Monday, August 31, 2009

Hello, TV land

Movie sets are not glamourous. Unless your idea of glamourous is getting up at 4am, and standing around in the rain and cold until 10pm. Then yes, it's quite glamourous! Being a production assistant was quite, quite exciting, and I loved it!! I think I definitely pulled it off. I wore my oldest pair of Seven jeans, my Hunter rain boots (because it rained all weekend), layers and layers of clothes (because being outdoors before dawn is a bit chilly).

I drank tons of coffee, learned how to use a walkie talkie (and laughed so much at the jokes people cracked in my ears), mingled with the crew, blocked some streets, called out "rolls" and "cuts", pulled some wires, and did lots and lots of just sitting and waiting around. I learned that extras are like kindergarteners (only worse), and I kind of loved telling people to keep quiet on the set. We filmed on a beautiful location, outside the courthouse in the Old Montreal. Tons of tourists kept stopping and watching. At some point, a stray dog just ran in on the set, and messed up a whole scene.

Did I pull it off? Oh yes. Everyone was so kind and helpful. The crew guys thought I was hilarious. They decided to "initiate" me, by playing an embarrassing joke on me, that was heard all over the walkie talkie system. They had me run all over the set, asking all the departments for some item that did not exist. Gotta love the crew guys.

{Downtown street, lined with our equipment}

{No parking signs to indicate the filming}

{Our beautiful location. You can see the actual set in front}

{Some of our filming equipment}

{Hair and makeup trailers, and dressing rooms}

{My rain boots}

{Look at me handling the walkie talkie. The pink nails were a dead giveaway that I'm not a real PA, according to the make up artist!}

Time for me to sleep, sleep, sleep.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Summer skin

{Sunset in Railay, Thailand}

And we'd left our love in our summer skin


I always associate Death Cab for Cutie with the end of the summer. Their songs have a certain nostalgic quality that perfectly depicts the transition between seasons, or just change in general. I love them.

I'm not too sad summer is over. I enjoy summer in small doses, such as beach trips, mini vacations, chilled white wine, hot summer nights, and sundresses. Yet I'm just not a summer girl. I don't live anywhere near a beach, I don't sleep well in the heat, my hair gets fluffy when it's humid, and I barely ever get a tan since I'm obsessively applying sunscreen. I'm not too crazy about summer fashion either: the sight of flip-flops, overexposed bra straps and ill-fitting halter tops (on other people, not me!) irks me.

Autumn I adore. The cold and crisp air, the riding boots, the tights, the fabulous jackets, Vogue September issue, hot Starbucks... I love, love, love.

My summer was so much better than I thought it would be. I took a mini-trip to Toronto, I ran and hiked at the mountain several times per week, I drank wine sitting on my front yard, had countless lazy Sunday brunches with lovely friends, danced until dawn outdoors to Italian disco music, saw some great live concerts, and had some picnics and pool lounging days, and visits from far away friends. Sure, no Thailand trips or scuba diving like last summer, but no cockroaches and mosquito bites either!

At work, it's been exciting since we're filming on location, which is a brand new experience for me. I get to be a set production assistant this weekend, which is a pretty dirty job, but to me it's a fun opportunity. Pulling wires, blocking streets, telling people to keep quiet, help with the technical stuff.... YES! Quite the experience for me. I was told to not wear sandals, and warned that my neon pink mani might be chipped. I think the crew guys have a hard time believing I'll pull it off, but I'm determined to. More stories to come after the weekend...

{My best Sofia Coppola moment}

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday I'm in love

{Me, showing love, in front of the trashiest bar in Phuket, Thailand}

Thanks for the love.

Thanks for all your lovely comments, and a special wink to Des and Liz for the shout-out. I'm bashfully blushing!

Do your friends and family know about your blog? I'm always taken aback when I'm having coffee with a friend, and they'll suddenly mention my blog. I get so timid about it. I had no idea they read it! The other day, one of my friends said "Oh, you've been updating your blog a lot lately, I enjoy it". I was like, "Uh, yea... I'm a bit of a nerd, in case you didn't know". Not that I even think blogging is nerdy.

In fact, I think it's great, as I've met wonderful friends through it, and I love sharing about my adventures and musings. And I especially love reading about other people with similar interests.

