San Francisco!

What do you do when you have a 9 hour layover in San Francisco? If you are thinking of staying in the airport and relaxing, then you probably won’t want to travel with me. But if you are thinking of renting a mini van and venturing out into the city, then you probably would really enjoy traveling with me!

*To clarify, we did not request the mini van, but when Enterprise says that’s all they have left and that you won’t have to fill the gas tank before you return, then you take it! 

**Also, to those who follow my blog, I am SO sorry you’ve had to wait so long for an update from me. A couple years ago I was hired as a 6th grade teacher, and this was just put on the back burner. Traveling, fortunately, has not been put on the back burner! Posts on Panama, Colorado, Wisconsin, and more to come!

First of all, let’s talk about the driving in San Fran. There were lots of vehicles, but nothing too crazy. Everyone was relatively patient with the traffic, which is always such a relief. (Wacko drivers weaving in and out of traffic trying to get in front of everyone can be quite annoying and stressful.) The only crazy thing we encountered was the steep roads. I feel like steep is an extreme understatement. Imagine you are driving up a hill, but all you can sf2see is the sky and NOTHING out in front of you. Or imagine you are walking up a hill and falling face first into the sidewalk, only it just feels like you are falling into a wall because it is just that steep. Regardless of how many scenarios I tell you to imagine, you really won’t understand the steepness of San Francisco roads until you see it for yourself… So go there. NOW.


Our first stop was Fisherman’s Wharf. This may be your #1 tourist trap in the city. Lots of shopping! Lots of food! Lots of people! Oh, and lots of seagulls. We didn’t have lunch yet, so needless to say we were both a little hangry (which means angry because of how hungry you are). These little sidewalk stands seemed pretty popular, so we stopped at one, The Crab Shack. I got calamari and fries. Alyssa got a crab & shrimp cocktail. (Fyi if is __ cocktail, then that means it is cold, so we were not too impressed.) We sat at some benches to eat, and there were lots of seagulls. Well there were lots of seagulls everywhere we went in the Fisherman’s Wharf area, so they were not that easy to ignore. From a young age, I have had the fear of seagulls instilled in me by my Aunt Barb. I vaguely remember her always saying, “Seagulls are the devil.” (She probably didn’t actually say that, but she was not a fan. At all. And she made sure to make me think the same.) I was never, ever allowed to feed seagulls like I saw all the other “idiot” parents let their kids do. I believe my aunt was also attacked by a larger bird (goose or turkey or something), and after hearing that story I have always been afraid of larger birds flying at my face… Which is exactly what happened shortly after we sat down for our lunch today. People were dropping food, and the seagulls would bolt to be the first to get it. I’m not exactly sure what prompted the devil seagull to launch at me, because I am 100% sure I did not drop a single crumb. But needless to say, he was heading straight for me! Wings flapping all around. I’m screaming. People are laughing, as I’m sure you are now, but it was not funny! Terrifying. IMG_0391

Thankfully I survived to head up to Lombard Street. Lombard Street is the crookedest street in America. Whatever prompted these men to build this street 100 years (approximately) ago is beyond me, but it looks pretty cool! I was not brave enough to drive down in. Lord knows the walk to it was more than enough for me.

Next, we headed to Coit Tower. I am a big fan of going to the highest point in a city to get a full view of the city and the surrounding area. We drove the circling road up to the tower until we got to the parking lot. We were lucky to get a spot! One detail I was unaware of was that you had to pay $8 per person to go up the 13 stories in an elevator. I just thought it was public tower where you can climb the stairs to the top, check it out, and leave. It was VERY windy at the top! There were windows that were all closed, so that helped a little. There are workers up there that will open the windows for you to take a picture if you like. Very cool place, but it was so foggy in the bay that we were not able to see the Golden Gate Bridge. In the elevator on our way down, a lady said that they were just in a boat right underneath the bridge and they couldn’t see it. So that changed our plans for the afternoon.

