Just to mess with us, it looked like spring had finally come after a very long and cold winter. We even got t-shirt weather on the weekend. But that was just a ruse for what happened Tuesday, at first it looked like it would just be an April rain storm, but it was cold outside, so very cold. I mentally kicked myself for not having my parka with me while I made my way to work. And then the worst news, about an hour into my shift word spread that it was snowing. When I had the chance, I ran to the window… There it was, in all it’s glory, an April snowstorm. I miss spring, I hope it comes back soon.
I’ve been contemplating this a lot in the past few months (*cough*seven*cough*), since I came home and was no longer living abroad. I initially started as an expat blog, detailing the things I did while living abroad, and while I still find photos and reminisce about my time abroad, that’s no longer who I am, and I’ve been feeling sort of at a loss. Where do I go from here, essentially?
I’d love to live abroad again, but it’s just not in the cards right now. I’m going back to college, try to make a go of a career again. While I enjoyed teaching ESL, for me it wasn’t a long term pursuit, I didn’t envision myself carving out a career doing that, and so I felt that, when I came home, had the time and money, figure out what I could do. Hopefully something that would allow me to travel more…
Which brings me to the other aspect, travel? I still have travel plans afoot, but not as extensive. Travelling about Korea was dirt cheap compared to Canada. My lift tickets at the local ski hill were about half what I’d pay for the entirety of a weekend away at a full mountain resort in Korea. Yeah, almost crazy when I put it that way. As far as travelling goes, I’d like to be responsible and be able to pay upfront for everything and not worry about money. I do have an awesome trip to Europe coming up soon, which I am so excited to write about and share.
Person with Hobbies?
This may actually be the weirdest aspect about me right now, something I’d like to share but have been hesitant. But well, here goes. I haven’t really had an all encompassing hobby since…well probably since I was a kid. I guess I went to punk/ska shows in my teen years and early twenties, but I really don’t have much to show for it. No real abilities, skills, nothing but experiences. I don’t regret them, but it makes me feel… odd sometimes. And so I’ve basically been dabbling in a bunch of different things that have caught my fancy in the past little while. I’ve started knitting again and taught myself to crochet. I have also done some sewing, although mostly reconstruction based sewing. Nothing fancy from a pattern or my own design.
I also worked on my cooking and general kitchen skills, since those are pretty much lacking in my abilities. I was very proud of my homemade hot sauce, it was painful to make though. My eyes burned so bad while crushing the chili’s. But once you get past that it’s smooth sailing. I most definitely want to try it again, but need to…get over that hurdle and prepare myself emotionally for it. Or get eye goggles, that may help.
Wannabe Home Organizer?
I almost forgot this one, I’ve also spent a large amount of my time organizing and re-organizing my life, trying to create a space that’s easy to navigate, yet hold all my things. Why do I have so many tights? Through this I’ve learned a lot, and most importantly about letting go. I found I had been holding onto so many things just because I was afraid of no longer “having them”.
But I digress, somewhere with all my bumbling about I’ll find something. Maybe a combo platter of travelling adventures and trying out some new hobby pants on. Or just start from scratch again.
(This is part of the Zero to Hero Challenge)
I have no idea if this is where trains go to die or take a nap… It kind of looks like I took this photo at dusk, but it was definitely during the middle of the day. I’m sure I could have taken a better photo if I hadn’t hurt my neck while running to catch my bus. Which still confuses me to this day.
I meant to write about this before it happened, but every time I opened up my document to write I’d start to get upset, quickly close my laptop and pace around my room. Then I figured I’d write about it after the fact. Maybe by then I’d be less upset. I was wrong. I’d still start to get antsy, close my laptop and pace about my apartment. I’m thoroughly surprised that I went along with the whole thing considering how upset it kept making. But let’s back it up and see.
When I first arrived in Korea, I had been told many people get procedures done while there, some of them were purely cosmetic and some, especially among the Americans, warranted but cheaper to have done there than at home. Being Canadian, I wasn’t too concerned, but I was presented with the idea of having LASIK done, at first I brushed it off. I kept thinking to myself it wasn’t for me, and as much as I hated glasses (the difference in ‘natural’ vision gave me migraines) and contacts (just…a pain), the idea of having a laser slice my eyeball, creating an eyeball flap for the second laser to then correct my vision was unsettling to say the least. And I just cringed so hard trying to write that last sentence out. I put it out of my mind, even after another girl in my city got it done at the beginning of last year and couldn’t stop raving about it.
