Saturday, November 1, 2014

a day to celebrate

This past Tuesday was Junseok's visa interview.  We were up by 5 am and out the door by 6.  The embassy opened doors at 7:30, naturally I wanted to get there as early as possible.

Getting an immigrant visa has a lot of steps and a lot of requirements for each of those steps.  Normally I wouldn't have had any doubt that we wouldn't receive a visa today but since I've been unemployed for the past year, I was nervous about meeting the income requirement.

After meeting with the first man who checked our documents I thought for sure we would be rejected today.  He told us that my expected income would not count towards meeting the requirement and that I'd need to have a co-sponsor.  I tried explaining to him that I had already inquired about this to a help center previously and they had told me that I would be fine.  He didn't seem to care, dismissed my comments and told me "it's not the end of the world."  I could feel tears building and my hate towards him growing.  We were told to wait again for our name to be called.

We went back to our seat extremely frustrated.  After an hour of bad feelings, Junseok kept reminding me to stay positive and we both hoped and prayed that that first man was just a clerk and not the ultimate decision maker.  Another hour or so passed and I tried to stay as positive as possible.

There were about 20 people applying for visas today and one by one we saw many people get rejected.  If you are handed a blue slip, it means you are missing documents and need to come back.

Finally they called Junseok's name and for some reason, at that time, the whole room was watching Junseok speak to the consular officer.  Even in just a short interview Junseok had the officer laughing.  Gosh, he's so good at making people laugh!  We all waited and watched; waiting to see if we would also receive the dreaded blue slip.  I saw Junseok about to step away from the counter, blue-slip free, and he gave me a happy thumbs up.  I let out a big "yes!"

We were so, so, so happy and relieved.  And I have to say, we did feel slightly special knowing we were the first ones to make the cut today.  It was a long, tedious process but so, so worth it.  We celebrated with brunch at a cute place in a neighborhood nearby.

If anyone ever has questions about the immigrant visa process, I'd love to help; send me an email anytime.  My worries about moving and beginning a new life in NJ are slowly dissipating nerves of excitement are budding.

Friday, October 31, 2014

happy halloween!

It's not as easy to get into the Halloween spirit when living here in Korea, and this year was particularly the least festive yet.  It couldn't feel any less like Halloween today but I'm okay with that.  Next year will make up for it; and I can't wait for Junseok to see/experience Halloween in the US first hand.  I kinda think he'll have fun with it.

Everyone likes to post pictures from Halloween past, so I am too :)  I wish I had more on my hard drive but these two will suffice.  My mom always made all of our costumes for all 4 of us, year after year.  She was a big sewer.  Even though she made new ones every year, we always recycled them and thus we all took turns being the bird, robin hood, a king, a shark, a care bear, a robot... the list goes on....

When I entered 2nd grade I began to hate the homemade costumes and became extremely envious of my classmates princess, bride and barbie costumes purchased from the local Kmart etc.  I remember my teachers always loved the Webb family costumes, but I think they were the only ones.

Now I look back and can't believe how much time my mom put into making each costume.  I particularly love how most of them were just things and not specifically characters.  An ordinary blue bird, a typical king, your standard shark etc.  I wish we still had them!  They are so funny looking and perfect at the same time.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

baked donuts

I'm really lucky to have found a truly great friend while here in Korea and doubly lucky that we share so many similar interests.  One of those interests is baking.  We don't do it often enough and we are true amateurs but we have fun and sometimes if we're lucky, our work of labor is edible.
We made two kinds.  Pumpkin and chocolate glazed.  Pumpkin because it's fall and chocolate glazed because chocolate glazed always beckons for rainbow sprinkles.
Nola was nearby to help.
Truth be told, the taste was a little disappointing but it was fun and I'll have to give it another go when I have a better pan.  Yep, blaming it on the pan :)

Thank you for the pictures, Taya!

Monday, October 27, 2014

found a dog park in korea

A couple weeks back, through an internet search, we found a dog park located not too far from us.  I've never seen a dog park in Korea so I didn't expect much, but the idea of letting Nola run free, off the leash, is just so exciting (maybe even more for me than her) that I wanted to check it out regardless.

I was completely surprised at how big the space was.  And dogs; so many dogs!  Lots of breeds, big and small, freely running and playing.  It was such a rare sight to see.  We've taken Nola to dog cafes before and the moment you take her off the leash she's literally jumping on you in hopes that you'll pick her up.  She's scared to death and has zero interest in socializing with other pups.

But as soon as I took her off the leash at the park, she immediate sprinted away, freely and with so much joy.  Never in my life have I seen her run that much or that fast before.  I truly feel guilty that that is the case but space and especially pet-friendly space here in Korea is so severely limited.  Anyway, she had a smile on her face the entire time and I had one to match.  To see her able to play and socialize like that was the biggest joy.
That park is wonderful and they even have a swimming pool for the dogs.  We didn't get to swim because we came too late in the day when it had already cooled down.  Everything is well maintained and clean.  In the back of the park is a shaded sitting area with lots of tables and chairs.  It looked as though people come and set up camp for the entire day; either bringing picnic food or calling for delivery.  Next time I'd like to make a day of it as well.

The owner of the park charges $5 a person and $5-$15 depending on the weight of your dog.  He makes a point to take daily pictures and post them on their blog.  I love the one he snapped of Nola.  (first photo) She looks so happy, doesn't she?

When we settle in NJ, I know there will be several dog parks nearby, but I hope we can find one that Nola loved as much as this place.  To see your loved ones have fun-- that's the best feeling ever.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

It's been a while

I can't remember the last time I opened up Blogger and posted.  After a very long break, I've decided to jump back in again and start blogging about all the new changes that will be happening over the next few months.