Since we had a change of plans, we were able to go see the Painted Ladies, famously known as the houses in the opening credits of Full House. (Note: the actual house the Tanner family lived in is not included in the Painted Ladies. They lived in a white house with a red door on the right side, which we unfortunately were not able to locate on this trip.) As a child who religiously sat in front of the TV after getting off the bus and watching DJ, Stephanie, & Michelle grow up all those years, I was rather excited to visit this site, and it brought back lots of memories. And no surprise to anyone, I am now a fan of Fuller House.DSC05770 (2)

With a short delay flying into San Fran earlier, we were running out of time and getting close to our deadline to head back to the airport, so we enjoyed our last drive on the steep (still an extreme understatement) roads and got on the 101 back to SFO. When we dropped off our mini van, the lady said that we actually saw a lot in the short amount of time that we had. The only things we didn’t get to do that we wanted was visit Alcatraz (not enough time and I didn’t book far enough in advance) and the Golden Gate Bridge (fog)… Next time!

For the rest of the evening, we enjoyed the complimentary SFO wifi and hung out before our dream vacation to Kiwi Nation!

Thank you, San Fran! We’ll be back! 🙂



2014 in Review

Even though, I have been slacking when it comes to updating my blog since I left Korea, I have not stopped traveling! I was able to travel to one new country this year, Panama, and I can’t wait to share my story of my solo trip! Soon..

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,100 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 18 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


This year I have been subbing a lot. There are many times when subbing that I have time to just sit and do nothing. I have often taken this time to read travel blogs, which led to me having a major case of wanderlust! So I looked up where some cheap places to go in the spring are, and Panama it is!


I went from Chicago to Fort Lauderdale to Panama City. I was on a red-eye flight coming into Panama, so I didn’t arrive at Luna’s Castle (my hostel for the next few days) until 2:30 am. And I wasn’t able to check in until 1:00 pm. So I slept on a couch in the common area. Very noisy with all the drunks winding down, but I was soooo tired, so it didn’t bother me much. Thanks to construction being done on the roof, I was up bright and EARLY!

Day 1 – Casco Viejo, Panama City

I took the opportunity to explore the neighborhood, Casco Viejo, on my first day to get my bearings, plus I hadn’t met anyone at the hostel yet. I stopped by Plaza del Francia. Very pretty with a great view of the city and the causeway! It was so interesting walking around this area. Some buildings are very well kept and beautiful, while others were really needing a little TLC and others were completely abandoned with missing roofs. A very strange mix.

There was also lots of graffiti everywhere…

Later I wanted to check out the Canal Museum. On the way there, it started sprinkling. It felt great! The humidity here is just nuts, which made for a very sweaty, smelly Brooke Teacher. The museum was nothing too spectacular, but I did learn some new things about the canal. And bonus, it had AIR CONDITIONING!! So I rented the English digi-guide and took my sweet time checking everything out.

After that, after waking up from a nap, I met my bunk neighbor, Anette from Sweden. We became good friends throughout my trip. It can be so hard meeting new people as an introvert. There always seems to be groups of people that know each other, and it’s hard to just walk up and say “Hey! Be my friend.” So I decided to check out Happy Hour… Lots of people and a little liquid courage!

Day 2 – Panama Canal Railroad to Colon & Salsa Dancing in Casco Viejo

This morning, I caught the early train along the Panama Canal Railroad to the Pacific side of the Canal. On the train, the tourists sit in an elevated railroad car so we can see everything. What I saw: jungle, a golf course, a graveyard for old buses, and water. One interesting thing about the water, though, there were lots of trees popping out all over. It appeared that the trees had all been cut down, because they were all only a foot or two out of the water and no leaves or branches. Hmm.

