*Please note that this was composed at 01:00am CST, but the post became public at 12:00pm CST.*
Well, this is awkward. It's been months since I last posted on the blog. Man, does time fly!
By popular request, I will be blogging about my experiences during my time in Korea. I'll be posting lots of pictures on my social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, the usuals!), but I will also be taking time to reflect on my experiences. You will be seeing Korea through my eyes as you read this blog. You may get to know me more intimately than you knew me before. This trip will be, for lack of a better expression, will be a life changing experience.
It all started after I originally went to Korea. In 2009, I went on a trip through Children's Home Society and Family Services St. Paul to explore the birthland along with many others who had similar background and experiences as I had. We had bonded during this time and when coming back to the states, we were already planning on the next time we would be traveling back. We wanted to go back for the food, the culture, the exploration, the excitement of being somewhere that wasn't America, and for many other reasons. Most of all, we wanted to keep a connection with our birthland, as we were adopted from Korea or were family members of those who were adopted. We all had a connection and reason to go back.
So, almost seven years later, I am sitting in my room, doing the same exact thing I did the last time I was preparing for my trans-pacific flight, staying up all night. The goal, sleep as much of the plane ride as possible, so the jet lag effect would be minimized. It worked last time, so why not this time? I grabbed myself a couple T-Shirts, a couple long sleeve shirts, a couple of hoodies, and the rest of the clothes, along with packing my medication (in case of emergency, of course) and my dufflebag had so much room leftover, my sister would be ashamed of me. Afterwards, I packed my backpack. A Surface Pro 1st Gen, my iPad, two books (The Road to Character and Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth, and Impact the World), my Bullet Journal for 2016, and a few miscellaneous items. Overall, two carry on bags is all, and not even filled to the max? Not bad. The minimalist inside was proud of that one.
Wait, hold on. You haven't told us some key information! Who are you going with? Where are you going in Korea? What are you going to be doing? Why are you going? What do you hope you will get out of this trip? (Do I need to pretend to ask other questions?) That's fair. Let's go through them, one at a time.
I am traveling by myself. Yeah, that's right. I am traveling alone. Originally, I was planning on traveling with my friend Laura. We became friends during our last visit to Korea. We even planned on getting Holli and Nate (two others we traveled with last time) to join us, as well as Mike. There was some initial preplanning, but nothing came out of it. There were some scheduling obstacles to hurdle, such as building up PTO, saving up money, and working around Laura's schedule, and then one day, Laura made the tough choice of dropping out of the trip. Being it was too late to get others to join me on the trip (or maybe I just assumed that), I had a YOLO moment and booked the tickets to Korea. Thus is the story of traveling alone. At first, it seemed simple, but then I reflected. Did I really want to be traveling alone? Ultimately, yes, though I wouldn't have admitted it at the time. It was just another one of those "I hope this doesn't kick me down the road later" sort of decisions.
Where am I going in Korea? I'll start in Seoul, stay there a couple of days, then proceed to Daejon, my birth city. From there, I think I'll hit up Busan and Daegu, then we'll figure it out from there. That should take me through the first week. To be honest, I don't know what I am doing at all for the most part. It'll be a lot of decision making on the spot when I am there. Do I want to visit this attraction? Do I want to go to this museum? Can I do anything outdoorsy in the winter (yes, it's cold over there, but not Fargo Cold!)? I guess we'll find out. There's a little bit of a thrill in it, along with using AirBnB for the first time. I guess that is typical me though. "We'll figure it out when we get to that point" has always been a philosophy/motto I have.
"So Jake, why are you going to Korea?"
A couple of reasons. First, I wanted to meet my birth mother. Last time I visited Korea, the Birth Mother Search Services (through SWS) were able to locate my mother and they were able to make contact with her. Unfortunately, she refused to meet me though, but promised that a couple years down the road, she would be open to meeting me. Now, it's been more than a couple of years, so it's attempt number two. I learned a month ago that she refused again to meet me, citing the same reasons. I would be lying if I said I wasn't affected, but the hurt fade away pretty quickly. So, that's one less item on the agenda.
Second reason: Exploration. The last time we went to Korea, it was a typical tourist itinerary. Our schedules were jammed packed, and I felt like I was rushed through the entire experience, having to fit everything in the short time we were there. So this time, we're going at Jake pace. We're going to take the time to be present in the moment while I am there. I'll get to decide what I want to go, what I want to see, how long I want to be there, etc.
Finally, I want to see Korean StarCraft Live. Yes, that's right. I am going to the GOM Studios in Gangnam, Seoul to watch live StarCraft 2. There will be multiple Code A events while I am there, and I'll have a chance to watch some and hopefully have a sign that is worthy of showing on stream (for my nerdballer StarCraft II friends to see!) and listen to a Tastosis Cast (oh wait, I think Artosis is still gone. That might not be a thing). In hindsight, I should have planned this trip around the Code S finals, but hey, guess I'll have to come back in the future for that experience.
So yeah, I think that sums it up. I only freaked out a couple of times tonight so far about the fact that I am actually doing this, which before now, I have actually been fairly reserved. My boss asked me multiple times in the past three months if I was excited to go to Korea, and I said "Yeah, sure." in the most plain tone, it almost sounded like it was nothing special. This week even, I could feel the slow pace of this week, trying to wrap up my feature work (or rather prepare it for when I get back) and trying to coordinate responsibilities for the Rival Weekly, but it just didn't hit me emotionally that I was going. Then tonight, it finally hit. I actually for about minute began to cry. The feeling was overwhelming, and it was definitely a feeling I was not very familiar with. What was this feeling? I quickly composed myself and resumed packing, but the feeling remains even now as I type this blog post.
That's all I really have to say to preface this trip. It's going to be a lot of firsts. It's going to be an exciting trip, potentially lonely at times, and will challenge me to grow in many ways.
As I said before, I will be blogging fairly often (potentially daily, but I am guessing it'll be more like once every two or three days) and will be posting lots on social media. Keep me in your thoughts as I travel over there, and if you have any questions or words of encouragement or any of that jazz, leave a comment, a Facebook post, a mention on Twitter, whatever!
And just so it's noted, I will have full access to my mobile services while I am over there, so I can be reached by text message and (if need be) by phone as well. Just note that Korea is around ~12 hours ahead of North America.