Sunday, 30 September 2012

Best of September

It feels weird to have September come to an end and to not feel any distinct change in weather. It's been such a beautiful, busy month though, filled with starting a new job, getting to know the city better, celebrating PIC's birthday, and making some goals for my own. Here's a look at some of my favorite posts from the past month.

So, yes: I had a little bit of a pout over missing out on fall. For some reason I thought it'd be a good idea to cheer myself up by linking to a bunch of gorgeous fall things. In hindsight, that just seems like I was maliciously rubbing it in? Oh well, at least we got some delightful links out of the deal.

I was rather giddy to get to host a showstopper of an interview with cute-as-a-button and adventurous-as-all-getout blogger, Whit B Nimble. She dished on traveling around
Asia, teaching in Korea, and this whole blog-writing business.
Really wish she wasn't a couple countries away so I could have her over for tea!

It was so much fun to share a couple quick, quirky glimpses of our Phnom Penh apartment with you. I know I'm a little behind on my full tour promise, but it's coming - pinkie swear! 
Hooray for getting a copy of my Perfect Teacher Shoes made! This was such a productive little adventure, and not something I've ever thought of doing anywhere else in the world.

I loved that the sink shower featured in the photo post about our first apartment in Seoul got so many comments! Have you stopped by and dished about whether you'd be
keen to shower this way!?
I was so excited that Partner In Crime and I finally got a chance to drop by ARTillery. Not just once, in fact, but twice! I just feel like the combination of beautiful art and kind staff gives it the best energy - and it doesn't hurt that they have brilliantly delicious food, as well!
Of course, one of my most favorite posts of the month was making my 26 goals for my birthday. Seriously cannot wait to start tearing into these somewhat lofty ambitions in October... please drop by the post and tell me which one you want to read about the most!
...............

I hope September was good to you, my dears! Excited to see what twists and turns expat life will have in store for October. Bring on the dry season!

xx Lady Expatriate

P.S. Have you done a similar monthly round-up of the best of your blog? Even if you didn't do a round-up, do you have a favorite post from your own blog for September?
Please do post a link in the comments - I'd love to check it out! :)

Loveliest Links - September 30th Edition

Pretty things from Honestly WTF

<3 "[Romance] isn't dead, it was just held hostage by the MTA for a little bit." Love this short article from The Gothamist profiling the upcoming restoration of 'Grand Central's Kissing Room'. Sounds like it will once again become a place you'd be pleased to don a stunning chapeau and smooch your sweetheart.

<3 Tutus, tulle, ruby tinted pointe shoes, and Valentino. This makes me feel a lot less silly about still wanting to be a ballerina just for the pretty dresses.

<3 I really try not to follow celebrity news, and living in Cambo makes that pretty easy, but I did find this article on Lady Gaga's recent announcement regarding her eating disorder to be very intelligent. I thought the author did a great job of unpacking the significance of Gaga's timing and the mixed messages inherent to her Body Revolution campaign.

<3 As someone who recently posted a mighty list of lofty ambitions for the year ahead, it was rather interesting to read this ridiculously well-written take on bucket lists versus the reality of adult responsibilities. I don't think I'm going to make my lists mutually exclusive though - I feel like I'll keep trying to keep a balance of the dreamy and the day to day. 'Try' being key...!

<3 New favorite blog award goes to Stars in Jars - a cute as a button site by a crafty gal living in Seoul. I have a feeling the lovely Ms. Whit B Nimble gets the credit for our initial mutual blog discoveries!  

Anything catch your eye on the internet this past week? Please do share!

xx Lady Expatriate

P.S. I like these things. You like them too? Let's hang out on facebook!

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Saturday Snap: So, yesterday was a little rainy...




I was just wrapping up the Gross Motor Skills portion of my morning kindergarten session when I heard the rain start pounding. Perhaps an hour and a half later, I was punching out my time card and getting ready to go find Khemara's tuk-tuk and head home to my apartment.

