Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Oh, The Difference a Year Makes: My One-Year Blogiversary

Adorable Korean Birthday greeting  via



"Change is such hard work."  -Billy Crystal



On April 3, 2011, I was sitting in the study of our suburban Texas home, staring at my first-ever blog post and summoning up the courage to press 'publish.'  We'd recently found out that, yes, we were moving to Korea, and had started the paring-down process that morning at our neighborhood's annual garage sale.  I'd been an avid blog reader for years, but had never contemplated writing one of my own, given that nothing of interest ever happened to me.  But a move to Seoul - that was worth writing about! (As it turned out, I have done less writing about Seoul itself and more whining about the weather than I would have anticipated, but we'll chalk that one up to my evolving personality as a blogger, shall we?) In any case, on April 3rd I started blogging, with the intention of providing a way for us to keep in touch with family and friends and - in a small way - try to share a little of our experience.

One year later, I'm 6,000 miles (that's 9 656.064 kilometers/metres for the rest of the world) away on the 14th floor of an apartment building in Seoul, celebrating my first blogiversary (yes, it's a real word, because it's in Urban Dictionary, which is, of course, a legitimate and recognized authority on Modern English.)

Essentially, it's my blog's 1st birthday.

One year.

365 days (give or take, with the time differerence.)
12 months.
122 posts (some of them actually about our expat experience)

But how to celebrate?

Every blogger has a different approach.  Some bloggers don't do anything at all (this appeals to my lazy side, but let no one say that MsCaroline shrinks from the path of duty.) Other bloggers write thoughtful retrospective pieces brimming with insight (right, right, insight's not my strong point) and others provide a list of links to their best posts of the year (far too much work, all that linking:  see 'lazy side' comment above.)

After drinking coffee and looking glumly out the window at the snow some deep thought, it occurred to me that this has been a year of unprecedented change for me.  Not just because we moved to Asia (duh) but in many other significant ways as well, not the least of which include a far deeper appreciation for full-sized ovens, really efficient laundry appliances, and warm winter coats. But seriously: we've changed not just our location and the culture we live in, but our whole lifestyle.  And really, I'm not exaggerating for once.  Besides all of those intangible changes that I've experienced through blogging - more confidence in my own writing, friendships with other bloggers from across the world, a sense of community - there have been numerous measurable, tangible changes in the way we live our lives every day.  I herewith submit as evidence:

2011 - Living in a suburban Texas neighborhood in single-family house with more space and furniture than we needed.  Lawn and garden requiring yard work, performed grudgingly by teenage offspring.
2012 - Living in urban Seoul in compact high-rise apartment;  no lawn or garden, no balcony, minimal furniture (although towel supply is more than adequate.)  Teenager -no longer required to mow - now grudgingly takes recycling down to basement recycling center.

2011- One large, marginally intelligent - yet lovable - dog who sleeps in our bedroom and inserts self into all daily activities of family as well as maintaining constant presence underfoot.  Located in a neighborhood of many medium-to-large  dogs, many of whom are (or could be) hunting or retrieving dogs, often seen drooling out of the back windows of SUVs on their way to the dog park, the lake, or someone's ranch.
2012 - No dog (with the exception of friends' occasional loaner) in an apartment complex featuring primarily mini-dogs dressed in boots, tutus, sequined frocks, goggles, and sweaters, who travel  most often in their owners' bejeweled doggie purses and - presumably - do not hunt or retrieve.


2011 - Primary mode of transport: personal automobile, mainly operated by me with confidence and aplomb. Three cars in the family (MrLogical's, mine, and Son#1's).
2012 - Primary modes of transport:  subway, bus, or walking.  One car in the family, operated exclusively by MrL, which I ride in, on average, perhaps once a week, although I am pleased to say I no longer clutch convulsively at the door handle every time we are passed by a taxi with only millimeters of clearance.

2011- Teacher of high school students who look quizzically at me when I speak German to them and respond to me in English.
2012 - Teacher of kindergarten students who look quizzically at me when I speak English to them and respond to me in German.

