Sunday, 1 January 2012

Salvaged Winter Break

I only have two weeks of vacation in the year - one in the summer and one in the winter. Sam and I had been planning our trip to the Philippines since the summer. We bought our plane tickets and booked our hostel far in advance.  We were soooo excited! It was meant to be a nice goodbye after the four months we spent together in Korea. So we went to the airport Friday night because our flight was at 7AM on Saturday. On the way there it started to snow pretty hard but we didn't mind because we were heading for white beaches!

Woke up in the morning and went to check in.  Got seats together, checked our bags, ready to go. Suddenly, the check in girl picks up my passport again, looks at it, sets it down, and runs down the conveyer belt after my bag. Strange. "I don't like when they do things to freak you out like that", said Sam. Foreshadowing.

She comes back and tells me, "Sorry, but I can't let you through. Your passport expires in four and a half months and you need at least six to get into the country." I was in shock! I had heard of this rule before but I thought if I had a return ticket, was going for a week, and had an alien registration card in Korea saying I have a full time job it wouldn't matter. Well I was obviously wrong! It felt like a bad dream. There was nothing I could do. I had to tell Sam to go through so she didn't miss her flight.

I waited for my bag, cried, called my mom, and was just generally frustrated and hated how helpless I felt. I may have caused a bit of a scene, sobbing to myself, lying on my pillow, sitting on the airport floor. Calling my mom only made it worse because it made me so homesick. "I don't want to be in this country anymore, I just want out!!" Haha, I really said things like this to my mom. Anyway, once I got my bag I pulled the case off my pillow, threw it at the wall and headed home, defeated.

I texted and called a couple of people, including Ann. Luckily Ann called me back and she told me that Stehpy was staying in Seoul all week and gave me her number. So I spent most of the week with her and three of her friends - Nick, Matt and Alec. Mat was visiting from the States, Nick teaches in Andong and Alec teaches in Seoul.

We went out drinking on the 24th and 25th. I was feeling really down those two days and I had a pretty miserable Christmas. I really missed my family and friends. But I tried to stay in good spirits. I learned how to play shuffleboard, that was pretty fun haha :) Then Nick invited me to Andong for two nights, so him, Stephy, Matt and I spent the 27th and 28th there. I didn't bring my camera for some strange reason! But it was a really cute traditional Korean town. We did a pretty grueling hike there, I thought I wasn't going to make it! We went to a temple, walked around, went out, went to a market... it was a really great trip!

On the 29th I just relaxed at home and went to yoga, then on the 30th I went to this amazing restaurant for lunch with a Korean friend of mine. It was temple food - all vegetarian. I loved it! Definitely some of the best food I've had here. Then Stephy and I went to Myeongdong to buy something to wear for New Years from Forever 21 (of course).  We found some awesome sequin shirts. 

New Years was so much fun!! I think the less you plan and expect, the better of a time you will have. I never have fun on New Years but this year was really great! We met up with some coworkers of mine, and a couple of other friends and went to this cool little club/bar called Obeg in Hongdae.  It was so much fun! We danced a lot, and drank and Ann and I checked out another bar as well. It was a great start to the new year, as cheesy as that sounds.

I am super exhausted today because we didn't sleep much, but worth it. I had a great winter vacation thanks to some awesome people. It's such a relief to meet people who remind me of my friends at home. It's nice to feel that people understand me. I Don't want to go to work tomorrow at all, but I think everyone feels that way. Two more months!!

The cookie-cutter apartments that make up the Korean landscape...on the way back from the airport
Luckily this didn't stick
I should be on a beach
New Year's dinner: Quiznos veggie sub with jalapenos and red wine
FOCUS (Matt and Ann)

We lost the subway race
Have we crossed the river yet?
At Obeg
Nick, Stephy, Ann and I
Photo Op
Bye Matt!

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