This week has been a transition week because I came to Chicago to stay with family in order to finish the visa process. I love Chicago. It is such a vibrant city, full of life, and color, and diversity.
Let me back up a bit though and talk about the week leading to Chicago. Packing is a pain, and packing your whole life into just a few suitcases is stressful. I am 38 and have managed to accumulate quite a bit that I am having a hard time letting go of such as books, family pictures, artwork, gadgets, and so forth. Two suitcases are allowed to be checked in on the airline I will be traveling on, Asiana Air. I think I packed and repacked suitcases about four times. Their were clothes that I wanted to take that were a little small, in hopes that with all the walking, and hopefully healthier eating, I would lose weight while there. It got to the point however, that I couldn’t zip up my suitcases because of the mountainous amount of clothes I tried to shove into those little rectangular boxes on wheels.
I don’t know how many of you know about the difficulties that many westerners have living in Korea, but one of them is clothes, especially if you are a little chunkier, or have a larger chest, or a little more “junk in the trunk”, or even wear shoes that are larger than a size eight. Finding things to fit are near impossible and if you find them they are expensive. Korea is considered to have the thinnest population in the world. Now don’t, get me wrong, there are many tall people and people who are more shapely. However, most are petite and thin which means that for people like me, clothes shopping will not likely become a favorite pastime.
Then there is the issue of certain necessities, such as deodorant, toothpaste, and certain feminine products (ladies, you know what I mean). Asians in general do not stink when it is a hot blustering day and they have been sweating, therefore strong deodorants aren’t used there. Us stinky westerners, and especially me, someone who sweats as soon as the temperature reaches 80 degrees, needs access to good, strong deodorant. So, I bought 2 boxes of it at Costco.
I bought ten packages of toothpaste to bring. Why, might you ask? It is because their toothpaste doesn’t contain fluoride and cavities seems to be prevalent there. I’m sure it is not just because of their toothpaste, though, and has something more to do with the acid in their food. I just rather be prepared than not.
Now this part is just for the ladies, men, you can scroll to the next paragraph. Let’s talk about tampons. After doing extensive research, the most important item to have a good stock of, besides deodorant, is tampons. Apparently they don’t use them there. That completely surprised me. All I can say is “aunt flo” must not visit them long. Since that is not the case for me, I have a suitcase loaded with the “essentials”. Again, preparation is key, maybe I went a little overboard? You will have to tell me what you think.
So, since I had to pack a suitcase full of “essentials”, that left me less room for the other stuff I wanted, I mean needed to bring. After four attempts of packing and repacking I decided to buy one more suitcase. So, here is the final result of my packing.
Hopefully I do not exceed the weight limit on the suitcases.
On Thursday it was goodbye Kentucky and Hello
For now I am hanging with my Uncle and Aunt in Chicago in the Puerto Rican neighborhood of Humboldt Park. I will post more pictures and talk about my time here later in the week. The countdown is on for my move to Korea D-5 days.
Here is a picture from the neighborhood, its of a typical jibaro house. This is part of a cultural project in the neighborhood.