2011 - No winter coats.  A few dusty umbrellas somewhere on the floor of the hall closet which are frantically unearthed on the rare occasions when it rains.  Shorts are worn nearly year round.
2012 - 3 winter coats, 8 new scarves, 5 hats, 1 pair of earmuffs, 4 pairs of gloves, 2 pairs of boots.  Purchase new umbrella every time I think of it.  Shorts (along with sandals, flip-flops, capri pants, and all other things cool and comfortable) packed into vacuum bags and stuffed into deepest recesses under bed, to be unearthed sometime in June.

2011- I have never eaten roasted silkworm larvae, cow intestines, or stir-fried baby octopi.
2012 - I have.


2011 - No really cold winters since we moved to Arizona in 2000.
2012 - Snow in December. Snow in January.  Snow in February.  Snow in March.  Snow in April.

2011 - walking the dog through the greenbelt in my suburban Texas neighborhood.  Scenery comprised of Live Oak trees, prickly pear cactus, occasional deer sightings, and lots of other walkers, dogs, and joggers.
2012 - walking alone (or with a friend) through the grounds of the National Museum of Korea.  Scenery comprised of pagodas, Buddhas, cherry, pine and azaleas, occasional rabbit sightings, lots of mask-wearing Korean exercisers, 1 lake, one waterfall.  Practically no dogs.

2011 - Going home:  drive into driveway, press garage-door remote, drive into garage, enter house.
2012 - Going home:  scan entry code card at scan machine in vestibule;  enter building;  bow and anyonghaseyeo to the lobby attendant. Press elevator button.  Enter elevator.  Scan entry code card;  press floor button.  Exit elevator:  approach apartment door;  press lock code on automated door lock;  enter apartment.


2011 - Two teenage boys in the house, both in school:  family of four.
2012 - One teenage boy in the house, the other one at University in another country. Family of three. sigh.


So, yeah.  This has been A Year of Change for me, and this blog has been a way for me to record it.  Some of the changes have been incredible, eye-opening, and humbling:  so unbelievable that sometimes I have to remind myself that this really is my life now, and not just some lengthy vacation.  Others have been difficult, painful, stressful and, yes, frightening.  We still miss our families and friends terribly, still yearn to be there for those once-in-a-lifetime events (good and bad), still have days where we want to bang our heads against the wall in frustration because we can't make ourselves understood.  Along the way, I've gotten a lot of comfort out of blogging.  Sometimes, when I'm writing about some unique or interesting aspect of Korean culture, I realize all over again how lucky I am to have this experience.  At other times (especially when I'm complaining about this or that aspect of life as an expat) I hear from other people sharing their own experiences, or simply offering a little sympathy and a cyber-hug.

The question:  would I go back and do it all over again?

Absolutely.

Happy Blogiversary to you all, and thanks for taking the trip with me.

19 comments:

Heather said...

Congratulations on your one-year blogiversary. As a new blogger myself, I have to say that is exciting stuff!

Frances said...

Happy Blogiversary to you ...etc. etc..... I won't " sing" it all! I have only been reading you for a few months but have really enjoyed all that you have to say. I have learnt a lot about S. Korea into the bargain. I look forward to another year of information , entertainment and photos X

Melissa said...

Happy Blogiversary! Thanks for helping me relive my time in Seoul through your blog posts - although I NEVER got up the courage to try boiled silk worm larvae! Hope your second year is even better than the first :)

BavarianSojourn said...

Happy Happy Blogiversary! A whole year! And haven't you squished a lot into it? Love the comparisons, especially the food one, that made me laugh! Love your blog, and looking forward to the following years! Emma (: xx

Circles in the Sand said...

I've REALLY enjoyed reading your blog this past year- keep it coming! Happy Blogiversary!

Nellig said...

Happy Blogiversary! You're brilliant. Please write loads more.

elizabethm said...

I am so glad you started your blog. I can't remember now how I found you as I am not one of the audience you intended your blog for originally but every time I see you have blogged I am always pleased and come whipping over to see what you have been doing. Your intelligent and amused eye on the world is enlightening and I so admire your readiness to take this fascinating new life head on and make the most of it. It could hardly be more different from life up here on my Welsh hill (mind you, Texas is pretty different too!) but I hope I count as one of your blogging friends. Who knows, one day you might make it to stay in our holiday cottage and I will let to meet you in the flesh!