Cue my dropping jaw when I finally was able to look out the window: g'day Venice! Making my way to the tuk-tuk required wading through knee-deep water. I opted to take off my shoes for the 2 metre wet wander, which maybe isn't the smartest thing to do after all? All's well in the end, I suppose though, because my feet emerged from the murk unscathed and my little cloth flats are still kickin (sorry).

But yes, for a little Canadian girl who's only ever seen wild weather outside her door a couple times in her life, and most of it involving snow or ice, walking outside to find knee-deep flooded streets is definitely a new thing.

"Whoa," I thought. "I'm in Cambodia."

Hope you made it to the weekend without requiring hip-waders! Please do share your wild weather encounters!

xx Lady Expatriate


Wednesday, 26 September 2012

26 Adventures To Keep the Party Going Through My 26th Year


As I see it, September is the loveliest of all the months. In Canada, it's turning into fall and everyone's back to school (which I, as a total nerd, always adored). In Australia, spring is starting to have sprung and all of the beautiful people will soon begin becoming tanned anew. In Phnom Penh... well, it's hot. And wonderful like always. And those are the reasons why September is the most wonderful of the months.

Oh yes: and because it's my birthday!

As you may know, I'm a rather compulsive list-maker and goal-setter, and not a birthday and/or New Year and/or start of any month has ever gone by without putting numbers down the side of a page and filling in the spaces with plans for exciting things. Following the examples of three of my favorite bloggers, Sarah, Whit  and Elsie, I've decided to pop my list up online and share each of these little goals with you.

Some are about exploring the rich culture of Cambo, some are a little bit silly, some are about spending money on spoiling myself in a way I've never given myself permission to before, and some are the stuff of pure adventure.

So, in my 26th year, here are 26 brilliant things I'm going after:

        1. Drive a moto
        2. Try eating frog

        3. Finish the Angkor Wat Half Marathon                              
        4. Go to Vietnam
        5. Successfully give blood
        6. Do a Khmer princess photoshoot
        7. Try to figure out Photoshop
        8. Confidently bike in Phnom Penh
        9. Go rollerskating at Sorya Mall
        10. Obtain and read my credit report
        11. Get a totally impractical manicure  
        12. Try eating fresh durian
        13. Take a Khmer cooking or Apsara dance class
        14. Try a cleanse or macrobiotic diet for a week
        15. Get health insurance

        16. Have an outfit tailor-made
        17. Have an article published in a magazine
        18. Shoot a gun 
        19. Have an hour-long foot massage
        20. Go on a biking day trip outside Phnom Penh
        21. Have an ethical 'encounter' with a wild animal
        22. Read all of F. Scott Fitzgerald's books
        23. Visit a dermatologist 
        24. Do a collaborative post with a biz here
        25. Make my own brown sugar exfoliating scrub         
        26. Visit a floating village

Bring it on! :)

xx Lady Expatriate



Monday, 24 September 2012

Moments from Our Long Weekend


Thought I'd play around with my new toy (Photoscape) and pass along some pretty pictures from our weekend!

Specials Board at ARTillery / Their Walnut Fudge Cake with Vegan Cashew Ice Cream


Loving ARTillery's Chai Almond Milk / Bruschetta

Bowl of rambutans on our balcony / PIC makes a new friend

Happy Long Weekend to those fellow Phnom Penhers who are lucky enough to also currently be in pyjamas - or still asleep, as is the case with Partner In Crime!

xx Lady Expatriate 

P.S. I'd <3 it if you'd stop by my Facebook page and say hello!


Sunday, 23 September 2012

Loveliest Links - September 23rd Edition


Eeeee! Dancing on stage with Srey Thy of The Cambodian Space Project!
Congrats to them for being featured on Nat Geo's World Music Page!

<3 You only have 3 days left to listen to The XX play live with The BBC Philharmonic Orchestra - Go! Go! Go!

<3 Keiko Lynn, one of the most stylish ladies on l'internets, bared her soul in a recent post about birthdays and emotional maturity and getting to the spot in her life where she no longer seeks to cause chaos... this may have resonated, maybe just a little. 

