Thursday, 28 December 2017

Eighteen Things for 2018

New country, new job, new apartment, new year. Lots of new things for 2018 and they have all got me feeling inspired! 2018 is going to be a great year. Taken inspiration from Gretchen Rubins "Happier" Podcast, here are Eighteen Things for 2018.

Less New Year's Resolutions, more....plans. Big, small, trivial, anything.

  1. Take a course on Coursera.
  2. Make general blog name and buy a domain. (How long have I been saying this for?!)
  3. Go to Bali. 
  4. Do not purchase any more patterned clothing items.
  5. Buy plants for my balcony in my soon-to-be apartment. (TBH this whole list could be things I need to buy for my soon-to-be apartment.......)
  6. Try the 1 Second Everyday App.
  7. Go to a rooftop bar.
This is when I realized this is harder than I expected......*sits and thinks for 20+ minutes*

      8. Buy more dresses (it's hot here, OK).   
      9. (But not too many cause I'm all about that minimalist wardrobe, which I want to improve upon...)
      10. ....Stop contradicting myself. 
      11. Eat chilli crab.
      12. Swap music for podcasts more frequently.
      13. Get a library card. (There's a library right across from my new apartment!)
      14. Keep experimenting with my new camera.
      15. Make Singaporean friends. 
      16. Understand Singlish. 
      17. Find my go-to coffee shop in my new neighbourhood.
      18. Spend a rainy day at the ArtScience Museum. 

Whew! That was more difficult than I expected. I have tons of stuff I need to do come the new year: open a bank account, set up monthly phone plan, etc. But those were all a little too boring for this list. 

I've already accomplished a lot since my arrival in Singapore just over two weeks ago. I've drank a Singapore Sling, eaten a Michelin star meal at a Hawker Centre, found an apartment (T-Minus 3 days till move in day), been to Chinatown, Little Arabia, and Marina Bay Sands. 


I can't wait to look back at this list a year from now. 

Until next post,

- Laura Still In Need Of A New Blog Name

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Christmas in Singapore

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you all had a lovely Christmas season filled with hearty meals and time spent with loved ones. 

It feels unbelievable to say this was my third Christmas spent abroad in the past four years. Luckily I have two friends here in Singapore (Nat & Tom) who I met while in Korea, so this was actually our third Christmas spent all together. Crazy! I feel grateful to have friends abroad that make celebrating the holidays away from home easier.

From Korea...

...to Singapore!
The days leading up to Christmas were spent exploring Singapore, getting a few last minute gifts in the shopping mayhem that is Singapore, and wandering through the Christmas village on Orchard Road (one of the most ritzy shopping areas). They had light displays, mini Christmas markets, and buskers of all sorts. It was beautiful to say the least, however there's something about 27 degree weather and a lack of snow that makes it difficult for it to really feel like Christmas, the kind I grew up with anyways.




Christmas Day was spent Skyping family, opening presents, drinking duty-free gin, playing games, and experimenting with Nat & Tom's new Google home (entertaining is an understatement). Christmas dinner consisted of stuffing, roasted veggies, Yorkshire pudding, and a roast chicken- a true Christmas feast (thanks Tom!)


A special shoutout to my parents for sneaking* presents and a stocking into my suitcase (*AKA me being forced to make room). No matter where I am, you always know how to make a girl feel extra special around the holidays. Whether it was having a five pound box of clementines delivered to my school in Korea (true story) or sending an Easter package with a Costco sized bag of Mini Eggs......those are two (extreme) examples of many. 

Your love and support is overwhelming and I am so grateful. Really, that is the only Christmas gift I need. I am so blessed and fortunate to have such loving, generous, and supportive parents. Thank you for everything!

Until next time (before this gets too cheesy),

- Laur in Singapore 

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

2017 Was a Weird Year...

2017....a strange year to say the least, perhaps for all of us. For me, it was the year I returned to Canada after spending two years in Korea. Up until that point, I felt like life had progressed in a natural way. I graduated high school, went to University. The standard route nowadays. And I just so happened to know exactly what I wanted to do upon graduating-teach in Korea. Once I left Korea, that's when the uncertainty kicked in. I felt quite lost, to say the least. Perhaps this is the feeling most people feel upon graduating college, it was just hitting me a bit later.

Cue March 2017, me living back at home, and working at my old retail job. Hence why I used the word "weird" in the title. It was weird living at home again, weird being back at my old job, weird being outside of Korea. But ultimately I needed this time at home. I knew I wanted to go abroad again, and this time at home was crucial to recuperate and take that next step (Singapore 2018, here I come!)

So, as it turns out, this past year hasn't been all weird after all. It's been so great spending quality time with family and reconnecting with old friends. I savour the little moments that I know will soon be out of reach, and that I don't want to take for granted. Playing hockey in the driveway with my brother, Costco trips with Mom, family dinners, etc.

