Hong Kong Getaway

It’s been a while. Sorry for being MIA. BUT I’m back with a new travel video!

This past weekend, I went to Hong Kong with a couple of my friends. We saw. We ate. We shopped. This trip really had me thinking of how grateful I am to live in Asia. I’ve been presented with so many travel opportunities that I could go to Hong Kong for a weekend and not break the bank. I also have a whole month and a half of travelling coming up this fall. To say that I’m excited would be an understatement.

Check out my Hong Kong getaway!

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Balancing my happiness and the happiness of those I love

I have been living in Korea for almost 2 years now. I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs. I’ve called my mom with joy, anger, sadness and every other emotion I’ve felt on this expat roller coaster. It’s expected to have these crazy emotions while living abroad that sometimes expats become completely clueless to what’s happening back in their hometowns. Expats are so self-centered sometimes that they are too busy talking about their exciting lives and forget to ask how everyone at home is doing. Why do most expats forget about their family and friends back home?

I truly feel guilty that some of friends are going through some really tough times and I’m living it up here in a foreign country. I’m seriously sad that I am not physically there for them to help them out. I never really realized how much my friends needed me on the regular. I guess I under valued myself as a friend. When I left Canada, I honestly thought that I would miss my friends more than they would miss me when it’s complete opposite. I miss my friends but, surprisingly, they miss me more! I feel like a shitty friend.

I am partially guilty of being a bit selfish in conversations with my friends back home. I message some more than others. They usually contact me first with, “I miss you Mona~~ come back already!” It makes me feel wanted yet very sad. I obviously miss my friends back home but it makes me feel guilty for not being there for them when they need me the most. I’ve always been the rock in my group of friends. We’re all at that age where we finished school (or close to finishing school), trying to decide a career, being financially responsible for ourselves then BOOM- shit hits the fan. This is the kind of shit that school doesn’t prepare you for. I’ve already went through one of those stages during university but most of my friends are just now going through that. During my shitty 3rd year of Uni, I had the proper support group available to me; my family, friends, university counselors etc. Sadly, some of my friends do not have the proper support they need right now.

Now, how do I help friends in Canada going through depression when I’m in Korea? It is really difficult. I’m adjusting my sleep schedule so I could speak with them more but they need more than a long distant friend to feel better. I know their family situations and some are helpful while others are not. AND it doesn’t help that I don’t truly know how they are coping. All I know is what they tell me and I don’t know how much of that is accurate. This whole situation left me stuck as to what to do next. I don’t know if I should be worried about their safety yet. It’s hard to evaluate the situation via phone only. I asked my sister to meet up with my friends in lieu of me. I really hope she can gather more information as she knows my friends rather well.

My family is different. I am pretty good at communicating with them on the daily. I know that me being abroad is a bit tough on my family mainly because of my mom. She really misses me and I miss her too. I’m her eldest and I guess it is just some sort of empty nest syndrome my mom is experiencing now. That’s why we talk often. I know everything that’s happening with my immediate family but I’m kept in the dark with matters of my extended family. No one wants me to worry here about the health of certain family members and other issues. It’s kind of unfair to me because when I do find out it’s usually too late. Makes me feel useless. But then again, I would be useless even if I knew everything. This feeling of uselessness is the worst feelings to have when living in a foreign country because it is constantly reoccurring with matters at home and abroad.

Don’t get me wrong. I love living abroad and I can handle this expat roller coaster fairly well. I just never really thought of how me being away from home would cause more distress to the ones I care about back home. I can’t help but to feel selfish and guilty. It’s just really difficult to hear my friends and family struggle and not be able to do anything for them due to distance. Now I’m questioning what my next step should be. Should I continue my plans to travel after my contract is up this summer? Should I go back to Canada right after my contract? I love Toronto but there is nothing there for me career wise at this point and time. I love living abroad but I genuinely worried about my friends and family. I’m seriously stuck. I keep delaying my plans to go home but now I just feel like an asshole. I’m struggling with balancing my own happiness and the happiness of those I care about.

Don’t put that in my ear!

I think all foreigners here in Korea will agree with me when I say the way Korea is handling this MERS situation is absolute shit. Most Koreans I speak with are spreading fear and poorly informed advice. There is widespread panic over things we would consider as basic hygienic practices. Yet BIG things are still being ignored.

This brings me to today’s incident. Like many other public schools in Korea, my school just started checking teacher’s temperatures every morning starting today. I went to the teacher’s office to get my temperature checked when I noticed a big red flag. They never changed the thermometer’s ear cover between checks. They were only quickly wiping it with a dry wipe that they claim is an alcohol wipe. WTF?! They could spread infections like that. So when it was my turn, the admin officer in charge of checking everyone moved the ear thermometer close to me. I quickly blocked him and said very clearly,“You’re not putting that in my ear.” My co teacher and the office helper looked at me very confused. I asked him, “Are you not going to change the ear cover?” 

He said, “They are one day use. Just clean and use.” 

I had to call him out, “You call briefly wiping the ear cover with THE SAME DRY WIPE clean?” Wonder why MERS is such an issue in Korea?

Now this is the part that really annoyed me. They were arguing with me telling me that the thermometer is clean and that I’m worried for no reason. They didn’t even change the damn wipe between teachers! It is the same damn wipe from the first person! It dried up! I don’t give two shits about this pointless list of teachers’ body temperatures. I will not put a dirty ear pick in my ear! I was ready to walk out when he finally agreed to change the ear cover. He didn’t look happy to be changing it but I didn’t care because that’s the only way they’ll be checking my temperature. As we left the office, my co teacher gave me a lecture on how the school is being careful with MERS and how i shouldn’t be going to Seoul/ travelling etc. UGHHHH! I am being careful! Not only MERS, but of other viruses, infections and germs in general. Hence why I was persistent on changing the ear cover.

It’s really frustrating to be constantly ignored and to be looked at like I’m crazy when I talk about heath, cleaning or basic hygienic issues here in Korea. But they run to me to give me the SAME FUCKING ADVICE I’ve been giving them for the past 2 years!

*end rant*

Cruising down the Han River

When you realize that you don’t know the lyrics to “I’m on a boat” as well as you thought you did…
Welcome to my Korea Vlogs!

Last weekend, my friends and I decided it was about time we take the Han River cruise down Seoul. It only costs 22000 won, or about $22, and we got to see a fireworks show in the heart of Seoul. It’s an excellent way to do some sightseeing and change up your Saturday routine.