Category: illness

There and back again

Well my nerdy book-worm friends will recognize the title of this blog as a reference to J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit,” which I suppose is rather fitting considering the fact that I’ve just spent the better part of an hour downloading dozens of free literary classics onto my Kindle to keep me occupied during my numerous upcoming flights.  But other than that, there is really nothing relating to Tolkien or Middle Earth or Hobbits in this blog.  This one is about Christmastime in America :).

The trip to America was long and boring, but I would not go so far as to say grueling.  It was uneventful, and marked mostly by sitting and watching movies, but not a particularly pleasant trip, nonetheless.  I started at 2 in the morning from Gyeongju, catching a bus to the airport in Seoul.  I met a girl from California while I was waiting on my flight who was doing the same thing I was, and we got some coffee and had a nice long chat.  It was a much better way to pass the time than just sitting in a corner of the airport :).  So anyway, 1 bus, 2 planes, 3 customs and security checks, 4 airplane meals, and 27 hours later, I finally found myself in Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International airport.  My friend Sylvain met me at the airport.  We got some airport pizza, he got a good laugh at seeing me so completely jet-lagged, we caught up for a little bit, and then I took a shuttle to Columbus, where my family was there waiting for me.  Actually, I ended up waiting for them for a little bit, but it was ok, because I got to meet lots of interesting people while I waited.  I had forgotten how much I enjoy striking up random conversations with strangers I meet in my travels.  That’s not really something I can do in Korea, as usually there is a pretty large language barrier that makes communication of any depth really impossible.

So anyway, my first week in America was marked mainly by just spending time with family and friends, punctuated by Christmas, my birthday celebration, and visits from Grandparents.  I went on a picnic with my friend Tyler, saw the new Sherlock Holmes movie with James, took daddy to see Mission Impossible, and played lots and lots of games with my siblings.  I went to a Christmas Eve Eve service at my church on the 23rd, got a hair cut and a pedicure with my mom, and went shopping with my grandmother.  Christmas day was a relaxing affair – we waited to open presents until after church, and then just hung around and visited with each other.  It was also the only day that I got to see Chris, which was a nice treat.  Mom and I hosted a tea at our house with some of her lady friends who had been wanting to meet me, which was fun – I’ve been wanting to meet them, too, and I haven’t had a real tea in years.  Then my grandparents came down to visit on the 27th, and stayed until the 30th, so I got to spend a lot of time with them, too.  That was awesome – it had been close to a year since I’d seen them.

Josh’s birthday present – Joshua 1:7 in Korean

Tyler’s Christmas present – Kimchi!!  He was so happy 🙂

My first picnic in years 🙂

She’s such a cutie pie <3

The Fenner family, all together!  Such a rarity these days…

Merry Christmas!!!

I love, love this picture!!

Spreading the Korea love….

Yay for seeing grandparents!! 🙂

Tea with the ladies! 🙂

Haha we’re silly 😀

Christmas presents from the host family 🙂

On the 30th, we packed everything up and made the long drive to Birmingham, Alabama, to spend New Year’s Eve with our friends the Roberts’.  This has been an annual tradition with our families every year for as long as I can remember – we take turns hosting each other in our respective homes, and it’s always a lot of fun.  However, I haven’t been able to be present for several years for one reason or the other – usually it’s because I’m out of the country, lol – so it was especially nice for me.  So we had lots of fun, played lots of games, watched the ball drop in New York City (and for a special treat, watched the moon pie drop in Mobile, Alabama!  Gotta love the south, lol….), went to church, and then headed back home.

Games with the Roberts’ are always super intense, lol…

Happy new year!!

Friends… <3

On the way back to Albany, my parents dropped me off in Atlanta.  So that was goodbye to my family, and hello to Atlanta.  Bittersweet for sure, but it was good to see my friends in Atlanta.  So Rachel and her fiance Ryan picked me up from my parents, and we wasted no time.  That night was spent playing putt-putt with J-Parr, and then going to Jonathan and Jessica’s house and playing games until wayyyy too late at night.

The next day, January 2nd, was the day before my 22nd birthday.  However, since my 22nd birthday was going to be spent on a plane, the 2nd was the celebration day.  I got to watch the tournament of roses parade (my favorite parade…ever!) for the first time in like 3 years.  After that came lunch with David and the Knights and then more games.  And then the evening came.  What started off as a simple dinner with friends morphed, because of my fabulous friends, into a full-blown birthday dance.  They even had a steal dance just for me.  As I was looking around the dance room at all of these dear faces, half of whom didn’t even dance, but had come just to see me, I was overwhelmed.  I felt so loved.  It was a wonderful way to wrap up my visit to the states.

They were calling me the “princess” because of what I was wearing.  I think that’s why I was making that face, lol.  But…I did win the game!! 🙂

Soon-to-be newlyweds….love those guys

Jonathan and Jessica
Me ‘n David 
Old friends from Berry <3

again….spreading the Korea love.  What can I say?  It’s infectious 🙂

My friends are silly 🙂

Yay for sisters 🙂

So, armed with my suitcases and enveloped with the wonderful new jacket that they had bought me for my birthday, Rachel and Ryan took me to the airport early the next morning.  I was fighting a cold, but I sat next to a really friendly lady on the plane who made the trip a whole lot more bearable.  When I finally arrived in Seoul, the plan was to meet Sarah and Leora and Adam and go up to Hwacheon to see the ice festival.  So I met them and they gave me a little birthday party and it was great to see them.  But by then I was REALLY sick, so instead of going north to Hwacheon, I went south to Gyeongju.  I know my limits, and that would have been just too much.

