11 months in Sweden

It’s already been 11 months since I moved to Sweden. This also means that my Working Holiday visa is almost over. I came to Sweden on a whim after things didn’t work out for me in the States and Korea. I thought by moving to somewhere totally new, totally foreign, I would be able to sort things out, to rethink about my life, my career and my happiness. I moved to Sweden in need of change and motivation. I came without knowing anything about Sweden or what to expect, only the fact that it was the home of Ikea, H&M, Acne Studios and universal healthcare. 

The first month was the longest month. Without a job or friends, I spent the endless days, especially with the sun out until midnight at most nights, exploring this new city and searching for new opportunities. It only took me a month to find a new job and now after 11 months, I feel like now I can say with confidence that I have found a group of people that I can call my own. My job has also been a bit of a roller coaster ride, but short bumps aside, I feel like it has become very much of my life in Sweden and I am truly thankful for that. Each work comes with a little bit of drama, but my team is great and I feel like I am growing with new responsibilities at work, with a balance of work and life, at least better than how it was in Korea and the States. 

Back in September, I applied for an extension of my work and residence permit. It’s been already almost eight months since my application and although I only heard back once for additional paperwork, I have no doubt that I will be able to extend my stay here. I feel like it’s been years since I moved to Stockholm, only to realize it hasn’t even been full 12 months. 

During the period of visa approval, I cannot travel outside of Sweden. I’m really hoping that my extension comes out before my current visa expires in mid June, since I really do want to adventure out and explore more cities in Europe. However, with travel plans aside, I’m really looking forward to this summer now that I have close friends to cherish this weather with, as well as close friends and family coming to visit me in Stockholm. My sister Julia is coming to visit this Sunday, and I have taken days off of work to really show her the most of Stockholm. My best friends Brooke and Shina are also visiting in August, so I’m super excited for that as well. 

I was updating my portfolio today when I realized I haven’t updated my blog in a while so I just wanted to leave a quick update on here before I forget. That’s it for now. I’ll write again after Julia’s visit. 

Until then,

J




Let’s Catch Up

The last time I wrote on here was before my trip to Poland, so almost 3 months ago. Wow, time flies. So to recap the last few months, let’s go back to Poland. 

Poland was incredible. It was such a last minute decision and I honestly didn’t know what to expect besides Auschwitz. And to be honest, we didn’t really do much besides Auschwitz, since we were only in Poland for a weekend but nevertheless, Poland was unforgettable. Just before writing this, I was reading my previous post: about the struggle and stress of finding my group of people in Stockholm, the stress of establishing relationships, etc. I feel like Poland answered some of those questions I had about those around me, and helped me secure a bond between some of my friends that I went to Poland with. Although we didn’t do much besides Auschwitz, I felt like Poland was special because it was mostly spent getting to know each other: constantly questioning each other, talking about our past and our experiences, our families and friends back home, our preferences and just constant never-ending conversations ranging from light-hearted goofiness to our faith and religion and our fundamental belief in things. Photos from Poland can be seen here

Then a couple weeks after Poland, I went back to LA. Home. Reunited in the comfort of my family and childhood friends. But as comfortable and warm LA was, LA also made me realize that I have actually moved on from that chapter of my life. Meeting old friends made me feel so incredibly thankful and happy but at the same time a little bittersweet, knowing that we were going different paths in our lives. Seeing the places I hung out and enjoyed while I lived in LA, made me feel oh so familiar and nostalgic but at the same time strangely out of place, knowing that Stockholm has now become my home and my playground. My trip to LA was rather short, especially being the holiday season but my trip to LA cannot be said without my unplanned spontaneous trip to London.

My flight to LA had one layover in London. The day I flew out, there was a heavy fog in London that shut down the London airport for hours, which inevitably delayed my flight by 5 hours from Stockholm and made me miss my connecting flight from London to LA. When I was told that there were no more flights and that I had to spend the night in London, I was mad. I hated when things fell out of plans and I just really just wanted to go home. But quickly after, I realized my situation was not going to change and that me being mad will only waste my own energy and decided to embrace and take my overnight stay in London to its fullest potential. I looked into flight reimbursements and found out that I can claim my hotel and food expenses to the airline since my flight was missed due to the airport conditions and booked a stay at the Hilton in Hyde Park and ventured out into the city, the city which was once my dream of living in. 

