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“Whoever you are, wherever you are
Don’t fear your road.
Though it may get lonely,
It’s your path to follow
And has been since you were born.
The color of the sky,
The scent of the wind,
The murmur of the water,
All are wonderful things.
Embrace them as you choose your path.
Feel and do as you will.
Whoever you are, wherever you are,
Your road will eventually find you.”

I found that in one of the Korean Air magazines on the plane, and I think it sets the tone for the next year. Speaking of which, shanah tovah to everyone celebrating Rosh Hashannah!

After a two-hour drive to the airport, a two-hour wait at JFK, a 14-hour flight over the Arctic Circle and an hour-long taxi drive through Seoul rush hour, Erin and I have arrived at Seoul English Village. Since we got in around 7 p.m., it was already dark, but the campus seems really nice. Erin and I are going to go exploring today. We’ve met a few people so far and they seem really nice. The guy across the hall from me is from Albany, so that’s a nice taste of upstate N.Y.

Oh, but before I forget, let’s talk about the plane ride. I’ve never been on a plane, or any other sort of transportation, for 14 hours. Even my flights home from Israel never topped 12 and a half. Food, while not amazing, wasn’t bad at all. And the movie selections! I had a million different options in all different genres (Classics, Popular, European, Korean), and could start and stop them as I pleased. Here are, in order, the films I saw:

Sex and the City: Whatever, I liked it in theaters and wanted to see it again. And the whole “Pookeepsie” thing is funny and a slight taste of home.

The Graduate: Somehow, I have never seen this movie. Basically, I have never seen any good or classic movie ever made (just ask Mr. Sullivan, who didn’t believe me when I said I hadn’t seen Schindler’s List and wanted to review it for our 12th grade European history term paper). Moral of the story, and movie: I love Dustin Hoffman. Also, you absolutely cannot hate on a movie that has its music done by Simon and Garfunkel.

Before the Rains: I had wanted to see this under-the-radar film for quite some time, ever since I saw a preview for it earlier this year. It wasn’t as good as I had hoped, but wasn’t the worst movie I was to see on the plane.

That honor was reserved for Be Kind Rewind, which I only saw about 33 minutes of before I had to turn it off because it was just bad. I had high hopes for that one, but Jack Black’s stupidity lost me along the way.

Next up was Forgetting Sarah Marshall, of Rien Sarah, Je Ne Va fame, which was unquestionably the funniest and most entertaining movie I saw on the plane. Every line uttered was hilarious, and I actually found myself liking Russell Brand’s character, which was unexpected, considering the horrible job he did hosting the VMA’s last month.

The last movie I watched was Made of Honor, which when it first came out, I promised myself I would never see. I’m pretty positive that I’ve never seen less chemistry between two leading roles than I did between Patrick Dempsey and Michelle Monaghan. I actually missed the last few minutes of it because I decided to nap mid-movie, and didn’t wake up with enough time left to see it through. But I’m pretty sure I know what happens.

So yeah, all those movies, blah blah blah. Got off the plane, went through customs and found Erin before I even got down to baggage claim. My bags were some of the first off, which NEVER happens, and after a quick currency exchange, we were on our way.

So now I’m here in my apartment at Seoul English Village. Its now almost 7:30 a.m. local time, and Erin and I aren’t meeting up for about four more hours, which gives me enough time to shower, play on the Internet (which I hooked up all myself…hollerrrrrrrrr) and maybe catch a quick nap.

Next time I update, hopefully I’ll have some stories to tell about orientation, which begins tomorrow.

Oh, also, Google is in Korean!! I took a screenshot of it-check it out:

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Here it is, read and laugh (and admire my photogenicness that up until this article was published, I had no idea existed). It’s technically in two parts, but should read in two vertical columns. Oh, and there was a refer on the front page with my picture, as well. That’s not getting posted.  And I know they show up kind of funny and cut off, but if you click on them, I think it works better.  Sorry that a. it took so long and b. that it’s not the best quality!

Packing is hard. Really, really hard. Possibly the most difficult thing I have to do on a semi-regular basis. Don’t believe me? Ask the duffel bag I brought to Maryland last weekend. No better yet, ask the clothes that were in the duffel-because 75 percent of them never made it out.

It’s unfair to ask me to stuff two suitcases full of clothes that I could end up hating a week from now. Or to debate between this pretty, multicolored skirt and that one. How many pairs of black flats do I realistically need for a year? Do I want my pointy Nine Wests with no traction, or the cheapo ballet flats that sort of smell after a long day? Or what about that other pair of black ballet flats, with the square-ish toe and the Mary-Jane strap? These are tough questions, people! In the end, I’ll probably end up throwing them all in, only to find that there are even cuter black flats to be purchased once I get to Korea.

