Posted by: ruralkorealiving | March 17, 2015

Bringing exotic animals and birds back to the USA – 1

First, if you’re seeing this post first thanks to Google – I REALLY recommend you stop here and go to the previous post on my blog which gives you the total steps necessary. Also, the previous-to-that post about planes is helpful and useful as well.  This post is Part 1-4 of 9 total steps.

So you’re ending your year in Korea or pretty much any other country and need to bring your exotic animal home to the USA. For this post, I will use the word “bird” for exotic animal and will be writing this post from my personal experiences with bringing my actual bird, a Cockatiel, home from Korea. It is super important to note that NOT all birds, nor all exotic animals can be brought back to the USA. It is absolutely necessary for you to research first to see if it can be done with your animal species type. However, you may take some comfort in the fact that if you were able to bring the exotic animal outside of the USA, chances are nearly 100% that you’ll be able to bring it back.

IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO EXPORT AN EXOTIC ANIMAL FROM THE USA TO A DIFFERENT COUNTRY, you are in the wrong post. Please see my very early posts from the beginning of this blog. I’ve detailed everything I did there. Note that some things may have changed because of disease outbreaks in your state. You cannot assume that because I did it, you can too. Okay, now that we’ve gotten that disclaimer out of the way:

Step 1: Alerting the USDA and CITES

So, by this time, you’re already aware of these two names. You had to go through the USDA to get out of the country, and if your bird is a certain type, you may have had to do some stuff via CITES. Time to basically go back to the USDA and CITES to get any paperwork you need. Sadly, I cannot direct you in CITES paperwork as my bird is a Non-Cites Common Household type, therefore I didn’t need them.

Your first step is in finding out the basic process on the USDA Website. and click on Imports and Exports, Animals, and then take a look at all 3 links as all of them can be important for you.

Step 1.5 (If necessary) Alerting FWS (CITES)

Depending on the type of bird and your particular import needs, you may need to go here: and click on Imports/Exports for additional paperwork.

Step 2: Import Permit

The first step is in making sure you can get your bird back into the USA which means going through the USDA desk in whatever first-usa-airport you arrive in. Most likely, this will have to be be one of three places, California (LAX), New York, or Florida. You will probably have to route through one of those places for quarantine so at this point, you may wish to go ahead and set your plans to spend at least 3 hours (4-5 to be safe) in one of those major airports. You may not want to buy tickets yet, just at least figure that you’ll have to go there.

So next, you’ll need to go to the USDA import website, here.

Click on “Imports and Exports” and then “Animals” and then “Importing into the US”

Read everything there, but the “Pets” blue hyperlink will be some deeper info, and then in that, another hyperlink saying “Pet Birds” will give you some more, but the BEST link is the one in the “Pet Birds” page that says “Import Procedures for returning US origin pet birds”. I’d give direct links, but you all know the internet. One minor change on their side and the link becomes broken. Basically, these pages will give you a basic rundown on ALL the things you need to do. WARNING: THIS ISN’T EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO DO!

Your first step from this document is getting an import permit to return your bird to the USA. You’ll  need to  fill out “VS Form 17-129″ and send it to the Riverdale,MD office. This can be done by email and they allow you to pay via credit card. Once you get the form, it will be in black and white and only the signed name on it will be in color. IT IS IMPERATIVE that you print the whole document in color so the colored name will show up. This form will allow you to get your bird through the USDA desk at the airport, although truthfully it won’t get you much farther because, once you have reached that desk, the proper people will be waiting for you come and they will pick up your bird for the transport to the quarantine office. More on that later. Basically this paper just authorizes the USDA officials to release the bird from their grip at the airport. The cost is, at the time of me writing this, $150

(Make sure you receive the Import Packet via email, it’s a PDF. It lists names, numbers, contacts, info, etc.)

