Thursday, December 28, 2006


So here I am waiting to go to the hospital. Again. I don't want to go, but I don't think that the doctors gave me enough antibiotics to clear this thing up. My mom has been doing some research and learned that my type of pneumonia can be very serious-fatal in some situations. I may need more medication, so I wanted to take care of that before I leave in less than 20 hours. I am just waiting for my boss to call me and to take me to the hospital.

I missed work again today because of the illness. I overdid it yesterday and as a result feel badly today. I had insomina all night so I only slept a rough three hours. I tried to sleep more this morning, bu tmy-coworker called to tell me that my students had a cake for me and to see if I could come there or if they could come to my place. I really didn't need to hear that. I had been feeling so bad about missing work that this just made me feel sadder. My last day in Korea and I am really sick! Wish that things were different.

I feel tired now, but I can't sleep because of waiting for my boss. At least I will have help from my friends in cleaning my apartment this afternoon and with running some errands. My apartment is feeling so depressing now that most things are off the walls and everything is in boxes. I need to do the dishes and take out the trash, but that's about it. I am pretty ready to go. I was really sad to leave Korea, but right now, I can't wait to be home. I want this farewell stage to end and to be safe and comfortable at home.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

I survived my living abroad test

I was definitely tested this morning in more ways than one.
1) I was tested to see if I am truly able to survive in a foreign country
2)I was physically tested by doctors

I woke up this morning at 3:00 am with a racing heart and lots of chest pain. Sometimes when I take a nap,I will have a nightmare that will cause my heart to race. So I tried to relax, but when the pain and racing heart had not subsided in 40 minutes, I called my Dad. I decided that I needed to go to the hospital, so I went downstairs and asked Kristina if she would go to the hospital with me. While there, I vomitted, so I knew that I needed some medical help. We got in a cab and went to a hospital very near to where we live. We walked in and it was so quiet. The desk clerk was asleep, and so were most of the nurses and doctors. We had to wait about 15 minutes for a doctor to come and he stumbled into the emergency room looking very sleepy and disheveled. The hospital was not clean. The sheets and pillows on the beds were stained and had hairs on them. I was the only patient. The doctor spoke only a little English and was very apathetic. I tried to explain that my chest was hurting. He looked puzzled and kept asking me "who hit you?" I decided that we had to get out of there so I called my boss.

In the meantime, I went to use the bathroom, which was also dirty and both soap dispensers were broken with no soap. I knew that we defintiely had to get out of there!

My boss and her husband took us to a nicer hospital, although still not up to American standards. At least here, the doctors and nurses spoke great English and were more efficient. They put me on an IV right away and took X-rays. I was kept in a large room with about 10 other people. There were many beds and most of the people slept.

I stayed there alone while the tests were being completed and they observed me. By the time that we got to the second hospital, the racing heart had stopped, but I still had pain. I thought that perhaps I was having a panic attack because I have been quite stressed and anxious about Aaron leaving, Christmas being a disaster, getting ready to leave Korea and my luggage being way overweight! But I have been stressed a lot in the past and I never had a panic attack before.

The diagnosis was finally that I have atypical pneumonia and a gastro viral infection. All the other patients listened real intently when I was diagnosed. I guess that they were curious as to what this Western woman was sick with. One good thing is that all the treatment cost me only $85. Back home just walking through the Emergency Room door costs you $1000!

I have been put on antibiotics. I am currently resting. My apartment is a disaster and I am trying not to stress too much about it. I only have 2.5 days left in Korea and I really didn't want to spend them being sick. At least I have good friends here who really care for me. Suki is coming over tonight with soup and she will help me mail things home from the post office tomorrow. Mr and Mrs Cho were so kind to me this morning. Kristina was so wonderful with taking me to the hospital this morning and taking care of me. Paul has offered to bring me food and keep me company. I am such a blessed person to have all this support in my life.

I am just going to continue to rest this afternoon and take another look at my suitcases. I need to run some other errands before I leave Korea as well. too much to do to be sick and in bed. But being sick makes me want to get home and rest. Get away from the air pollution. But I am not looking forward to a 20 hour plane ride and I am especially not looking forward to saying goodbye to everyone. This is such a rough week. Tomorrow I say goodbye to Baxter when I gave him to Diana. I'll miss the little bird. I've grown quite attached.

So Close and yet So Far

I started my packing today and I feel overwhelmed! My bags must be overweight, but they've got nearly everything crammed into them. Just a few more things to add. I am so worried that I am going to have to pay extra!

My place is a disaster. I have luggage on the floor and laundry hanging on a rack to dry and bags of donations sitting by the bed. All this stress of packing and getting ready to leave just makes me want it to happen that much quicker. I am of course still sad to say goodbye to friends and to Korea, but I can't take this transitional period much longer. It wears a person down.

I am not feeling creative at all. So I will opt for a picture to tell a story for me.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!

I want to wish everyone a very blessed Christmas. May you be surrounded by loving family and friends and may their love warm your heart. I hope that this Christmas has a bit of magic in it for you and that you feel like a child. May it also provide meaning for your life and may you feel joyful.

