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So how did YOU end up in Korea?

So how did you end up in Korea?

*This was written 6 years ago, a year before I left Korea for Canada* 

I get asked this question a lot and so here…here is how I ended up in Korea: 

Recently, I called a lawyer. 

A lawyer in Canada, no less. This lawyer I called was very polite and helpful, apparently it’s the Maple Leaf disposition. He asked how I found out about his company as I was calling all the way from South Korea (‘South Korea, wow!’ ‘Yeah, I get that a lot when I call overseas from here.’). I explained I googled what I was looking for and clicked the first one I found with a Facebook page. Although it is also worth noting I was drinking a vodka and orange in an Irish bar on a school night while calling him…. 

This morning, I had a visa medical exam. A pretty standard test. One I’ve had a few times for my Korean visa so I knew the drill. Blood, chest x-ray, pee in paper cup, see doctor, deny knowing what an illegal drug is, the usual. On one of the stack of forms I had to fill in to give permission for them to view my medical records, test me for a wide varity of diseases, declare I wasn’t lying in any of my statements, give them custody of my first-born and the rights to name him Bob (one those is not true), it asked for my future occupation in my intended country of residence. Pointing out I wasn’t moving for another 12 months and hadn’t planned that yet, I was told to put ‘housewife’.

And so I did. 

I laughed and shook my head and wrote the word on the page.

In a mere 48 hours, I’d called a lawyer, had a visa medical and declared myself a future housewife. 

My entire life I’ve just kinda fallen into thing. Not really making conscious life decisions. I’ve just been presented with an opportunity and going with it, confident in the knowledge that it’ll all be fine. It’s no coincidence one of my favourite phrases is ‘Let’s see how this all plays out, shall we?’ 

I stumbled into going to university in England. I was unsure about what I wanted to do with my life and unwilling to choose computing suggested by one career counsellor and to ‘give up the idea of directing a movie because my teeth were not straight enough. So when I talk or give direction people will not understand me and HOW can I direct a movie if people can’t understand me’ (direct quote that will stay with me for life) by another career counsellor after I said I wanted to write movies.

To the UK I went, to study writing and film (a completely useless degree in hindsight). Unlike universities in the US where you can study many different things in the lead up to your eventual degree, in Ireland and the UK at 17 we have to choose our path and stick to it. Every course I took lead directly to the degree I applied for. I applied to ten universities, got into four, picked the one with the open day that was soon, flew over, looked around and signed up to attend in September.

Graduating at 20, I fell into working as a project supervisor at my previous job. 

How? 

I was there when the previous project supervisor quit. That’s it. That’s all it took. I just happened to be there in the building. Later, when I moved into human resources, again, it was because I was there when the previous HR girl quit. For a while I was doing project supervising, HR, interviewing potential staff, running training seminars, doing wages (a terrifying month) and flying to Germany to brief new center managers. I took a two week holiday and went to Washington DC. It took three people to do my job while I was gone. 

Having gone to Salzburg on a Sound of Music tour with my mother for her 50th birthday, I returned to my job bored and unhappy. I didn’t like it. It was depressing and I could do it drunk, hungover, half asleep, on the tail end of a bar hopping pub crawl (I kid you not!) and could coordinate client documents while talking on the phone, supervising staff and playing on the Internet all at the same time. The challenge was gone and thus I put in for a transfer. To London. My transfer approved, my contract drawn up and ready to be signed, apartment hunting was a go-go and I was packing my house up.

Six weeks later I was on a flight to Korea to start a new life. 

It’s funny how these things just….happen.

So what happened? 

Nothing.

Nothing at all. 

Nothing major or dramatic or life changing. Nothing I can pinpoint on my life map and say ‘this was the event that caused it’. I just woke up one day and realised if I don’t leave now, now, this very second….if I don’t make the decision to leave when I get the chance, when my current contract is up, I’ll never leave. And then I’ll stay. I’ll stay here in a job I don’t like. In a country I really have no reason to be. With a car I can’t drive and a lethargic attitude towards work that ranks it just barely above ‘napping’. I’ll stay and be that person in the bar who stayed too long.

I needed a change. I needed to leave. And I needed to do it now while the idea was new and fresh and I was suddenly motivated. My contract at work was up for renewel. My current landlord was looking into selling off his house and thus, I’d have to move anyway. The stars were aligning and it was my shot!

A quick phone call later and i was offered a chance to either move to Korea the following month or Japan in 6 months. I choose Korea, because it was sooner and hanging around for 6 months would lead to a change of heart, second guessing and I have a short attention span. Left for 6 months to stew and think, I’d back out. I told my job. (‘I moving to Korea.’ ‘Korea…where’s that?’ ‘KOREA.’ ‘Ohhhhhh KOREA….I seeeeee.’) I sold everything that wouldn’t fit in my Opel Corsa on eBay and my mother drove me back to Dublin to await my Korean visa. 

A few weeks later, visa and one way plane ticket in hand, large suitcase borrowed from my mother, and a world of opportunity ahead of me, I left on a plane to start anew. It would be a few weeks before I got around to reading the Lonely Planet guide I’d brought with me and a few more before I discovered what ‘Skype’ is…and I worked for eBay when they acquired Skype which made that so much worse. 

Oh, how badly prepared I’d been when I arrived.

But alas how could I know that one decision, that decision to pack everything up and start again would change my life the way it did. 

I didn’t. 

I took a shot.

And now, as I prepare for yet another country move, people keep asking if I’m scared, apprehensive, what if it all goes wrong, what if it doesn’t work out…etc.

To them I say, maybe it will. Maybe it will go wrong. Maybe it’ll be great. Maybe it’ll be the greatest decision I’ve ever made. Maybe, maybe, maybe. 

I don’t want the ‘maybes’ to rule my life. For every ‘maybe yes’, there’s a ‘maybe no’. For every person that says ‘Maybe it’s a good idea’ there’s another saying ‘Maybe it’s a terrible idea. You should stay here’.

When I moved to England, people said I’d be back within a month. I said ‘Maybe.’ I returned 6 years later. 

When I moved to Korea, people said, ‘Ohhh it’s so dangerous there! You won’t be safe!’. I said ‘Maybe.’ I’ve been here 3 years and 4 months. The most dangerous thing that has ever happened to me was almost being hit by a taxi cab when I walked out in front of it.

In less than a year, I move to Canada. People say it may not work out. That couples who meet in Korea and leave together don’t last. That we’ll regret it. That we won’t find jobs. That we’ll have no money. That it’s cold. That I’ll hate it. That it’s a risk.

To them, I say ‘Maybe.’ 

But for now, let’s just agree on one thing, let’s all sit back, relax and see how this all plays out, shall we?

#spoileralert #itworkedouy

(Oh and that’s The Canadian One with my Pingu the Penguin in his backpack in the pictures above on the day we moved me from my apartment into his!) 

Categories
Canada humor Photography

10 Days in T-Dot – Quote Friday – 03/05

Ten days ago, I moved to Canadaland and became a permanent resident.

Our first stop: Toronto to visit The Canadian One’s dad and then today, we’re off to our new town, Calgary, Alberta.

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It was Goodbye Land of the Morning Calm:

And Hello Land of the Maple Leaf:

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At security in Seoul:

The guy takes my handbag and looks at it.

Him: “Can I look through this?”

Me: “Of course.”

He opens it, looks at the mess inside, looks at me and says: “Do you have a pencil case in there? Can you just take it out for me?”

And he pushes the bag back towards me.

***

At immigration in Vancouver:

The first immigration guy when I approached him: “Aren’t you pretty?” and then he took my passport.

The security scanner dude upon scanning my bag for the second flight, pointed at my bag: “That’s pretty. Did you fly with that?”

I approach customer service to ask which gate our flight is going out of.

Customer Service guy: “Oh, you have plenty of time before your flight to get there. You could go have a coffee. There’s a place just around there.”

Me: “Oh, I already had a coffee.”

Guy: “You could have another one.”

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My first Tim Hortons….I’m smiling because in the picture before hand I wasn’t and The Canadian One said I should look happy in my new country…and get used to Tim Hortons.

As part of the immigration process, we had to hand in B4 forms to declare all our items we’re importing at customs. I’d read that the more specific you are, the less likely customs are to open all your suitcases. Not that I was hiding anything, but it would have been a pain in the a$$ to repack everything after a 10 hour flight.

Everyone was searched before us so all hope that we wouldn’t be searched went out the window pretty quickly.

We were called to the desk, I handed in my color coded, perfectly organised, meticulously written paperwork I’d done for both myself and The Canadian One. Guy looks at the stack of papers, looks at us and then our bags.

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I point to the copy of paperwork from our doctors to say we’re allowed to bring a stack of insulin (him) and migraine medication (me) into the country. He glances at it, looks back at us and says:

“This is all personal stuff. You can keep these. I could write up paperwork for you but really, there’s no point. This looks fine. You don’t have anything over $10,000 in here, do you?”

Us: “NO!”

Me: “The most expensive is a guitar at $500.”

Guy: “That’s not expensive. We’re looking for things like art or things like that. Great. (hands me back all the paperwork) You have a connecting flight? This is the way out.”

And off we went.