<3 Expat Edna features a post from Farsickness who profiles her neighborhood in Seoul... which just so happens to be my old neighborhood in Seoul! I commented that it's an odd feeling to be able to picture a place so clearly, but to be at least a flight away from it. Heartbreaking.
Definitely check this out if you're curious about what Seoul looks like outside of Gangnam!

<3 Trying to make debt payments back home while making an average expat teacher salary in Cambo means being mighty smart with my Riel, which can seem a little un-fun at times. Love reading articles about intelligent budgeting and how forgoing luxuries can mean getting to achieve your travel (or, in my case, expat) dreams. For this loveliest links pick, Brooke reflects on saving $23,000 to travel the world. INSPIRING.

Cheers lovelies!


xx Lady Expatriate


Saturday, 22 September 2012

Saturday Snap: Electric Hotel


Loved walking past this hotel each night during our stay in Siem Reap... but I'm glad to not be responsible for paying their electricity bill!

Hope your Saturday is full of happy things! I'm loving knowing that I have three full days (long weekend in Cambo!) to relax with Partner In Crime and explore a couple pockets of my new city.

xx Lady Expatriate


Friday, 21 September 2012

Friday Fave: Getting a Copy of My Perfect Teacher Shoes Made


Lovely Readers, do you ever worry about your favorite items of clothing wearing out?

I ask because I seem to have developed a slight fear of my "essentials" reaching their inevitable threadbare state. Perhaps it's because I've been on a bit of a limited budget for much of my adult life (plane tickets take up a lot of my shopping fund!). Perhaps it's because I'm used to only having about 2 suitcases worth of only my favorite clothing. Or maybe it's because I've always been worried that my new city won't have the same supply of good stuff that my last city had. For whatever reason, this worry is something that pops into my head when I look at my clothes rack - which is silly! I should just be enjoying these things while I have them and not giving material belongings this much emotional energy.

Some happy news is that I no longer have to worry about what I'll do when my favorite shoes wear out, because I just so happen to have found the fountain of everlasting footwear life. Let me tell you a little story about a leather phoenix with a wedge heel...

These little fellas are from ABC Mart in Korea, bought for $40-ish about a year ago, and they, my dear readers, are what I can only describe as The Perfect Teacher Shoes.
I'm not the tallest of girls, and when I teach my younger adult class here in Phnom Penh, I'm really not too much older than some of my students. This means I definitely dig the extra bit of height and love that these shoes declare just enough authority in the timbre of the heel.
They're also insanely comfy, logically leading me to wear them everyday...

Which could be why some members of our household have expressed a slight dislike of their 'signature scent.' I get where he's coming from, but once you've found the perfect teaching shoe, it's not an easy thing to give up. What's a girl to do?! 

Why, head to Beautiful Shoes, of course! I heard (I think here) that this shop made shoes that were, uh, beautiful, and thought I'd see if they could make a copy of my odorific/authoritative kicks.
They could! They would! 12 days later, they had!



As the talented cobbler had forewarned me when I dropped the old ones off, there are some slight differences - no elastic on the sides, a bit of a different toe shape - but they've captured the concept of the shoe perfectly.
I wore them to class for the first time last night - the timbre was perfect! Just enough authority in the sound of each step!


I'm super stoked that as long as I'm in Cambodia and have $20 to spare, my Perfect
Teacher Shoes will have everlasting life!
I would definitely recommend Beautiful Shoes if you're wanting a copy made of your fave shoes, or if you'd like to have a pair custom made. They're on #138 on Street 143 in BKK3.

Do Tell: Have you ever had shoes made for you? If you could have shoes custom made for you, what would they look like!?

  Hope you have a lovely weekend, and a lovely LONG weekend if you're in Cambodia! Woo-hooo!

  xx Lady Expatriate 

  P.S. Just found this article about the history of the Beautiful Shoes shop - definitely worth a 
  read and a think.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Our First Korean Apartment - Complete with Sink Shower!


