Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It's Been Too Long, but I'm Back!

Okay, this blogging thing requires dedication and some sit down time and as you can tell I haven’t been good at either. I was so ready to blog last year and share my experiences teaching abroad that I started living and found that sitting down and actually writing about what I was doing became a second hand thought. So, here I am sitting at my computer with thousands of pictures and some very interesting stories that are dying to be told, and I owe it to you and myself to find some dedication.

It’s 2011 and I first came to Korea in 2009. I have been here, completed my first contract, and extended it twice, gone home and started my second contract, which I have been on for four months now. So, guess you can say I have adapted to living abroad, or at least I have adjust enough to keep doing it until I find something else I like doing more. Either way I am in Korea and doing what I love, traveling and seeing the world. And all that doing what I love stuff comes with some very interesting experiences, life lessons, new and different people, and plain old comedy from time to time. However, I wouldn’t trade the life I have, even with the most difficult experiences, for anything in the world. Ok, maybe a bathtub and a nice clean upscale apartment with a picture view, but hey I guess I’ll get back there again one day, just not today. I have too much stuff to see and do.

So, I will promise you this, I will dedicate the time and energy to release some of what has happened over the last year, going on two, along with some of what is happening if you promise to keep reading. Is that a deal? If so, I’ll even start by leaving some recent photos and begin with my latest adventure, China and Lunar New Year. Stay tune the stories are coming and if you like them tell your friends and family because My Soul to Seoul is going to turn into The Adventures of the Nomadic Chic, and I promise you that you will not want to miss these wild and crazy stories.

Until next time,

The Nomad Chic©2010 aka Cha Jones

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Week 6: Learning to Be Like Water

"I am fluid...the best thing to learn in life is how to travel through it without trying to change things, but rather being open for change. Life is not about making people, things, and/or situations adapt to your flow, but more so about learning that there is always more than one way. You really start living when you surrender to all of the possibilities." Cha Jones

Wow, I have been in South Korean for six weeks now! I love it! I can’t complain about much of anything. At the age of thirty-three I have experienced many things in life and the one thing I am so thankful for is, “change.” I love water. I love looking at it and I really admire the fact that it can change often. My life is like water, I am a person who maneuvers through life with ease, and I believe that being like water has given me the ability to adapt to many pleasant and unpleasant situations.

Living in Korea is not difficult at all and I really have enjoyed the short time that I have been here. Prior to my arrival I tried to remove all expectations and to be as open to the possibilities as possible, and I think it paid off. I do have things that I miss at home, but for the most part I have everything I need. I have no worries, and every day I realize something new about me and/or what I think about certain things. I find that I am challenging my thoughts and perspective and it is very interesting.

At this time my motto is, “Do things differently.” I want this experience to be so unlike anything I have ever done, and so I am attempting to step out all of my comfort zones and try things in different ways. Recently, I met some individuals and I decided I would not judge or question why we met, but rather take the advice of one of them and, “Be free Ms. Cha, you are friend and God will take care of you.” I am friend and I think that being a friendly, free spirited and loving person has always open the door of opportunity for me and I am grateful. I have always been one who never met a stranger and sometimes it really scares me that I can be so open to different people, but on the other hand I love people and I allow my instincts to guide me and protect me.

I am learning more about the language and the culture and I have three students that agreed to teach me Korean, and so in exchange I teach them Spanish, well the little I do know. So, along with their assistance I think I will take some free Korean lessons at a language exchange program and when I go home I will be able to say I learned to speak Korea. However, I think that it’s rather important to be in a country and be able to communicate with the people.

So, as I reflect back on the time that I have had here I can say that this is one my best decisions. I have met wonderful people and I have seen some great things. I look forward to all the interesting things that I have ahead of me.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Molestation on the Subway