Step 3: Airline Notification

There are two airlines that allow international flights with birds in cabin from Asian countries. I’ve detailed these in a previous post. Sorry to say, I do not know of others coming from any other continent. Before you buy your plane ticket, ask A. If they will allow your exotic animal IN CABIN and 2. What is the cost from your location to one of the 3 major airports in the states above. Generally, the cost is from $75 to $250 one way. If the plane company will not allow in-cabin flights, then see how they conduct in-cargo situations for pets. Keep checking until you’ve found all the options, prices, etc for every airline you can fly.  I wouldn’t recommend buying your ticket at this point until completing Step 4.

Step 4: Reserving Quarantine (And Plane tickets)

Your bird will need to be in Quarantine for 30 days. Exactly 30 days. I’m not talking “one month”. 30. Exact. Days. So if you’re doing this in February, watch out that you count the number of physical days and nights Exactly. I was, and I almost tripped up on that while making reservations but remembered thankfully before setting my tickets.

You’ll then need to call the Quarantine at the airport you plan to go through and set up a reservation and let them get back to you because they will need to check if there is space in the facility at that time. Once that is confirmed that quarantine is free and open, it’s probably safe to go ahead and reserve your plane flight tickets (Don’t forget to tell them you’re traveling with a bird!) Then upon getting that set, give Quarantine a call again, the person there will need a copy of the import permit and possibly your travel itinerary and then you’ll get a reservation number.

Note: I recommend that you still have 2-3 months before your travel date at this point. If anything, for cheaper flight ticket availability. That’s really the only reason. If you’re only a month out, you’re probably okay but cutting it really close.

Posted by: ruralkorealiving | March 12, 2015

Home in the USA/ Bringing Birds Home

The Bird and I are back in the USA, her in Los Angeles’s USDA quarantine facility, me in St. Louis. I’m happy to be home. Out of Korea. Not that Korea was bad by any means, but it was definitely time. Three years is a lot of time to spend in a culture not your own and in a culture you’re not really invested emotionally into. I’m hoping Japan will be better for me.  Sadly, I can’t bring my bird with me just yet.

So, I imagine you’re just as crazy as I was and want to bring your bird or other exotic animal with you to another country. If so, some of my earlier posts will describe the process in extreme detail for you. But I bet you’re curious as to what needs to happen for your eventual return with your bird/exotic animal. Well, as I just went through it, I have all that info. And a few wrenches that have been thrown into the works that you need to know about.  This post set already assumes that you have been in another country for a while with your animal and you are returning.

The first thing you need to do is plan way the hell ahead. I would recommend starting this process no later than 6 months ahead of time. 6 for just planning what needs to be done, last 3 months for paperwork. In a pinch, you could get the paperwork done in a month unless the word CITES is involved. But you don’t wanna put that huge amount of stress on your shoulders, trust me, cause some of those permits take a long while to process. I hope this blog post set will help you keep detailed notes as to what you need to do, look into, plan for financially, etc. I’m going to lay this out in a step by step format over a few posts here.

Step 1: Import Permit

Step 2: Alerting USDA (and CITES)

Step 2.5 (If necessary) Alerting FWS

Step 3: Airline

Step 4: Reserving Quarantine

Step 5: Finding a Bonded Carrier

Step 6: One week prior to your departure

Step 7: Exiting your current country – Not as easy as you think

Step 8: Arrival at Airport – USDA Desk

Step 9: Bird Pickup



Posted by: ruralkorealiving | December 9, 2014

Airlines – your pet policies SUCK! (Except 2)

Well it’s time for me to leave Korea. It’s been a great 3 years but I have got to get out of here. I’ve paid down my bills quite a lot. I’m nowhere near done but I’ve taken them down a great 1/3rd at least, paying $1000 or more each month towards them. I’ve traveled around. I’m pretty much done with Korea. Time to take my bird and head to Japan. I just booked my plane ticket to go straight to Narita in a few months. No problems getting the bird there at all.

Oh who am I kidding? IT HAS BEEN HELL. I’m still not done arranging all the details and paperwork, but I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about researching plane flights alone.