London was amazing. The red telephone booths, the accents, the fog and the people, the buildings, the fashion, the double deckers and the black cabs, everything about London was better than I ever dreamed of and although I was only in the city for roughly five hours, I loved every moment of it. My short stay really made me want to come back and I can’t say much about the city since I’ve spent such a short time but I can’t wait to go back, hopefully sooner than later. Pictures from London can be seen here

So fast forward to January. I came back to Stockholm realizing that I had moved on from LA and that Stockholm was now my home. And ever since coming back to Stockholm, I have actually been loving this city more and more everday. My apartment is coming together, slowly but surely. Work is getting busier and there definitely has been a shift in structure and people but I am expanding my responsibilities at work which is exciting and I feel like my relationship with my coworkers are also getting stronger as we work together more. I am actually going on a ski trip with my coworkers in a couple days to the Alps so I am super excited about that. 

So that brings us into February and today. I will probably update again next week after my ski trip but for now that’s pretty much it. Besides the events mentioned above, my life in Stockholm has been mundane and ordinary but sometimes ordinary is the best, eh? 

J


Thinking out loud

It’s been a while since I updated this blog. It’s been five months already since I’ve moved to Sweden and I guess a lot has happened. I finally started to travel again, last week I went to Berlin and next weekend I will be going to Poland. (You can view my pictures from Berlin here.) I found an apartment with a coworker and will be moving to a new place at the end of the month. I’ve also applied for an extension for my work permit, meaning I will be in Sweden longer, maybe until 2018, maybe longer considering the political crisis that’s going on in both Korea and America. I’ve made a lot of friends both from work and church and although I’m not a big fan of making new relationships, my nomadic lifestyle has made that inevitable.

As extroverted and outgoing I may appear from the outside, I actually hate making new friends. It’s not that I think the amount of friends I currently have is enough or that new people don’t interest me, but it’s more of the progress of becoming good friends that I secretly hate. I hate trying to establish friendships, especially in the early stages, constantly trying to hangout, to worry and question what they think of me, getting jealous in fear that my friendship is not valued, etc. It takes me a while to actually get comfortable with people, and especially living in a new country without family or home-base of friends, this process of finding “my group of people” is slowly draining me out to be honest. I believe that every relationship, romantic or friendship, all require some extend of effort. An effort to build that relationship and an effort to maintain the relationship. And right now, I am struggling to build new ones but maintain existing ones as well. Missing out on a lot of the things going on at home also makes me feel somewhat like an outsider. But then again, loneliness is something that I knew I was signing up for when choosing to move abroad. Maybe I’m just homesick. 

I guess I’m feeling this a lot more here in Sweden than Korea since in Korea I had my dad, my college friends, and some childhood friends. And the new friends I made in Korea, I lived with them in the same building, so I didn’t have to try all that much, to put much effort into establishing those new friendships. Also it was my motherland so it was somewhat easier to bond, to click, and to feel more secure and included. But here I do not speak Swedish so the friends I make are international, expats and students, many of whom are temporarily here. So knowing that they will be leaving soon, makes it somewhat harder for me to open up, since after they leave, I will probably feel lonelier. 

Maybe I’m just depressed because of the weather. Maybe I’m just homesick. Maybe I’m emotional because I’m on my period. Maybe I need a boyfriend, haha. I don’t even know if any of the things I said right now makes sense, but since this is a space where I share my thoughts, I thought I’d write to let out my feelings. 

Sweden is great, I truely am starting to love Stockholm, even the darkness and the weather, but five months in, the loneliness is beginning to loom over me. Counting down days til LA. (Dec 17-Jan 3)


J



Scented Memories

Is it just me or do you ever randomly remember a specific scent relating to a specific place and then feel like you’re back in that moment of memory? It is currently 12:45am here in Stockholm and I was right about to go to sleep on my bed when randomly I thought I smelled something super familiar only to realize that it was the smell of new york, or rather the smell of my days in new york. It’s not a scent of a specific location of a place in New York but rather the overall smell of the city, my memories in the city, if that makes any sense. As soon as I remembered the scent, my mind threw me back in the city, in my dorm room, then walking around the streets of my neighborhood with Bergen Bagels and coffee in my hands running late to class. It only takes a second of a familiar scent to throw me entirely back to my memories and who knows if I actually smelled the familiar scent or if it was entirely my brain and nostalgia but then there I was, lying on my bed physically but my mind and emotions back to my days in Brooklyn. 