My tiredness had consumed me
My feet were fatigued and sluggish
Yet there were no seats available on the subway
And it seemed as if every stop had more arrivals than departures
But just when the unbearable became tolerable
The doors gave way to an influx of those on their way elsewhere
At last I had a place to liberate and rest the day’s aches and pains
But then I notice him standing before me, he was speechless
An elderly Korean man who without words was demanding my seat with his facial gestures
But I revisited the Civil Rights archives and resorted back to my ancestor Rosa Parks
I was tired and too tired to move, and wondering if there was a reason he picked me
Why should I be the target of his silent protest as he looked me up and down from head to toe
But in that very moment I decide to ignorantly look the other way because my tiredness became pressing
I ignored him altogether hoping that his masculine disposition would realize I was a feminist
But just when the thought that his stares could become a Korean gender/ageist protest
The female passenger to my left cordially advanced her seat to the man after eyeing me
And just when I thought our silent dispute for the seat was over he stared me down one last time as if to say he had won the battle but had not gotten what he truly desired, my seat
Then the next thing I knew was she was speaking in Korean and aggressively rubbing my arm
I was confused thinking that she was talking about the feministic war that had just taken place
However, she was obviously letting me know that my color had gotten her attention
Within seconds most of the cars attention had turn to me
She was still rubbing me and speaking in Korean and I was clueless and perplexed
Next thing I knew was she was comparing my arm to hers and smiling
And just when things had reached their baffling peak the elderly man who was just at war with me chimed in with a raise of his thumb gesturing some sort of approval
Just by reading the facial expressions I felt somewhat safe, but I was still a little uneasy
And without understanding a word she was uttering I said, “Gomap-Seumnida,” or “Thank You”
Then the flood gates opened as the entire subway cars attention became more pronounced
She continued to rub my arm and smile, and he kept gesturing with thumbs up
But I felt I had been molested on the my way home after a long tired day of sightseeing
And for the first time my complexion gave way to a foreign but almost distinguishable acknowledgment
And I realized that even in this foreign place my skin color is still is the topic of conversation

Monday, June 8, 2009

Week 2

This is an adventure and I really love it. I have been able to have fried chicken sitting on the street watching life in action, and it is wonderful. I would have never in a million years imagined moving over to Asia less alone South Korea, but I’m here and loving it. A few days ago I was walking to work and as I stood at the cross walk I heard, “Hello,” and when I turned I saw an elderly man waving at me. He was just as happy as he could be, and I returned the hello with a smile. That moment made my day.

I arrived here in Korea with little to no expectations, and I am glad I did because I am able to take things in and not prejudge them in anyway. Every day is a new adventure and I am just glad that I have been chosen for the opportunity.

On Saturday, I took my first trip to Costco and bought some groceries which made my life much easier. I can now cook for myself instead of going out trying to find something Western to eat, which is always much more expensive. I have tried to eat Korean food, but it’s really not my thing. When I go out I will attempt to try things and if it’s good I will continue to eat it, but if it’s not I’m done. However, I try to have an open mind and at least say I tried it and it’s not for me rather than never trying it at all. Although, one thing I will not eat is pork. Eating pork is so against everything I believe in, and I would be sick as a dog. I have not had pork since I was about five years of age, and I am not willing to test those waters.

However, for the most part I really love living here and I learn more and more each day. I took my first subway ride with two transfers alone, and I am so proud of myself. I didn’t get lost and it wasn’t as hard as it looked. I even got to my final destination on time. I thank God I learned to read maps in elementary school cause it’s is saving my life these days.

Today, I even took a different way home just so I could learn a little more about the neighborhood I live in, and I found a high school with a yard in which I can go walking. I also found a mountain with a walking trail, and I went to the top of one side of it. Sure did with my work slacks, blouse, and flip-flops on. It was cool, but next time I will be dressed a little more appropriate.

Well, I think this week has been wonderful. I can’t complain about one thing. Oh, before I forget I even went to see the Korean Heritage Gospel Choir, and that was a sight to see. It was amazing to see Korean’s singing gospel songs, and with soul might I add. If you have not heard them you need to you-tube them because they are the truth. And with that I will say this week has been blessed.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Week One