Airlines – you really do have terrible pet policies that end up harming pets more than they help anyone. I’m not sure what the problem is, but EVERY AIRLINE except TWO has such restrictive bull on pet birds traveling that it has become impossible to do unless you use one of the two options! And one option isn’t the cheapest by any means. So, let’s get down to the nitty gritty here and explain.

My intention is to fly to these places, in as straight and cheap way as possible. Seoul Incheon (ICN) to St. Louis MO (STL). Then, a month later, from STL to Tokyo Narita (NRT). Why not go straight from ICN to NRT and why the  month long wait? Bird import laws of Japan. I won’t go into more detail than that till later. For now, let’s just focus on the Airlines.

What airlines service this basic route, within the SAME company? Not many. St. Louis is a smaller airport. International yes, but routes more towards the South American cities. Southwest Airlines is based there in large part. So, basically, my options are American Airlines, United Airlines, and Delta. Those are pretty much the only ones that fly (same company) to Seoul and St. Louis. And yes, all three allow pets in some way! However, household birds are small and I don’t trust cargo at all. I’ve heard horror stories about frozen pets when the heating didn’t work. Also, there are restrictions for when the bird can fly in cargo, winter and summer are generally out. I’m flying in winter.  So, in-cabin is the ONLY way I can go home with my bird.

American Airlines Domestic/International pet policy – Cats and dogs only, and only some of them in cabin. WHY? Are birds toxic to AA people?

Delta Domestic pet policy – Dogs, cats, and birds allowed in cabin (as long as their crate will fit under the seat. Yay!  International in-cabin okay? ::buzzer:: Sorry, only small dogs and cats. What. the. hell.

United Airlines – We have a winner! It’s allowed, birds in cabin, international and domestic. And the cost is the cheapest! ($125 each way)

So, how did I get my bird here? Asiana. That airline is wonderful, but expensive. They allow birds in cabin. Fee is $200 each way. Ticket cost? $1800. That’s just for me flying from Seoul to Chicago, the only route serviced. Then add $200 each way for the bird. That’s…$2200. YIKES. I do have to say though, Asiana was EXTRAORDINARILY wonderful with me and my bird. They even allowed her out to fly around a bit in the “back room”! The hostesses had a great time taking pics with my bird on their shoulders. I’d recommend them any day, save for their high prices.

Japan airlines? NOPE. No pets in cabin at all.

Korean airlines? Doesn’t fly to the USA at all.

Other airlines? Not even gonna try routing through Hong Kong or whatever, who knows what bird paperwork problems that will cause.

I’m frustrated, my cell phone bill this month will be out of this world since I’ve had to call America so  many times (I don’t use skype phone. I can’t use daesung skype.) (Edit: Not as bad as I thought it would be and I discovered an awesome app – Magicjack app – lets me call the usa free. Wish I had discovered it a day or two before.)

Still, what is the big damned problem about allowing birds in cabin? They are under the seat, covered, and probably sleeping the whole flight like mine was when I came here! She didn’t suffer at all! In fact she was just annoyed being in such a small crate the whole time! Pets do better being closer to their people anyway. Some people may have allergies but again, my bird has a thick, warm cover on her crate. Bird dander is just not really a factor at all and it wouldn’t be enough to set off a huge attack – and if someone has that big of an allergy to animals, well they know animals are on flights and probably have an epi-pen with them. Even more, a person can alert the carrier to let them know and then they will let animal carriers know to rebook another flight. It’s so rare it’s not even a factor for so many problems.

There is just no good reason for the restrictions, airlines. Give me one damned good reason, seriously.

United Airlines, I just need to say this. I don’t give a shit how good your service is, meals, niceness of employees, I don’t care. The fact that you allow birds in cabin for a hell of a good price – $1080 – has made me a customer for life. I signed up with MileagePlus as well. Don’t ever change your pet in-cabin policy.

So, my student and I have had a rather frustrating experience and now that we know what to do, I am typing it all down to share with everyone who is importing things from any country INTO South Korea. I will now tell you exactly what we did and the emails given and everything.