Seeing as it is almost the end of 2017, I'm going to take a moment to reflect on this weird year, and look back on what actually made it great.

1. Road trip to the East Coast & Newfoundland



Icebergs, mountains, and puffins oh my! A truly unforgettable two week road trip with my Dad.

2. Music Festivals Galore



2017 was not without it's fair share of music festivals & concerts. Osheaga, Bluesfest, Folk Fest! All great festivals packed with talented musicians, and great friends to share it with. 

3. Yurting in Killarney



We had a pretty rainy summer here in Ottawa, but we lucked out this weekend. Perfect sunny & warm weather for my first yurting experience in Killarney! Hiking, canoeing, & campfires- nothing better.

4. Being a Korean Cultural Centre Blogger




This year, I found out about a really cool opportunity to blog for the Korean Cultural Centre of Canada, based here in Ottawa. This meant, I got to write about my experiences in Korea, as well as attend various events hosted by the centre, like the K-POP world festival and various Korean movie nights.

5. Working for Korea Tourism



Oh the power of networking and connections! The opportunity above (#4) lead me to work several events with the Korea Tourism Organization, such as the Ottawa Travel Show and Ottawa Welcomes The World. Such a great experience, I felt so proud being able to represent Korea in my home city.

6. Working the Women's Open



Working at my old retail job had it's perks- being able to work as a vendor and attend the CP Women's Open, hosted in my home town of Ottawa.

7. Being in Ottawa for Canada 150



So many cool events hosted in the capital city for Canada 150. I'm glad I was home to be able to take advantage of them.

8. Reconnecting with friends & family




This has got to be the most important & special of all the list. I cannot put into words the incredible value of reconnecting with friends & spending quality time with family. In a nutshell, that's what 2017 was all about. Home. Home meaning family, friends, stability, comfort, love. Being able to celebrate my first friend's engagement, having my first Thanksgiving home in three years, celebrating my Grandma's birthday...these are only the tip of the iceberg. Thanks to all who made it a great year!

9. .....Moving to Singapore?!




Yes, you read that right! Although it has not happened yet, (4 days away), I am sure it will be a highlight. For those who don't know, I will be starting a two year teaching contract starting January 2018. Excited, nervous, and anxious only begin to describe how I am feeling. Soon I will be calling this big city/small country home!

The next time you hear from L2K she will (hopefully) have a new blog name, and will be on the other side of the world adjusting to life in Singapore. 

Stay tuned.

- laura

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Teacher Talk #2

Hi friends!

Even though this blog is on a little bit of a hiatus, you can still catch some of my posts over on the Korean Cultural Centre of Canada Blog.

Check out the May edition of my column "Teacher Talk" here, where I discuss teaching in rural Korea!


- Laura

Monday, 3 April 2017

2017: Updates with L2K

Oh hey there, friends! Long time no talk.

It's been a while since my last post and quite a bit has changed according to my previous posts. From coming home to Canada early and not making it to New Zealand, I guess you could say I've gotten used to things not going according to plan.

Well, so I thought. Ever since I returned home in December, I kept on trying to come up with ideas of things I wanted to do next (post-Korea).

"Teaching in Vietnam? Teaching in Singapore? Working holiday in NZ? Move to England and take advantage of British Citizenship before all the Brexit nonsense falls into place? Volunteer at a refugee camp in Greece? Move to Northern Canada?"*

Photo via Flickr. Yes, I did actually look online for jobs in Yellowknife. Maybe one day.

Cue stress. All thoughts and ideas that ran through my head. And not a fully comprehensive list.*

Although these are all things I would potentially love to do in the future, there wasn't one that particularly stuck out to me. No, "I have to do that" feeling, like I had with teaching in Korea.

Meanwhile, as all those thoughts listed above are running through my head, a bunch of cool, interesting and totally random opportunities start falling into my lap appearing since being home.

Blogging with the Korean Cultural Centre in Ottawa, developing & facilitating a workshop in Almonte, being a movie extra, working with the Korea Tourism Organization at the Ottawa Travel Show.

Also really cool things! But all things I was hesitant to commit to because of potential future plans (as per above)."What if I'm not here in 3 months? I can't commit to a blogging contract or a workshop!" What if.  What if's can be deadly when used the wrong way.

Why search for the next "big adventure", when there is one right in front of my face? I am here now. These opportunities are here. Seize them. Take advantage of them. Embrace the moment instead of being caught up in potential future plans that may or may not be better than your current state. 

So, here I am. Almost four full months of being home. I'm blogging, workshop-ing, travel show-ing, background acting, and back at my old part time job at Golf Town in the mean time. 