So when I got on the train that morning, I had expected to arrive at a tourist information center at the train station. I guess you could kind of say that’s what we came upon… If you count a parking lot  the middle of an industrial park filled with pushy taxi drivers waving posters for all the places they can take you. file%2814%29All the drivers I talked to did not accept credit cards, and how stupid, all I grabbed that morning was my credit card and $80 in cash. I needed to save $50 for the train ride back and then a taxi after that, so basically I was screwed. My day was going to suck. I walked up to the last taxi driver left after everyone else hopped in their taxis to see all the wonderful things Colon had to offer. Our conversation went something like this…

“Can you take me to the mall?”
“No, I take you to beautiful place. You pay me.”
“I have no money.”
“I take you to ATM.”
“I only have my credit card. No ATM.”
“Yes, ATM for cash.”
“No, it won’t work.”
“So you want to go to mall?” (in the most disgusted voice he could muster)

I got to the mall before it opened, of course, and it started storming. (This made me a little happier that I did not spend over $100 to go on a tour with the taxi driver.) The only place open was the grocery store. So I walked around there for as long as I could make it last, which was not long. But thankfully they had some books in English for sale! A very limited selection, but they did have the 50 Shades Darker. I’ve already read the first one, so this worked out.file%2820%29 It was going to be me, Anastasia, and dreamy Mr. Christian Grey. I was thinking I could hang out in a coffee shop for most of the day. Yea, no coffee shop. Then I was hoping to hang out in the restaurants and use their wi-fi. Well, there were restaurants, but no wi-fi. This day was going just splendidly.

After reading for a couple hours and having lunch, I did a little window shopping. I did notice that there were A LOT of clothes with tags that said “Made in the USA.” Weird, you don’t see much of that back home. Also, their mannequins were very, ummm, realistic. All different sizes. Some skinny all around (like you always see in the US). Some were full figured. And some were very, very large in the chest area and skinny everywhere else.

I read for a couple more hours and enjoyed a delicious mango-banana-papaya milkshake before I got a taxi back to the train “station.” That morning I definitely thought this day would SUCK! I just felt like crying. Very lost and alone with no way of getting money or contacting anybody. But as I sat waiting for the train, I realized that it was perfect. I am so busy back home that I had been craving a day to just sit around and read.

While we were all waiting for the train, we heard a really loud bang! At first I thought it was just a car backfiring. Nope. A bunch of fireworks in the middle of the afternoon over an old beaten up green apartment complex. Hmm. Maybe some celebration fireworks for the wonderful day I had??

Back in Panama City, Anette and I went to Rene Café. Here you pick what meat you want and they surprise you with everything else. Breads and spread, salad, the main course (I had a delicious plate of chicken with rice and veggies), and THEN dessert! Completely stuffed for only $10!

Now time for some Salsa dancing! We went to Habana Panama. Great band! Wonderful dancing! Well watching anyways. We didn’t get asked. Try again tomorrow.

Day 3 – Panama City Sightseeing Bus & Salsa Dancing at Habana Panama

Lots of rain today. So Anette and I took it pretty easy. Later we went on the Panama City Sightseeing Bus. Going through the city was… Interesting. Traffic was SO bad! Lots of litter everywhere. Majority of buildings were not very well kept. It was kind of a drag. But I loved seeing the decorated buses everywhere! As we got farther away from the city center, the traffic got a bit better. We had dinner at a restaurant at the end of the causeway. We drove by a big political rally… Best to avoid that.

Salsa Dancing: Episode 2… We ended up at Habana Panama again, and we actually got asked to dance! A man came up and asked me to dance and had his friend dance with Anette. After a dance or two, this is what my dance partner said to me…

“You need to learn to follow man’s lead.”

So needless to say he wasn’t a fan of my moves. I can’t blame him. This was my first time ever salsa dancing, and it is difficult following a man when you have NO idea where your feet will go next. He then pawned me off on his friend so he could dance with Anette. He was much more satisfied with her moves! My new partner… well… he wasn’t so critical on my lack of salsa skills. He was also hard to follow, because his moves were so subtle, which made it even more difficult to understand what I was supposed to do. All in all, it was a fun experience. Thank you Panamanian men for taking a chance on me!

Day 4 – Paddle Boarding

My morning was filled with reading, then shopping with Anette.