Brand-new fiancees!  And I get to be in the wedding!! <3 

So I finally got home to Gyeongju…and my host father took one look at me and hauled me off to the hospital.  Within an hour, and after much poking and prodding, I found myself with an IV needle sticking in my arm and a bagful of medicine.  Add to that extreme jet-lag, and my host mom’s constant fussing and overprotectiveness was NOT appreciated.  All I wanted to do was sleep, and that was the one thing they didn’t seem to want to let me do.  Although I must say, sleeping with a needle in your arm is most certainly not the most pleasant sensation.

Today, the next day, was mostly spent in bed, with a short foray into town to swap stories with Elizabeth.  I’m glad I got to see her – I needed to get out of the house, and I think talking with her restored a sense of normalcy and acceptance to being in Korea again, which I had been lacking since my arrival.  So yeah, that was America!  Winter camp starts in 2 days – keep me in your prayers!!  I’m super nervous about it – I’ve never done anything like this before.  I’ll have my students for more time in the span of 2 weeks than I had them for the entire semester, and I’m terrified that I will run out of material.  I guess it’ll just be another chance for God to show His bigness!! 🙂

Life, love, archery, and exploration

Well orientation continues to clip along at an astonishing rate.  Now that Camp Fulbright is over, we’re back to workshops every afternoon.  This week’s workshops were mostly cultural workshops, although the one on Friday was a series of mini-workshops run by some of my fellow ETAs about different aspects of teaching that they have had experience in – classroom management, creating a lesson plan, incorporating games, etc.  It was very interesting; I really enjoyed hearing tips from my peers and friends.

It’s also been a rather exciting week for me physically, although not one that I particularly would want to ever repeat.  I’ve had a cough all week, but it hasn’t really affected my energy levels too much.  But then on Wednesday, I randomly lost my voice.  I felt fine, but you would have never guessed that from hearing me.  I went from sounding like a dying frog to a terrified mice to a strange mixture of the two of them.  By the end of the day, I had no voice at all.

So then on Thursday, my voice came back, but my stomach checked out.  I woke up fine and went to class at 9 like any other day.  But by 9:15, I was curled up in a fetal position on the bathroom floor.  I had chills, and cramps, and nausea, and all sorts of other fun symptoms.  Sooo….I got to experience a Korean hospital first-hand!  I have to say, they are not any more fun than American hospitals.  They ARE, however, much more affordable, and far more efficient – I got an abdominal X-ray, prescription medicine, spoke with the doctor, AND a shot of steroids, all within an hour – for about $35!!  Needless to say, I was rather impressed.  Plus, I’ve decided that steroids are AWESOME….after getting my shot, I felt like I could have run a marathon!! 🙂  It was pretty scary, though.  It wasn’t simply the fact that I got sick – I’ve been sick plenty of times before.  But it was the intensity and rapidity with which it came on that was so frightening.  But it’s now Sunday morning and I haven’t had any other strange health issues, so I’m hoping it was just a strange fluke.

Let’s see, what else happened this week….oh, my little morning Bible study is growing.  There are now 3 of us who meet together every morning.  And our new member doesn’t have a roommate, so we get to go to her room and have a pajama party every morning!  It’s been such an encouragement :).

Yesterday I went to an archery range.  I got several bull’s eyes, and almost all of the arrows on the target.  It was amazing how much my shooting improved once I learned how to hold the arrow and shoot properly, lol.  After we shot, there was a demonstration by 4 archery masters.  They used traditional Korean bows (made out of cow horns and sinews!), and shot at targets so far away we couldn’t even tell if they hit it – a light went on if they did, that’s the only way we knew.  They hit it almost every time.  It was incredible.

The whole group

Do you see the arrow in the picture??  Sweet picture…. 🙂

I shot all of the arrows in the yellow!! 🙂

One of the masters….the targets are almost 400 feet away!

Coming back to school, myself and a few other ETAs took the scenic route home.  We found this little path by the river that runs through Goesan, and then followed a trail up a little hill that looked over the entire city.  It was lovely.  At the bottom of the hill, we came across a living history museum of a traditional Korean home, so we walked through it a little bit and explored. It was really cool.

View of Goesan from above

The entrance to the traditional Korean home

I love the architectural lines!!
Kimchi pots

Saturday night my whole class took our teachers out to dinner.  We had samgyeopsal and patbingsu and went out for drinks afterward.  I’m assuming they probably went to sing karaoke after that, but myself and another classmate of mine who also doesn’t drink bowed out midway through the visit to the bar.  But it was a very fun night – my teachers are AMAZING!!! – and a great end to a hard week.  I also came home to find a care package on my door from a fellow ETA.  She heard I had been sick, and so she gave me oatmeal and medicine and a sweet little note to make me feel better.  It completely made my night – I felt so loved!! 🙂

Teacher #1

Teacher #2

My teachers are AWESOME! 🙂

Well, all work and no play may make Jack a dull boy, but all play and no work makes Lauren fail her final.  It’s hard to believe that I’ve learned enough Korean to have a final in it, but I do – this Wednesday!  Today’s going to be a solid studying day….wish me luck!!