10% of the world…

That’s how many places I have been to..

I have visited 21 countries (24 hours or longer) and stayed in 4 other countries’ airports.

1. USA

2. Mexico

3. Bahamas

4. Jamaica

5. Puerto Rico

6. England

7. Spain

8. Italy

9. France

10. Netherlands

11. Belgium

12. Greece

13. Israel

14. Thailand

15. Japan

16. Hong Kong

17. Malaysia

18. Philippines

19. South Korea

20. Maldives

21. South Africa

Airports:

Germany, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Singapore

I am so proud of my accomplishments – but I am also very disappointed that it hasn’t been more. I have not yet been to any South American countries and have only been to a small portion of Europe and Asia. There’s still Africa too.

My bucket list of countries:

Finland, Norway, Iceland, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Egypt, Turkey, Taiwan, Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Indonesia, Cuba, Brazil, Chile, Venezuela, Costa Rica, and more. I just can’t think of them all because I’m supposed to be teaching right now. Oops.

Resolutions 2015 Update: August Edition

It’s August 4th. The year is more than halfway completed. I have 5 months to make these resolutions happen. I am so pleased to update this post. There have been some seriously good improvements, and some others that still need improvement. But hey.. ce la vie right?

1. I want to lose weight.

Resolution: Lose 15lbs.

May UPDATE- – – I think I have lost some weight. The heaviest I was at was 75kg (about 165lbs). My average is about 73 kg (about 160lbs). The last time I weighed myself I was at 70.6kg (about 155lbs). When I wrote this, I was thinking of how much to lose, not really a goal weight. I’m changing it to goal weight now. I want to be no more than 140lbs (About 63.5 kg). I have a ways to go, but I will not allow myself to get back up to 165 again. The last time I weighed myself was on my birthday – – I will go find a scale today and see again.
AUGUST UPDATE – – – I HAVE DEFINITELY LOST WEIGHT!! I recently weighed in at 66.7kg (147lbs). I don’t know how I did it. I kind of want to give credit to Mirena, but I also now live on a hill and maybe that has helped a bit?

2. Get laid.
Resolution: get laid at least 20 times – it counts even if it’s with the same person. No need being a slut about it. I’m 28, not 22.
May UPDATE – – – Yes. This is a much better year than last year. Numbers aren’t needed.
AUGUST UPDATE – – – 😉 😉 :* :* I should say mission accomplished, but far from over!

3. Travel
Resolution: Visit 2 new countries again! I would still like to visit Taiwan this year, my goal is Malaysia.
May UPDATE – – – 1 down, 1 to go!! Malaysia was visited in February. I am going to Japan again this weekend with my mother, but it’s still early enough to visit another country!!
AUGUST UPDATE – – – I have visited Malaysia, Japan, and Jeju (and island in Korea). Still have another country to try and visit!

4. VISIT GARY in KL!! (gary – this WILL happen)
May UPDATE – – it did happen! GOAL ACCOMPLISHED!
AUGUST UPDATE – – – Gary is coming to Seoul! for like.. a day ish. But still!!

5. Save 10K – something that is not as easy to do in the US. It’s pretty simple for people working in Korea. When my flight and housing are paid for, I get a pension, and hopefully make a few $ on the side by selling food and what not… this should be easy.
May UPDATE — it’s not as easy. I had two medical procedures this year already that has cost me nearly $1,000 USD. I also missed a market (which makes me a few hundred extra) and haven’t done any massages. My side business is seriously lacking. Hopefully I can start massages again soon though and make that dough!! On the bright side, I found out I have 3kUSD already saved thanks to that pension plan!!
AUGUST UPDATE – – – Failing. After the whole medical procedures thing, I was let go from my job and have new employment. (Details about that in another post coming soon.) So ..yea… not really doing well on the savings resolution. I have been doing massages and voiceovers again, but they haven’t quite added up to a savings bundle. However, it seems that I am at least doing the other stuff right!

Mirena Five Minutes of Pain for Five years of Wonder

Warning: This blog entry contains some explicit words and probably stuff my family does not care to read about. This is mostly geared toward women who have an interest in birth control –who may or may not be in Korea.