Things have been very busy recently. I have been busy going to government offices, shopping and making trips into Seoul during the week. Also, I had to say goodbye to Aaron today as he left for Seattle. It was a tearful goodbye, despite knowing that we will probably see eachother in a month (hopefully). I knew that I would be sad, but this process of saying goodbye has been extremely difficult. This has been the saddest Christmas Eve of my life, but yet, the happiest. I have had an awesome time in Korea and I have learned how many wonderful people there are in my life. This experience has brought me closer to some people such as my grandma and my aunt Ellen. I have fallen in love with Aaron and we have become extremely close. I have made some wonderful new friends.

I will be setting out on a new adventure in a few days. I will get to make new friends, have new challenges and see all the familiar faces and places that I love.

It doesn't feel much like Christmas here in Korea on Christmas Eve; Seoul has been especially crowded with shoppers, but nearly every business is open and many will be open on Christmas day, as well. Tonight, Paul, Kristina, Lisa and I got dinner at an Indian restaurant in the neighborhood. Shortly, we will watch "Ziggy's Gift" and play games. Tomorrow, Paul and I will play games and watch Christmas movies while Kristina and Lisa go into Seoul. Paul and I are really into Christmas, while Lisa and Kristina are kind of indifferent. We will all go to a Western-style restaurant/bar for a dinner buffet.

My apartment is feeling cozy with its lights and little tree. The place that has felt most Christmasy to me has been Starbucks with its hot drinks, Christmas music and warm atmosphere. I have been drinking many coffees there recently.

Unfortunately, my heart is feeling quite heavy at the moment. I wish that Aaron was here with me, but I am happy that he will be with his family for the first time in five years for Christmas.

I hope that you all have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!


"Love until it hurts."

--Mother Theresa

"Love that ends is the shadow of love; true love is without beginning or end."

--Hazrat Inayat Khan

"In the shadow of his hand hath he hid me."

--Isaiah 49:2

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Korea has changed me

I have changed in many ways since I came to Korea:

1) I have become more self-reliant
2) I am more independent
3) I like being by myself more
4) I get by on less sleep
5) I am more confident

6) I suffer from sore throats from the pollution; my lungs have probably turned black.
7) I am paranoid. I think that I hear and see mosquitoes even though the last finally died at the beginning of December.

There is a great man who makes every man feel small. But the real great man is the mena who makes ever man feel great.
--G.K. Chesterton

Monday, December 18, 2006

It's all starting to sink in

It really started to sink in today that I am leaving Korea in a really short time. I had the help of a former student of mine today at immigration. James was a great friend to help me. Most people try to avoid government offices at all costs. I was so happy that James helped me out. I didn't have to say a word to the Korean officer, so it was really easy to extend my visa for three days. It was really nice getting to talk with James and his friend, Jason, who just came back to Korea after a year in London.

When I arrived back to my apartment as the sun set, I realized that I am going to be handing over the keys real soon and that I will be taking down all of my cards off the walls. This special space that has been my home for a year soon won't belong to me at all. I am quite sad about it. This is my first place. I have made it my own.

Korean Salvation Army Volunteers
It took me a long time to realize that I was actually going to Korea last year. I had packed my suitcases, said my goodbyes and yet the seriousness of my decision only really started to hit me when I got on the plane at Seattle to Tokyo. I was one of the few people on the plane not speaking an Asian language. I think that I am realizing what I am doing a little earlier this time. And I think that this realization might make it more difficult to say goodbye. When I left the USA, I knew that I would see those people again, but I may and probably won't see most of the people here again. I have a feeling that I will see some of them again and that I will keep in touch with many of them.

I hope to absorb as much of Korea in the next 11 days as possible.

Experience is not what happens to you; but it's what you do with what happens to you.
--Elbert Hubbard

Friday, December 15, 2006

Itaewon: a place of foreigners

When I first arrived in Korea, I didn't like Itaewon. Itaewon is an area of Seoul near that USA army base that attracts all sorts of foreigners: soldiers, teachers, businessmen, and tourists. I wouldn't allow myself to like it because it had mostly lost any feeling of Korean culture. It was a place to go once in a while to drink in the Western-feeling bars and to see my soldier boyfriend. I had preferred to spend my Saturday nights in Hongdae, an area with more Korean nightlife.

As time has gone by, however, I have grown attached to Itaewon. It mostly started one day when Paul heard that there was a pita restaurant. I vaguely remember the first time that we went there. I orded a chicken ceasar pita, which was made fresh with the vegetables that I chose. We sat on the balcony and watched the people shopping at the street vendors. The pita was delicious. Paul and I were hooked. The restaurant offers a deal: buy 10 pitas and get a free. It's not that great of a deal in reality because each pita costs about $6.50. But the wonderful taste of pitas drew us to Itaewon each week. We have eaten our free pita plus four. Now it's cold so today we had to eat inside. The pitas were still delicious but not as enjoyable without the view.

We have also discovered some other great places in Itaewon including "What the Book." It's the best place in Seoul for new and used books and magazines. They will even order books for you. The prices are okay.