I am also missing my supply of contacts, which totally blows because I hate my glasses and don’t want to be stuck over there with nothing but frames. Not so condusive to sunglasses-wearing, you know?

I also need to figure out how many boxes of Kraft mac and cheese I can fit into my suitcase. If I am ever stuck on a deserted island, I’ll be fine, just as long as there is a lifetime supply of the cheesiest on the island with me. I’m aiming for five boxes, but we’ll see.

After conversing with Erin, I’ve decided to go sans DVDs. Anything I really want can be easily purchased on iTunes, or bought in bootlegged form from a street vendor. As far as books go, I’ll probably bring one or two, but no more. I didn’t realize how many books I own until I started cleaning my room. Most of them I’ve already read but have yet to lend out or give away. Veteran journalist Eric Weiner had a great line in his recent bestseller The Geography of Bliss, but of course that’s the one book I own that, of course, I cannot find at the moment. The line was great, something about how it’s a greater deed to give a book away once you’re done with it, instead of keeping it to yourself and thereby not spreading its infinite wisdom. But of course, that’s paraphrased. The actual sentence is pretty awesome. The one other book in my collection that I absolutely love yet cannot find is a 1918 copy of James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. I read the novel first in my AP English Lit class in high school, then several times on my own in college, and I daresay it’s my favorite book. One time, while perusing a back shelf at a local discount bookstore, I found the 1918 copy and snatched it up. It’s just cool to imagine all the people whose eyes have skimmed its yellowed pages over the past 90 years.

Wooooo, I got way off-topic there. Bottom line: it is 1 a.m. on Sunday, September 28th (oh, happy birthday, Dad!), and I have yet to open a single suitcase to begin packing. Something tells me tomorrow is not going to be fun. Until, of course, my fantastic going-away dinner.

It’s Friday. Which means I leave in three days. Which probably means I should start packing. I don’t even know where to begin. How do you cram your life into two suitcases? How do you pack for a year living on the other side of the world? More importantly, how many pairs of shoes should I bring?

Picked up my Visa at the consulate in New York yesterday, started saying my goodbyes…I guess that’s all I really can do, right? I’m starting to freak out. Not in the ‘having second thoughts’ kind of way, but in the ‘Holy crap I’m really doing this’ kind of way.

It’s weird to think that while I’m over there, things in America will continue on as usual. My friends will job hunt and move and get into relationships and and start to become real people, and I’ll miss out on it all. I’ll miss out on an entire year of my friends’ lives. A year full of birthdays, engagements, births, deaths and everything in between.

A lot can happen in a year.

But then again, a lot can happen to me in a year, too.

And if you’d like to continue hearing all about my adventures, keep reading the blog.  I’ll change the name, but the link will be the same.  And download Skype, because I’ve got it and I love it and really, who doesn’t want to hear my lovely voice?

By the way, here is my other contact info, so if anyone is at all inclined to send me letters, care packages, gifts or birthday cards (November 25, save the date!), you have a place to send it to. Special thanks to Erin for asking our boss for it:

Melissa Weiss
Seoul English Village
522 Suyu 6-dong, Gangbuk-gu
Seoul, Korea
142-883

In the words of our friend Lauren, “your street address looks like something from Dr. Suess. In fact, you should just tell people, ‘I’m moving to Gobblty-Gook Street'”

Got my flight info today.  At 2 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 29, I will be on a Korean Air 757 headed non-stop to Seoul.  Headed down to the city tomorrow to deal with all of the visa stuff.

How the hell did this all happen?

That is the voicemail my mother left that greeted me when I returned to my friends’ apartment today after lunch.  Guess who is today’s Reader of the Week?  Luckily, it isn’t available online, but my dad did scan it into his computer and e-mail it to me, so I’ve already read and found several mistakes, grammar- and punctuation-wise, that were NOT my doing.  When I get back to New York Tuesday, I’ll post it on here.

Really, I just want an excuse to wear leggings and a red trenchcoat.  Awesome!

Unrelated: I got a new camera.  It is wonderful and awesome.  And the fact that it is pink only accounted for about 80 percent of why I bought it.  Check it out here.