My student and I made a combined purchase, with my account, from on September 27th, 2014. He needed to buy a specific item and it was MUCH cheaper to buy from Amazon than to buy through Gmarket. I also had some items to get, some new shoes from my favorite maker, and a book I’ve been wanting anyway. So we made a deal, I’d buy the items and we’d split the shipping cost and he’d pay me back in a few days. Nice arrangement.  I ordered, Amazon sent me the standard email saying that it had shipped, and everything looked fine, just the same as when I had bought a microphone about 6 months ago from Amazon, no problems.
Until I got this email from I-parcel:

Thank you for purchasing xxxxxxxxx from i-Parcel is’s parcel delivery partner and we are eager to get you your delivery as soon as possible.
Due to a Korean regulation that took effect in October 2014, i-parcel is required to obtain your PIN (Personal Identification Number) for customs clearance so that we can clear your parcel appropriately. No additional fees are assessed with fulfilling this requirement and it is used for customs clearance purposes only. To input your PIN, thereby allowing us to export your shipment from the United States and affecting prompt customs clearance, please click <here>.
If you do not yet have a PIN you can register for one <here>, and then enter it using the link above.
Please be advised your shipment will not be able to export from the US until we have received the information.

Us unlucky ducks got to be the first to experience this new law first-hand, literally the SAME DAY IT WENT INTO EFFECT $(@&%(*!^%#&)#.

There were two links included, and a Korean translation below with roughly the same information (Although there may have been some extra fees involved for Koreans, as my student read the email and noted that it said that there may be extra fees. However, it is it clear in the wording on the English side that there are no fees. We were worried. The first link led to, where you will see your basic shipment details (the items in your shipment)  and a little space to input a number. The other link led to, the website where I had to register for a PIN so we could get this done. Problem is, most of the site is in Korean! There’s only the tiniest amount of English, and the words don’t really make sense anyway as they are letters like m/bl. We tried inputting the Tracking Number given by Amazon into those m/bl and Cargo Management boxes, as the numbers seemed to fit perfectly. It didn’t work. We tried quite a few variations, to no avail. So, my student went home to research for us.

He ended up finding this little golden nugget of information.

Foreigners don’t need to obtain the clearance unique code, because only with the passport number, you can make an import clearance. Despite the above, if you want to obtain the clearance unique code, you can apply for the Clearance Unique Code with the Alien Registration Number issued by the Immigration Office. You can issue the code with the Public Certificate at the Internet Clearance Portal System. In case where it is hard to access internet, you can issue at Customs (with a copy of Alien Registration Certificate).
Please refer to the two types below.

1. By the Internet Clearance Portal (without sign-in): (
(1) Click Clearance Unique Code Application for an Individual
(2) Enter you name and Alien Registration Number to check if you have issued the Code before or not
(3) Identify yourself with the Public Certification service
(2) Type in an application form

2. By Customs
Attach a copy of an application form and a copy of Alien Registration Certification by post, fax, email, or personal visit to the officer in charge at Main Customshouse in order to obtain the Clearance Unique Code within one day. (Refer to FAQ)
Ahha. So, I got out my passport and tried what the first sentence said.  I went back to the i-parcel website and input my Passport Number.
No luck.
Then I got out my Alien Registration Card and input THAT number.
A minute later, a little popup box came up and said, simply, “Thank you”. That was the correct number it needed.
So if you’re an “ARC” carrying alien in Korea and you’re importing something and get the same i-parcel email, simply input your ARC number into the box. You need to put in the numbers without spaces I believe. Make sure you don’t have an accidental space before or after your number. If it doesn’t work, try a space where our cards have one. Basically just try it a few different ways until you get the tiny “Thank You” message. One person has reported that putting a dash where the dash should be also works.
If you’re NOT a ARC-carrying alien, you must sign up with the website and get a PIN code clearance.
We have not yet gotten any info or our items yet as it will take another two weeks to get our items, but when they come in, or when I get more info, I will post it here so you know what worked and what didn’t.
Updated October 11th 2014: Info about spaces with ARC numbers. Keep waiting! I suspect I’ll get my items next week sometime.
LAST UPDATE:  The items are in! I received the package this morning. It was on time, within the 3 days Amazon mentioned the package would arrive. There were no problems with getting it as I have packages delivered to my school. Strangely enough, the address, and even my name, are all in Korean – I didn’t type it in Korean when I ordered  the items. No idea how or why it was translated but I guess Iparcel does that. The process works, yay! 
NEW TRICK DISCOVERED: If you don’t have your ARC number in – put in 13 random digits. No spaces. Supposedly it works, though illegal I bet, but hey. Their problem for  not having a number check in their system. hahaha!
Posted by: ruralkorealiving | May 29, 2014