Later on, I got to go paddle boarding! When I first arrived at Luna’s Castel (my hostel) a few days ago, I had seen an ad for Panama Paddle in Casco Viejo. A young New Jersey man, John, recently started a paddle boarding business. He took me out on the ocean, which was a little intimidating. The swell was a little intense for me. We paddled around the bay. He pointed out where the ghetto is and how a different gang runs each building. Some of his students (he also runs a tae kwon do gym) live there and showed him around one day. They couldn’t walk down one street, because the kids say they don’t ever walk down that street. One night the kids couldn’t come to class because there was a gun fight outside. So sad that this is some kids’ reality.

Then we paddled to the other side of the causeway bridge. The waves weren’t breaking, but the swell was still pretty big! (I never worked up the courage to actually stand up on the board.) We watched some surfers for a little bit. One of his friends borrowed a paddle board and was catching some waves on that. Pretty neat to watch! But not for me. Another fun time!

After that, Anette and I met some more friends at Happy Hour and had a nice relaxing night.

Day 5 – Panama Canal & Cerra Ancon (Last Day!)

As my last day in Panama, I HAD to make it to the Canal! There was a HUGE cargo ship just coming in when I got there. It was really incredible to see how many cargo trailers these ships can hold. It was already in the first lock when I got there, not lifted or anything yet. It took about 30 minutes to get through and released into the lake. It is just remarkable what they were able to accomplish back in the early 1900’s. This year (2014) marks the 100th year since the 1st ship went through. I had been told by some people at the hostel that it wasn’t that interesting, but I am so glad I went. Definitely a must see in my book!

After lunch, I talked Anette into going to Cerra Ancon with me. Cerra Ancon is the highest place in the city. Just a big hill. We hiked to the top, which was a bit wet. We were sweating pretty heavily (note: crazy humidity) and it was raining a little bit. We were able to get a great view of the city all around, which was beautiful! We also saw lots of little rodents running around up there called agouti. I’d say they are a nice mix of rats and rabbits… Leaning more towards rats.

When we got back to the hostel, we took some much needed showers, went out to dinner, and had a couple drinks at the cute little bar next to our hostel before we caught the red-eye (we just so happened to both be booked on the same flight along with her friend Dario) back to America! 10328215_10203964544940180_571904262_o

We also made friends with the neighborhood security guards. Luna’s Castle is located in Casco Viejo, which is where the President of Panama lives, so there were security guards at every corner. 10371489_10201605007759286_6678766203315549666_n

Adios, Panama! 🙂


One more overseas adventure before settling in America for a while… My good friend from college, Michelle, is attending vet school at St. George’s University down in Grenada! She told me I could come visit if I wanted to. After seeing how cheap flights were in April, I was in!!

Here I go again!

Here I go again!

I landed in the evening of April 9th and man, was it hot!! I got a taxi van… And I thought the drivers in Korea were crazy! These guys just barrel down these little roads honking away whenever they see a car or someone walking, just to make it known they are there. I told the driver I needed to use his phone to call Michelle for directions, which he wasn’t too happy about. A little while later, I arrived!! And I got to see Michelle’s lovely face!! She showed me around the campus a little bit and the docks.

Hanging out on the dock...

Hanging out on the dock…

The next morning while Michelle was in class, I headed out to the docks to chill and read a book. While I was out there, a security officer was lingering behind me like I shouldn’t be there. A little weird. When Michelle got out of class, we took a bus into town so she could show me where the beach and some other places were. I got lunch at a popular restaurant on the beach called Umbrellas. I sat up on the 2nd level under the umbrellas and enjoyed a little drink and some shrimp. Then I spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing on the beach!

Later on, I met Michelle back at her room so we could go to dinner. We walked to Dodgy Dock with her friend Caitlin, who was meeting her dad there for dinner. It was a nice little restaurant right on the dock. There were a couple little boats tied up about 20 feet from our table. As we were sitting, the sun was going down. A very beautiful view for dinner! We both had the lambi cobb salad. Lambi is a type of shell fish also known as the spider conch. It was pretty tasty!


