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! 🙂

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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!

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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!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTr54CWNoSU&feature=youtu.be

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…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Z-p9tiviwo

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!

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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…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_N0I-VCMm4

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!!!