Scam university “Creek View University”

Hello any potential future readers who probably were looking for info about Creek View University. I received this letter a day ago and had the best laugh out of it. You probably got the same email and are wondering if it’s a scam. Oh you bet to hell and back it is.
First – here’s the email.
Dear …

Earn an Accredited US Degree from Creek View University in just 15 Days. May 31st is the last day to avail this offer.

Get the experience based credits transferred today towards your desired Degree Program & earn 100% Verified and Accredited Creek View University Degree in just 15 days.

Click Here to Avail this Offer – DEADLINE: May 31st, 2014

Why Should I Apply?

Recognized and Accredited university degree
Receive Documents in just 15 Days
No Studies, No Classes, No Exams
Very Affordable, No Hefty Fee
No Waiting, get approval right away
Same Degree Documents as Traditional University Documents
Globally Accepted by Employers & Educational Institutions
24/7 Student Support
Click Here to Earn an Accredited US Degree from Creek View University in just 15 days.

An accredited degree can help you achieve your long-term career goals. Stop being passed over by colleagues with less experience and knowledge. Take charge of your career today.

If you have any queries or concerns, please call us at our toll free number: 1-866-445-1524 and speak to our Students Advisors anytime of the day. To have a live chat with one of our advisors, click here.

Best Regards,
James Sanders
Admission Department
Creek View University

Creek View University, Eurolife House 4 Evrou Street,, Strovolos, Nicosia 2003, Cyprus

Let’s take a look closely.
“May 31 is the last day to avail this offer. “ – Oh come on. Does anyone say that? “To avail”? No. “To avail OF” might be more correct. But to use those words either way shows a more book-learned English than a natural English, even of more educated people. Plus that mistake shouldn’t be in a university-sent, professional email.

“Recieve documents in just 15 days”. – Oh, only 15 days, no classes, and suddenly you’re just as educated as those of us who did the whole college process, online or in real life? Sorry, world doesn’t work that way. This is called a Paper Mill. It’s a fake degree that looks professional to throw off only those who bought the degree. CEOs, managers, or HR people do things called background checks and they also check into the university. I graduated from an online-only university, something often frowned upon – and yet I still managed to get a job simply because the university is well known and at least somewhat respected. Paper mills are designed to dupe only the buyer.

“Stop being passed over by colleagues with less experience and knowledge. “ – HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA Yeah. A paper you bought will SURELY prove you right and more educated than everyone else. I have a hard enough time with that myself and I actually DID a full degree, classes and papers and all!

“Creek View University, Eurolife House 4 Evrou Street,, Strovolos, Nicosia 2003, Cyprus” Yep. Looks legit. University giving US degrees….oh but the university is in Cyprus. The COUNTRY Cyprus. Yep, they are surely “recognized and accredited” by respected accrediting organizations in the USA. That makes perfect sense for USA organizations to accredit non-USA schools. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

For more funny – go to the website. The English is just a little off there too.
Anyway, if you’re thinking of doing this, don’t. It’s only designed to dupe you. Only thing you’ll get is a piece of paper worth nothing to any company as company people tend to be a little smarter than you might give them credit for. You’ll be out hundreds, if not thousands, for your own stupidity in thinking that others are stupider than you.

