How it all began

As some of you already know, I am spending the next 365 days working and living in Ulsan, South Korea!  Traveling is probably my biggest passion in life. Having been to over 17 countries, I think I have some experience under my belt, but never have I spent a full year abroad.  I will take you through some of my ups and my downs of living in an Asian country for a year and hopefully for some of my friends and family this provides them with a window into my worldly travels!

Some of you may think that this story began when Pete and I stepped on to the plane to Korea, but it began far before that. It was January 1st, 2011, wait no the 2nd… clearly the 1st we were in no state to make life altering plans. I, being the plan maker of this duo, asked repeatedly “what are your new years resolutions!” and after Pete answering “I don’t make plans” a few too many times I guess it clued in that I wasn’t going to give up any time soon.  So we made plans! Our first was to be nicer to each other, our second was not to say the “f” word (and for you potty mouths out there I don’t mean the word you are thinking of! F as in fat… we were forbidden to say “fat”)… that one lasted until dinner that night, where I proclaimed how “fat” I felt. And our last and final one was to be on three continents by the end of 2011. Me, being an avid traveler, got out my European traveling books and started mapping out dates and times and countries and so on and so forth… as Pete rolled his eyes, what had he gotten himself into?

So as the story begins, Pete and I recently graduated from University of Waterloo after which we spent a few months living in France as Pete lived out his dream of playing football overseas. Or, as I like to think about it, actually got to call him self a “professional football player”.  Isn’t that the dream of most athletes? His season was short-lived, but the friends and the experiences had will live on for years to come. We (and I say “we” because clearly, without me by his side he wouldn’t have had such a fantastic cheering section, even if I’d never watched a full football game ever before in my life) ended up making enough money to spend the last month overseas traveling around Europe. We each got to pick a country we were dying to going to.  Having always wanted to go to Greece and not making it there my first time backpacking Europe in 2006, the choice was clear.  Pete’s choice was opening week in Ibiza.  Having only 2 days to pack up our “closet” in Nancy , we quickly made plans, booked numerous train tickets, hotels, flights and ferries and managed to come out with a whopping 20 euro a day budget. We met up with my good friend Alex in the south of France, and then carried on our journey to Pisa, Rome, Athens, Santorini, Carcassonne, Barcelona, Ibiza and making our way back to Paris for one last baguette picnic under the Eiffel tower.  Two thoughts crossed my mind at this point.  The first being “don’t make me leave!!!!!” and the second being “two continents downs and one to go”.

Having jobs already lined up in Korea, the summer months flew by very quickly.  We spent the time not only with friends and family but also acquiring the “necessities” we were told to bring.  Twenty sticks of deodorant,  four pounds of TVP, spices, bed sheets, three costco size boxes of Tampons and a whole punch of Canadian paraphernalia….. we were set.

The only thing that stood between us and completing our final part to our new years resolution was a 20 hour plane ride.

Sounds simple, eh?

We made it to the airport with more than enough time to hang out, collect ourselves and say goodbye to my mom.  But, fate had a slightly different plan for us.  While checking in, two of our bags were sent into the wrong baggage system. If you are connecting in the states you’re required to take your bags through American customs and then have them checked.  Pete was rushed off past security to see if they could locate them.  Normally this only takes 10 min, but today, of all days, the entire computer system was down.  Not sure whether Pete was coming back out or not, I said my goodbyes alone, scared, and slightly unsure.  What was i doing?  Having dropped me off at that exact same airport numerous times before, my mom just smiled at me and I knew everything was going to be OK.  So I whipped away my tears, and wheeled past security.

The plane ride to California went without a hiccup.  We arrived later than scheduled, with about 40 min to make our connecting flight, which was of course on the other side of the airport. So the flight attendants made an announcement to let the people with the close connections get off first.  The people in front of us had 15 min to catch their plane to Hawaii. Slightly jealous, I found myself secretly hoping they would miss it.  Pete and I were one of the last ones to make it to the gate, but not without hearing our names paged a few times.  We were quickly rushed past and greeted by flight attendants fitted in traditional Singapore dresses.  As i sat down and scanned the menu card that was handed to me; beef, fish, Indian…. SINGAPORE SLING! This was going to be a good flight.

Twelve hours, five movies, and four Singapore slings later we made it to Seoul, South Korea. New years resolution completed with 4  months to spare!


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jill Stoddart
    Sep 10, 2011 @ 04:03:07

    Love the stories Sam – keep them coming!


  2. shirley
    Sep 10, 2011 @ 04:22:26

    Wow…that was so wonderful Samantha….are you sure you don’t want to be a writer…


  3. shirley
    Sep 10, 2011 @ 04:23:00

    miss you luv…mom xo


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