Then I paused to see what other places I remember by the scent and it’s funny because it’s not every location I’ve lived or have been in that I have scented memories of but only some very specific ones. LR Green Elementary School in Escondido, Solana Highlands in Carmel Valley, Torrey Pines High School, my old Carmel Valley house and the pool/backyard, Brooke’s house, dad’s room/guest room downstairs, one of my old apartments in Korea, the very first apartment we lived in Temecula when our family first moved to the states back in 1999, Pratt studios, Khim’s asian market next to Pratt, the ComD floor, Barneys New York headquarter office rooms, SoHo, Rockefeller during Christmas time and etc. And the scents I remember are so very distinct but can’t be put into words and not a smell from a specific object, but rather the scent of the ambiance, the atmosphere overall, if this makes any sense. 

Anyways, I should go back to sleep but I just wanted to jot down my thoughts before I go to bed since I’ll probably forget about it in the morning. Do you remember places and time by the scent or is it just me? And then this leads me to thinking what my scented memory of Stockholm and Sweden would be in the future. I guess I’ll only find out when the time comes. 



50 questions throwback

I have some time to kill and obviously love talking about myself so I randomly remembered the 50 question tags I used to do on Tumblr and Xanga years ago. Found this one to be quite interesting. 

  • Where were you 3 hours ago?- on the subway omw to work 
  • Who are you in love with?- God, family and friends. unfortunately no man atm.
  • Have you ever eaten a crayon?- I wouldn’t be surprised if I did 
  • Is there anything pink within 10 feet of you?- nope
  • When is the last time you went to the mall?- last week during lunch break
  • Are you wearing socks right now?- always
  • Does your family have a car worth over $2,000?- mhm
  • When was the last time you drove out of town?- I don’t drive anymore
  • Have you been to the movies in the last 5 days?- nope
  • Are you hot?- nah it’s a little chilly in the office
  • What was the last thing you had to drink?- water
  • What are you wearing right now?- lightweight trench, white blouse, black leggings, ankle boots
  • Do you wash your car or let the car wash do it?- I don’t have a car
  • Last food that you ate?- banana
  • Where were you last week at this time?- werk
  • Have you bought any clothing items in the last week?- nope
  • When is the last time you ran?- yesterday to catch my train 
  • What’s the last sporting event you watched?- eurofinals portugal vs france
  • What is your favorite animal?- dog
  • Your dream vacation?- santorini
  • Last person’s house you were in?- hmm haven’t gone over to anyone’s place in sweden yet
  • Worst injury you’ve ever had? brain hemorrhage 
  • Have you been in love?- no
  • Do you miss anyone right now?- always
  • Last play you saw?- in korea, at 대학로 forgot the name
  • What is your secret weapon to lure in the opposite sex?- obviously the weapon is broken
  • What are your plans for tonight?- meal prep, laundry
  • Who is the last person you sent a Facebook message or comment?- monica
  • Next trip you are going to take?- hopefully Copenhagen, if not, london or berlin
  • Ever go to camp?- church
  • Were you an honor roll student in school?- surprisingly
  • What do you want to know about the future?- nah
  • Are you wearing any perfume or cologne?- Jo Malone wood sage & sea salt
  • Are you due sometime this year for a doctor’s visit?- probably
  • Where is your best friend?- LA
  • How is your best friend?- all of em in love 
  • Do you have a tan?- unfortunately
  • What are you listening to right now?- zion t
  • Do you collect anything?- makeup
  • Who is the biggest gossiper you know?- my sister lmao
  • Last time you got stopped by a cop or pulled over?- last year for DUI checkpoint
  • Have you ever drank your soda from a straw?- love straws.
  • What does your last text message say?- “Nu är det bara 2 dagar kvar pä din prisplan, sen ringer du med vår Basprislista.”
  • Do you like hot sauce?- always
  • Last time you took a shower?- this morning
  • Do you need to do laundry?- tonight
  • What is your heritage?- korean, 
  • Are you someone’s best friend?- hopefully
  • Are you rich?- haha, i wish
  • What were you doing at 12AM last night?- playing candycrush

  • Settling Down

    Wow, it’s been almost two months since I arrived in Stockholm and I promised myself that I would keep this blog active to document all the things that happen to me in Sweden but clearly I have forgotten. So I guess I will briefly recap what happened ever since my trip to Budapest. 