Posted by: ruralkorealiving | February 8, 2014

So much Life…so little time.

Oh hell it’s been almost 6 months since I posted last. I doubt I’ll post very frequently, but today I feel like it. And I have an hour to kill before I go to a friend’s performance at the local coffee shop.

News. So, many months ago, I planned to go home for Christmas to see my family. The previous Christmas was Skype-only, so this time I wanted to go home. Problem is, the school year goes straight through Christmas and ends a few days later. I told my family I couldn’t come home for Christmas, but I would right after that. I told them January 5th.

I lied.

I had actually managed to get my vice principal to agree to let me go home this year before the school year ended (by a matter of days. My co-teachers understood, I prepared a lesson for them to do for me, and left.) I did tell my dad, so he could pick me up at the airport. I had a layover in Tokyo (in which I spent some of the time with my Japanese friend, Tetsuji. I always try to plan a long layover there if I can, just to go have dinner or something with him cause’s he’s pretty fun to chat with for a few hours.) I then had a layover in Los Angeles, another long one. Thankfully, I had an acquaintence there whom I’ve haven’t seen for years, who offered to pick me up, take me to the Santa Monica Pier, and we had a fun few hours there. Technically, due to the time zones, I had lunch twice that day. Coming home, I was picked up by my dad, in the same concourse of which 3 years earlier was nearly destroyed by a tornado but had since been repaired and made rather beautiful. Since I had kept up on updates to the repairs, it was nice to see in person. And it was great to see my dad, even if it was nearly midnight, nearly Christmas Eve. It was 40 hours of travel. I wasn’t exhausted per se…I was friggin loopy!

Borrowing my dad’s extra car for the duration of my vacation, I surprised the hell out of my family by sneaking up and coming in to my grandmother’s house with a “So what’s for dinner?” My grandmother looked like she was seeing a ghost. So did my mom – for about 5 seconds. Her first words: “So were you lying to me the whole time?”

Yes. Yes I was. And it was worth it.

The rest of my vacation home was spent in a frenzy of meetups with friends, a party, and being sick and snowed into 10″ (25cm) of snow.I had brought two suitcases nestled inside each other, few clothes (I bought more when I was home since I needed to anyway) and a backpack. I left with a full backpack, two at-weight-limit suitcases full of food, and even a third large slightly broken handbag my mom let me have just to transport all the stuff I bought. How all that food fit into my luggage- let alone into my apartment- is still a unbelievable feat of engineering.

I’ll finish up my second year in Korea in a week, sign a contract for my third (and, hopefully, my last)  year in Korea. My goals are to pay down my bills by whatever means necessary. If this means taking on another job, then gosh darnit, it will happen. I already want to play the stock market but there are some legalities preventing me at this moment, so until I figure that out, my dream of being a stock owner will have to wait. My credit card is nearly half paid off, my other credit card is down to a pittance to pay on it, and my college bills have recently seen some good money being put towards them. So I’m down from the 70k range of debt down to the 50k range, and my goal is to get into the 30k range by the end of THIS YEAR. Lofty…possibly doable, if I put my money where my mouth is. And stop helping out others financially quite as much as I have recently, which pains me but is necessary for my dreams. No worries though, I’ll keep supporting the people I want to help in other ways, like helping them find job/money opportunities and such.

My other New Year’s resolution? Get my butt back to learning more Japanese speaking! Jeez, I even brought back my old language CDs plus have a few other ways, I have no excuse! And, Tetsuji has shown me that if I don’t use it,  I’ll lose it. So I’m trying to speak a little around the house, to no one in particular. Wish me luck. Oh yeah, and Malena bird is doing well. Happy that I brought her a good amount of millet home from the USA.

Posted by: ruralkorealiving | August 14, 2013

Help my friend, please.

