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Monday, May 31, 2010

Beer: At least it's not crack...

This post is dedicated to the beautiful city of St. Louis and the interesting individuals who reside there.

I've had a very fun weekend with people I love in the city I love! Chris (boyfriend) came up late Friday night. Saturday morning we went to my grandma's in Illinois to do some work on her bathroom. Chris did the construction stuff and I played gopher. (I had to "GO FER" all the stuff. Probably made about 60 trips up and down the flight of stairs.) Got all that done and later went to Lumier Place casino downtown.

I may have lost all the money I put in and even money my grandpa gave me to put in but the characters I saw there made up for it. We'll start with the guy at the entrance, wearing head to toe bright yellow with a thick red stripe down each side. (Stylin'!) Had shoes to match too. Yellow alligator with a red strip in the middle. Cool. Got even better when a guy with a not-as-cool getup went over and asked the guy where he got is outfit!

Then I saw a little Asian lady wearing this weird funfetti outfit head to toe. She dressed it up to with a tiger print jacket. It gets cold in there!

THENNNNN I found the new IN thing for sure. Just picture this: Oversized fanny pack, low slung on your hips (like it's gonna fall off), but it doesn't... because it's hooked through your belt loops! It's paired best with stained blue spaghetti strap tan top, sans bra of course, and titties that touch your knees!

That was fun... The next evening Chris and I decided to venture over to Rib America to check things out. Collective Soul played. Great band! (I'm sure they won't compare to Styx, Foreigner and Kansas coming up though!!) I got some cool new shoes and saw some cool characters.

Start with the semi-hippie looking lady who consistently jumped up and down (no one else in the crowd felt the need to jump but her) even when the band wasn't playing. She was feeling the music even when there was none. Then I saw a big old man who looked like Santa wearing a t-shirt that said "BEER - At least it's not crack". I thought it was funny but wasn't fast enough to snap a picture. Darn. In Korea, though, I will be ready to take pictures. From what I've heard Koreans like to take pictures of foreigners so I'm going to take pictures of locals. And act like a tourist.

Update: My interview at the Korean Consulate in Chicago is Wednesday! Taking Amtrak - the same one that derailed yesterday. Wish me luck!

The lead singer of Collective Soul with his cool hippie hair!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Front page story: Burglar slayed in home of Korea-bound female

The move went (almost) seamlessly...except for the part where there wasn't enough room for all my stuff and underestimating the amount of stuff I had. Barely fit all the boxes and other junk into the asbestos-filled storage unit (btw...I spelled asbestos correctly on the first try). I call it junk but it's not. In my eyes, it is less I will have to buy when I journey back to America and (quickly) get my own place. I love home, I really do. But I have to remind myself that I haven't lived with parents since I was 17 years old, nor have they lived with me for that long. It takes adjusting...

Spent a couple days visiting my grandparents. I have great ones! I once again encountered car trouble. I can't wait to be in Korea where I don't have to drive a car or worry about it working. My vehicle isn't that old ('06) but is always breaking! My battery went dead. Luckily it was parked in my grandma's driveway so didn't have to pay $300 to tow it from Gerald, Missouri. Took an hour to FIND the battery...but long story short, it got fixed.

Rushed home yesterday because I got a call from Cindi in Manitoba, Canada telling me my visa number was issued! Got my visa app finished and over-night-ed it to Chicago. Called the Consulate at noon when my schtuff was set to arrive. Their automated system reminded me of Charter + AT&T. If you don't press the right prompt you get hung up on or in my case it just rings and rings and rings (Charter) and you have to listen to multiple languages (AT&T). Finally got someone after four attempts. Didn't get her name. She said "I check your paperwork call you back." Hour later, nothing. Hmmmm...

Just getting that number (well letters and numbers...) puts me one step closer to being in Pohang. I was secretly really really scared that they would deny me because of the conflict going on. If I thought about it too long I'd start thinking too much...What would I do for employment? Where would I live? Could I teach in a different country?... One more step and I will be a registered alien. (My Mexican cousin commented on my Facebook status, "Every Mexican's dream." I got a kick out of that)

Went to the Elephant Bar with an old friend last night. Pretty cool place. Also pretty expensive - especially for an unemployed budget. Then on the way home there was an awful accident on 270. A PT cruiser flipped upside down and across the far left lane. It had just happened too because the firetruck was the first to arrive on the scene and it was behind me at one point. Then I was behind it until traffic came to a stand still. They were using the jaws of live and preparing a stretcher as I drove by. One more reason I can't wait to leave the country and go to another where I won't drive.

Then last night I had to stay at home alone overnight. Not a big deal, right? Wrong. It was so scary. I slept very lightly, on the couch in the basement with butcher knives by my side, with all the lights on. Rewind a few hours... I'm in the basement watching TV and I think I hear a door open and footsteps upstairs. I mute the TV to listen. Nothing. I venture upstairs to investigate (with a glass Bud Light bottle as my weapon). I discover I had left the front door unlocked after I checked the mail. OMG! Just in case, I ditch the bottle and get two butcher knives to arm myself with. And go back downstairs. A little later I hear the floor squeak upstairs and a sound like a shower door closing. OMG! I go upstairs with my butcher knives and turn on all the lights, but still to scared to go into the bedrooms or bathrooms. I was convinced that a burglar/murderer was hiding in a shower, waiting for me to fall asleep. But I was armed. I would hack that burglar to death if he came downstairs.

I didn't have to use my knives.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Go Cardinals!