Welcome to our... room! (Singular.)

Let's just be honest here: everyone is more or less curious about what everyone else's living space looks like, amirite? For me, that curiosity becomes even more intense when I wonder about typical apartments in different cultures.

I remember back when I was a wannabe expat in 2008 and I just had no idea what to expect from my soon-to-be new home in Korea. What would it look like? Well, the word that comes to mind first is "small" - a pretty tiny space, indeed, for Partner In Crime and I to get to know each other during the first year we ever lived in the same country.

In fact, P.I.C. moved to Korea before I did, and even with his descriptions over the phone, I still wasn't able to picture the apartment I would be moving into. "Sink shower," he said. This did not resonate in my brain at all. I literally had no clue how to conceptualize the idea of having no barrier between the bathroom and the spraying water. As expat life goes, though, it wasn't much time before I was sink showering it up without a second thought.

Anyway, less talking - let the apartment snooping tour begin! Welcome to our home in Seoul for our first year in Korea, from 2008-2009.


Looks positively palatial from this angle, wouldn't you say?
Hello single bed. I don't miss you at all.
The entertainment center. Check out the heavily frosted glass that barely obscure the unmovable metal bars on the windows. Fingers crossed for no fire?
This photo features a glimpse of our one and only plate. I'm pretty sure that we
probably got another one, but maybe it's a little funny that I don't remember it...
It also features the entirety of our appliances (save an ancient kettle) AND our countertop space!
A very special moment: the sighting of the not-elusive-enough sink shower! There yonder!
This photo showcases the largest thing in our apartment: the washing machine. It would madly rock back and forth while doing its business and then sing a happy little tune when it was finished. That little tune would literally last for about 45 seconds. Seriously.
G'day sink shower! Want to feel a weird feeling? Stand in the middle of your bathroom and
then spray water everywhere with your shower head. Feels incredibly deviant for
the first couple times, even though that's clearly the whole point of the design.
Sink showers seem to be pretty common in the lower budget accommodations in Seoul,
and if you're (un)lucky enough to have one, it's a delightful bit of fun to tell friends at
home about - most people seem to be just as confused as I was!
And just because it's cute... here's some vintage art that John's students made for him when they found out he had a girlfriend (Cue the singsong "oooo a girrrrrrlfriennnnnnd!").


Do tell:
Have you used a sink shower before? If not, do you think you'd be into it!?

Thanks so much for coming along for a tour of our first Korea apartment! Stay tuned for an upcoming tour of my apartment the second time around in Korea (spoiler alert: not bigger), as well as the much teased about tour of our Cambodian apartment! 

xx Lady Expatriate 








Monday, 17 September 2012

I Miss You, Fall

If I were living in a place with fall weather, I would have an excuse to buy what
is surely the most perfect fall sweater. But I'm not, so I guess I don't. Darn.
 
Lovely readers, if you know me, you know that I'm a summer-lovin girl through and through. That being said, I fully acknowledge that there's something pretty special about fall. I love the crispness it brings and the way the air smells at night. I'd be a liar if I said the changing of the leaves is an over-hyped phenomenon. And as much as I adore sun dresses, I do appreciate how cozy it is to wrap yourself up in a fuzzy sweater or scarf. OH - and of course I have to mention the productivity kickstart that I always feel when a new season arrives. (Do you feel that, too?)

All these reasons are why I can't help feeling a little lonesome for fall right now. This will be my first year living in a 2 season climate, those seasons being the rainy and the dry. Even in Australia there was a major shift in temperatures - in fact, the winter in Canberra ended up being much chillier than I had imagined. I was definitely surprised when I had to go mitten shopping Down Under! So yes - it will be a big change to not have that shift in the air that reminds you that time has passed.

To make sure fall knows that I miss it, I'm bringing you five of my favorite "Living Vicariously Through Their Fall Experience" posts: 


The idea of wearing tights seems preposterous in this weather, but I would probably
suffer through it if I had these fairy-tale tights from Tabbisocks
as modeled by Fancy Fine
.
 
