Living a Quality Life – #3

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Reunited with my former colleague, Mr. Lee.

Among the many people I had a chance to reconnect with while in Korea was a former co-worker of mine, Mr. Lee. I know Mr. Lee from my days working for the Busan-Jinhae governments where we were both part of the Singapore, New York, and Dubai delegations. It was wonderful to have the chance to catch up with him after all these years. Like me, a lot has happened in his life and career since we last saw one another. Continue reading

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Living a Quality Life – #2

Friends
Reunited with my friends Jae and Ellie. While we have all taken different paths in life, we’ve also found outlets, however small, toward seeking happiness.

Upon our 10-year reunion last week, it became very clear how my friends in Korea and I have all taken different paths in life. Jae utilized her skills and education to became a small business owner, myself a DC fundraiser in the international affairs arena, and Ellie a stay-at-home mom and budding entrepreneur. Last week I wrote about Jae’s inspiring accomplishments, which you can read about again here.

This week, I want to focus on Ellie. Continue reading

Living a Quality Life – #1

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Jae in her classroom.

Freshly returned from my trip to Seoul, Korea, I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes a quality life. The reality in South Korea, including Seoul, is that despite the bright and colorful lights, modern skyscrapers, chic cafes, and trendy restaurants, the everyday Korean is actually struggling. The economy has been in the shitter for years now, the job market continues to be sluggish (and quite prejudice toward the majority of Koreans who do not have an ivy league education), and even a highly educated, extremely experienced person struggles to find work that pays well in Korea these days. Continue reading

Return to Yongwon Street

Busan

Today was incredible, and like most of my time since arriving in Korea last Friday, today I was once again reminded of how very lucky I am. I am writing this blog post from the comfort of my room on the 26th floor of the five-star hotel where I am staying in the southern port city of Busan, South Korea. Normally more than I would spend on myself, I justified the decision to stay at this rather fancy hotel as an early 40th birthday present to myself, and to commemorate my return to this city 10 years since leaving it. I used to live and work in this area until I decided it was time for me to return home to the United States in 2007.

And to this day, I still believe my decision to leave Korea when I did was the right choice to make. After 5 years in the country, I was missing the comforts of the United States, I missed friends and family, I missed weddings and babies and felt my career would not grow unless I moved back home. And so I did.

It wasn’t until a year ago that I started having these recurring dreams about being back in Korea. They were dreams of being once again in Seoul and Busan, the two cities I lived in during my time here, and these dreams simply wouldn’t go away. For the past year, I have been having them about once every two weeks, and I knew deep down inside the only way to make them go away was to return to these cities ASAP. Continue reading

The Curious Thing about Self-Awareness

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As I prepare for my vacation to South Korea, I am bombarded with curious questions from friends and colleagues about my upcoming trip. Do I have any family there? (Not that I am aware of since I was adopted by an American family as an infant.) Am I afraid of the political situation with North Korea? (North Korea has been a constant threat to South Korea so much that the average South Korean is not that worried about an attack from the North. Besides, I’ll be staying with well-connected people who have ties to the US Embassy in Seoul, the US Army, Navy and other security entities.) Will it be nice for you to finally be in a place where you will physically blend in? Yes! And the most curious of all questions I have fielded, Do you think you’ll find your dopplegänger there? Continue reading

Why I Like Traveling Solo

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I’m in the midst of planning for my first overseas vacation in ten years (Toronto a few years ago does not count, sorry Canada!), and as the days bring me closer to departure, the excitement within continues to swell by the hour. You see, I need this vacation for more than just the obvious R&R it will bring. While I’ll be staying with friends during most of my time in South Korea, my days will be primarily filled with solo travel, and I have planned it this way intentionally. Continue reading

Dear M—

Dear M—,

I sure will miss working with you, but I’m so excited for this new chapter in your life!

The gift I am giving you is nothing fancy. It’s rather plain, but it will become one of your most used tools as you travel the world. I cannot tell you how valuable a plain journal and working pen have become to me during my own international travels; and I am sure you will soon discover the same as you traverse through France, Spain, Portugal, Austria, and Germany. Continue reading