But then, I was invited to an “event” on Facebook, which was basically a social media campaign to promote LASIK at a clinic in Gangnam among expats in Korea. I was hesitant, but the friend who invited me urged me to consider it. And after a few weeks of this gentle prodding on her part and much consideration on mine, we booked a consultation. Now, maybe I wasn’t bright, maybe it was to take away from the stress of the next day, but I partied hard the night before in Hongdae. Waking up late in a random hotel room my friends and I had gotten, and rushing to get to the clinic on the other side of the city to meet my friend to get to our appointment. Needless to say, we ended up being an hour late. Although, apparently that didn’t really matter. We were ushered into the clinic, did some paperwork and were led to a couch to sit and wait.
We were eventually called and brought to a row of machines that all test…different things about the eyeball? I’ve been in many optometrist offices, and I’ve never seen these machines arranged like this. Reflexes seemed to be the biggest one they kept testing. Once that was finished we went to individual rooms for the actual eye exam. Despite being three years apart and both of us needing to wear glasses at different ages (her 8, and myself 12), we had the same prescription. We were then brought to another waiting area, to wait for the actual surgeon. He eventually came out, all smiles and asked us to join him in his office. And while the Dr. was Korean, he was pretty fluent in English and there were no language barriers. The first task was my least favourite of any eye exam, the picture of the back of the eyeball. Please no. Both our eyeballs checked out, and we were cleared for the procedure!
The second half of the meeting was spent discussing the actual procedure, and me feeling really sick. Did I leave at one point to have a mini-panic attack in the bathroom? Yes. But, it’s my eyes and lasers. It’s not easy to reconcile these two things. Anyways, the Dr. was very supportive, although I don’t think he quite understood my apprehension, and an appointment was set for three weeks later.
To demonstrate how apprehensive I was, later that evening we had met up with some of the guys in our city for drinks. While there we started discussing the appointment and upcoming procedure, and well, they have a way with turning everything into a joke, and I ended up having another panic attack over the thought of it. Right there. In a bar. In public. Thanks guys.
The next three weeks were almost hellish, but I was determined to follow through with the procedure. The final week leading up to it, we had to stop wearing contacts. This is also when it felt real. Like really going to happen. I had arranged for my co-worker and her boyfriend to come into town with us, I wasn’t sure how long it would take and we definitely needed someone to take us home. The entire morning of I was a bit of a mess. Once at the clinic we had one more go with the reflexes machines (yay!) and were then ushered upstairs to the operating floor. My friend was chosen to go first and so I sat and waited. It wasn’t very long, but it felt like the longest ten minutes of my life. And flipping through the Korean Vogue was somewhat helpful, but not really. Should have brought something in English to read.
And then it was my turn. This is where my heart had jumped into my throat and I couldn’t really do much, I felt like my motor functions had turned off. I shakily followed the Dr. into the operating room, and laid down onto the first operating table. I was trying so hard at this point to keep calm. I did manage to make it through the first phase alright, but it was close. So close. I was then helped up and brought to the second operating table. This is basically where I lost it and started shaking. I was on the verge of a complete meltdown, and asked for someone, anyone’s hand to hold while they completed the second portion. This is where I feel bad, they brought back in my friend who had just had the procedure done. But once she was holding my hand I was able to calm down…breath in, breath out…and it was done!
The trip home was pretty uneventful, except for having to be led through Gangnam station to our bus stop while barely being able to keep our eyes open. While our eyes didn’t really hurt, they felt weird. Very weird. The bus ride was a clear blur, I was half awake, but every time I opened my eyes, for the first time since I was a kid, lines were clear. Everything else was blurry, but lines were clear. A very surreal moment. We went back to my friends’ apartment and crashed for an afternoon nap. We eventually awoke with perfect vision. I’ll probably never forget that moment. It was like all those times I’d woken up with contacts in, but not for once it wasn’t fake. We then spent the rest of the day at hers, a few friends came over to keep us company, watched some movies and tried to teach me how (somewhat successfully) to play Rummy.
I would probably never do it again, but I don’t regret having it done. I love being able to see without contacts or glasses, so very liberating.