Seizing opportunities as they reach out to me, instead of turning away in fear due to the uncertainty of what's next. Sure, the feet get a little itchy sometimes, but this will also give me time to really think about what I want for the next chapter of my life. And maybe I'll find the "I have to do that" feeling again. As for this chapter, I'm home and embracing it. 

Plus, I'll also be road-tripping out to Newfoundland in June with my Dad, which I am thrilled about! Maybe we'll blog on the road like we did back in 2014 with our West Coast road trip? If anyone has any suggestions for "must see's" or "must do's", we would love to hear them!

Photo via Flickr


Still thinking of the future of L2K. I really really want to get around to making my own general blog. I was wishing I had some sort of business card to hand out at the travel show, but maybe next year ;)

As for now, you can stay updated on my posts here on L2K (when I do post, that is...), as well as the Korean Cultural Centre Blog. You can check out the first post for my "Teacher Talk" column here and my Travel Show recap post here.

Thanks to those who still follow these posts long after my Korea journey has come to an end. Although with the recent opportunities here in Ottawa, it feels like it's still in progress :)

Much love,

-L2O*


*Laura2Ottawa......

.................for now.

:)

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

What Living Abroad For 2 Years Taught Me About Minimalism

Some may have said I overpacked for my year in Korea. Heck, I even said it myself. Two overweight/oversized suitcases, one carry-on backpack, (and one steamer later....) I was ready for my year abroad.

You would think after that much luggage in size and weight, (I'm surprised the zippers didn't break) that my room back home in Canada would be looking pretty bare. But, no. It was disturbing how much stuff was still there. Someone could have easily still lived in there.

I did overpack, but in comparison to everything I left in my room, I was only taking a fraction of my belongings with me.

And guess what? I survived!

In fact, I thrived. It's only through looking back now that I can identify the feeling. I didn't know it at the time, but upon arriving in Korea and moving into my new apartment, I felt different. Not because I was in a foreign country, or out of my parents house... But I felt different in relation to my belongings. Lighter. Which I can only attribute to the fact that I was living with less.

Living with less, but each item having MORE meaning, more intent, more purpose (ok except for my portable steamer...). I actually WORE all my clothes. Why is that so amazing?! That should be a normal thing to do! And not only did I WEAR all of my clothes, but I liked them all too! Trying to find an outfit in the morning was never a problem, and I could actually start to SEE the back of my closet when laundry time was near. I used all my clothes, I liked all my clothes, and they served their purpose.

Fast forward two years.

Upon returning home after my time in Korea, I was flabbergasted by the amount of STUFF still in my room. And I don't use the word flabbergasted lightly (in fact I don't think I have ever used that word). The magnitude of things I owned made me feel sick to my stomach. I hadn't used any of this stuff in two years. I had forgotten about most of it, and been just fine without it. Happier, without it. Heavier, with it.

The very next day after my 26 hour flight itinerary from Sydney to Ottawa,  all I did was discard (aka donate, recycle, etc). A word I am now very familiar with after reading Marie Kondo's "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up". I could have chosen to do a great deal of other things on my first day back on Canadian soil, but alas. I discarded. It brought me joy and relief to get rid of these things I hadn't used or thought about in two years. They are just things.

One month and approximately 6+ garbage bags worth of items later (if anything that is an underestimation), and I am still discarding. I am trying to develop and maintain a lifestyle where I live a simpler life with less, and find more intentional uses in my belongings. I can't give Korea all the credit to opening me up to this lifestyle. Perhaps some people may be familiar with the term "minimalism", which has kind of blown up the internet (and real life) recently, with tons of books, YouTube channels, and podcasts devoted to this concept. "The Minimalists" website defines minimalism as, " a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfilment and freedom." Although the concept has probably been around for ages without a name, discovering the concept of minimalism and learning about this lifestyle has been inspirational and instrumental. It gave a name to the feeling I had, when I felt lighter with less.

Some of my favourite resources for minimalism so far include:
I have a long way to go in the decluttering department but I am looking forward to this life long minimalism journey. Thank you Korea, and the sources above to opening me up to this concept. It has changed me so far, and this is only the beginning. 

If anyone has any other minimalist resources they love and would like to share, I would love to hear them!

Until next time,

-LBFK

(Laura Back From Korea)

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

2016 Recap: Highlights

In a vague attempt to maintain some sort of consistency with this blog, I have decided to make a 2016 recap post, just like I did last year for 2015. However I recently came to the sad realization that I posted significantly less this year; 11 posts compared to 17 in 2015. My goal of writing more consistent blog posts was definitely a minor flop! With that said, most of my highlights from 2016 may be things I have never posted before on this blog, but perhaps will inspire an in depth blog post down the road.

2016 may not have ended how I expected and it was not without it's challenges, but it was a darn good year. Time to reflect on the moments that made 2016 the year it was. In chronological order, let's go.