I'm pretty sure that A Beautiful Mess has by now featured a recipe for every occasion
imaginable, and I couldn't be happier about that! Now I just need a cold-snap in Cambo
so that I can fully appreciate their Aztec Hot Chocolate recipe.

 
Katie from Skunkboy Blog shares an adorable pumpkin spice inspired outfit
 
Speaking of pumpkin spice, Vanilla and Lace has posted a recipe for the drink
that tastes like fall in every sip
. I would probably try to make my own Pumpkin
Spice Latte if I could find pumpkin in Phnom Penh, even though it would feel so
very, very wrong to drink it during typically summer weather!



One Sheepish Girl posted a roundup of her favorite fall things. She and I agree on
all of them - especially school supplies! At least I can know that I'm saving money in
one way by living abroad: if I were at home during the end of August and start
of September, I would have definitely indulged in some back to school
shopping, even though I'm most definitely no longer a student!
 ----------------------

I miss you fall. You're pretty great. And I know it's not your fault that you turn into winter. Maybe we'll catch up in a couple of years. Til then...

xx Lady Expatriate 

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Loveliest Links - September 16



Hello lovelies! As a disclaimer, I will fully acknowledge that I am perhaps not the most knowledgeable of what has gone on throughout the internets this week, seeing as how I essentially filled every hour of each day with either planning for or teaching at one of my two jobs, or otherwise resting the painful sludge that has lately tended to slosh inside my skull. OH! And I also started working on a secret project that I will hopefully be able to share with you soon enough.
All that being said, still found a couple neat-o things. They are these:  

<3 The stunner of a photo featured above is part of The New York City Ballerina Project. 

<3 My girl Whit B Nimble had a birthday! As us bloggers are wont to do, she wrote a post about her goals for the next year, and they are INSPIRING!
I've got a bday coming up in a little bit, so you'll soon be seeing one of these from me, too... Pretty glad I had mine written before I saw Ms. B Nimble's, lest I become a plagirific fool and steal all her goal ideas! Can't wait to read about her progress for each of her brilliant choices.

<3 THIS is my most favorite thing on YouTube right now. After the trailer for The Great Gatsby, but of course. Skip to 1:03 if you want more beautiful music, less talky-talk.

<3 Further proof that I did not do a good job of finding a great variety of things on the internet this week: second link from Lost at E Minor (in fairness - an incredible site!). This series of celebrity mugshots given the time traveling treatment is included in the weekly roundup mostly because of the incredible vintage bob sported by Lindsay Lohan.

Best wishes for a beauty of a week ahead!

xx Lady Expatriate 




Saturday, 15 September 2012

Saturday Snaps: A Trip to ARTillery



Last weekend was a blitz of busy-ness preceding what was sure to be my most chaotic week yet in The Charming City. Knowing that would be the case, I planned to treat Partner In Crime to a Sunday lunch of gorgeous Real Food in an oasis of peace and calm and art.

After checking out their facebook page and reading about them in a couple of different mags, I was almost entirely sure that I was going to fall head over heels for ARTillery. And because I am right about most things (!), it should not surprise you to know I was right about this too!

So highly recommend the Italia sandwich.
The bun was mind-breakingly delicious.

Poor PIC was a little bit slow at charting the rise of the "Keep Calm ......" posters.
Now he gets very excited whenever he sees them anywhere.
In fairness, this one ("Keep Calm it's the Diamond Jubilee") is fairly excellent.
Loved having an apres-lunch coffee in a loft made of art.



Healthy and ridiculously good food, an art-loft, a gallery area AND a boutique filled with pretty things?
ARTillery, can I live in you?!
 
This is just about my favorite thing...

ARTillery is located on street 240 and a half - a cute little alleyway off of Street 240.  Highly in favor of you popping by in real life, but why not say hello to them on facebook, too? 