She needs to get to the other side of the country for the forseeable future. Her shot of getting out of poverty just got completely taken away due to another person’s mental illness – completely out of her control. She now needs to go live with a friend but that means money, and she’s down to .30 in her pocket.×6130

Posted by: ruralkorealiving | April 16, 2013

Religion and Terrorism

Today I woke up, slightly in a bad mood due to a little annoying dream plus lack of sleep due to a stupid cough I still have after my last cold a few weeks ago. It limits my sleep, no matter how early I go to bed.  I was also excited because I can start my TEFL today, more info on that later.  I was going to write a post about it today but I’m too angry to see straight. 

I woke up, showered, turned on the computer and saw the bad news about the Boston Marathon potential terrorist attack. 

I was horrified. I have a friend in Boston, although he wasn’t anywhere near the scene.  The fact that people were just running for whatever personal reason, trying to be healthy, and BAM. Attacks that can leave some of them from ever running again just sickens me. Then, a group I subscribe to posted this video on twitter.

I couldn’t even make it through the 50% part. It’s set. I am an atheist. I am a PROUD atheist who will TAKE DOWN religion in my own little way. I will use all the wits and proof I have to make sure that people realize that religion is a virus that must be eradicated.  I don’t even care who knows right now – mother, father, grandparents. Religion must be made history as fast as possible. 

Fuck Christianity. Fuck Jesus and God.

Fuck Islam. Fuck Mohammad. Fuck Allah

These two plagues are the first that need to be wiped out ASAP.  Don’t like my words? Wanna punish me?  Kill me? THAT is why your religion needs to die. 


Posted by: ruralkorealiving | April 15, 2013

Addiction to gaming

I haven’t updated since November. Why? Well, an addiction to gaming has kept me from doing so, plus the fact that this blog isn’t all that high on my priority list. I do it because sometimes my family reads it, sometimes it’s just to remember what has happened as my memory for the past is near nonexistent after 3 years or so.

So, this post will be about what happened over the winter, as best as I can remember it.

Christmas was nice, I got to spend it with my family over Skype.  I was a disembodied phone to them. To me, it was almost like being right back there.  I got to see them open my gifts, which had come just in time for my mother to wrap them (I wrapped hers so she didn’t know, but didn’t have enough wrapping paper or room in the box for wrapped up gifts). My niece got a Korean alphabet book, a cool pencil case, and a whole, real Hanbok. I gave my mother a small mother-of-pearl box, and my grandmother some fun slippers and hair pins.  My brothers and dad and grandfather got some interesting Korean snacks (including dried fish and squid).

January, I saved money like crazy, knowing what was coming in February. I went to New Zealand.

It was fun, and pretty relaxing as I stayed with a friend, she drove everywhere, met other friends of ours, and hung out. We went up to see Matamata (AKA Hobbiton), a white sand beach and a black sand beach,  through mountain ranges and right by a volcano. We hit Rotorua, Wellington and Weta Workshops “cave”, and we stayed with her family friends in a few places as well just outside of towns we were visiting, and we even did some couchsurfing.

I ate. Lots. Insanely lots. My friends fed me to the point where I was sick of food.  Holy cow did I find I missed really real french fries.  Meat pies. Sushi. Real fresh beef. Huge bars of chocolate. Unpasturized milk. The list went on and on. Upon coming home, I seriously didn’t eat much except chips for the day.

Upon coming home, I also met a friend who had just moved to Hamyang, she was in town for only another night or two, and we had been talking on Youtube comments for a little while before she did. She had just married a man in this town and was moving here for that. We went out, but everything was closed so we didn’t get to do too much. Just look at her new apartment and take a walk around town.  That’s it for this post. Next – start of the school year, more recent events, and more food recipies!

Posted by: ruralkorealiving | November 24, 2012

Some great days!