1. Spending 3 weeks at home after 14 months abroad, January 17th 



Reconnecting and spending time with family and friends who I love and missed very much. From Ottawa, Toronto, to my old university stomping grounds in Peterborough.

2. My Dad visiting Korea, February 8th



Showing the life I created for myself and the quirks of the country I fell in love with was incredibly special. The food, my neighbourhood, favourite coffee shops, my friends. I know he fell in love with it all, too.

3. Visiting Japan and Falling in Love with Kyoto, February 22nd




I had been told that I was going to love Osaka from my friends who had visited Japan. But it was Kyoto that stole my heart. Biking along it's canals and old streets covered in willow trees, vising it's ancient shrines, feasting on sushi and ramen, singing kareoke until the AM, geisha sightings, shisha bars galore. 

4. Jindo Sea Parting Festival, April 9th



Great friends, the magical/mysterious/hilarious legend of the sea parting, delicious international food fair (shawarma, hello), thigh-high rubber boots, watching Korean's dig in the middle of the sea parting searching for sea creatures to take home and eat.

5. Yeongam Cherry Blossom Festival, April 10th




An unexpected adventure, finding our own private creek away from the actual festival, having a silly photoshoot, watching "Dudung Sound"- a music group of 5 middle school aged boys perform live.

6. Seoul Pride, June 12th 


An inspiring and emotional day filled with love despite the many protests and police surrounding the event. Participating in the actual parade and witnessing all the support from the outside: the people in the 2nd floor cafe above street level holding signs of love and peace in the window, the girls on the sidelines making heart shapes with their hands. Witnessing how still very taboo and sensitive this topic is in Korea.


7. Boryeong Mud Festival, July 23



A long bus ride with great company from Gwangju to Boryeong. Lathering up in the mud, having mud baths, wading in mud pools, watching mud wrestling, swimming in the ocean in an attempt to remove all the mud. Music, concert, good vibes (and soju).

8. Participating in the Jeollanamdo Provincial English Camp, August 4th




6 days 5 nights of living in university dorms, eating cafeteria food, and teaching 8 classes a day. Creating new friendships and deepening existing ones, my amazing class of 10 students for the week (The Crazy Watermelons, they so named themselves), the end of the week Talent Show- performing Happy by Pharrell. 

9. Finally visiting Jeju Island, September 12th



Biking around U-do, climbing Sanbang mountain, carefully trekking along the wet rocks on Yongmeori coast, getting lost on the Olle trails, feasting on Black Pork BBQ (a Jeju specialty), watching the mermaids of Jeju dive for food, swimming in Donnaeko watering hole, making new friends. 

8. The streets and food of Hanoi, Vietnam, November 2nd




The lively energy of the streets, delicious street food and the questionable alleyways leading to them. The hole in the wall restaurants, egg coffee, bun cha, and the quaint restaurant where we spent two nights in a row on the patio; overlooking the big rustic church in the Old Quarter square. The insane amount of motorbikes which required us to play real life Frogger while crossing the street, a skill mastered by the end of our time in Hanoi. 

9. Trekking in Sapa, Vietnam, November 5th 




2 days, 13 kilometres, 12 initial strangers that left as friends: 5 Dutch, 4 Canadian, 2 French, 1 Brazilian. Staying with a Vietnamese family in their home at the base of the mountains, eating a home cooked dinner which included buffalo stomach, taking shots of homemade alcohol that was served to us from a plastic Nestle water bottle, learning Vietnamese cheers, homemade pancakes and instant coffee for breakfast. 

10. 18 Hours in Kuala Lumpur, November 12th



Taking public transit from the airport into the city, treating myself to the swanky Aloft Hotel which included a rooftop bar and infinity pool, eating Nasi Lamak (a traditional Malaysian dish) twice in 6 hours, taking the LightRail to the Petronas Towers, and of course a selfie with those bold twin beauties.

11. Hanging out in Manly, Australia, November 13th 




Tearing up at the sight of the Opera House and Syndey Harbour Bridge from the plane in the night sky, embracing the local vibe of foodie and health culture, green juices and smoothies on every corner, acai bowls galore, reconnecting with a friend I haven't seen in over two years, trivia night at the New Brighton Hotel, $3 tacos, Manly to Spit walk, renting bikes to North Head.


12. Spending Christmas and the Holiday Season at Home, December 13th



And just like that, we've come full circle. Happy to be spending the holiday season with family and friends for the first time in two years. 

2016 was quite the year, and as I continue to reflect upon it, I realize that there is still so much more I want to write about. Some of the funniest moments, most embarrassing moments, worst travel moments (aka losing my wallet in Japan), and personal highlights. 

What 2017 will bring is still a mystery, but maybe as I reflect on 2016 it will bring me closer to what I want to achieve in 2017.

Until next time,

-L2K