Moving back home in three days! Encountered a little hurdle today because I need to pack in two days but have zero boxes... The store I had arranged to get boxes from apparently has no record of my request but I can try again Friday... No help so I'll try plans B, C and D until I get enough to pack my apartment!

Last night I went to the St. Louis Cardinals game with my friend Kim and a few other ladies. It was a lot of fun! AND they won, 3-1 against the Washington Nationals.

Tomorrow is my last day of work! (I thought this day would NEVER come!) And my month at home is pretty much planned already with a concert, wedding and family stuff. Then will have to pack for an entire year before I leave for Korea. Not sure of my exact departure date yet. My trip will be booked by Kid's College once I get my visa approved by the consulate in Chicago and have an interview (not sure yet if it will have to be a personal interview or a phone interview). I'll keep you posted!

Meanwhile, here are some pictures from the game:

The beautiful Busch Stadium

Kim and me!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Learning Experience...

First, thank you to my followers! All four of them - Jessica, Quintin, Chelsea, and Sara. Plus thank you to Casey! And once I get there I promise it will get more exciting.

So after the awkward interview and being offered a contract, I created a mental timeline:
  • Check on my criminal record check. It had to go to the State Police Department then the Secretary of State's Office in Jefferson City and then make its way back to me. I had already sent it off but hadn't heard anything about it. So at the end of the week I planned to even go to Jeff City to retrieve it.
  • The next week FedEx my documents to Korea.
  • Wait for my E2 visa number. (2-3 weeks)
  • Send my visa application to the Korean Consulate in Chicago.
  • Make a trip to Chicago for an interview.
  • THEN go...
Sunday when I get back to my apartment and checked the mail, my criminal record check was waiting for me! (Minus 1 week) And an email from Cindi, my visa helper, said in some asap situations like mine, you can get your E2 number in as little as 7-10 days rather than 2-3 weeks. (Minus 1 week) Also, the consulate may make an exception and let me do a phone interview because I don't live close. (Minus 1 week)

So I'll wait while you get your calculator so you can do the math.... My estimated (my mental predicting anyways...) departure went from 5-6 weeks to 2-3!

[Enter mental breakdown]

I mean after all, it's not often that you make a decision to move literately around the world and do it in like a month!

Then I did more corresponding with Cindi and did mucho planning on the home-front. I put in my 10-day notice at work. Made plans to start packing my apartment and move back home next weekend. And I sent the $70 package with the next year of my life in it to Korea.

Then the email I got this morning taught me my first Korean lesson.

TIP: Korean meaning for "ASAP" (as soon as possible for those of us who speak American) does not directly translate the same. It really means "In like a month or so. Maybe a little longer."

Found out my school would like me to arrive on June 23 for training. Cool. One month of unemployment and inability to collect unemployment. Hmmm... We'll see what happens. Stay tuned.

Oh and feel free to comment on my posts!!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Good news Heather is hired after interview

I got the job! That means soon I am Korea bound. Very soon after my interview (less than 24 hours) I received an email telling me I was chosen for the job and an attachment with the contract. I read the contract in detail with my mom and have some questions but no major concerns or red flags.

After discussing everything with mom, I have decided it will be best to move home at the end of the month, and hopefully move to Korea the first or second week of June, pending my visa. That way I will have time to see my family/friends, pack and learn how to be a teacher! (Not to mention that means I will get to put in my two weeks notice at work this Thursday! Pretty sure that's what I'm most excited for at this point!)

I am still waiting on my background check. I will call Jefferson City on Monday to check the progress. (Neither of my checks have been cashed for the check or to have it apostilled...) If need-be, I will make the four hour trip next week on my days off. Mom has offered to go with me. Then I will have to arrange for my consulate interview. I still have questions about this but I will likely go to Chicago the next week. Mom is great and offered to take me there too. I'll miss her the most! I even miss her when we're only 90 miles apart.

On a happier note, I did get to spend a few days with her even though I'll miss Mother's Day. We went to Grant's Farm yesterday. Perfect mix between the Zoo and the Anheuser-Busch Brewery tour. Animals and free beer! The elephant show was the best I've ever seen. Today we just took it easy and hung out.

Goal for this week: pack up my entertainment center and find out where my background check is!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

(000) 012-3456...

... That's the number that called me at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday evening. I answered, thinking it was a solicitor or Sprint calling me. No. It was Scott, a Korean English-teacher recruiter to set up an interview with Pohang Academy! The school is 30 minutes away from downtown Pohang. The position needs to be filled ASAP and the pay is 2.2 million! (Won!) That calculates to $1,949.499/month.

Pohang is a port city in the southeastern part of South Korea. It is known for its beautiful scenery, fresh fish market and Internation Fireworks Festival in late July!

I hadn't heard anything about the Korean front in a few weeks so the call was surprising. Scott and I arranged for my interview at 9:30 p.m. the next evening - a Thursday. (It was actually 11:30 a.m. Friday in Korea!) During my breaks at work I made sure I researched more interview tips and read other blogs to see what kind of questions they asked.

The interviewer called on time. The first thing she asked was for me to introduce myself. I told my name, age and where I am from. She mentioned that I am young so I explained that I graduated college early and she asked how my grades were. Then she asked just about four other questions: Why do I want to teach English? (In general and in Korea specifically rather than Japan or China..) Do I like children? What do I hope to gain from the experience? And my email address. That was about it. It was very quick but I didn't get alarmed. From what I've read, an interview comes basically after the have made their decision - just for confirmation that they like your voice and you speak slowly and clearly enough. So that's what I'm banking on! Hopefully a contract will come in the next few days! More updates to come!