Monday, July 18, 2011

A giant update: plans and places.

Gosh, I've been a horrible blogger lately. After changing my mind countless times, I've finally decided to extend my stay in Korea for one more year with my current school. There was about a month period that I confused just about every person close to me, telling them of my certainty for either staying or going and then changing my mind literally days later. My pros and cons lists were enormous, but what it ultimately came down to was one thing- Is this settled, safe feeling something to be embraced or is it a sign of just that, settling? I tend to avoid commitment and safety and prefer a life full of changes, generally on a yearly basis. For good or for worse, it keeps things exciting. On the other hand, it prevents the deepest and most meaningful of experiences, relationships, feelings, etc. from emerging above that surface that I often linger upon. So let it be said, I'll be here another year with plenty more to explore. It was finalized with a kiss on the hand from my vice principle and one in return after a brutally long meeting. Now I'd say that's pretty official.

In other news, I am soon heading home very for a much needed summer vacation. The scheduled visit home has helped a lot in confirming my decision to stay another year. Before it was planned, I was beginning to feel somewhat trapped and anxious in a way other expats I've talked to can relate. Once Portland-bound plane tickets were purchased, though, I suddenly felt a giant weight had been lifted. Although the departure date has been taking it's sweet time in approaching, I've been able to enjoy all things Korean-esk just knowing I'll soon be in the presence of my own culture, and dearly missed friends, family, and animals.
Now for an update on my recent whereabouts:

Demilitarized Zone, 2nd Tunnel- A 3.5km long tunnel created by North Korea in 1975. South Koreans discovered it after hearing explosions from within. We walked until bars blocked us from entering the North. It was pretty surreal to think is had been built just 36 years ago for the purpose of an attack! No photos were allowed inside. 

Demilitarized Zone, Cheorwan Peace Observatory- When I thought of the DMZ, the most heavily militarized border in the world, no where in my mind did I picture a place as beautiful as that surrounding the Cheorwan Peace Observatory. Lots of trees and lots of green and I think I only had to see about 5 or 6 guns.

Rafting Sundam Valley, Hantangang- Sunny days during Korea's monsoon season have been a rarity, but on this day we lucked out.

Nabiya Cat Shelter- Recently my  dearest cat Richie passed away. It was extremely difficult to deal with as it's my second animal to pass since being away from home. I'm not going to go into detail about it, but what was really ironic was where I was the day of- volunteering for the first time at this cat shelter in Itaewon. Strange, ay? The shelter is a wonderful place. It houses about 30 cats and not a single human in a 3 bedroom apartment. It's operated by volunteers and funded by donations.

Dobongsan, Seoul- It was my second time up Dobosong, the first being during the dead of winter. Instead of rocks being icy, water from the previous days of rain trickled down freely. We didn't quite make it to the top because it was too foggy, but it was still a great hike.

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