On Thursday, I slept in for a while before heading to the beach while Michelle was in class. I could really get used to this kind of life! And the people here are very friendly… Maybe a little bit too friendly. They don’t think twice about coming up and having a conversation with you while you’re relaxing on the beach. And then you also have the people that try selling you things left and right. I enjoyed chattin’ with people, but it was when people would sit down next to me and want to hang out for a while that I wasn’t too fond of. One guy was wearing a nice button up short sleeved shirt decorated with marijuana leaves… Haha welcome to the Carribbean, mon!

Grand Anse Beach!

Grand Anse Beach!

That night Michelle and I went for a sunset walk on the beach… Lovely! Then we headed to La Boulangerie for some dinner. I got some delicious shrimp alfredo. It’s so nice to sit and chat with this woman! 🙂


Friday was so much fun! Michelle was able to get out of her classes for the day!! We went and did some shopping in St. George’s. When we got down there, this man insisted that he show us around. We were fine on our own and just couldn’t get rid of him. Eventually he said something along the lines of, “I show you around. You give me nice tip.” Michelle told him that we never asked him to show us around and that we weren’t going to pay him… He wasn’t too happy but he left finally. After shopping, we went to buy some floating noodles and headed down to Grand Anse Beach for the afternoon. It was sooo nice finally being able to hang out with her at the beach!


Noodle Life!

Noodle Life!

Fish Friday

That night, we rented a taxi to take us on the 45 minute drive out to Gouyave for Fish Friday! Fish Friday is two intersecting streets lined with tents each cooking up their special fish dishes. We tried a little bit of everything: fish balls, mac ‘n’ cheese pie, fried fish, lambi kabob, grilled fish in garlic butter, and a couple others that I can’t remember. It was so much fun trying all this tasty food, listening to music, and soaking all of this lovely culture in! Awesome time! The only downside is we didn’t see any oil down. Oil down is a signature dish of Grenada that Michelle has heard a lot about… Hopefully we’ll be able to find some the next time I visit!



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Since Michelle has been here, she’s always wanted to go out to Carriacou, an island northeast of Grenada, so we took the ferry out there on Saturday! The ferry ride was pretty rough… We were so happy to finally get to Carriacou after a couple hours!

Can't get there fast enough!

Can’t get there fast enough!

We were planning on going to the tourist information once we got there to see what there all was to do, come to find out it’s closed on Saturday! What?! Haha that just seemed rather silly to be closed on the weekend. There were so many taxi drivers trying to get us to go here and there and it was a little overwhelming. So we stopped in at a little cafe for some smoothies and then went back out on the street after it calmed down. We wanted to go watch for sea turtles, but the ferry didn’t get there early enough or stay late enough to do that in one day… Next time when we can stay for the weekend I suppose. We chatted with a taxi driver to see what there is to do, and he suggested go out to Paradise Beach. There we could rent snorkeling gear and get a water taxi out to Sandy Island.


Wow! Sooo incredibly beautiful! Going to Paradise Beach is like walking into the land of the most beautiful postcards! Blue skies scattered with white fluffy clouds, clean beach, turquoise waters, and a few little boats in the water with an island and a couple little mountains in the background. We got our snorkels and goggles and hopped onto the water taxi to Sandy Island. We snorkeled there for a little bit. It was a little windy, so the water was a little choppier than I would have liked, but there were so many beautiful fish to look at!

Beautiful jumping photo!

Beautiful jumping photo!


I love jumping photos!

I love jumping photos!


Later on, we had the taxi driver come pick us up and he took us on a mini tour of the island. It took us up on top of one of the hills to look down at the harbor and then to the top of a hill looking down at the other side of the island. From that side, we could see Petite Martinique, one of the islands that celebrities often vacation to and pay thousands of dollars per night… Crazies! Haha but it is really beautiful, so I guess it’s kind of worth it.

We've reached the top!

We’ve reached the top!

The view of the harbor from up above!

The view of the harbor from up above!

Petite Martinique in the distance.