(And while you're at it, I'd be pleased as punch if you'd give me a little bit of love/Like... <3)

Happy Saturday, lovely readers! I don't know about you, but I'm pretty excited it's here again!

xx Lady Expatriate


P.S. As has always been the case, nobody gave me anything for writing this post - though I certainly wouldn't have minded if they'd slipped me a couple extra of those gourmet sandwich buns...!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

"Wow, they're small" - Thoughts From My First Day at Kindy

Teeny tiny little feet of one of my smallest former students in Korea.

It's official: I've finally met the ten 3 and 4 year olds that will be running my mornings for the next year! How did it go, (I assume) you ask!? Well...

First days are never easy - especially when it's their first day too. Like their first, first day. Like "What is this place and why am I here and where is Mom going" first day. Like that.

There were some tears (not mine). There were some major challenges in the patience department (mine, probably theirs too). There was some pee (not mine!). Overall, though, I left in high spirits because there were also some good attempts at "good morning teacher" and "thank you," along with some cutie laughs and sweet tries at sharing.


Just about the best advice I could imagine for teaching little ones! Via Gourmet Worrier

Before I greeted my new students today, I paused and read the above sign displayed on my Head Teacher's office door listing all the ways to "Really Love a Child." They're all so very true and fundamental to the young learner/nurturing teacher relationship (except maybe the movies in your pyjamas thing? that one is kind of weird...), but the one that played over and over again in my head throughout the morning was "Remember how really small they are."

They're tiny. Little teensy people. 

It's a pretty crazy thing to step back and realize that you're likely the first major experience a child will have with formal education. All of a sudden the pressure can seem way too intense. That's why this first little chunk of school isn't so much about learning shapes or phonics - it's about making sure the tiny people in my care leave school wanting to go back the next day and see what new things they'll discover.

Fingers crossed that tomorrow will bring even more smiles (and less pee!).


xx Lady Expatriate


Sunday, 9 September 2012

Loveliest Links - September 9th




Hello, Lovely Readers! I'm knackered after a weekend of work that followed a week of work and preceded another week of work, and thus I shall present these tender morsels of internet goodness sans further commentary.

<3 I'm fascinated by these photo mashups of current day San Fran with shots of the same street right after the 1906 earthquake.

<3 Never missed catching up with Simon and Martina's video blog while I lived in Seoul. It's a brilliant resource for cracking the K-pop code, and a solid head's up to anyone thinking of moving to South Korea. Love that Simon and Martina are basically superstars now - well deserved, I reckon!

<3 More on the K-pop scene: if you are at all intrigued by the mention of a very in-depth (read: looong) but very interesting dissection of Psy's Gangnam Style and opinion of what 'Gangnam' really is/represents, click here.  

<3 Um, and just for the record, the best Psy song is obviously "Right Now" anyway. LOVE that this guy is the most massive international K-pop breakout star!  

<3 A seriously interesting short film about female cab drivers in NYC.

 <3 One of the neatest indie fashion shoot ideas!

Hope the weekend has been kind to you!

xx Lady Expatriate 

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Saturday Snap: "Duclksnake"

Ryan made me a duclksnake [sic]. Thanks, Ryan.
Know I haven't mentioned much about the whole 'teaching' part of my life, but that's mostly because I haven't really been teaching too much since arriving in Cambo. I've been working with a rad group of advanced, older students every evening for an hour, but until this past week had not found the perfect fit for a more full time position.

Well, ladies and gents, the times they are a-changin! I'm so excited to be helping to start up a new kindergarten program at a school here in Phnom Penh! I'm ready to work myself silly to make this school brilliant, and I'm quite delighted to have a chance to learn a bit more about marketing and administration along the way.

Can't wait to be back in a classroom with little ones! Love coming home with a pocket full of heartfelt notes and drawings, such as my epic 'duclksnake' pictured above. It's a one of a kind by Ryan - one of the most charismatic kids I've ever met. Could always count on him to air-guitar his way into my class in Seoul while his 5 year old classmates swooned over his fluffy mohawk. It's funny - before teaching little kids, I never knew such tiny people could have such bang on comedic timing already... or that they could sweat so much!