I am buying a digital camera.  For anyone who knows my track record with cameras, you know that this is a huge step for me.  In fact, for the past year and a half, I have been relegated to using disposable cameras, because not only do I not own a digital, but nobody in my family will lend me theirs (not even on my 21st birthday, thanks Joanna).  Cameras I owned in high school aside, my two most memorable college ones met their dooms in the following ways:  The first, a Kodak Easyshare, was dropped near the spot where Yitzak Rabin was shot in Tel Aviv, on my first trip to Israel.  It never worked quite the same after that, and during the course of the following semester, slowly but surely slipped away from this world.  The second camera I owned I had higher hopes for.  I was a week or so away from leaving for Prague and in desperate need of a camera to chronicle the upcoming semester.  My friend Tori convinced me to get a Canon, because her mother had one and raved about it.  So begins my two-month relationship with my Canon.  Apparently I should have gotten a case for it, or at least not left it in my purse to bounce around and be forgotten about.  So imagine my shock when I found myself in the middle of Budapest street riots and reached for my camera and it didn’t work!  Not only didn’t it work, but somehow, half of the photos I had taken thus far had gotten corrupted.  This is why I only have three Facebook albums of pictures from my semester abroad.

So now I’m trying again.  A year with a camera is a long time, inarguably longer than I’ve ever had one before, but maybe I can do it.  And if not, I hope there’s a good electronics repair shop.

Second item of the day: I sound like a frog.  Forget the sexy phone voice, because unless Kermit turns you on (and I don’t want to know if he does), you do NOT want to talk to me.  Unless, of course, you want to laugh at how ridiculous I sound.  I need some cough syrup, pronto.

That just about does it.  Digital cameras and hoarse voices-pretty much sums up this dreary, upstate New York Sunday.  OH, the city editor of the local paper said the chances are good for me to be next Saturday’s “Reader of the Week.”  I hope you all are happy.

Yeah, I know Erin and I have been talking about it for what seems like years, but in actuality has only been months. But it is really happening. At the end of the month, Erin and I are actually moving to Seoul, South Korea, to begin the next chapter of our young lives.

We will be teaching at Seoul English Village, which is sort of like an English camp for Korean children. I don’t know exactly what we’ll be doing, but from reading other teachers’ blogs, I am under the impression that we will be recreating everyday scenarios with these kids (such as a post office or police station). We will live on campus in single-bedroom apartments (separate ones, clearly). Our meals, housing and flights are paid for.

Before I go further, I should say that I’ve been meaning to blog about this for awhile and just kept putting it off, but my friend Alia, who is moving to El Salvador in a few days, wrote her “I’m moving, here are all your questions answered” entry, and Erin posted about Korea already. so I should probably follow suit.

So right, Erin and I are moving to Korea. Why? Well, a few reasons. I don’t know all of Erin’s reasons, but I’ve got some of my own. Firstly, I’m 21. That’s too young to integrate myself into the real world, don’t pretend as though it isn’t. Nobody wants to hire a 21 year old. At least, that’s my assumption. I graduated without having applied to a single job; I just telling everyone that things were going to work out and that I was going to Korea. So many of my friends who have recently graduated are living in Washington, working and doing whatever it is that 20-somethings do while living in the nation’s capital. And more power to them. I just knew I wasn’t ready for that. I gchatted with my friend Michelle (who offered up the following line: “I just woke up one day and the world decided i could take care of myself”) the other day, and confirmed my suspicions: The real world is so not ready for me. At least not yet.
For anyone who really knows me, you know that traveling is just sort of what I do. Traveling and acting were my two childhood passions, and I was horrible at the latter. Traveling requires only that you leave behind the familiar and venture into the unknown, and occasionally open your wallet or find others to open theirs for you. Not a problem when you’re 11 and want to go to London for the first time, but a bit of a stumbling block when you’re a college grad and supposed to be paying for your own stuff. So this year will be a good way to save money, both to spend on future travels and to save for the future, whatever the future might be.

Which brings me to my next topic: What will I do post-Korea?

Not a clue. Not a freaking clue. If you had asked me a year ago what I’d be doing in September 2008, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have told you that I’d be teaching in Korea. Just like now, I have no idea what comes next. Some options:

Move to Colorado, work as a copy editor, get a dog and make my apartment really cute.

Move to Alaska, work as a copy editor, get a dog and make my apartment really cute.

Move to Dothan, Alabama, hometown of my friend Rachel. Jews who move there are given up to $50,000 to get settled and whatever. Doesn’t seem so bad, huh?

France? Amsterdam? Prague? I feel like I’m not done living in Europe yet. I guess I just don’t like the idea of settling down in America at the age of 22. I’m not sure what I’d do, but I’m not opposed to international high-class prostitution. Especially if it results in summers in St. Tropez…

I suppose that’s it. In the next few weeks, Erin and I will get our visa issuance numbers, have interviews at our area Korean embassies and officially get our visas. Then we’re on our way!

I just can’t believe it’s all really happening…

This blogger has just been informed by the higher-ups at her job that she will be the next Reader of the Week in her city’s local newspaper (circulation: 20,500). Did this blogger have a say in the matter? No, no she did not. Is this going to be embarrassing? Absolutely.

This blogger just hopes she looks slammin’ in the photograph that will accompany the story.