Petite Martinique in the distance.

On the ferry ride back to Grenada, we sat outside… Our stomachs were feeling much better on this trip!

Feeling much better!

Feeling much better!

Back to Grenada...

Back to Grenada…

Bye Carriacou!

Bye Carriacou!

We also got to see a bunch of little flying fish! Try to see if you can spot them…

Where's the flying fish?

Where’s the flying fish?

That night, St. George’s University was hosting a highlighter party! At a highlighter party, there are a bunch of black lights, glow sticks, and highlighters. Everyone wears a white shirt so you can write messages or draw pictures on each other and then see them glow in the black lights. Michelle and I had a pretty good time tearing up the dance floor… As we always do!!

Ready to go!

Ready to go!



Sunday was a pretty chill day… Michelle had a lot of studying to do (I learned on this trip that studying is basically your whole life in vet school…), so we took it pretty easy. Michelle heard that KFC was pretty good down here, but she hadn’t tried it for herself yet. When we got there, I was sooooo excited…. They had mac ‘n’ cheeeeeeese!!!!!! For those of you that don’t know, KFC has the BEST mac ‘n’ cheese on the planet!! (In my opinion anyways.) And the chicken was pretty tasty too. They add a little spice to it. Yum!

Monday morning it was back the US! I had such a great time visiting Grenada and seeing my lovely friend, Michelle!! I can’t wait to go down and visit again before she graduates!! 🙂

What I Miss & Don’t Miss About Korea!!!

Well I have just had one of the most AMAZING years of my life living abroad in South Korea!! It was definitely the BEST decision I’ve ever made in my 24 short years on this planet so far! On November 3rd, 2011, received a text message from Kristin at EduCon in Chicago saying I passed my interview! (What a FANTASTIC early birthday present!) Then on February 19th, 2012, Mikala, my best friend since about the 5th grade, drove me to the airport and sent me on my way for an early morning flight! For a year, Jeju Island was my home, and though I’m excited to be back home in America and being able to see my family and friends, I miss Jeju so much!! (Well I don’t miss everything…)

I miss the food!


I don’t miss people’s driving “skills.”

I miss my students!

I don’t miss the last minute way of life that my co-teachers seem to enjoy so much.

I miss the Olle trails!

I don’t miss the pushing and shoving.

I miss my co-teachers!

I don’t miss Korean’s confusion as to what side of the sidewalk you should walk on.

I miss riding the bus!

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I don’t miss riding the bus.

I miss clothes shopping!

I don’t miss not being able to try on clothes before you buy them.

I miss inexpensive traveling!

I don’t miss seeing women wearing heels EVERYWHERE!

I miss the cheap transportation!

I don’t miss Korean heating.

I miss my friends!!

I don’t miss not seeing any facial hair on men.

I could go on and on, but mostly, I miss Jeju!!
Jeju will always have a place in my heart.

Photo130103_001 Halla

I’m Going Home!!

Monday, February 25th, 2013 marked my very last day of desk warming… And I did absolutely NOTHING! I went out to lunch with the principal, other teachers, and Landon and then said my good-byes at the end of the day. What an amazing experience! The principal, vice principal, my co-teachers, other teachers, and STUDENTS were all so good to me this year and they will always have a place in my heart! I’ve learned so much in the past year and I couldn’t be more happy with whoever’s choice it was to place me at this school! Goodbye 대정 초등학교!! (Daejeong Elementary School)

Oh, I forgot to mention… Some middle school or high school girls came in asking if we’d like our faces drawn for 1,000 ₩ and here’s mine!


Happy Birthday, Karima!

Our last day on our contracts also marked Karima’s birthday!!! We had dinner at home and I gave her a little gift before we headed to Rose Marine down by the harbor. We enjoyed some cakes and drinks with friends! A lovely little night. 🙂

Cards, fire, and makoli at Rose Marine!

Cards, fire, and makoli at Rose Marine!

