience. Parking, even more so. Anyway, pictured is our 1997 Hyundai Sonata III, a spectacular bargain at $2000, or equivalent Won. Everything works and stuff, plus car maintenance (and insurance) in Korea is ridiculously cheap. If you're interested, lemme know. If not, I don't really blame you! :p


Monday, May 11, 2009

RE: The rest of my life

Uh, welp.. it turns out that I jumped the gun a bit on the whole "didn't score the cop gig" thing. It turns out that I did get selected, after all. I can't believe that I'm being given a second chance at my dream, and I hope that I will prove worthy of it. The academy starts in a few weeks, and I've got a lot to get done to prepare.

Kim and Emily are still in Seoul; she has put in her notice with her current employer and will be coming back to the US in June. Because of the timing, I will not be returning to Korea. I'm bummed that I won't get to see some of you guys again, but that's kind of the nature of expat friendships I guess. Depending on who you are, we may only have met once or twice, but you have all made an impression on me, and I will miss you. You are beautiful, fascinating people, and I am glad to have known you, however briefly. I also hope you'll look us up if you're ever in Las Vegas!

I only spent about 5 months in Korea, but in even that short time it grabbed a piece of me and didn't let go. It was my first expat experience, and even that brief time really opened my eyes to the vast diversity of the human condition. Living in a country like ours, it's easy for Americans like me to subconsciously assume that everyone's culture follows the Western model. If I had to pick just one country to prove that conceit wrong, well, Korea would be the place.

What a spectacular challenge to my preconceptions Korea turned out to be. Certainly there are cultures more foreign to the Western mindset, but I cannot think of any place that mixes Western culture with their own in such a unique way. There's just enough in there that's familiar to really throw you for a loop at what's emphatically not familiar.

I returned to the US with a new outlook on everything that I take for granted here, and I sincerely believe that everyone should live abroad if ever given the opportunity. The experience just gives you so much, makes you such a larger person. Of course we've all heard people say that, but you can't really understand it unless you've done it. Anyone reading this who has considered living abroad, whether in Korea or elsewhere: do it. Do it right now. It is an adventure that you will never, ever regret.

Korea is by no means an "easy" place for an expat, but if you meet and embrace that challenge you will come out of the experience with a spirit enriched in ways too numerous to mention. Korea will always be a part of me, and I will always be a part of her.



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