The Most Difficult Part of Living Abroad

Each person who has lived abroad will tell you the greatest and worst parts about it. Most of the time they’re talking about the lack of food options, toilet paper, friendly faces, or not so friendly faces.

Sure, I’ve been robbed and misdirected. I’ve had to shit my brains out in a hole in the ground with leaves as toilet paper. I’ve gotten so sick from food that I almost crapped my pants. I’ve been molested and harassed. But I’m going to lay it out straight for you.

The absolute worst part of living abroad is the flight to and from. Maybe a 7 hour flight to Europe isn’t a bad thing if you live on the east coast. Or maybe that 8 hour flight to Japan from the west coast isn’t too terrible. But what about going to Asia from the US’s east coast? Or Europe from the West Coast? And that’s not the half of it.

Horrible Part 1: finding a flight. Many of us are too young and inexperienced to know about the whole ‘skymiles’ thing. We hear from our parents that they always use Delta or American. Or perhaps you have heard amazing stories about Emirates or Sinagapore Airlines (those are true).

You have to figure out the price that’ll work for you. Is it a roundtrip or a one way? How many stops will you have? How many stops do you want? Then.. how LONG is that layover? Two hours is barely enough time to clear customs – if you’re lucky. Then that stupid 5 hour layover doesn’t really give you the chance to leave the airport. You pray that the airport has free wifi. Ideally, we prefer to go on one flight non stop and just be over with it. For a flight from Miami to New York or DC to LA..I get it. But let me tell something to you… 16+ hours on ONE flight is absolute hell.

Part 2: Preparing for the flight. Are you taking a domestic flight within the country you’re moving to? Did you realize that your 50lb/23kg luggage is going to get overage charges for that mini flight… oh they didn’t tell you that they allow a maximum of 15kg? Yea. My bad. You also need to check up on a visa status. God forbid you have a layover in..say…Vietnam (as an American) and require a visa just to transfer?! Of course that depends on your carrier. Ya gotta make sure you have a few pairs of clothes in your carry on. Stuff up on all the goodness you want that you’ll miss from your home country (ahem ranch dressing ahem).

Part 3: The airport. Aside from the embarrassment of having your parents drive you to the airport, they’re crying the whole way. “I’m so proud of you but I’m going to miss you.” … yea but we facetime/skype every other day so….. Then they take the long way to the airport. Getting you there WAYYY earlier than you need to be because you’re on an international flight and that’s only helping not at all. Then you have to wait at the airport for 2-3 hours. Searching for the soon-to-be-extinct socket to charge your phone and computer before the flight. There’s that anxiety of wondering “who will I be sitting next to? Will they be sick? Will they snore? Will they be extra wide?”

The worst is part 4: The actual plane ride. Finally you’ve sat through all the boring airport time. Your computer and phone are charged. You are seated and have a smooth take-off. You set your watch to the destination’s time. Fuuuuuuck. 16 hours. Stay awake for a bit. Watch a movie. Write a blog entry about your excitement. Get your drink and your meal. Then pop that Xanax or Valium or Ambien or whatever you were smart enough to bring with you… and sleep. Ahhh sweet sleep on a FUCKING AIRPLANE. There’s no comfortable way to do it. And no matter how strong that medicine is, you’ll wake up multiple times. Sip your water and try to go back to sleep. You wake up and look at your watch. 8 hours to your destination. Are you for real? The reality is really setting in now. You can potentially watch the every Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Twilight, etc series. . . and still won’t be at your destination. You eat and try to sleep again. But your butt is numb. Take a walk they say. Walk around the plane to stimulate blood flow and awaken your muscles. The bastard sitting on the aisle is passed out with a blanket over his head and the person sitting in front of them has the seat in full recline-mode. You try to slyly step over them but find that ridiculous. So you tap their shoulder and ask quietly to allow some space. But they took that ambien also and are passed the fuck out. So you have to be rude and speak loudly and properly shake them awake. You had better make that worth your time. Go pee, go brush your teeth, walk the length of the plane. Glance at movies that people are watching to get an idea of what to do next. Then you have to repeat that maneuver to get back into your seat. And you drift off for another hour or so. You wake up and there’s still 3 hours left. Oh thank heavens.. that’s only 3 hours. The last meal will be served soon… ahhh we all love ‘chicken or beef?’ … and it’s the fattiest beef with potato and rice. To make you fat. And bloated. And salt filled. The last hour they wake everyone up to watch the same video 3 times in different languages and to fill out the customs form. You’re almost there. Somehow you’re still exhausted. After all that ‘sleep’ you can feel the bags pulling your eyes down. But the worst of it is now over.

Part 5: Foreign customs. Good luck. 🙂

For the record:

Emirates and Singapore Air are fantastic. Score them if you can. They also have plugs for your electronic devices to charge on the flight.

American and Delta… sigh. Stuffy chairs, no chargers, barely two ‘meals’ and the loudest flight you’ll ever be on.

Remember to sign up for miles…it’ll eventually pay off.