For starters, my fiancé and I will be moving back to New Jersey!  After 5.5 years residing in Korea, it is time to pack our bags, head back home, meet new challenges and begin a whole other kind of adventure.  I'm two-thirds excited and one-third nervous.  Even though the States is my home country and NJ is where I grew up, I feel as though everything will be all new and foreign to me.  Of course I've lived on my own before coming to Korea, but at that time I was an irresponsible just-out-of-college grad and this time around it feels like I have to be a real adult.  The kind that files taxes (on time), pays for car insurance and contributes to an IRA.  Yea... I know, I'm far, far behind to be JUST starting these things, hence the nerves.

But I'm ready to slip on my big-girl-pants and start tackling all the scary/exciting things to come.  In the next few months I foresee:  moving across an ocean, beginning a new job, finding a new place to call live (hopefully near NYC), making it a home, making and maintaining a budget (!), planning a wedding and all the little things in between.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Easy way to hang a pendant light

When I decided that my little kitchen space needed light, I knew a pendant light would look best; however when I shopped around for lights, I found that the majority had a base that mounted to the ceiling and required some sort of electric work (I assume?).

Since I have no electric work experience and know that even getting into that here would be way more of a hassle than it's worth, I found a way around it.  Sure, I'd love to be able to turn my light on with a flick of a switch, but I am not one to mess around with wires.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Small Kitchen Addition

I finally got around to posting pictures of my little kitchen project I had been working on.  The purpose of this table was to make use of wasted space and give us an area for eating/working etc.  

Ever since the table went up, my boyfriend frequently comments, "how did we live without this?"  It really is just so convenient to have a landing spot for your things when walking in the door.  It really is one of those things that you just don't realize how good it is until you actually have it.

Additionally, I added two cord holders to the left end and now we have a small charging station.  This small addition has made such a difference; so convenient and wayy more neater than what we had going on before.  (cords and plugs lying on the floor)
One issue I ran into while constructing was that I could only find one stud.  And being that the table isn't very long, I had no choice but to use just one stud and put dry wall anchors in the other holes.  It is sturdy, though.  I just won't be banging my fists on it.  (not that I do that anyway)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Wanted: Lighting

I've recently completed my little kitchen project but to finish it completely, the small space is summoning some bright light.  I'm thinking a single pendant light will do the trick.

As always, I shopped online.  I wanted something simple and modern, so I checked out 10x10.  Whatever site you may look at, if you're looking for lighting, here are some helpful search terms:

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Korean Online Shopping

I think the most commonly used online shop, especially among expats here, is gmarket.  Virtually anything you need to buy, you can purchase through gmarket.  Gmarket is especially convenient because it is one Korean online site that offers English navigation.  

However, gmarket doesn't have everything and they may also not offer the best prices.  When shopping online, I use gmarket for most general things I need to buy (trash can, towels etc.), but when I'm looking for something more particular, I like to search other specialty online shops that have a smaller, more curated collection of things.  For example: 10x10 sells modern, unique and well designed products.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Quick Trip to Gapyeong

Last weekend, my boyfriend and I took a quick break from life and made our way outside of Seoul to Gapyeong.  I honestly don't realize the poor air quality of Seoul until I'm actually out of it.  The air really is fresher!

Sure I love staying in hotels, but staying in a nice pension is a very, very close second.  It's like being in a little home away from home.  Bonus when that little home is extra pretty like the one we stayed in.  Plus, when you stay at a Korean pension, you can grill your own food :)  

I looked online for pensions and came across 눈깔사탕.  Its modern aesthetic is what caught my eye.  I've stayed in pensions before but nothing of this style.  The modern and clean interior is really refreshing.    

눈깔사탕 has 6 separate rooms (which are actually like cute mini houses).  The room itself is open and spacious.  The first thing I notice when I walk in a pension is cleanliness.  I'm sortof a freak about those things, and I was extremely happy to see that everything was so clean and fresh, it looked brand new.  

My favorite part of the room is the lofted bed.  It really does make such a big difference in how the room looks and feels. 
Between the lofted bed and window is the jet spa.  I'm always a little weird about getting into tubs others have been in before but this one was sparkly clean!  Another thing I loved was how the tub was not already filled when we arrived.  Being the germ freak that I am, I appreciated being able to fill the tub with fresh water whenever we wanted.  
Near the window is the grilling area.  A pension experience is not complete without grilling.  We bought meat, sausage and vegetables the night before and brought it with us.  Booze, too, of course! The grill in the room is gas, which is quite nice because you don't have to bother the owner for charcoal and you can grill any time you want!  Or even multiple times :) 

The kitchen is equipped with dishes and cooking utensils, and if there is something else you need, the owners graciously help you.  The kitchen has a fridge, microwave, stove top, rice cooker and hot water kettle.  Basically, everything you would ever need.  
I was really, really pleased with my stay here.  My boyfriend and I agreed that this pension really is a unique find.  Also, it looked like a new pool was going in to the deck just outside the rooms.  That will be really nice in the summer time.  

If you're in Gapyeong area, I really recommend this pension.  Plus, the owners are so kind and speak English well :) 
To reserve a room:
1.  Visit their website 눈깔사탕
2.  Click on "Reserv"예약하기
3.  At the top, look for 실시간예약
4.  A calendar will pop up and in each date you'll see a selection for each of their 6 rooms.
5.  Find the date you're looking for and select a room (blue예- you can reserve, red완- room is taken, green대- someone is in the process of booking it)
6.  You'll enter your name and phone number and you can pay via bank transfer.  The account information is listed and you can easily transfer at any ATM machine.