Tuesday, my last day on Jeju, was filled with STRESS!! I packed up 2 more boxes of stuff to send home and brought them down to the post office in the rain. On my way back home, I caught a taxi driver and put him on the phone with Seunghee so she could explain to him that I needed a ride home to pick up my stuff and then up to Jejusi. Most taxi drivers don’t like making the hour trip over the mountain to the north side, but he was happy to do it. When we got to my place, I brought out one suitcase and my big backpack and he met me at the top of the stairs to carry down the suitcase. Then he put it in his trunk and closed it. I said, “No, no. More.” pointing back to my place. Haha he looked at me a little shocked. Sorry guy, but when you move to a different country you’re going to have more than a suitcase and backpack… He carried the other 2 suitcases down the stairs in the rain and we were on our way. What a champ! With all the stress and anxiety I was dealing with, I was so grateful to have a very helpful taxi driver that didn’t complain. Thank you!

After the hour taxi drive, we made it to Jeju-si and he brought me to Seunghee’s home. She was at work, but her husband and daughters were outside waiting to help me with my luggage. Then we had some hot tea and apples before I had to head out to give my phone to another foreigner… Cerise wanted to take over my contract, but the first store told us we had to go to a different store to do that. When we got to that different store, they told us we were in the wrong place. Ugh! Well by then, she had to leave for work. Hopefully she figured it out! I don’t understand why only certain stores can switch over contracts. You all have computers and access to my account, so what’s the big deal??

Next I went to the bank to transfer all my money back home. Before I sent it, I realized the school didn’t send me my last paychecks for transportation allowance and after-school pay even though they promised they would have it done by noon that day. So that was fun trying to get ahold of someone at school when I no longer had my phone. The woman at the bank was helpful, but when I called the school Jin-young said that they don’t do payments today. WHAT?! Hosun and I spent time talking to the people at school yesterday and they said they could do it, but now they all of a sudden can’t. The stress went overboard and I was hot! I took a walk over to Tom ‘n’ Tom’s to get a snack and calm down. After about an hour there, I went back to the bank and surprisingly the school had sent the money!

Then I went to meet Karima at a coffee shop. She wasn’t there, so I just sat down at got some juice while I waited. I was waiting for a while, but I had no phone and I couldn’t get the wi-fi to work, so I had no way of getting in touch with her. After about an hour, I just decided to go for a walk. When I got back out on the main road, I realized that I might have been at the wrong place and she might be at this new coffee shop we went to on New Year’s… And sure enough! Found her!

Later on we took a taxi to Raj Mahal for my going away dinner!! I’m going to miss this delicious Indian food sooooo much!! I enjoyed my last dish of butter chicken curry and garlic butter nan with some good friends I’ve made in the past year: Karima, Landon, Leo, Sarah Y, Tyler, Becca, Sarah R, and Hannah!

Tyler, Sarah, Leo, Landon, & Karima... Awesome friends!

Tyler, Sarah, Leo, Landon, & Karima… Awesome friends!

Hannah, Sarah, Becca, & Tyler (again)... More awesome friends!

Hannah, Sarah, Becca, & Tyler (again)… More awesome friends!

While we were talking at dinner, it got brought up that I had never been to a noraebong before. Noraebongs are places where you can rent a room with your friends and sing karaoke for however long you rent the room for. There are multiple microphones, flashing lights, tambourines and countless songs to choose from… Bohemian Rhapsody, Wannabe, and Super Bass were just a few that we sang our hearts out to. What a blast!!!

Then we said our goodbyes… I’m going to miss all of these awesome people!!!!!!! I’m so happy that each of you were apart of my adventure this year here in Lovely Jeju!!

Wonderful last night in Jeju!!

Wonderful last night in Jeju!!

I'll miss you guys!!

I’ll miss you guys!!