The Old Man and the Sea of Garbage


By Shannon Noni Selis


There lived an old, lonely man in a relatively decent sized city in South Korea. He was short like many Koreans are. He was wrinkled like many old people are. He was hunched over a bit like many old Koreans are. He had a little waddle in his walk and a little grit in his talk. This old man (he played one) was the superintendent of a large apartment building in the decent sized city in South Korea. He slept in an average sized room that may have once been an office. His living area blocked the outside world with old cubicle walls. He often wore a pair of gray pants and a grayish shirt. If it was cold enough, he may have worn his thick navy blue jacket.

In the inner corner of the smallish parking lot of the apartment building, one would find the…

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Cto5K: Week 7 completed – with a record

Today was a “record breaking” day for me.

After yesterday’s horrible attempt at running (literally couldn’t run for longer than a half mile), I decided today was going to make up for it!

First thing I realized: I require a cup of coffee in order to have a successful run. Maybe one day that will change, but every day that I have not had coffee, I have a shit run.

Today I had my cup of coffee and braced the cold. I reset the calibration on Nike + Runner so my run was bit more accurate.

I walked for .2 mi @6.0km/hr then ran @7.7km/h to complete the first mile. I did this for 3 miles total. The last .25mile I ran at 8.3km/h. It was so hard. But I felt so good after.

I completed 3.15miles aka my first 5K in 35 minutes. I’m pretty sure a minute of that was me trying to figure out how to turn off the Nike+Runner app.

Either way, I feel pretty good about myself today. I have only 3 more days of Couch to 5K training. It’s pretty much just running straight from here, but I have a few new goals.

1. Actually run the 5K straight.

2. Eventually, run 2 miles in 14 minutes. ((that’s a long way from now, but it is a goal))

Today, I averaged 11:25/mile . I’m pretty sure that this is because I walked for .2miles each mile.


Week 7: Cto5K

I start week 7 today. It’s asking me to jog 2.5 miles without walking. U still can’t jog 1 mile without walking. But it’s my goal for today. At least 1 mile straight.
The scale hasn’t changed it’s mind on my weight. My clothes haven’t budged either. I know it takes time and a diet shift is in order but I’m getting impatient. I was hoping to be down a size by the wedding in less than month.
I write this on my way to the gym. Here I am and here I go. Wish me luck. – Resolutions

I’m not a resolutions type. Never have been. But the last few years haven’t been the best, so I’m pulling a Man in the Mirror. I’m gonna make a change for once in my life!

As previously mentioned, I like the numbers 2 and 4. Since they’re both mentioned in the year, I’m going to center my resolutions are the numbers.

2 – The minimum amount of new countries I will visit (Taiwan and Japan)

0 – My goal for a credit card statement.

1 –  attempt a 5K

4 – days a week of working out… (unless I can make it more.)

20 – have sex at least this much (it was a bad couple of years)

14 – lbs to be lost by 2015

201 – times I talk to my family

2-14 – Run two miles in 14 minutes ((I’m a really bad runner))

2014 – smiles (hypothetically)

So it seems health and fitness is what I will focus on this year. Look good, feel good.

Don’t Let the Door Hit ya, 2013!

I don’t think I’ve ever looked more forward to a year ending. 2013 was not the best year for me.

Sure, I was living in Thailand and had a job for a bit in the States over summer, and was practically handed the job in South Korea. Yes, that was all fine and dandy… but it was a physically and emotionally shitty year.

I’m not much into numerology, but I do have lucky numbers and I have a particular aversion to odd numbers. I strongly dislike the number 3. But I’m pulled to 2 and 4 (with 8 as a backup if necessary). This year has both numbers in it and I intend on making it a good one.

Last year I gained about 10-15lbs. That’s more than I gained over the last 10 years. I got laid once, and it wasn’t all that great. I was so broke that my friends and family snuck money to me (I’m stubborn about borrowing). My dreams were vivid and hard to swallow. I had so many bad dreams that I stopped writing about them. I dreamed of murder and death. I dreamed about my ex’s engagement (which he was within 2 weeks). I watched from abroad as people I cared deeply about got married or had babies.

There were some great parts though. I woke up in 2013 in Hong Kong. I completed my first year of teaching. I learned some Thai massage in Thailand. I surprised my family when I came back to the states, including my cousin when she was shopping for a wedding dress. It was classic. I got to enjoy hot dogs on the beach with my grandparents on Memorial Day. I watched someone who has been the closest person to a big sister get married… and I partied with her in Chicago for the bachelorette party! That Chicago introduced me to a new friend who will probably be the only person to come visit me in South Korea. I got to start a good paying job in South Korea thanks to my friend Ben, who I have known since kindergarten. See it wasn’t so bad.

But I am so happy to say goodbye to 2013. I have a lot of friends that say the new year will treat you the way you treated New Year’s. The past few years have not been memorable NYE. This one definitely was. I started it with a ‘bang.’  It’s time for change.

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