Huh … Well, that’s interesting …

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So, by now you all probably know about my love for Mexico City, that gigantic, smoggy mess of a place that I called home for over a year.

Anyone who asks me about what travelling and living in Mexico is like always ends up getting an earful as I can’t recommend the place enough. In fact, when I talk about being back ‘home’, it isn’t the UK that I mean. It’s being back with my friends and everything I love in D.F.

And I always imagined that it was my passion for Latin American culture that made my move to Eastern Asia so difficult. I’ve said on more than one occasion that there’s something missing here; I just don’t feel any deep-rooted connection to Korea the way a lot of expats do.

However, earlier this week I was traipsing through my archives, looking at old posts I’d written about the places I’ve visited over the last 2 and a half years, when I came across my post for San Francisco and saw something very interesting. This was how I’d written about D.F.  after 4 months of living there:

Every piece of research I did for Mexico all seemed to center on this big, smoggy city…

The more I read about (it), the more I was determined to settle there and teach English for a few years. I’ve always loved big cities and I knew I’d love D.F. I’d find inspiration and excitement from the craziness of one of the biggest cities in the world and get the chance to live amongst a different culture and speak a different language at the same time.

But I was wrong.

I arrived in late December 2011 but never felt that spark, that inspiration, that joy, excitement or happiness I was expecting. Instead, I was faced with smog, chest infections, another robbery, stern faces and dangerous traffic. The city was cold, grey and had some of the ugliest parts of the Western world.

There were some parts I loved – the whole of Condesa, Frida Kahlo’s house, the beautiful Ángel de la Independencia. But I didn’t feel any connection. I expected my heart to feel something towards this city; Something that would tell me I was in the right place, doing the right thing. But nothing ever came.

It was actually a disappointment.

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Well, shit.

Doesn’t that sound familiar?

I do remember second guessing my move to D.F. after having some of the best times of my life further south. But I had no idea how disconnected I’d felt.

I mean, I always felt that connection to LatAm culture but, wow, did I really feel that way about Mexico City? I can’t even begin to imagine that now.

Of course, we also have to bear in mind one important detail that I did keep hidden at the time:

I wrote this after returning from California, where I’d undergone an 8-day roadtrip with a guy who ignored me for most of it (yup, if you want to talk about awkwardness, try sitting in a car with a dude who’s in his man cave while driving 7 hours from Santa Cruz to Los Angeles) and then proceeded to break up with me while I was staying with his whole family over Easter weekend.

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By the time I got back to D.F., I was devastated and heartbroken and desperately wanted to be back in San Francisco – a place full of smiley, positive people that were close to him. Ugh.

eyerollBut I’m not going to put the whole blame on that. Like I said, I remember that moving to that city was an adjustment. And the funny thing is that now all my memories of D.F. and the places I visited in Mexico are full of positivity. I loved the people, the language, the culture, the food, the cities, the towns, the villages, the music, everything.

And this gives me hope that one day I might end up feeling the same way about Korea.

You never know.

Scenes from the Gwangju National Museum

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAYou all know by now that I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to visiting museums.

I actually got to wander around this one for a bit when I was killing time one weekend, waiting to meet up with my co-teacher for lunch.

It was my first experience of how friendly the city people of Gwangju can be in comparison to how wary the locals from my neighbourhood are.

The security guards both struck up conversations with me when I first came through the entrance and, later outside, while I was waiting for my ride, I got into a conversation with a man who was curious about where I was from and what brought me to these parts of the world.

People’s curiosity tends to increase when you get to the larger cities and it’s definitely a constant reminder of how kind strangers can be.

I didn’t get to wander around the whole museum but what I did see definitely sparked my interest in Korean history (pre-20th century) – Something I genuinely know very little about.

As always, the photos didn’t come out terrific thanks to the ‘no flash’ rule but I did manage to salvage a few:

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This Is Where I Live Now

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAI realised that after living here for nearly 3.5 months, I’ve still not posted anything really focusing on where I live.

With the ups and downs of everything, I can only imagine the kind of image I’ve put in your minds but it’s not all that bad.

Naju is a small city/large town with a pretty conservative and traditional backdrop. Most of the people around my neighbourhood seem to work in agriculture or commute into the bigger cities every morning. There’s quite a small-town mindset so, even though there’s quite a prominent group of foreigners here, we’re still seen as quite alien.

Most of the people I get to interact with are quite friendly but, believe me, the people of Naju won’t go out of their way to help or start a conversation unless you’re the one who initiates it. I’ve heard that this comes down to the language barrier; Most Koreans assume you can’t speak their language. And that wouldn’t be an unfair assumption. I’ve met a grand total of two foreigners who could carry a full conversation with a local – And one of them had Korean parents. Naju’s a far cry from the big cities of Seoul or Busan where everyone you fall over has some sort of English capability. In Naju, you can’t be lazy - You have to learn Korean. No-one’s going to hold your hand for you and whisper, ”There, there, little waygookin.’ You moved here so you have to do the work.

The area of Naju I live in is Yeongsanpo, a really rural area with the Yeongsan River running through it. See those buildings to the right of the picture at the top of this post? That’s where I live.

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It’s not such a bad area if you enjoy the small town atmosphere and smell of skate fish in the air (what the area’s famous for).

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25 Happy Days

I’m a quarter of a way through the 100HappyDays challenge and the verdict so far?

Well, I actually do think I’m happier.

I’m not quite on top of the world happy but it feels as though I’ve hit a good spot on an uphill climb.

Whether it has anything to do with the challenge itself or just that I’m feeling a bit more settled here in Naju is anyone’s guess. I’m not going to try to analyse it; I’m just enjoying the feelings of content that keep coming my way.

As I mentioned before, all the pictures (and video) I’ve been snapping for the challenge have been put up on my Instagram but, for those who don’t follow me or don’t have an account, I thought I’d share the first 25 days of happiness with you on here. Enjoy …


Two of my favourite students who stayed after class to chat.

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Inspiration From my English Room

1In the beauty school I work at, I teach from the English room.

I can’t fault that room because it’s big and bright and chock full of more supplies than I could ever dream of.

At every window, there’re also blinds which hold some wonderful words of wisdom.

What makes me laugh, though, is that the background picture usually has absolutely nothing to do with the inspirational phrase sprawled across it. No context whatsover. Take a look for yourselves …

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Unfaithfully Yours: Confessions of a Cheating Bitch

I once read that most people, by the time they’re 30, will have experienced some form of cheating, whether it’s being cheated on or actually being the cheater themselves. I, at the age of 27, have been both.

Being cheated on is never any fun. We all know that. Most of the time it happens when we’re blissfully unaware of the fact that there’s something wrong with our relationship. We’re living in this cloud of ignorance like everything’s fine, refusing to see that the other person clearly doesn’t feel the same way.

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Usually our heart is broken upon finding out and – if you’re anything like me – are too blinded by love to kick him/her to the curb and will continue to date said cheater for another two years.

Being the cheater is something I’m not proud of but also don’t regret. When I cheated I didn’t feel guilty and that’s exactly how I knew that my relationship was over.

Of course, there’s a hell of a difference between when a man cheats and when a woman cheats.

When a man cheats, the general reaction tends to be ‘Awww, poor baby. Clearly his wife/girlfriend wasn’t giving him enough attention. Prude.’ And the woman he cheated with?

slutOn the other hand, when a woman cheats, the general reaction tends to be:

whoreDouble standards are a beauty, aren’t they? Continue reading