To still a line from the Wizard of Oz, “There is no place like home।” There are places that may resemble home and even make you feel like you’re at home, but really there is nothing like being home. As I have surpassed my first week here in South Korea I have already started to notice the things I have a better appreciation for in the states. For one I appreciate having a bathtub. I know when I got off that long 24 hour air trip I wished I could soak in a bathtub, but no that was not an option. Since I am talking about bathing I should jump into my second appreciation. I really appreciate our indoor plumbing. Yes, before you crazy American’s start the rumor that they don’t have indoor plumbing, they do. However, in the bathrooms many of the apartments don’t have a drain in the shower. “Where then is the drain” you ask, the drain is in the middle of the bathroom floor. So, when taking a shower the interior bathroom gets wet. I guess the other thing I would have to say that I appreciate would be red lights. Now, you may be thinking, “Why would she care about red lights?” Oh, but red lights are wonderful, especially when you are walking across the street with the right away, but the driver stops and decides no, he wants to go again. Yeah, here you don’t have a right away; you have the right to get the hell out of the way before you get hit. No joke, I have been at a light, which by the way, everyone stops at and there is no jay walking. People wait for lights to change to green before proceeding across the street, but you must be mindful of the drivers because they don’t mind running lights or stopping and deciding then that they want to go again. The last thing I would say that I appreciate at this time would be having reasonable prices on items. Here things are really expensive because most of everything is imported because Korea doesn’t have natural resources. So, food is imported in most cases. Oh, and an example of something that I thought was too crazy was the price of a microwave. Yes, I said microwave. In the states you can go get a microwave for about $25 to $50, and here it would cost about $200 t0 $500. However, overall I really can’t complain. I am enjoying this time in Korea and I work with some wonderful people who are really helpful, and they make things easier. Home will always be home and there will never be anything that can replace it, but it’s is wonderful to be able to step outside the box and see first-hand how other people are living. I appreciate being able have this opportunity, so until next week look around you and be thankful for what you do have.

Yes, I have tried the food. Not really a fan, but hey I tried it.
Yes, I walk my ass off, and now I have a bike.
No, I can’t speak the language yet, but I try every day.
And this week I am much better than I was last week, so that is all the really matters.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The End

The End. Sometimes things are better left unsaid. It's time to move forward and forget the things that aren't that memorable anyways, and with that life begins. Cha Jones 5-21-09

I am about to begin a new journey. One I never would have imagined. One that will change my life forever and ending things is the only way I know to begin.

I was born in Omaha, NE on May 20th 1976 and four days into my thirty-third birthday I’m walking away from everything I ever knew to be true for a taste of the unknown. I was born the year of the Chinese Dragon; the Dragon is the mightiest of the signs. Dragons symbolize such character traits as dominance and ambition. Dragons prefer to live by their own rules and if left on their own, are usually successful. They’re driven, unafraid of challenges, and willing to take risks. I own all of those qualities, but even with all the risks I still have my fears. And I have learned to never own those, because fears will keep you in places that no longer serve you or your greatest good.

So, today I am preparing to move beyond all that I know and believe to be true for this moment. I am stepping into a world that is completely foreign to me. I don’t speak the language, but I am intrigued by the culture. My spirit tells me I will be safe, but I know in my heart I am leaving in one matter and returning in another. I am never going to be the same again. For many I am taking a unique journey to a far off land to teach English, but for me I know I am going to Seoul South Korea to teach, be taught, and to find the pieces of my inner spirit that speaks.
Even when I sit here looking at my suitcases I wonder why I can’t let go even though I have done this thing so many times before, the packing and moving thing, that is. I have moved from state to state within the U.S, and I had to leave things I loved and give away things I still wanted. However, this is so different. I believe the change will be vast that packing should minimal, but I am finding it difficult. This is the first time I have had to put my whole life into three suitcases. Even in college I knew I could come home and pick things up, but in this case, that is not true.

My recent birthday is important. In numerology 33 is the most influential of all numbers. It is the Master Teacher. The 33 combines the 11 and the 22 and brings their potential to another level. When expressed to the fullest, the 33 lacks all personal ambition, and instead focuses its considerable abilities toward the spiritual uplifting of mankind. What makes the 33 especially impressive, is the high level of sincere devotion. This is shown in its determination to seek understanding and wisdom before preaching to others. The 33 in full force is extremely rare.
So, in essences the journey at this time in my life is not about my wants and desires, this journey is about becoming all that I have been pre-destine to be. I have always been a woman amongst girls, a leader, a dreamer, a writer, a free spirit, and one who step beyond the present in many ways.

As it was written in a poem a few years back; this is my story, this is about me, I don’t control the lines, but I do determine what they turn out to be. So, with that I begin anew.