Size of Mirena (photo from Mirena.com)

In 2010 I went into my local Planned Parenthood and inquired about a new form of birth control. I had been on Nuvaring for about 6 years and was content, but it was getting expensive without insurance. So, a nurse-lady (Who was not my regular nurse) suggested an IUD. After a bit of research I decided to get Mirena. It was going to cost me about $700 not including the insertion. So I paid some monthly payments and I went in for my appointment. As I got onto the table, my regular nurse came in and did a quick consultation. “Shannon, this was a surprising move. You have always complained about heavy periods and cramps. Paraguard isn’t going to help it.” Paraguard? Noooo, I’ve been paying for Mirena. “Well, we have Paraguard here for you.” Noooooooo. I don’t want that one! So the appointment got cancelled and I got a refund. My nurse suggested Mirena, but by then I was dissuaded. I went back to Nuvaring at $30USD per month. I came to Korea in September 2013 with a year supply of Nuva ring. But somehow I ran short of that year and ended up getting convinced by a friend that I should ‘go natural.’ It wasn’t like I was having sex anyway. I may as well let my body do it’s thing.

P.A. (the friend) said that when she got off birth control, her skin cleared up, she lost weight, and she felt more alive then she ever did while on birth control. Her body was a bit whack at first, but everything went back to normal after a few months. So I decided to give it a try. I weighed in at about 145-150lbs at that time (June 2014). My body was not reacting the way it was supposed to. My skin was breaking out in places it should never break out. I gained another 10-15lbs. My period was showing up every 30-45 days. When you expect it on the 1st and it comes on the 7th, that is some seriously emotional freaking out. Now imagine that every month.. a week or so later than expected. It was heavy, it was light, it was starting, it was stopping. It was unpredictable and I do not approve of that.

I moved to Seoul late 2014, early 2015. I inquired about IUD and so many people had them!! I knew it was time. I needed to save some money and get my health insurance.

I got an appointment with MizMedi in Gangnam. I had a pap with Dr. Seo and discussed Mirena. He said, “Okay! No problem. After your next menstrual cycle, make an appointment immediately and we will have it done.”

So I did it on a Saturday. I waited in the waiting room for a few minutes and consulted with Dr. Seo one last time for about 3 minutes and went into the room. He said it would hurt a bit. I anticipated it…but I did NOT expect it to be THAT FUCKING PAINFUL. JESUS MOTHERFUCKING CHRIST ON HELL IN A BASKET OF CUNTBALLS!!!
“Four letter words are okay here, Shannon” OUCH!!! “yes that is a four letter word.” SON OF A BITCH. “That is about 10 letters, but still okay.”
They insert this thing into your uterus. You know that good feeling when you’re having sex? It’s not that. It’s the painful version of that. It was like a vampire dildo bit my insides. It was like having a piranha going at it on my uterus. It was like Satan himself unleashed Scylla and Charybdis into my precious parts and let them do their thing.

“Relax, Shannon. Five minutes of pain for five years of wonder.” “”WONDER??” “No, wrong word. Five years of no babies.”

……and then it was over. He used a magic sonogram wand to make sure it was in the right place and THEN it was over. It was the longest 5 minutes of my life. He said, “There maybe cramps and spotting in the next couple of days. See me when you are dressed.”
After he walked out, I got up to get dressed and saw a ghost. It was my face in the mirror. I was pale as I’ve ever been. I was surprised I hadn’t passed out. I saw Dr. Seo and he said to take some medicine, and if there were any problems, to come see him. They let me stay in a spare room for a bit while I rested. I don’t know if it was the alcohol the night before and not eating that morning, or if it was the extreme situation I had just gone through, but I sat on the toilet for about 30 minutes (sorry, graphic mental image, but I felt it was necessary).

Then I passed out on the bed for about an hour. I finally got up and paid for the appointment. The entire bill was just under 300,000won (~$275USD).

I went home around 2pm, showered and fell asleep. I felt like I was having a really really bad period day. A dull prolonged cramp and I was exhausted. I did go out the night before so I probably was a bit tired from that. I couldn’t stay awake though and ended up waking up and going back to sleep every hour or two until about 8:30pm. Then I treated myself to a bag of Mint Milano cookies and watched Scandal.

It is now 2 days later. I have been spotting lightly still and now and then feel a very very dull cramp – – as if I wasn’t sure if I were on my period or not.

But the doc is right. 5 minutes of pain for 5 years of birth control. I look forward to minimal to no periods, clearer skin, and losing a few pounds.

Update to come in a few months.

And for those who endured the entire entry:
Menstrual cycles suck. Period. (ha!!)