Karima and I then headed back to Seunghee’s to spend the night. While we were checking Facebook, I saw that some people mentioned something about my plans back home!! Eek! For the past 6 months, I had been planning to surprise my mom out in Colorado after I get back and it nearly got ruined the day before I leave! Thankfully, my mom didn’t check Facebook before I was able to remove the comments! *Sigh of relief.*

We woke up early the next morning for my flight and Hyun-jeong and Jong-eun were already up studying at 5:30 a.m! Champs! You would NEVER find me up that early studying on my day off of school! I prepared my luggage, we had some bagels for breakfast, and then Seunghee drove Karima and I to the airport. Thank you soooo much for everything Seunghee!!

Karima hung out with me at the airport before I went through security… No tears, but I’m going to miss that woman soooo much!!

On the plane, I got a whole row to myself! Right as the captain said “Prepare for takeoff” the tears started rolling! What an amazing year! Jeju was my home for a year and I absolutely adored every minute of it!! Hopefully I’ll be able to make it back here someday!

Here is what my trip back home looked like…

Jeju to Busan 8:45 am- 9:40 am (55 minutes)
Layover in Busan 9:40 am-4:50 pm (7 hours 10 minutes)
Busan to Seoul 4:50 pm-5:55 pm (1 hour 5 minutes)
Layover in Seoul 5:55 pm-7:10 pm (1 hour 15 minutes)
Seoul to Detroit 7:10 pm-6:10pm (13 hours)
Layover in Detroit 6:10 pm~9:00 pm (2 hours 50 minutes) *There was a delay, so I’m not exactly sure how accurate times are from here.
Detroit to Appleton 9:00 pm-9:25 pm (1 hour 25 minutes)

Total Travel Time: 27 hours 40 minutes

Sooo happy to be HOME!! My grandma Monica and best friend Mikala said they were both going to be at the airport to welcome me home, so I was a little surprised and very happy to see those two AND Chelsea, Kayla, Tracy, Uncle Tony, Uncle John, Marc, Aunt Sue, Uncle Dean, and Aunt Adella!!! What a great welcome home! Love you all!

First meal back in the US of A!!!

First meal back in the US of A!!!

Then we went to Buffalo Wild Wings for my first meal back in America!! I stuffed my face with a delicious plain cheeseburger and fries!! My cousin Marc decided he wanted to do the Blazin’ Challenge. You have to eat 12 of their chicken wings with the Blazin’ sauce (the hottest sauce they have, which is known to be 60 times hotter than a jalapeno pepper!) in under 6 minutes. He had to sign a release of liability… Pretty intense! If he finishes, he doesn’t have to pay and he gets a free T-shirt. If he doesn’t, he has to pay for the wings. Crazy kid! Check it out to see if he finished it or not…

When I got home, I laid in my bed, watched TV (every channel in English!), and ate cheese popcorn with a spoon! Feels so good to be home!

The next night I went to Mikala’s house and enjoyed pizza, wine, and some old school CD’s from our high school days with Chelsea and Kayla! I also gave them some gifts from my trip to Thailand, so we had fun with those!



Friday my grandpa was in the hospital, so I went to see him and we swapped gambling and traveling stories. 🙂 Then Friday night I went to the famous Ken’s Riverside and ordered my usual… Burger and fries!! My grandma Joyce makes the BEST burger I’ve ever had!! Out of all the burgers I’ve had around the world, these are my favorite!!

Mama’s Birthday

My mom knew I was coming back from Korea, but she didn’t know I was coming out to Colorado to surprise her on her birthday! I flew into Denver Sunday morning and Dillon picked me up. Before we left the parking lot, I called my mom “from Wisconsin” (or so she thought) to wish her a happy birthday. She told me they were going to Chili’s for her birthday lunch and she said she can’t wait for me to come visit to we can go to Chili’s and have our favorite margaritas and  queso! That would happen a lot sooner than she expected…

About an hour later…

After being back for a couple days, I find myself sometimes bowing to people and using Korean expressions… Not sure how long that will take to wear off. Haha. Getting behind the wheel again has been awesome!! Driving down back country roads jamming out to my Lady Gaga CD’s has never felt so good! Finally being able to see my friends and family again in person instead of over Skype has been sooo great! I LOVE AMERICA!!!