MsCaroline said...

Heather - thank you so much for stopping by! Hard to believe it's already been a year!


Frances - I'm so glad you've enjoyed reading - thank you!

Melissa - Thank you! I have to admit, I probably wouldn't have tried them if we hadn't been drinking soju at a Halloween party beforehand!

MsCaroline said...

Emma - Thank you so much! I have been reading expat blogs for several years (including yours when you were still in Denmark) and just assumed that 'expat life' was in my past. I never thought I'd be writing one myself.

Circles - Thanks! the feeling is *very* mutual!!

Nellig - thank you! I will!

MsCaroline said...

Elizabeth Thank you so much-you're going to make me get misty! I started reading your blog a few years ago and felt like I'd found a blog that was describing something I'd always imagined doing - renovating an old house in the countryside (we'd done the 'old house' thing, but in a small town- not quite the same.)I loved your writing style and the way you left the 'high-powered' life behind for a completely different - but just as fascinating -one. I would certainly count you among the friends I have met since I started blogging - and I have a little pipe dream about traveling with my mother to stay in your holiday cottage and see it all 'for real' - it may yet happen!

Just choose joy... said...

**2011- I have never eaten roasted silkworm larvae, cow intestines, or stir-fried baby octopi.**

WOW!! thanks for the awesome laugh you just gave me!

Caroline -- when you come to Virginia, please know I will move heavan and earth to get to meet you face to face! I can already tell it will be awesome!!

Soooo many hugs to you from across the world!

Karen said...

Happy blogiversary! I have followed from the beginning and have learned so much and laughed so much and yes, cried so much, too! Thanks for sharing, and know that you do it beautifully, my friend!

Karen

MsCaroline said...

Joy - Thanks so much! We'll probably be there around the 2nd week in July - more details to follow.

Karen - well, we've always said we were living parallel lives, haven't we? With the exception of the Korean aspect, I know you're walking the (mostly) same path! Thanks so much for the encouragement!

Trish @ Mums Gone To... said...

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading all your posts (even the whining about weather ones) and feel I can count you as one of my blogging pals. Here's to more of your amusing, inspiring, informative posts and another year of our friendship.

MsCaroline said...

Trish - thanks! It's always so encouraging to hear that from bloggers whose work I admire, and I really hope our paths cross 'for real' someday (is there a 'Mum's going to Asia' plan somewhere down the road?) I most definitely count you among the friends I have met from blogging and look forward to another year, too! Thank God you don't mind the whining; I feel like it's becoming my trademark..; )

Donna said...

Happy Happy Blogiversary!!! I am so happy you decided to "push publish" and that you continue to share your journey with us. May you bring us all many, many more blog posts and many more adventures over the next year....although I am looking forward to the day when you return to Texas!
Thank you MsCaroline for bringing a little culture to those of us who don't have the opportunity (or courage!) to live abroad. And I'll say it again...I hope you are working on the book! :)

MsCaroline said...

Aww, Donna - you're too kind! You have been such a supporter from day #1, and one of the people who gave me courage when I was nervously starting out! There are definitely days when I think I'd rather be the one reading about my adventures rather than the one writing them, though. I'm sure the day will come when we'll be sitting cozily in Panera or Starbuck's and this whole thing will seem like it never happened. What a year, huh? ; )

Choco Pie said...

Congratulations on a year of blogging!

I really need to stop saying that spring is coming soon. I think I'm jinxing it or something.

I think it's safer at this point to say that summer is coming soon, looks like we might just skip spring this year.

MsCaroline said...

CP- Thanks! I have no idea what's going on with Spring either - I've never lived anywhere with weather quite like this. After the snow on Monday, I decided to stop even trying to anticipate or understand what was going on. At this point, I just hope we get a few weeks of reasonable weather before monsoon season starts. And we really need to meet and go walking!