Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Plane ticket... check!

Okay, just booked my flight into Seoul. With a visa and a plane ticket, the adventure ahead is starting to really sink in. Almost 30 days to lift off!

Monday, July 18, 2011

It's Finally Here!

After what has been a long process ...drumroll...the visa has finally arrived!!! With this E-2 visa, I'll be able to remain in Korea for 13 months. This is great, since the orientation (still no date set...) will extend my stay to just over a year. However, there is a slight complication. The visa is for a single entry into the country. I still need to figure out if there is a way to re-enter the country if I do some exploring in nearby countries... say Cambodia or Thailand or Vietnam or Japan or... well, you get the point. It would be weird to stay in the same country for a year, knowing that the only reason you were doing so was because you couldn't get back in if you were to leave.

Correction: I just found out I need to arrive on August 25th... which means I will be in Korea for exactly one year.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Royal Stampede

On my quest to embrace all that is Canadian before I depart for Korea, I decided to spend some quality time at the Calgary Stampede. For those of you who aren't familiar with the Stampede-- it's the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. Okay, I'm a bit biased being from Calgary, but I do love this outdoor festival. I actually missed it the last two years because I was away travelling. Some highlights so far include watching the annual parade and sighting the Royal couple.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge rode through the Calgary Stampede Parade on Friday, July 8, 2011. Will and Kate were sitting in one of the dark vehicles rolling by with windows rolled down just about halfway. However, because of all of the vehicles, it wasn't until their vehicle passed me that I figured out which vehicle they were in. It didn't help that the motorcade went by pretty quickly... approx. 30 km/h for a parade! Needless-to-say, I was disappointed. I stayed to watch a bit of the parade before heading back to the train. Here are some captured moments. Enjoy :)

Calgary Stampede Parade: Cowboy hats are for everyone

A herald announces, "The British are coming!"

After making my way back to the C-train (local city train), I past the Hyatt Hotel. I couldn't believe the large number of people congregating outside. I thought--that's funny--there's no parade here... It took me a few seconds to clue in. I peered between the hedges in front of the hotel. And, there it was: the Royal transport-- flag and all! I waited outside, with many others, camera in hand. Over an hour later, I snapped this photo between the hedges.

Will and Kate leaving the Hyatt Hotel in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Mini Get Together

This evening I got together with three other teachers who will be travelling to Korea with the same program as me. My trip with SMOE is being organized through the school board I was subbing with this year. I've gone to several meetings prior to this get together, but didn't really know anyone. When you're about to embark on a year adventure overseas, I reckon it's a good idea to know at least a few faces before I depart. The hardest part was remembering people's faces. It can be quite awkward to walk up to random tables to see if you recognize anyone. Thankfully, I eventually found the group, and we had a delicious dinner together.

I realize a meetup like this isn't a possibility for everybody; however, with the internet, you can arrange some meetups in Korea before leaving your current location. For instance, I've heard is a great site to find clubs and activities to help you meet new people-- including locals, expats, and some tourists. The service is free to use for most clubs, but there is a small startup fee if you want to start a group/club of your own. I've seen marathon clubs, art clubs, language clubs, and more. So, no more excuses not to keep up with another language you've been "trying" to learn. Practicing with expats from different countries could be just the thing to get you back on track. Best thing: many cities around the world are listed on this site. Which means... year abroad or just a short visit across the pond or to the country next door could mean really getting to know local cultures and customs. I'll let you guys know how this site works for me when I get a chance to try it out. I'm quite excited to test it out!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Road to a Visa

So I checked. The visa application has arrived at the Korean consulate in Vancouver. Now to see what happens... I can't buy my plane ticket until I've got the visa...

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Canada Day Long Weekend

Driving to Vancouver this weekend made me realize how lucky I am to be living in Canada. The mountains were absolutely breathtaking. Perhaps it's the way the light hits them at sunset and sunrise, or perhaps its just their majesty, but driving through them was truly awe-inspiring. It's easy to forget what the other parts of Canada are like when you remain in the same city doing the same job. It's so easy to take the rest of Canada for granted.

I know Korea will be a life-changing experience. The culture and food and customs will all be very different, but the coming year will give me an opportunity to live another lifestyle. It is my hope that my year in Korea will help me more fully appreciate what the world has to offer. But for now... I'm just going to enjoy Canada :)

Canada Day: Person waving Canadian flag in red Beetle