|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.
365 days (give or take, with the time differerence.)
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.)
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?
Happy Blogiversary to you all, and thanks for taking the trip with me.