    Upon returning from Budapest, I started actively job hunting. I had about 6 interviews scheduled before I arrived to Stockholm and first week back from Budapest I went through all those interviews and a couple more that I got a chance to schedule once arriving to Stockholm. To be quite honest, I came to Stockholm thinking it wouldn’t be so hard to find a job here, especially because most of the companies I applied to wrote back to schedule an interview. Only shortly after going to interviews after interviews, I realized that the hiring process in Stockholm was a lot more complicated than I expected. Most companies, I had to go to multiple rounds of interviews and so the interviewing process alone took about a month until I heard back offers and rejections. Also the fact that I had a one-year temporary visa and that I would need to reapply for a work permit once my temporary visa ends troubled some companies and offers. The fact that most of Sweden takes a month-long break in July also didn’t really help my job hunting situation. 

    Meanwhile, while going to interviews and searching for a new job, I found Hillsong church in Stockholm and started attending the Sunday back from Budapest. I’ve attended Hillsong NYC when I was in New York for 4 years and a couple times in LA but as much as I loved the sermons and worship it was hard for me to get connected with the church so my Hillsong church experience has always been a 1:1 experience in NY and LA. However, from the first service I attended, Hillsong Stockholm welcomed me and got me connected real fast and even though services are in Swedish and I have to wear earphones for the translations, I felt like I was really part of the church and felt somewhat home in Stockholm. 

    So June passed by and came mid-July, when I finally received some offers from my interviews. And through much prayers and conversations with family and friends, I accepted an offer that best fit my expectation and interest and I started my new job this past Monday. (yay!) I can’t say much since it’s only been a week in the office and I haven’t done too much yet, but I think I really like my new position and team. We’ll see how it goes! Bonus points is that my new office is right next to an asian market with Korean food! Hallelujah! 

    But  yeah so almost two months in Stockholm and I finally found a job, a group of wonderful friends, and korean food that I think I can safely say that I settled down in this new city I will be calling home for a year (or more hopefully). I still have one minor stress issue that my coordination number has not arrived yet and since I need my coordination number to get my paycheck, I really hope my number arrives before August so that I can get my first paycheck in August! 

    And hopefully when I do get that first paycheck in August, I can really start exploring Sweden and Europe and have more juicy content for this blog! Haha since for now, I’m too broke to leave my room except for work and church. 

    J



    Budapest


    This weekend I took a super short trip to Budapest. My sister studied abroad in Budapest during the spring and went back to the states earlier than her apartment lease contract so I asked her landlord if I could stay at her apartment for the weekend. I arrived to Budapest on Saturday evening around 7pm and had a bit of a struggle getting the apartment keys because the landlord guy was out of town and he gave the keys to his friend to give them to me but since I had no cellular service in Budapest, I had to look for wi-fi places and contact the friend using Skype. And for some reason, I could only make calls and send texts but wasn’t receiving anything back so I had to keep calling the guy to see where he was and where we were meeting and his english was so bad, I was really losing my patience. All I understood from his broken english was that he was “a big man…black” so I thought he was a big black man. So I went to the spot where we agreed to meet and was waiting for a big black man when out of nowhere this gorgeous tall french guy in a black shirt came running towards to give me the keys. This is probably so shallow of me, but dear Lord Jesus Christ, he was so gorgeous I literally was just frozen and awkward. He seemed like he was in a hurry and told me to have a great trip and we had an awkward moment of shall we…do the french double cheek greeting..or hug….but being the awkward self I am, I held out my hand and he giggled and shook my hand and said goodbye! Damn, stupid me, should have totally pulled off the french double kiss on the cheeks. Oh wells. Anyways so after prince charming left, I only checked out Audrassy St which is kind of like the soho of Budapest and hauled myself back to the apartment to get some rest. 

    Woke up bright and early on Sunday to fully explore the city. Got ready and headed out around 9am to get some breakfast then basically did the whole tourist route exploring St. Stephen’s Basilica, Buda Castle, Castle District and Fisherman’s Bastion. I wore my Birks to Budapest because I got rid of all my sneakers and only have oxfords and loafers, and given that most of the places I was exploring were cobble streets, my feet hurt so bad after Fisherman’s Bastion, I walked back to the apartment and chilled until dinner. For dinner, I wanted to try the traditional Hungarian dishes so I found a place that had a pretty nice deal and right when I was about to order, this Korean girl that was sitting at the table next to me asked if I was Korean and traveling alone and if she could join and eat dinner with me. So I made a new friend, ate dinner together, explored the night scene together and said goodbye. Came back to the apartment and went to sleep early for a morning flight back to Stockholm. 

