Monday, June 30, 2014

Expat Life: MsCaroline's Early Summer 2014 Roundup

(Note:  this post was begun in April, and has been languishing in the 'drafts' folder ever since.  Originally titled, "MsCaroline's Spring 2014 Roundup," it has been reworked, revised, and added to for obvious reasons, most specifically, that it is no longer Spring.)

If you were wondering what happened during the rest of our holiday in Hanoi, you will have to wait for a while, because time is short.  MsCaroline will save Hanoi and its motor scooters and excellent coffee and warm weather for a later post.  Right now, it's time to try and put down in cyberspace all the details that don't warrant a post of their own, but which need to at least be mentioned if MsC is ever going to be able to move forward and stop thinking about all the things she hasn't mentioned on the blog lately.  So, without further ado:

Spring 2014 included a bit of travel (Kyoto and Hanoi,) some cycling, and a lot of work (MsC took on 3 extra classes in January and spent the rest of the semester with her head just barely above the water) She is happy it is over, although she loved teaching high school again.

AsiaVu's 3-Year Blogiversary: This was the 3rd of April.  MsCaroline went back and nostalgically read her first blog post, which was actually not bad at all.  Then she started thinking about how much more time and effort she used to put into blogging, which led her to think about how little she posts compared to when she first started blogging.  On the plus side, she is pleased that she has stuck with it (more or less) for THREE YEARS, and knows that, somewhere down the road when she is settled down somewhere again, she will be glad to have such a comprehensive record - including her thoughts and opinions about it all - of her time in Seoul.

The End of the 3rd Year in Seoul:  This anniversary was in June.  Strange to think that what started out as a 2-year stint in Korea will end, 4 years later, with #2 finishing his school days here.  Even stranger to think that, at 3 years, one becomes something of a 'veteran' in the expat community, where 1- and 2-year corporate contracts are the rule, rather than the exception.

Passports:  Back in November, a very responsible Son#2 informed MsCaroline that his passport would expire in a year and that they should make arrangements to get him a new one.  MsC replied absently that she would make a note of it and of course they would get it done before he had fewer than 6 months remaining on the passport (most countries will not issue you a visa - even a tourist one - if your passport expires in fewer than 6 months.)  (Oh, and lest readers jump to conclusions and assume that MsC let things slide, resulting in wacky diplomatic proceedings in Hanoi, let her quickly assure them that #2's passport still had 7 months of validity remaining when they arrived in Vietnam.) However, what MsCaroline had not realized was that #2's passport photo - taken when he was an angelic chubby-cheeked 12-year-old- no longer bore any resemblance whatsoever to the lanky almost-6-footer who had to bend nearly double just for the official in the visa booth to see his face.  After some initial skepticism on the part of the immigration folk, MsC and MrL managed to convince them that the passport was, indeed, #2 and - after a great deal of mirth on the part of all of the officials on duty at that time (and a certain amount of humiliation on the part of #2) they were given their visas and sent on their way. Needless to say, MsC made an appointment at the embassy for the new passport as soon as they arrived back in Seoul. She is thankful to say that the passport process went smoothly, although there was a small glitch in which she forgot to get a new visa stamp in the new passport until 2 days before #2 left for the US.  Addressing this involved an early wake-up and a few silly hijinks in the immigration office. But all's well that ends well, so we won't discuss that, shall we?


The Dog:  At 10 months, the Dog has become a mostly pleasant family companion, although MsCaroline will never would not be likely try to train and housebreak a puppy in a 4th-floor apartment ever again as long as she lives and all of you are her witnesses.  While the AsiaVus were in Hanoi, the Dog stayed with a magician dog whispering sort of person who has far more experience with Boston Terriers than the AsiaVus do and cast some sort of spell on her.  In addition to having a friend to play with 24/7, the Dog was apparently on her best behavior, managing to convince the DogWhisperer that she was one of the best-adjusted and friendliest Boston Terriers that she had ever seen.  This only proves MsCaroline's theory, that the Dog is, in fact, smarter than everyone, and will ultimately rule the world.

Gratuitously cute shot of Dog and her Friend, sent to us while we were in Hanoi. Who would guess that such destruction could lurk just below that sweet exterior?  
Apartment-hunting - again:  Due to having added a dog to the household, the AsiaVus were looking around for a more dog-friendly apartment or house with some sort of garden attached. Those who read the posts about house hunt last year will remember that house-hunting in Seoul is about a zillion times more challenging than it is in the US.   Of course, the parameters - which were already narrow - became even narrower, because the AsiaVus absolutely loved their neighborhood and their present apartment, so the new apartment would have had to have been located in a 5-block radius.  Ultimately, this turned out to be nothing more than a time-waster;  all the garden apartments were too small (in one of them, #2 turned to me with stricken eyes and whispered sadly about the bedroom that would have been his, 'This is like a prison cell.') and all the other apartments without gardens had nothing to recommend them over the present apartment.  So, we soldier on as we are, dreaming of someday being able to open the back door again in order to let the dog out.


Getting Back on The Bike:  As most readers know, MrL's sport of choice is cycling.  He has several bicycles (road and mountain) and has been riding with serious and/or competitive amateur teams for years. What readers may not know is that MsC, once upon a time, was also a (very very amateur) cyclist.  That is, she could ride her bicycle semi-competently for 50 or 60 kilometers, including up hills, and she was  modestly fit for a person of her age and shape (round.)  For various reasons, she stopped cycling not long before moving to Seoul, but had been considering taking it up again (an idea fully supported and encouraged by MrL.)  Sometime in March, she took her first tentative steps back into cycling, and has since been riding every weekend with MrL as her kindly and encouraging companion.  So far, things have gone reasonably well (eg, no major falls, although she is still nervous about getting her feet out of the clips fast enough when she needs to stop.)  Two weekends ago, she completed her first-ever 100-km ride (about 62 miles) and was very pleased with herself.  While MsCaroline is delighted to have faced a challenge and met it head-on, she has also learned some new and important lessons about how to prepare oneself for such a lengthy ride.  Because it is her wish that this blog should remain G-rated, she will simply say that, after completing the 5.5-hour ride, she sat down (carefully) and ordered this product from the internets, which should allow discerning readers to draw their own conclusions:

MsCaroline is not sure what is better:  the product, or its name.  She can tell you, though, she will never do a long ride without it again.  Should you be interested in ordering some, you can do so here.

Summer Plans/Home Leave:  So complex that MsCaroline does not even want to try to sum them up in brief.  Suffice it to say that #2 has already left, and MsC will leave in about a week, to be joined 2 weeks later by MrL. This summer's agenda will cover the Northeast, the West, the South, the Midwest, and the West Coast of the US (possibly a foray to Canada, not sure) due to a variety of reasons and events.  #1 is staying in the US this summer (sob) for the best of reasons:  a paid internship with a well-known and highly respected global financial institution (which MsC is not going to say the name of because it would be bragging, but it rhymes with 'shapey organ base'), which will give him valuable experience in the field of finance as well as (hallelujah!) paying him a salary.  MsC is disappointed that she won't have him home this summer, but she understands that life moves on, and will appreciate whatever time she gets to spend with him.


MsCaroline has (as always) plenty of additional detritus floating around in her brain, which she really does plan to share with her readers...eventually.  But for now, she's off to walk the dog.