Saturday, April 5, 2014

Mourning (Don't Worry I'm Okay and So Is Everyone Else)

Hi all.

Don't worry too much about the title. I'm fine, no one has died or anything like that. But I am in mourning.

I'm not mourning the death of someone I know; I'm mourning the loss of things I didn't know I'd lose when I went on exchange. Don't get me wrong, I love who I am and I love my exchange and I am so entirely grateful for this unimaginably wonderful opportunity. But my exchange is ending soon (sorry, I won't be sharing my return date with anyone who isn't family), and that's made me start to think about what I'll be returning to.

Since I went on exchange, my brother has moved out of our parents' house, my brother and his wonderful girlfriend had a baby, my nephew Wesley turned one and is starting to stand, and my parents have started eating and living healthier. These are, in some aspects, life-altering changes. But in the big picture, not much has changed. Except one thing: me.

I am such a completely different person now. I think differently, I speak differently, I look different, I feel different. The things that were important to me before I left aren't the same as they are now. My motivations behind doing things has changed. The way I carry myself is different. So, the fact that I'll be returning to an environment in which little to nothing has changed poses problems.

What am I mourning? I'm mourning the loss of the things that I cared about and the things that were most important to me before my departure on August 15th. I'm mourning the fact that I will probably never feel like a band kid again. Band was my life before I left, but when I return, I'm graduating and losing that part of my life.

I'm mourning the loss of my motivation for schoolwork. Before I left, school was the biggest driving influence in my life. Now that I have lived an existence in which I could focus on something other than school, I know I won't be able to go back to that.

I'm mourning the loss of a few of my friends. I'd like to say that exchange brings you closer to the friends you had, because you have more to talk about. I would really like to say that. But it just isn't true. Whether you like it or not, going on exchange means losing friends. Because you change as a person and your friends weren't there to witness you changing. So, when you talk, they say that you're so different and you're not the same. But they don't say it in a good way. The truth is, I'm glad I've changed. But I will miss the friendships I had before I left Oregon.

I'm mourning the loss of my brother's presence. No, he didn't die! But he is moving to a different state before I come home. I know I'll see him again, but it's going to be very hard to adjust to living somewhere where I can't just call up my brother and hang out with him. Connor, if you read this, I am so happy for you. I'm so excited to hear about your adventure and to know that you are doing something that will bring you joy. I love you so much and I wish you all the happiness in this magnificently large world.

Finally, and most of all, I'm mourning the loss of the person I was. Don't get me wrong, I love who I am now. I know what things I enjoy and what I don't, I have world experience, I have the knowledge that I can exist outside of a small town. But I will always miss the person I was before I got on that plane. I don't know why, but I will. There's just something about looking back and knowing you'll never be the same that is just kind of heartbreaking.

So, there it is. This post is rather melancholy and for that, I apologize. But I needed to get this off my chest and I needed to update my blog. Don't worry too much about me though. This is just kind of the way exchange goes; there are great, wonderful, fantastic times and there are lonely, depressing, and heartbreaking times. I'm glad I went on this exchange. I'm glad I've felt the emotions I've felt, even the bad ones.

Until next time, I love you guys.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Wow Wow Wow Wow Wow.

Hey guys!

So I want to apologize, yet again. I don't keep you guys updated nearly as much as I should. Just know, that I am doing a-okay.

A lot of stuff has happened. Unfortunately, I can't tell details, because it's a secret. Long story short, my return date is set and I am definitely panicking about it. I haven't been able to sleep very well, due to stress, but I'll be okay. I know that I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be.

School is going well (both American and Korean). I started Kpop Dance classes and I absolutely love it. I forgot how much I really, truly enjoyed dancing. Plus, the repetition of Korean song lyrics is helping with my listening skills. I'm still not very good at Korean, which is rather upsetting to me. Everyone assures me that there's nothing wrong with not being good at Korean, but I still feel disappointed in myself.

I know that this is a really short entry, but I need to be poppin' off to bed.

Love you all!


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

I'm the Worst Blogger Ever

Hi guys...

I'm so sorry! I'm literally the WORST at keeping a blog probably in the history of blogs. I really do love it in South Korea, it's truly amazing here. And I'm really sorry to everyone that I don't update this blog every week. Again, I just want to thank everyone for their kind, unwavering support in this amazing journey.

Let's see what's happened. My host family is incredible! For a few weeks, I went swimming every day with my host dad, which was a really bonding experience for me and him. I also went on a small trip with some people from my swim class and helped take care of their three kids. It was a lot of fun and those kids were so sweet! My host mom is so sweet. I love spending time with her!

We spent three days in Japan, which was really cool. I got sick on the first day, unfortunately, so I spent most of the time sleeping a headache/sore throat away. It was a lot of fun either way. We were with a tour group, so we only saw Japanese people like twice, which was kind of disappointing. But when we went to a mall, a couple Japanese women saw me and asked where I was from. When I said America, they started chanting "U-S-A!" It was really amusing and slightly scary.

We also started taking Kpop dance classes, as required by my Rotary district here, which is super fun. I really missed dancing and learning about this aspect of the culture is really fun. I'm not a very good dancer, but it's still a ton of fun to try. The teachers at the studio are super amazing. They're very sweet and caring, and all of them are really talented. I really like being in those classes.

On Valentine's Day, a bunch of friends and I did Free Hugs to start out my Senior Project. It was SO much fun. It was so rewarding to see everyone smiling and laughing, because of something I put together. It was really fun to be able to hug people; it was really kind of festive.

That's all for right now. I'm really sorry this update took so long! I hope all is well wherever you are! Love you guys!


Thursday, January 2, 2014

4 Months, Christmas, a New Family, and a New Year!

Holy cow, everyone! I haven't posted in SO long! I am really, super sorry! I had been feeling really down the past couple weeks and I didn't want to post any bad vibes out there; no need to worry and bum out my fans. 

But, I'm back! I have officially been in the wonderful country of South Korea for four and half months! Wow! I cannot believe that I am half-way through my incredible year abroad. I truly don't want this year to end. 

I had recently been having host family troubles, the details of which I feel unnecessary to post virally, which resulted in a low point in my exchange. All I wanted was to go back home and exist in a familiar place. But! I didn't. Because I can't let myself down like that. 

So, in the midst of a bit of a rut, Christmas happened. It was a really strange experience for me. In the US, Christmas is huge and centered around family. Here, in Korea, Christmas isn't that big of a deal. It's also a holiday for couples. My friend and I went out anyway, despite being single, just because we wanted to experience the holiday in a new culture. It honestly felt like just another day, except there were couples EVERYWHERE. I also Skyped with my Mom and Dad, which was good. Skyping every now and again makes my family seem not so far away. 

A few days after Christmas, I switched host families, which altered my entire outlook on my exchange. My new host family makes me feel like a daughter. My host Dad and I have been building a 1000 piece puzzle the last few days, which has really helped us bond. Plus, he invited me to go swimming with him everyday (at 5:30 in the morning! Yikes!) As a result of changing families and my perspective, my exchange is already a million times better.

And finally, New Years Eve/New Years. All I can say is wow. It was such an incredible experience! On New Years Eve, a couple other exchange students and I went to 서면 (Seomyeon) and gave free hugs. If you're unfamiliar with free hugs, here's a very quick explanation: you make signs that say "free hugs" on them, stand out in public, and hug strangers. 

In Korea, skinship is a REALLY big thing. If you don't know someone very well, it is socially unacceptable and awkward to touch them. Free hugs was really fun, because I got to be an American and break the rules for a while (there was a group of Koreans doing it alongside us).

After I did free hugs, I went home and waited for the new year to start. At 6:00 am, my host family and I climbed up a mountain and watched the first sunrise of the year. That's a really big tradition here. You watch the first sun rise and give thanks and prayers for the new year. It was an incredibly exhausting and breath-taking (literally and figuratively) experience. 

My exchange has finally turned into what I imagined it would: a year with nothe but happiness and new experiences. Much love goes out to you all! Thank you for your never-ending support and words of encouragement.

메리 그리스마스! 새해 복 많이 받으세요! 
Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!

Love, Madison
My best Korean friends!^^

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Well, December's Here

Hey everyone,

I'm really sorry that I'm so bad at posting. Remembering to do things hasn't always been my strong suit (pretty sure I was supposed to do the dishes before I left). Just know that if I don't post for a while, everything's fine. I think about everyone back home when I don't, which means I think about you guys a lot. I'll always be grateful for everything you all did to get me here.

Not much is happening. I have had most of the week of from school due to testing, so I've been relaxing and doing homework. I'm starting to understand Korean more, which makes me really happy. My home life is good. Another exchange student is living with me until I change host families, so it's been kinda crazy the past couple of weeks.

Mostly, I'm kind of bummed out right now. A lot of families don't celebrate Christmas here, so the most Christmas I get is at fast food restaurants or malls. Christmas has always been a very special time for me, so right now is really hard. I miss my family a lot and I miss the feeling of Christmas.

But, I know this is all just a part of the exchange. I'll get past the home sickness, because I'm halfway around the world and that is, quite frankly, awesome.

I hope you're all having a wonderful holiday season. Love and miss you!


Friday, November 29, 2013

Three Months, Seoul, and a Skype Date!

Hi guys!

WOW! I can't believe I've been here for over three months! I'm a third way through with this incredible, life-changing experience; inconceivable! I know that it's only been three short months, but I can already tell that I am a different person as a result of my exchange.

Since I have been here for three months, I finally got to Skype my parents! It was amazing to see and hear them again. They're still just as loving, kind, hilarious, and caring as they were before I left; heck, they might even have increased in all of these traits! I'm glad that I followed Rotary's 3 month rule, because it made seeing my parents on Skype a lot easier. It certainly didn't make me more homesick, which I know it would have if we had Skyped earlier.

A few days ago, all of the inbounds went to Seoul! It was AMAZING! We went to Ever Land, which was an incredible amusement park, and to the DMZ (the De-Militarized Zone)! It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. We went about 500m underground (sorry guys, I started using the metric system) and walked through the third tunnel that the North Koreans had built in attempt to invade South Korea. It was amazing to physically be in a part of history. Also, everyone kept hitting their heads on the ceiling of the tunnel, except me, because I'm so short. Not really important, but I thought it was really funny.

While we were up at the DMZ, it started snowing. A lot. My friend from Louisiana had never seen snow before, so I thought it was really awesome. Plus, we got into a snowball fight with some people from China. I love the snow, so much, and getting to play in it while at an important historical sight was very, very memorable.

On a side note, I will be changing host families some time this month, but I'm not sure when. So, if you're sending me mail, be aware that I might have changed families before I receive your mail.

All in all, this exchange has already been life-changing and amazing. Thank you to everyone who helped me get here! Thank you especially to the Rotary Club of Monmouth/Independence and District 5100 for giving me this chance.

Until next time!


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Being Sick and Other Things

Hey everyone,

The past few days have been kind of crummy, because I caught a really bad cold. I actually had to stay home from school yesterday and go to the doctors. Don't worry, they only prescribed Tylenol, so I'm fine. I'm feeling a lot better today, which is definitely a good thing.

So, it's almost been three months since I arrived in Korea. Believe me, I'm having so much fun here that I rarely have time to stop and breathe. I'm at this weird place in my exchange where I'm pretty much freaking out that it's been almost three months. I'm freaking out partially because I've been here for close to three months, which means that I only have six months left and then my exchange and new and unique life here ends. I'm also freaking out because I've been here for nearly three months, which means I still have to wait for half of a year before I can hug my parents again. It's a weird place to be emotionally. But don't worry, I'll push through; I always do.

There's something else I wanted to ask you all. I love mail. Literally, it is on my top three favorite things in the world. Even back in the US when I got mail, I'd freak out (just ask my parents). So, I have a request. As it is almost Christmas (sorry for everyone in the States, Thanksgiving already happened here, so Christmas is the next holiday), I was hoping that everyone who reads my blog, or even just a stranger who wants to put a smile on someone's face, could send me a letter. It doesn't even have to be a letter. It could be a card or just a note, anything. I mean, if you want to send me presents too, I wouldn't object.

At the end of this I'll post my current address and I'll update my blog and Facebook if that changes. Just any kind of mail would honestly make my day.

I hope all is well in your lives!


P.S. To the members of the Rotary Club of Monmouth/Independence, I am so sorry that I have not been in more contact with you all. I have legitimately been looking for a post card since my first day here, but I haven't found any or haven't had the money at the time to buy one. I am so sorry! Just know that all is well on my exchange! And I am still eternally grateful for this incredible, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity you have given me. Thank you all!

My address:
Madison McCammon
Daewoodongsam APT101-1202 woodong
Busan, South Korea 612-770