    It was a super short trip and I basically only had one full day to explore the city but nevertheless it was so beautiful and I feel like I really packed in my day and got to see most of the things I had to see in Budapest. One thing I didn’t get to do however was try the chimney bread so I guess that gives me a reason to visit again! 

    I wanted to post all my photos here but since I have a photo limit, I’ll just post a link to my album: 

    https://www.facebook.com/ashleypark91/media_set?set=a.2994346851750.1073741836.1054530926&type=3&pnref=story

    Here are some snippets from the album.

    xoxo,

    J


    First Week in Stockholm

    It’s already been one week since I arrived to Stockholm. It’s been quite a busy week, mostly full of interviews and settling into my new apartment. I was super lucky to find an apartment right away since Stockholm is known to have a crazy housing market. I saw a listing a couple months ago and reached out to the landlord who trusted me and waited for me to arrive to Stockholm. I was originally supposed to go to my new place straight from the airport but the lady told me she had work and would not be home until late night so I decided to spend the first night at a hostel in Gamla Stan, the most tourist part of Stockholm, to explore this new city I will be calling home for one year or more. So upon arriving at the airport, I took a shower at the airport shower facility because I had an interview right away, went to the hostel to drop off my bags and had the first interview. After the interview, I checked into the hostel and explored the city. Here are some snaps I took around the city.

    So one interesting fact is that during summers in Sweden, the sky is never dark. The sun sets around 11pm but the sky is still somewhat blue until sunrise so there really is no real darkness at all. And because of this, I keep waking up at 4am with the birds singing and sunlight beaming on my face so I don’t think this summer-daylight is helping me fix my jet lag. 

    After checking out the city, I contacted my apartment lady and went to see the apartment. The apartment was actually nicer than the pictures she showed me and I signed my rental contract right away, got my keys and told her I’d be back the next day to move in. Next day, I moved into the apartment, went to Ikea to get some things I needed, which by the way is the original Ikea, the world’s first and biggest Ikea! Upon arriving at Ikea, I got me some meatballs and other shit I needed and came back home to rest. Btw, it’s ikea like ee-keh-ya not ai-kee-yah.

    And ever since then, it’s pretty been just interviews after interviews. Most of the companies require a design assignment after the first round of interviews so I’ve been doing those too. I also had barbecue with the landlord lady which was fun, I guess. 

    So some random things I learned about Sweden since being here are that:

    1. Most Swedish people are fluent in English but some, even after I tell them I can’t speak Svenska or Swedish, proceed to talk to me full-on in Swedish…thanks. But It actually reminds me of my mom cuz she always proceeds to talk to my non-korean friends in korean even if I tell her multiple times they’re not Korean. 
    2. Public restrooms are not free in Sweden, gotta pay 10sek which is like 10cents? but they’re probably the cleanest public restrooms I’ve ever been to except the Incheon airport ones. But hey, I paid 10 cents, it should be nicer than the free ones, right?

    3. I don’t know if it’s just my apartment, but the toilet button(?) you pull up, not flush down….I would take a picture but…hmm maybe next time.
    4. I was super thirsty at the hostel and asked where I can get water and they told me to use the bathrooms…excuse me? So tap water is super clean in Sweden supposedly so no need to buy water. I now just go to the bathroom or kitchen to fill up my water cup. 
    5. This is really random but the supermarkets here do not have contact solutions. I left my bottle at the hostel and needed to get new ones but you have to go to the pharmacy to get contact solution, which was a little bit of a hassle for me, since pharmacies or Apotek/Apoteket are only in the city.
    6. They also don’t sell hair-dryers in normal markets and you need to go to electronics store to buy them, random I know but I needed to buy a hair-dryer too.
    7. Sweden is actually not as expensive as I expected. The price of living is fairly similar to that of NYC, so it’s not by any means not-expensive but it’s not as ridiculously expensive as, per say Norway. 

    Hmm that’s all that I can think of right now. I’ll write more later when I come across other interesting things I find about Sweden. Tomorrow I’m going to Budapest! Exciting stuff. I’m really trying to take advantage of living in Sweden for one year and exploring Europe as much as I can, so first up is Budapest. I will most definitely take lots of pictures and document as many things I can while in Budapest so I will probably write my next post regarding that.