Admittedly, I’ve had a tough week, until yesterday which happened to be Friday, and also happened to be Thanksgiving, sorta – at least, the morning of Friday was Thursday food time in America. All of the English teachers in and around Hamyang got together into one of teacher’s apartments which happened to be a little larger than the norm. Some people brought bread, cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy, salad, mac and cheese, and even stuffing. I brought pumpkin pie and some honey turkey slices – which happened to be the only turkey at the party so it went over really well. The party lasted well beyond 11pm, when i finally left, and a great time was had by all! I also discovered a coffee shop below one of the teachers’s apartments that was owned by a Italian guy I – astoundingly – already knew about from a message I had gotten only days earlier. Italian guy in Hamyang who happened to be a Couchsurfer, whom a friend of his had found me through the site, then I happen to go to his cafe I was told about only days earlier like I said. Strange how the world works.
The next day, things got even better. I had been having an off and on minor headache/toothache that was annoying but bearable -but I hadn’t been to a dentist in almost two years. A year before coming to Korea, because i had no dental insurance and nowhere near enough money for a basic cleaning, much less the one or two cavities I knew that needed fillings. And then, being uncomfortable with finding a dentist here in Korea when I didn’t know if they could speak English, gave me more pause. So i waited until they became a problem, which in this last week had just started showing signs of doing so. So, I asked the English teachers in the area, one was recommended for me whom spoke basically decent English, and I went in today (Saturday!) and got an immediate appointment. I was concerned about money, because it was not the 25th so I had no money yet to pay. He waved it off, and said “don’t worry about it”. After a small consultation, he informed me that I had SIX cavities (Oh god. I knew about two, thought by now I’d have three, but SIX?)  Four on one side, two on the other. He said he could fix the ones on the left side first, all at once, and I said OK. He did the work and it seems to be okay (My mouth is still adjusting). I needed no numbing agent, he just had me raise my hand if I felt pain. I felt very little pain – less than I remembered from having two cavities a long time ago. I was surprised when it was done.
Then, the dentist asked, very politely, if I could help him with a personal issue. I know, you think “What….” considering the words sound rather strange in such a context and us Americans would automatically think “what does he wanna do with me” in a sexual context, but this is Korea – and people wanna study their English. Badly. So when i get asked a question such s that, I know immediately that it is because people want help with their English. I agreed, and went into his office with him, where we sat down at a computer and TV setup, and he pulled out detailed, DETAILED notes, all in English. The notes were about videos, and until the videos started, I wasn’t sure what the notes were about. Turns out, they are the English words from Discovery Health and BBC scientific shows. This man listens to those shows and writes down every single word he hears. However, there were of course bits and pieces that he couldn’t understand – but VERY few. I was amazed. So what he wanted from me was to clear up the words so he could hear them properly. I did so of course- this man had just given me the USA equivalent of $800 worth of dental services – for FREE! So if he wanted a trade of my English services for his services….uh, NO PROBLEM. * (I just need to make a little note here, that I was not paid for my service, and it was not set up prior. It was goodwill traded for goodwill only and it would have been insanely rude of me to not help the man. This note is provided for those who may say I’ve done something illegal, but in this case, I was not paid so it is not.) *
I still have two more teeth to fill, and so I intend to go back next weekend and if he needs more help, I’ll provide it.  I am really surprised that there is not much in the way of English speaking opportunities for adults in Hamyang. The hagwons are for kids here, not adults. So the adults must trade services or perhaps innocently ask questions on the street. If you’re new to Korea – be aware. People will suddenly start talking to you in English, and all they want to do, seriously ALL they want to do, is use their English. Us USA people would be very scared, and trust me, I still am (I AM from one of the two most dangerous cities in the USA) but I am slowly learning that I don’t need to automatically think that these people wanna “get with me” or distract me into a dangerous scenario.

Anyway, after making a quick stop at the Kimo mart to grab some “weekend food” (Junk food. Yeah, after the dentist. Smart, I know). Two bags of chips and a milk soda. And that’s when my favorite cashier told me that I had accumulated the points needed to get the 5000 won discount. So a 5200 won bill became 200 won. Nice! I go home, and check the normal things, facebook, etc. Then I got curious to know how much I had in my account (Which I knew was less than 13000 won) and discovered that I’ve been paid 2 days early!

This past two days has been Win.

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