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

This is a scary thought:

 

For the first time since high school (ten years!) I will be staying at a job for longer than a year. The last job that I stayed at (that was actual 30+hours/week) for longer than a year was … working at a country club? I think. I may not have even actually been there for a full year, come to think of it. It’s not that I don’t like commitment, it’s just that I like to move to new places. I spent a year working in Orlando in my senior year of high school. Lived in Tallahassee for a year and worked at two different places during that time. Moved to Gainesville for a year for massage school and worked at another country club. After that I was in Orlando for about a year (working at a couple of different restaurants in the Disney area) before moving to Hawai’i. I worked at another restaurant for close to a year before transferring to their sister restaurant. When I came back from traveling I started working for a massage place. Within a year from that I moved back to Florida. I worked for a chiropractor for a few hellish months, worked for an off-property massage company, switched to on-property company. Soon, I quit that shit and moved to Tampa to work for a casino. After about 9 months there I moved to Thailand for a year. Then back to Florida for a few months, then out to Korea. And here I am.. signing another year with the same school!! 

Thanks to my friend Ben (whom I’ve known since kindergarten) I came to work for Wharton. The staff has been very friendly, the foreigner teachers have been pretty good, and the students are fairly smart. This new contract though came with a lot of changes. And I hope I don’t regret my decision to stay. I started by teaching 4th graders through middle school. After 6 months I was promoted to Head Teacher for Foreign staff (aka – she does what we ask in a super timely manner) and moved to the advanced floor teaching 7 classes: 2 5th grades, 2 6th grades, and 3 middle school classes. They were advanced. Seriously. We were discussing stuff like “What’s more detrimental: an oilspill or the declining population of honeybees?” WHAT?! Amazing – super great classes. They wrote creative stories on what would happen if they were the last people on Earth. They wrote mystery stories. They wrote intellectual-ish essays on the Syrian war and Korean education. 

20140820_155007

 The new semester started 4 days ago. I was switched….downgraded…punished? I now teach 2nd grade – 6th grade. Not advanced.  Before, we could post our homework during the class or toward the end. Now, we have to post our homework before class starts. ((how the heck do I know what they should have for homework already!?)) Before, I could ask the students to prepare a debate on whether elementary school students should have cell phones. Now, I ask “What is this? It’s a pencil.” Before, I was improving grammar. Now, I’m teaching it. With books that have so many errors in it. (ie: I have ever been to Jeju many times. – – oO)    Before, I got to school at 3pm to start class at 4:10. Now, I get to school at 1:30 and hope to be ready by 2:30pm. Before, I had 3-4 ‘prep’ periods lasting 40 minutes each. Now I teach from 2:30-7:38p with about allegedly 10 minutes break every other class. But the students come in and want to copy their homework down and want me to check their homework. ON THE BREAK!?  My ‘long’ break has been reduced to about 35 minutes. I don’t even have time to pee. 

Yes, I’m whining and complaining about getting paid well enough to save with an apartment that’s paid for in a country that has a lower cost of living than back home while teachers back in the US pay for their own supplies and bring their work home and grade essays during dinner. But I’m not a US teacher. I never will be and I never want to be. 

Yup. I’m done complaining. I’ve been stressed about this change. Mentally and emotionally. This vacation to Boracay is welcome. 😉

Passover Prep: From a Teacher

How to Prepare for Passover dinner for Teachers abroad:

1. Create a mind-map/brainstorm of your meal. Remember to use specific details and examples of the ingredients you plan on using with each dish.

Passover Brainstorm

2. Turn the mind-map into an efficient grocery list outline. You do not need to make complete sentences. This is to help you organize your thoughts so your essay Passover dinner isn’t messy or offtrack. Is your dish an appetizer or main course? This is the chance to decide before you begin writing cooking.If something can be or needs to be refrigerated, this is the time to acknowledge it in your ‘notes’.

3. Use the grocery list outline to gather your ingredients.

4. Keeping your mind-map and outline nearby, you can begin to assemble your dishes. It maybe easier to start with the body of the essay more time consuming meals first.

5. Proofread for any spelling or grammar errors. Check your dishes before serving for presentation.

6. Serve with a health “We fought, we won, let’s eat!”

7. מועד טובֿ
מועדים לשמחה and חַג שָׂמֵחַ (those vowels are oddly placed)

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.

%d bloggers like this: