Surviving & Thriving

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style. ~~~Maya Angelou

Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond, S. Korea

On May 13, 2017, I landed in Seoul. There had been a mix up with my ticket due to the time difference and my plane took off three hours and one day late, so I disembarked bleary eyed and panicky.

Things got worse before they got better.

My recruiter, who, while I was still in New York's La Guardia Airport, promised to be at Incheon Airport to soothe and calm me upon my arrival was nowhere to be found when I finally made it through customs. I couldn’t even get him on the phone. Instead, I got one of his coworkers who informed me that Joe didn’t work weekends. Huh? What? He was working weekends when I was in NYC freaking out, when he promised to pick me up and get me settled in my new home, my new life on a different continent!

Songdo Beach, Busan, S. Korea

Through a fog of fear and What the fuck have I gotten myself into? Have I made another mistake?! I heard the sub-recruiter promising to figure everything out---promising that I would be okay. And then radio silence.

Things got worse before they got better.

Hunkered down in the least crowded spot I could find, surrounded by two massive suitcases, and an overnight bag, I was gripped with terror and spotty Wi-Fi. What if I missed the phone call or text telling me what to do, where to go? What if someone tried to speak to me in Korean? What if I had to stay in the airport overnight and couldn’t find a bar?

Things got worse before they got better.

Sub-recruiter finally got back to me an hour later. He directed me to an airport motel because my new boss was unable to pick me up at the bus terminal. You see, my recruiter had screwed up the time difference and instead of taking off on Friday and landing Saturday, I was supposed to take off Thursday and land Friday. After a three and half hour bus south to the little hamlet of Sacheon, my boss was to pick me up and take me to the school and introduce me to the students before taking me to my new apartment. But because I had missed the original flight, my boss couldn’t meet me hence the airport motel.

Things got better.

Korean BBQ

I’ve written about my two days in an Incheon Airport motel so I won’t rehash it, but I will say there was a traditional Korean meal that included a whole dried fish and a sixty-five-year-old blond Korean dive bar owner who sang American power ballads. I survived, dare I say even enjoyed, both. I survived those unique experiences and to my unending surprise, I have survived rowdy, disrespectful children, a complete gluteus-maximus muscle tear which left me unable to walk for nine months, a lack of happy hour and proper bourbon, general cluelessness and constant fear.

Things got better.

I got the unicorn of hagwon (private school) jobs, started an expat book group (Expat Book Chat), bonded with some truly lovely people. Heading into my third year, I've found the sweet spot that assuages my obsession with water, my desire to connect with Korean culture, and my craving for bacon cheeseburgers (hint: it’s Gwangalli Beach in Busan), and in general calmed the fuck down and started enjoying my life.

Jungeun, Allie, and Me!

Things turned out great.

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to come back in June

for my last trip to Cuba.

In the meantime, be kind to one another, keep on traveling with a feminist eye, and keep on being Feminist AF!


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