August 2009


In many ways when I am walking around in my new city I still see things that are familiar to me: most people wear western clothes, there are grocery stores and things like Home Plus or E-Mart (like Target or Walmart ), many signs are in English, cars and buses look similar to those in the USA, and coffee is readily available.

But when visiting the markets I am quickly reminded that I am definitely in a new place!!

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Dried Anchovies (I think), sorted by size

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Not lamps!

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Just sitting there on the ground, a whole pig head.

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Say, what? On Tuesday morning, this is what I saw out my front windows. Driving down each side of the road the truck was spraying into the trees! There is always a lot of traffic on the road, but it made a very loud and particular sound which is why I even noticed it was there. The spray had such force that it blew some of the leaves off the trees. But what or why this was happening. . . Spraying for bugs? Cleaning out dead leaves? Spraying water? Or chemicals?

Even though I’m 18 floors up, I still closed the windows. If it was chemicals I didn’t want it in my apartment!

Isn’t that curious?

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This was a big day: Tuesday! We made our own coffee at home.

All of the following had to be set: Coffee pot brought from home. Coffee from Home Plus Express. Water kettle from E-Mart. A visit from the gas man on Monday afternoon.

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Drinking coffee with my mom.

Oh, it was a glorious day!!

When I arrived, late last Saturday night, a little travel worn and very tired, we were taken immediately to my new home. It was all totally crazy: I went with one of the professors and most of our bags, while my mom, cousin Paul and the other professor followed in a taxi. When we FINALLY found it, we went up the wrong elevator!

This is my new home on the 18th floor:

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It’s a building with approximately 200 units in a complex of about 20 similar buildings.

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My favorite part is this cute little kitchen!

2- the number of porches I have in the apartment (front and back).

6- how many days it took to get my phone set up!

220- the voltage from my new plugs (thankfully my computer is adaptable).

Two days before our planned departure I got some surprising news: my visa was only half processed. It was an unlucky situation and a misunderstanding on both sides, but I thought that my visa application was complete with the number I received from the university in Korea. In actuality I had to take that number to the nearest Korean consulate to apply for the visa. I was in Colorado, 1000 miles from the nearest consulate!

On Wednesday night, when I started reading all the visa information (that I should have been reading all along . . . but I thought it was taken care of. . . ) I began to realize the gravity of the situation. I could enter Korea without a visa, but could I work? Or would I be able to set up things like a phone or bank account as a “traveler”?  I had so many questions! On Thursday morning I started making phone calls, but couldn’t get a hold of anyone in any consulate- not Washington DC, Chicago, San Francisco or LA. When I checked the Denver yellowpages I found an “honorary” Korean consulate listed. They couldn’t be reached by phone, so in desperation I drove down to Denver. . . only to discover that there really isn’t any such thing. I didn’t know what to do. Should I try to cancel my flights to stay in LA for a weekend to get the visa? Or could I squeeze in the consulate visit on my layover? Should my mom travel alone and be 3 days in Korea by herself? Should we both change our flights? How much would this all cost? Without answers I returned to my parents house as a crying and hysterical mess!

It was in panic that I thought to call my Korean contact in NYC. That was the best thing I could have done. He was a great help and called to Korea for me to ask about my situation. After an entire day of no information, he was able to give me some!! By 8 pm we came to this simple solution: both mom and I would leave as planned on Friday.Then within my first 90 days in Korea I would leave to apply for my visa and re-enter. This was such a simple solution, but so complicated to come by. Thank you to all who prayed for me on Thursday. It was a crazy day, but the Lord worked a solution.

And then in typical Karin timing, I started packing. . . through the night.

And bright and early on Friday, August 15, we boarded a plane from Denver to LAX.

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with my sisters, 5 am

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my mom and I with our backpacks

We landed in LA and met with my Aunt and Uncle for a quick visit. Again, it was SO nice to see family, even if it was just in the airport!!

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Mom, Aunt Marian, Uncle Erik

From LAX we flew to Seoul/Incheon, 12 1/2 hours, but not a bad trip. We were served good food (!!), I watched 3 movies, slept and played games. Fabulous!

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Korean Air

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All my many bags!!

Our final flight was really short, just under an hour, from Seoul to Deagu. In Daegu we were greeted by my cousin Paul and two professors from the University. It was quite a warm welcome for us in my new city!!

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Paul with all the bags and I’m in the background with the 2 professors.


After leaving Marquette I headed home to Colorado, but not before a quick layover in Minneapolis to see grandma, mom, aunts and uncle, and cousins. It was so nice to see them all in the airport and give everyone a quick hug! They had all had a CRAZY couple of days and I was honored that they made the time to come and see me off.

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all the fam in MSP!

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Grandma and I!

My time in Colorado was really lovely!! I went camping with all my sisters for a long weekend at Mt. Meeker. Dad came up on Saturday and we hiked a little (although not too much because I has having a bit of trouble with the altitude) and drove Fall River Rd and Trail Ridge in Rocky Mountain National Park. My friend Heidi came up for an over-night visit too and we had fun hanging out in the camp site. We all agreed before we left: the purpose of the camping trip was to relax. And that’s what we did!

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family photo

Colorado #s:

2- the number of kids my friends Kimberly and Jay now have in their family!!

4- beds I slept in.

7- cities/towns visited while in Colorado (Niwot, Longmont, Boulder, Denver, Monument, Littleton, Lakewood)

9- sunny days

My camera has not been working properly, so thank you Betsy for these photos!!

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Betsy and I by one of the Dead River waterfalls.

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Lake Superior from Sugar Loaf Mountain. Check out the blue, blue water!!

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Dan and I taking a little nap on the rocks.

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Yummy food in the canoe!

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