    Anyways that’s it for now. Bye!


    Two Weeks

    Because it’s been a while since my last update. 
    So my 8 months in Korea is coming to an end and this thursday I will be going back to LA to spend some time with my family before moving to Stockholm, Sweden in June.

    When I tell people I’m moving to Stockholm, the questions I get the most are “are you excited?” and “what are you going to do there?” And honestly, I’m not all that excited because I have never been to Europe and I do not know what to expect but also the fact that I’m not going there for leisurely travel but to actually settle down, that I need to find a job and place to live as soon as I get off the plane, stresses me out. And so there’s my answer to the second most asked question, what am I going to do in Stockholm? I honestly don’t know. All I know is that I felt like this was the only time in my life when I can go somewhere totally new and far away and explore and experience the bigger world and I know that whatever happens in Sweden, it will be one of the most memorable things in my life. 

    So yeah, yesterday I moved out of my hongdae apartment, and this week I’m just hanging out with my dad until I go to LA on Thursday. Tomorrow I’m going to the bank to exchange all my money to Swedish kronas (the very little money I have) so to whomever I will be hanging out in LA with, let me just put it out there that 1. I am utterly broke 2. could you please buy me coffee? thanks. Haha but forreals. 

    So yeah I know I’ve been really bad with keeping up with my blog in Korea and the whole vlogging attempt was a major fail as well but hopefully I will be more diligent about this in Sweden, since I really do want to document everything I do in Sweden, even if no one reads it, just for my future reference. Regarding vlogging, I really do want to capture everything in live footage but I never knew I was such a perfectionist cuz I am never satisfied with the vlogs I make and thus never end up publishing them or taking them down within hours. So yeah, we’ll see how that goes. 

    Anyways, LA people, let’s hangout. But I’m broke so…we can either do things that cost no money, such as playing with my dogs, hiking, going to SM or malibu, eye shopping, etc or…you can buy me coffee. Or there’s also the option of..not hanging out. Haha okay bye!


    Back At It

    Time for a new update. 

    So since quitting my gig at the design studio, I’ve been freelancing and working part-time gigs. This past month, I was at an afterschool academy teaching elementary kids english. It was a short-term contract for 3 weeks and boy, did those three weeks fly by. I’ve always loved working with little kids and this experience definitely gave me a confirmation that perhaps later on in the future, when the hectic lifestyle of a designer is no longer a preference for me, I will start teaching little children. But for now, I only want to keep that in the back as an option and want to experience the world of design as much as I can. So it might be a little bit too early in the process to let this out but I’ve decided to go to Sweden in the summer, in the world of Scandinavian design, to learn more about graphic design. I’m still in the process of getting my visa, but unlike the London visa which was based on a lottery system, the Swedish visa is 100% guaranteed. They say it takes about 2-3 months for the visa to get finalized but some factors can make the process faster or slower depending on the case. So I’m hoping that my visa gets approved by June so that I can go to Stockholm in late June. I’ve booked my flight for California for late May to spend some time with my family before going to Sweden, so that means I only have one month and a half left in Korea. 

    I can’t believe it’s already been 8 months since I came back to Korea. The past 8 months have definitely been the most difficult time of my life but the biggest learning experience as well. I’ve met so many new people during my time and it’s so true that during the most difficult time is the time you truly see the people that love, care and support you unconditionally and I’ve really starting seeing and cherishing those relationships. I’ve also made a lot of decisions during the past 8 months and every decision I made has made a difference in my life and I’m grateful for the experiences that I had as a result of those decisions. Through my decision to live on my own in Hongdae, I’ve met so many people and made so many new friendships that I normally wouldn’t have if I chose to stay at my dad’s place in Bundang. Hongdae, being almost 2 hours away from Bundang, was not my go-to place whenever I visited Korea and by living in Hongdae for the past year, I’ve really fell in love with this place and all that Hongdae (Yeonnam/Donggyo/Seoggyo/Sangsu/Mangwon) has to offer. 

    All the decisions I made regarding my career since July 2015 has definitely left memories that I will never forget as well. From sitting in a room with thousands of people taking the Samsung Aptitude test to working at a small design boutique agency in Itaewon and seeing the differences of corporate culture, and let’s not forget all the little part-time gigs I had tutoring adults, working at a ticketing box for a salsa club in Hongdae, translating gigs for conferences, and working at the afterschool academy, I don’t think I’ve ever worked so much in my life. 

    So now that I have a little less than two months left, I’ve decided that for the next couple months, I’m just going to really take in Korea as much as I can and start exploring more of what this country has to offer. The Swedish visa is only for a year and I’ll most likely come back to Korea next summer but since you never know what will happen in the future, I’ve decided that I should experience things as much as I can when I can. Oh, and I’ve started studying and learning Svenska (Swedish). Hehe

    I wanted to make this a short update but it ended up being quite long as always. I finally bought a new point-and-shoot camera so I’ll be taking lots of pictures of my explorations here so stay tuned for that. That’s all!

    J



    Bigbang Concert

    Hey guys,
    since yesterday’s post was somewhat dark and gloomy I thought I’d share with you guys a brighter side of what I’ve been up to. Today I went to Bigbang’s MADE World Tour Final Concert in Seoul! (fan girl scream) If you know me then you already know that I’ve been the biggest Bigbang fan since their pre-debut days way back in middle school. For some reason when they came to the US for their world tours, timing was always not in my favor. Their NYC concert was the year I left NY and their LA concert was, of course, right after I left LA to move back to Korea. And even this time, I attempted 3 times to get their tickets during their ticketing days but I failed all three times and all the tickets were sold out in a matter of minutes. So one day before the concert (yesterday) I pretty much gave up and was just surfing through TICKETBAY, an online platform where people sell or exchange their tickets through a secured 3rd party service, and sure people were selling Bigbang tickets there, but were on sale for 50-100manwon ($500-1000). Pshhh 500 my ass. So I was just scrolling and scrolling and looking at the ridiculous amount of money the tickets were being resold for, when I refreshed my page and saw a listing show up for $180, only 70 bucks more expensive than the original ticket price. So I jumped on the bandwagon and sooner than you know it, I got the ticket. (WINNER!) So today, I went to the concert stadium to meet the seller, which happened to be an ahjumma (mom) of some teenage fan and she told me that TICKETBAY actually charged a service fee and she felt like I paid too much for the ticket and gave me back 2manwon (20bucks). What an angel she was for she easily could have just taken 20 more bucks from me but PTL! I got 20 bucks back and my ticket. And needless to say had a blast at the concert. I went by myself but most of the fans came by themselves for Bigbang tickets are really hard to get and I guess you have better luck getting one seat than two or more consecutive seats. So I put together a little video of the little snippets of their performances I took with my iphone (given that no cameras were allowed) and since I was on the 2nd/3rd floor, you can’t really see Bigbang’s faces (I was able to see their faces but iphone doesn’t really do a great job capturing it) but it’s better than nothing! haha and yes the video is super choppy because i was too busy fangirling and only recorded random bits…but here it is! hehe (and you can hear me fangirling at the end so wait for it haha)






    The video is pretty low quality because it was shot on my iphone in low light, due to no camera policy at the stadium.


    Update

    So it’s been a while since my last post. I didn’t mean to abandon my blog entirely for the last couple months but let’s just say my life has been pretty chaotic lately. Although I deleted my last post about my new job, basically for the past couple months I’ve been working with a small design studio in Seoul. Despite my initial thoughts and excitement about my new job, things didn’t turn out so well. And after two strenuous months, I’ve ended my stay at the studio and now I am back to freelancing and taking a little more time to think about what my next steps are going to be. 

    As some of you guys know, I have been planning to go to London ever since I left the states and to cut to the chase, I did not get selected for the London Holiday Visa 2016. So to explain things in detail, South Korea has a treaty with the UK which sends 1000 young adults between ages 18-30 to travel to the UK for a maximum of 2 years to work and study every year. Because the number is limited, all applications go through a randomized lottery to get the national sponsorship for the visa, and unfortunately my application did not get selected. So upon hearing the results, I was, to be frank, pretty upset, since this is my second time not getting a visa through a randomized lottery. But more than upset, I was lost in what I should do as a plan B. Working in Korea for the couple months I was preparing for London, I had difficulties with the Korean working culture to be honest. I did not feel like I was growing as a designer but most importantly I was losing my passion and love for my job due to the differences in company culture. Let’s just say I had zero work-life balance and was constantly told that my way of thinking and working was wrong, instead of different, given that I did not grow up in this country and the way I work, think, and create is inevitably a little different than here. I also did not have a great source of mentorship and thus I felt like I wasn’t progressing but rather withering away. 

    So since my London plans did not quite go the way I planned, upon quitting my job at the studio, I looked into alternate options. Given that Working Holiday is only valid to 18-30 year olds and that I am already in my mid-twenties, I knew I had to take this chance. And since London did not work out so well, I looked into other countries I can go to with this program and right now I am going through the WH visa process for another country, which I won’t go into detail until things are finalized, since you never know what will happen. (given that I failed twice in visa selections) So I will update you guys as I hear back from my visa application but until the results come out, I’ve decided to jump back into blogging and actually started vlogging my daily adventures in Korea. Regardless of my working struggles, I still really do love this country and want to document everything I experience during my stay here, through words but also through live clips so stay tuned for the vlogs coming up very soon. :) 

    Be back soon,
    J


    Alice

    It’s amazing how different childhood stories speak to you when you reread them as an adult. 
    It’s also amazing how three sentences change the meaning of Alice and her story in Wonderland.
    I’ve always loved Shel Silverstein as a child and his poems just get better and better as I get older and older. 

    So here I am facing a dilemma of what step to take next in my life and Silverstein couldn’t have said it better than anyone else in these three little lines. 

    Also this. 

    -J


    New Beginnings

    I thought I’d start a blog on my site to write down my thoughts as a way of communication with those who are interested as well as creating a note to myself– a sort of a diary perhaps. 

    my dear california

    First week of December has been pretty busy for me. I was in California for last couple weeks of November, spending Thanksgiving with my family and meeting old faces I missed dearly. Ever since moving to Korea in July, I’ve been having a slump, to be frank. Finding a new job hasn’t been the easiest for me and adjusting to a place where I call motherland but have not lived in since I was a little kid was a bit rougher than expected. So my mom suggested coming over to California to spend Thanksgiving with the family and I guess I really needed it. I came to Korea somewhat carefree, thinking that it’s my homeland and that it wouldn’t be so hard to adjust to. But things were a lot more real than I expected and I guess I wasn’t mentally ready for all the changes that had to happen. So going back to California and spending a couple weeks really rethinking about my life and the changes that need to happen helped reset my mind. Upon coming back to Korea, I started to actively job-hunt, adjusting my expectations to what is realistic to my circumstances. So needless to say, first week of December has been a lot of resume updating, portfolio adjusting and emails to set up interviews. 

    Aside from my job search, I’ve started this month with new goals and plans, starting with this very one of starting a blog. Since moving back to Korea, I haven’t been speaking English much and I guess this blog will be a place for me to let out my English thoughts. I also don’t want to forget my English, which I doubt but you never know since I rarely speak English nowadays, which thank God I’m fluent in Korean or else I’d be pretty hopeless. 

    So last Wednesday, I came back to Korea around 7pm. After having dinner with my dad, I unpacked my luggage and gave my dad his early-Christmas present, which I totally forgot to take a photo of. My sisters and I pitched in for a new Polo sweater, taking advantage of Black Friday, and it fit him perfectly and he loved it - yay! So after dropping me off at my place in Hongdae, my dad went back to his place in Bundang and I spent the rest of the night unpacking and knocked out quite early, tired from my 13 hour flight. 

    Bright and early Thursday morning, I woke up to SNOW! I haven’t seen snow since I lived in New York, which has already been two years, damn. So I put on my winter boots and went out to run some errands. So during my trip to California, I bought a bunch of new makeup so I went to Daiso to buy some organizers for my vanity, which were only ₩3000 (around $3). Score! 

    Next day I went to visit my grandma. Going over to my grandma’s is always a bittersweet moment for me since I love seeing her, especially how happy she gets when she sees my face, but it also breaks my heart to see how weak and fragile she’s gotten. So after spending the whole day at my grandma’s, I bought a poinsettia on my way back home to add some holiday spirit to my desk. 

    Nothing much since then has happened. Just the usual catching up with friends and exploring the city. Oh! I also started to sketch on my downtime as well as learn the guitar, which if you know me already has been a long-time struggle for me due to my lack of practice and persistence. But 2016! I will master you guitar. 

    So that pretty much sums up this week. Be back soon ;)

    -J

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