Ya, I'm stoked. Bring forth the phonics, let's go gross motor skills, time to art attack it up! Can't wait to meet my class of little people and start them on the path to loving learning.

xx Lady Expatriate



P.S. Would you care to have the mystical powers of the duclksnake watch over you for the rest of your earthly existence? If you Like my facebook page, I'll have a little chat with him on your behalf, see what I can do. Could be good!


Thursday, 6 September 2012

Interview With An Expat: Whit B Nimble in South Korea

Whit B Nimble herself!

I'm so excited to bring you this week's expat interview with Whit B Nimble! Whit is an American expat who's currently spending her second year living and teaching in South Korea after taking an awe-inspiring travel break between contracts.
Just over a month ago, she founded her blog, which regularly features delightful DIY's, rich photography, and thoughtful insights into her experiences in Korea. In that short month, she's already seen an impressive number of visitors stop in to see what beautiful thing she's going to post about next. Here, I pick her brain about expat life, her feelings about Korea, her travel dreams, and how she started blogging.

So what prompted the move to Korea?

A tall, dark, handsome guy who swooped in from India and stole my heart. Seriously. We had known each other for many years, after being introduced by a mutual friend. We met for drinks when he returned from teaching in Korea/ traveling India. A few months after reuniting, he suggested I come to Korea. At the time, I was managing a coffee shop in Nashville, and had grown complacent after years of working retail. I was itching for something new, and I couldn't let the opportunity pass me by. I got a job offer one Monday morning, and immediately started unraveling my life in Nashville. I quit my job, broke my lease, put a 'for sale' sign in my car window, sold or gave away most of my belongings, and packed a suitcase of clothes. I flew to Korea the following Sunday.

Love birds at the ghats - Varanasi, India

That's a pretty good reason to head to Korea! What did you think of your first year of living as an expat?

I think there are a thousand things I could have done differently, or better. I couldn't get over the fact that I got mixed up with a less-than-reputable private school (hagwon). I had an attitude towards Korea that went something like, "How dare you try to take advantage of me when I left everything I owned and knew to fly 6,000 miles to work here?!" As if Korea, or anyone in it, owed me anything. Because of my bad attitude, I shut out everything around me. I didn't attempt to learn the language. I didn't even try to learn how to read, and I know now, just how simple it is to learn. I spent a lot of my time feeling sorry for myself. I'm sure people thought I was crazy for returning this year, but this time around, I made a lot of promises to myself. Promises to take better care of myself physically and emotionally. Promises to make an honest effort at being present in my community. Promises to do my best at work no matter the kind of environment I was dealt. Because I've kept these promises, this year has been so different. I came back with high expectations both for, how I handled myself, and of what Korea truly has to offer. So far, I'm having a fantastic year.

Do you have any advice for others going to live in Korea?

Outside of using a reputable recruiter to secure a job, my advice would be to stop taking other people's advice. Memorizing every custom/cultural norm and learning to read Hangul before you come, are not necessary. It takes two days to learn how to read, and you'd never believe that Koreans do everything last minute, until you have to do everything last minute. The only thing worth focusing on is how you allow yourself to see and react to situations. Let things happen and be surprised. When you need to, let things go. You'll have such a rich experience if you soak in all the newness of this country with as few expectations as possible. (That was older, wiser Whitney preaching to the younger, stubborn first-year-in-Korea Whitney, by the way.)

Cambodia smile- Battambang, Cambodia

During the first year you worked in Korea, you lived in Seoul, but now you're living in a city outside of Seoul. Which do you prefer?