***

Immigration gave me a booklet to help me integrate and learn the Canadian way. I get started:

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***

I begin to think: ‘Canadians are so nice. I feel like they have an evil agenda….’

***

Me, on day one: “Holy sh*t! Snow!”

Then moments later: Me: “CHIRSTMAS TREES!!!!”

Christmas trees next to The Canadian One's dad's house
Christmas trees next to The Canadian One’s dad’s house

***

Me, on day two: “Yes, I’m in pain but doesn’t the ER seem a little…drastic…?”

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With severe back pain that made me cry in front of other people (I don’t cry in front of other people), I was frogmarched waddled to the hospital to await a diagnosis. My health insurance hasn’t kicked in as I’m not in my ‘home’ province that I’m moving to so $400, 3 hours and a dose of antibiotics later, I’m told I ‘maybe’ have a bladder infection. We worked out a few days later that perhaps I just injured myself dragging bags around. I switched from Tylenol and codeine to ibuprofen and codeine (all prescribed, don’t panic) and religiously rubbed hot cream (it heats up) onto my back. I’m feeling better. I did feel like I was gonna die / pass out / throw up from the pain (delete according to what day it was).

Here I am, pointin' at my hospital bracelet!
Here I am, pointin‘ at my hospital bracelet!

My mother has pointed out an interesting trend though. Day after I moved to England, landed myself in the doctor’s with severe food poisoning. First weekend in Korea, landed myself in a clinic with a severe chest infection. Second day after moving to Canada, in the ER. Wtf?

***

Me, on day three, watching home movies on VHS: “Mini The Canadian One!!”

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I also try poutine for the first time. Om nom nom!

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***

Day five, trip into Toronto central to see the Frightened Rabbits play:

Mam: “What’s the name of the band you’re going to see tomorrow?”

Me: “Frightened Rabbit.”

Mam: “What?!”

Me: “Frightened Rabbit.”

Pause

Mam: “You’re going to see a band called Frightened Rabbit on Easter Bunny Sunday?!”

Pause

Me: “Yes…”

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***

Later: Me: “I waved at a Frabbit! He waved back!! I need to tell Facebook!”

Then this happened:

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***

At the hotel:

Me, to the guy behind reception: “You sound very British.”

Guy: “I am very British.”

Me: “Where are you from?”

Guy: “Cheltenham.”

Me: “Ou, horse racing.”

Guy, without even pausing: “You must be Irish.”

***

Me, in a bar: “I don’t know what Jolly Ranchers are. Or Lifesavers. It’s like everything is the same but not the same at all.”

The Canadian One: “The same as what?”

Me: “My country. I think I’m having culture shock. This is what you read about in books. This is it. I don’t know what a Reese’s Pieces is!! This is culture shock. It’s happening.”

***

Me, on day six, in Tim Hortons: “I hate Tim Hortons. I’ll never integrate into this country.”

Meanwhile, The Canadian One wins another coffee:

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***

Me, on day seven: “I went to a Bulk Barn. It was….magic.”

***

Day eight: I learn what a Wal-Mart is….

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And try Boiled Dinner for the first time:

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***

On day nine, it was Take Me Out To The Ballgame time for my first ever baseball game.

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We lost 3-2 but still, I got a foam finger.

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Me: “I feel like I’m on TV!” (- I’d never seen a foam finger in real life!)

And of course, looked at the CN Tower!

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Bought a $10 beer (that’s not a typo!):

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And then The Canadian One knocked it over…

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And we’re in the town all our visa paperwork went to all those months and months (and months) ago.

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***

Upon getting our food at the restaurant, I’d ordered an Italian Sausage Pasta.

The Canadian One’s Little Nephew: “Have you ever had weiner before?”

Me: “Yes.”

Kid: “Don’t eat mine!!!” ( – referring to a weiner of a different kind…)

***

The Canadian One’s Little Nephew: “Do you want to see a dead pigeon before you go to Calgary?”

We opted for no. Apparently The Canadian One’s brother has ‘found’ a dead pigeon next to the wheel of his car. The Canadian One got an email the following morning titled ‘I did not kill that pigeon’ and a picture of the dead pigeon.

I remain skeptical.

***

Me, to The Canadian One’s father: “So this is what it’s come to, drinking moonshine out of a pill bottle in a shed.”

***

 The Canadian One hits me on the leg in a bid to get me out of bed.

Me: “OW! What the hell?”

Him: “Motivational love tap.”

…o.O

***

Do you love Quote Friday? Sad to see it come to an endeventually? Who really knows at this point?! I keep saying ‘It’s the last one’ and then I do one more….

OUT NOW: The QUOTE FRIDAY book, the best of four years of quotes including some never before published ones:Watch Out for the Hedgehog’.

 

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For more Quote Fridays, check out: