Saturday, March 13, 2010

The eagle has landed

I landed yesterday roughly around 6am at Incheon airport in Korea. Stepping outside the airport, the temperature reminded me of stepping outside a car for the first time when you arrive at a place like Big Bear. It was cold but without the snow. I arrived in Seoul at around 9am. Still a full day to look forward to. First order of business? Nap time. I was only able to sleep about 4 hours combined on the air plane. The passenger next to me was a very large female and unfortunately took up some of my already inadequate space. I had a very large backpack, and the seat that I had didn't have any room for me to store my backpack. So I had to just wrap my legs around my backpack while fighting for room with the passenger next to me doing the exact same thing.

When I got to Korea, I knew the first thing I needed to do when I got there was exchange the money. It turns out that the bank here is closed on the weekend. And I had already left the airport at time when I was made aware of this. I will exchange my money at a bank on Monday, so I will have to make due with the little bit of Won that I had brought with me. So if you happen to arrive in Korea on the weekend, make sure you change some spending money for the weekend at the airport. It will be at a premium but at least you won't be totally SOL when you need cash.

One shocker that I experienced was when I looked at iPhone prices. You can get an iPhone here for as low as $35 a month with the cheapest service (including the 8GB 3G phone, and you pay almost nothing out the door). The top of the line iphone only costs you $10 more a month for the 32gb 3GS. The likely plan people will choose however is about $15 more so you can use up to 500MB a month. That's still about $60 a month for the best iPhone out right now. Not too shabby.

I also ended up cancelling my netflix when I got here. It turns out streaming (Watch Instantly) is blocked. So I won't be able to make use of it. Kinda makes me wish I had brought my terabyte harddrive full of movies and TV shows I had collected over the last decade.

While perusing the streets of Seoul's most popular shopping district, I ran into a street vendor selling dragon beard candy. Since this candy had eluded me for years, I had to try it. The best part of this candy is seeing how its made. Its like watching noodles made by hand. A hockey puck sized amount of maltose pierced in the center then pulled and stretched until it becomes the thickness of hair while being covered in cornstarch or rice flour so it doesn't stick together. I guess more accurately resembles the hair from the beard of a dragon...if they grew beards...and dragons of this nature. That's why it must be called dragon beard candy. I also grabbed an assortment of sasusages on a skewer. And had some really good cha jang myun for dinner. It was a good first day in Korea. So much to look forward to. But I can't officially get started until I get my alien ID card at the immigration office which is going to take about a week. I need that to get a cell phone and open a bank account. Until then I will be learning how to get around and meeting up with some contacts.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Time for a reset.

I'll be leaving for the airport Thursday evening to start my year long journey in Korea. I plan to teach English and travel while I'm there. With a bit of luck, I hope to gain some worldly knowledge and grow my "circle of influence".

What is a circle of influence? Imagine there is a circle inside of a circle. The inner circle is everything that you are capable of doing comfortably and with confidence because you've learned to do these tasks and got good at doing them. It can be anything from learning a new skill (a sport, a musical instrument, a job related skill) to overcoming a fear (a fear of heights, flying, or public speaking). When you are faced with a situation inside of your circle of influence, you always feel in control and confident that you can get this task done.

Things outside of your circle of influence, the outer circle sometimes called circle of concern, are your challenges in life. When challenges are presented, they are challenges because you are unfamiliar with the task at hand. There are many unanswered questions about how things can get done. It will be stressful and uncomfortable. There will be mistakes (aka learning experiences) along the way. Maybe you were able to avoid these situations in the past, but whether it is something you want to learn how to do or something you are obligated to do, these challenges will always be challenges that limit your life until you confront them.

You confront things outside your circle of influence by breaking out of your bubble by learning how to do something by devising strategies, taking classes, and learning through trial and error. You do it enough, and what you used to consider challenges has now become something you are good at. You will also realize you are not just good at doing that one more thing, but you are a lot more confident doing things related to your new skill, that you may have found to be difficult, maybe even impossible to do in the past. When you make this realization, so many more things feel like its within your grasp, you feel you are capable of doing so much you haven't done because you've increased your circle of influence.