I prefer a mix of the two. Living in Seoul was fast paced and fun, but it could be exhausting at times. Most people won't try to connect because they're busy rushing from one place to the next. My boyfriend lived two hours outside of Seoul last year, so I was able to escape the chaos of Seoul and relax in the quiet, slower paced place on the weekends. People were warm and friendly there. They smiled a lot. They tried to connect with me even though there was a language barrier, but I can admit that I'd sometimes miss the music, shopping, and bar/cafe scene in Hongdae and Gangnam. This year we are equidistant from Hongdae and the town I enjoyed visiting last year. I'm very happy here, stuck in the middle.

I just so happen to know that you're quite accomplished at making cards and have turned that talent into a small business in the past. Are you considering reviving your business in Seoul?

"Quite accomplished" is certainly a compliment! I had a go at it when I was back in the States for a few months this year. I imagined it would be easy to bring my stock of hand made cards to Korea, and get them into outdoor markets quite easily. I found, after a few botched attempts and disregarded market applications, that it's not so easy for a foreigner. That hasn't made me give up on them completely though. I just think I need to find my community in Korea first. I need to find my niche and how to market my product in the best possible way.

Evening beach- Koh Chang, Thailand

Can you make us all envious with mention of some places you've gone traveling through?

I am so happy to answer this question because it's been on my mind a lot lately. This week is an anniversary of sorts. This time last year, my boyfriend and I left Korea, and flew to Thailand. We had only our backpacks and a small pocket of savings, but we had as much time as we wanted. We stayed in shabby guesthouses, shared meals, didn't buy expensive souvenirs, and were able to stretch our money for four months of travel. We spent time on the beaches in Thailand and by the rivers in Laos. We loved Cambodia so much we stayed for a month. I'm not sure what I loved more about Cambodia, the infectious smiles on the locals faces, boat trips through the floating villages, or sunset in Battambang. That is one special country! However, it was India that stole my heart, particularly Darjeeling and Varanasi. India is just an indescribable gem that everyone must experience for themselves. We hope to return there soon for an extended stay, maybe even a year. Six weeks just wasn't enough.

Where do you dream of finding yourself next year? In a few years?

I like that you used "dream". I day dream a lot, and I make few solid plans. As far as daydreaming about next year, I imagine myself living and teaching in a new country. I'm not sure where, but I'm ready for a change. Japan, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Hong Kong are all places I'd consider living and teaching. Resumes will be applied to many places, and then I'll wait to see what opportunities present themselves. I'm even ready to be uncomfortable again. (I really never thought I'd say that!) Navigating new neighborhoods, attempting to learn a new language, and getting acquainted with new customs are all really exciting challenges. Over the next few years I hope to travel a lot, and only work as much as I need to. In addition to India, I'd like to visit Morocco, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Japan.

Sunbathing at The Ganges- Varanasi, India

It's no secret around here that I'm a massive fan of your blog! How did you get started blogging?

You are too kind! I've been following blogs for some time now, but I always made excuses for the fact that I wasn't writing one. (Can I commit the time a good blog requires? What if no one reads it?) Two of the goals I had set for myself upon my return to Korea were, connecting with new friends who had similar interests, and staying in touch with my family back home (I was especially bad at this during my first year in Korea.). During the first few months, to keep my family updated, I started making Power Point presentations (I know, how "teacherly" of me, right?) of my daily life in Korea. Those were a bit cumbersome, had a limited audience, and didn't help me with my goal of connecting with new people. I realized that, in order to accomplish what I'd set out to do, my communication would have to be more open. A blog was the best way, and I have absolutely loved working on it, and meeting new people because of it (like you!)

Hooray for blog friends! Okay, final question: cowboy boots or couple's t-shirts?!

Ha! I'll never be able to hide my southern accent, but you'll never catch me in a pair of cowboy boots! I'd go with couple's shirts, if and only if, they were adorned with the most hilariously translated English phrases. You know the ones. Earlier this year we were accused of couple's hair cuts, does that count?

..........

I think couple's hair cuts definitely count!
Thanks so much to Whit for all of her thoughtful answers! <3

Be sure to catch up with her gorgeous blog, Whit B Nimble! Bonus points if you tweet a hello to her on twitter and make friends on facebook!


xx Lady Expatriate