Sunday, August 24, 2008

Six Months. . . WOW!!!

I can't believe it has been six months since I came to Korea! I was reflecting last night on all that I have seen and experienced in the past six months, and it feels almost like a second lifetime has been crammed into this relatively short space of time. I mean, I've seen more of Korea than many Koreans have, I've been to the Philippines, I've had an exotic illness, I've been on TV three or four times, I've been in a bus accident, I've made incredible new friends from six different continents, I've eaten things that should not be spoken of in polite conversation, I've learned a ton, and I've discovered things about myself that I never knew, and changed in so many ways. To call the past six months an adventure is an understatement. It's been more like an epic.

In honor of my six month anniversary here in Korea, I've decided to make two top-ten lists: a list of the ten things I miss the most about the USA and a list of the ten things I don't miss the most. I'm not listing people on the list of things I miss, only because it kind of goes without saying that it would be people that I miss the most (and two very special little dogs). I figured my readers would be more interested in the other things I miss. But, obviously, the real top ten list of things I miss has nothing but people on it, with my parents sharing the number one spot. So, without further ado:

Ten Things I Miss Most about Life in the USA (Besides People)
1. Books written in English, which are readily available
2. Turner Classic Movies
3. Quaker Oatmeal Squares
4. Having an oven
5. My old movie collection
6. Canned green beans
7. My rollerblades
8. My assortment of spices and herbs (oh, how I miss cilantro especially!)
9. Old Peninsula (restaurant in Kalamazoo that my best friend and I love)
10. The bathrooms (nice sit-down toilets instead of squaters, people flush the used toilet paper instead of sticking it in the trash, there's almost always toilet paper in the stalls...)

Ten Things I Really Don't Miss about Life in the USA
1. Driving a car
2. The Michigan economy
3. The 2008 Presidential election
4. Doctors' offices (so much nicer and more efficient here)
5. The job I left
6. Stupid people (they're here too, I'm sure, but I can't understand what they're saying)
7. The ridiculous overabundance of choices at stores (the cereal aisle alone used to overwhelm me - it's so much easier when you only have two or three brands to choose from)
8. The yearly ladybug invasion
9. Understanding the commercials on TV (I like imagining what they're saying here)
10. Walmart

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"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"