Itaewon is an interesting place. As a person walks down the street, you are approached by many men wanting to sell you a custom-made suit. Fake designer purses, sunglasses and scarves are also sold. There is a large Muslim population in the area. They have built a mosque and school on a hill. Paul and I walked up there to have a look today. It seemed so strange to hear these Middle Eastern men talking Korean in stores because Korea is such a homgenous country. Korea is still about 99% ethnically Korean.

I read in a newspaper that Itaewon has been the home to foreigners for hundreds of years. But I wonder how Itaewon will be affected when the US army base at Yongsan moves in about five years. Will it survive. It probably will because of how many foreigners live there not tied to the base.

Other foreigners living in Itaewon include Nigerians who sell African jewelry and Russian women who work in the bars and probably as hookers. Most of the prostitutes that I see on "Hooker Hill" are Korean women and Korean male crossdressers. The women often sit idly in the doorway talking on a cell phone and looking bored. Sometimes when I look inside, I see Western and Korean men drinking at a bar. The male crossdressers stand on a corner and talk loudly. The women do not approach the men. American soldiers are not permitted to go to the places of prostution. Besides the bars and love motels, there are karaoke rooms and massage parlors that offer "happy endings." I'll write more another time, but Korean prostitution is mostly supported by Koreans and not by the Westerners or American soldiers.

All this diversity in people makes for some really good restaurants and bars. There are Indian, Turkish, Indonesian, Thai, American and Korean all in a small area. The bars offer a variety of atmospheres. Everything from the Grand Ole' Opry to Gecko's and Rocky Mountain to Helio's.

I have learned to appreciate Itaewon for what it is. A place to escape food boredom, to buy a good book, to people watch and to knock a few back.

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Kat in Name Only?

I have had many nicknames throughout my life. Some have been predictable like Katie and Kate, for example. Others have been quite quirky. My mother used to call me Skidmore Falana (now simply Kidmore). My dad used to call me Bomber Del Roy (now simply Roy). You may ask why my parents called me these silly and nonsensical names? Who knows? They are just fun little petnames. My grandpa called me Katrina or Katrinka. I love all these nicknames because they make me feel loved and special.

In recent years, I have mostly gone by my given name: Katherine. I feel that it is more professional, and considering there are a million Katies, more attention-grabbing. Katie is used by old friends, family and my ex-boyfriend who decided to call me Katie because it took too much effort to call me Katherine.

It was only a couple years ago that I was given the name Kat by my friend Amanda. I was hesitant about that nickname at first because I am not "a cat person." However, the name stuck. It really took hold when I was in Las Vegas. While I was there with Amanda, we let a little loose. We were approached by two guys and when they asked for my name, I said Kat. I thought that since I was in "Sin City" I should take on a slightly different personality. What I didn't know at that time was that one of those two men would become my current boyfriend. When I arrived in Korea, Aaron continued to call me Kat. Then it spread to my other Army friends. And now to some of my Canadian and British friends. I have gotten used to the name and enjoy it now. I think that I will adopt it as my new nickname. So please call me Kat!

There is an added bonus. My longest friend is Kit. So that makes us Kit-Kat (a famous candy bar in North America).

As far as the name of this blog goes...Paul helped me with it. We were riding on the subway and throwing out ideas for the name. I said how I like the nickname Kat, but not the association with the animal, so he suggested the name "Kat in Name Only." And I jumped for it. Thanks, Paul!

Be like the bird, pausing in his flight
On limb too slight,
Feels it give way, yet sings,
Knowing he has wings.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The First Scary Posting

As my time in Korea is nearing completion, I am in a reflective mood. There are many things to say about Korea. My year in Korea has been one of the best experiences of my life; I have learned so much about myself and about Korean culture. I have grown as a person and like the personal changes that I have gone through. I now feel confident to travel all around the world. I wouldn't change my time in Korea at all.

I have gotten to know so many wonderful people from all around the world and I want to keep in touch with them; that is why I have created this blog. I hope that you will read it and comment. To all of my Korean friends: thank you for welcoming me to Korea and helping me to understand Korean culture and traditions. You have been such a valuable resource. I hope that you will all visit me in USA someday. (Just let me know when you are coming!)

To all of my non-Korean friends: thank you for sharing the wonders of Korea with me. You were there during the great, the good, the bad and the ugly. We shared so many laughs and smiles.

I was talking with Paul on the subway today about Korea (as we often do). I was talking about if I have any regrets about my time in Korea. I don't so much have regrets as I have some wishes.

*I wish that I would have traveled to Busan and Kyungju.
*I wish that I would have learned more Korean (mostly to impress family and friends back home)
*I wish that I would have traveled on the pink and yellow subway lines.
*I wish that I would have taken more pictures.
*I wish that I would have listened to more Korean music and seen more movies.
*I wish that I would have explored most of the stops on the subway system (I have an unfulfilled plan)
*I wish that I had a few more months here

I am sad to leave Korea, but I am excited to see family and friends that I have not seen in a year. This has been the first time living away from home, so it is time for me to reconnect with everyone and everything that I have left behind. I am filled with bittersweet emotions. Korea is home. USA is home. I will miss Korea with all its color, noise, crowds and energy. I am never bored here. Thank you friends!

Quote: I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.
-from Albert Einstein