It's just funny when it's well, out in the open.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Lovely Little Things

I'm quite flattered and excited to be featured on Lovely Little Things! I discovered Michelle's blog while I was teaching in Korea, and instantly related to Michelle, who is also a teacher. I'm sadly not a teacher anymore, but I love reading from her. Check out her blog if you haven't already, and click here to read her fun interview and my (hopefully) fun answers!! Thank you, Michelle!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Settling back

I was just talking to my friend Rae from My Life in Korea, who just returned home after two years abroad. She was telling me how difficult it is to settle back into her old life. I completely understand. I think it's easier to adjust to a new culture, than it is to get back into your old life. And just yesterday, Des from Des in Real Life posted a great entry about life after being an expat.

Reading from them reminded me of my own experience with settling back, and made me think about how badly I handled things. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right? I'm not sure if I'm any stronger by now, but I'm definitely wiser. If I had to do it over, I'd do it differently.

My biggest mistake was... well, where should I start. I came back in the dead of winter. February. Freezing cold, tons of snow, nothing fun to do. I came home without a job, and most importantly, without a plan. I came home in the midst of a relationship mess. I came home with a broken heart, not just from the relationship, but from departing Seoul, a city I had grown to love, a city I was not ready to leave just yet. I came home living in some kind of fantasy world. Thinking I had it all figured out, thinking nothing would ever fall apart. But it all did. And I made some people feel horrible. Myself included.

The best thing was my home. I had kept my apartment, which was a smart move. And I'm glad it was there, it was the only comforting thing for several weeks. And I really did lucked out with the job situation. I found something rather quickly, something I liked, something in my field. However, the winter lasted forever, life back home was more expensive than I remembered, my friendships had changed, and so had I. Little things like setting up a new cell phone, an internet connection, insurance, were just so boring and depressing. Things just didn't go as planned, which made me realize that I had been a bit silly, thinking everything would be... perfect. I spent my first few weeks looking up flights to go back to Incheon... seriously.

But I gave it a try. Slowly things started getting better, but now that I look back, I wish I had handled things in a different manner. I would have traveled for a few months after Korea- to escape the Canadian winter, and to give myself some kind of transition. I would have had some kind of career plan, and some exciting personal projects to work on.

I wasn't a complete failure, but I definitely learned a lot from the past months. Going home can be much smoother if you have things to look forward to, especially new things. Just settling back into your old life is going to be depressing, because most things at home haven't changed, and you have, so it will never be the same. Your experience abroad does not seem real to most people, in the sense that they cannot relate, so you feel lonely with your thoughts.

I'm glad I kept some of my acquired habits from Korea, such as my ability to spend more time alone, my desire to meet new people, and to try new activities and places. Since being back from Seoul, I've completely rediscovered my own city, met tons of new friends, and I'm way more outgoing than I used to be. Even though I felt like being alone most of the time, I'd force myself to go out, and always enjoyed myself anyways. I brought my Seoul personality to Montreal, and it translated quite well.

In the end, I think I did alright, because I'm definitely okay now. Some messes are a bit harder to fix, but for the most part, I feel great. I'm not sure I'm the best person to turn to for advice, but that's what I learned. So, this post goes out to Rae... and Des... and Stephanie, my fellow Seoulite, who's heading home in a few days... and to Annie, who's coming home after traveling the world. Coming back to your old life sucks, but instead of trying to make everything the same, just start something fresh. It just takes some time. You'll be just fine.

{Words of wisdom from V.V., horsing around at work. You can take me seriously. I promise.}

{Oh, copious amounts of cocktails and partying is definitely helpful... kidding, kidding.}

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A bit of Seoul in Montreal

Montreal bagels, soju cocktails, yoga on my front lawn, drunken fun all over the city, lazy afternoons at cafés, hiking the mountain, trying on Louboutins at Holt Renfrew, Peruvian food, and Seoul revisited: that was my weekend. 

My friend Jaclyn, who was my close friend/coworker/downstairs neighbour back in Korea visited me for a few days of fun, at home. She is still teaching in Korea, but came to Canada for the summer vacation. It was great to see her, it had been a while since we said goodbye at the airport in Seoul. It was especially interesting to hang out at home, and reminisce about all our good times in Korea. She filled me in with all the school gossip (I miss my students, but not the school), and brought me back some of my favourite goodies: skincare from Skin Food, Peppero sticks, soju (Korea's strong liquor), and all sorts of Korean treats:

{Soju liquor, and chocolate}

{Skin Food! Note the picture of singer Rain on the package.... so odd. So Korean.}

I had forgotten how much I missed going to work in the morning, and hear all of her crazy stories in the teacher's room... roll my eyes at her when we had to sing the morning prayer... and go shopping with her, or meet at the Coffee Bean. Jaclyn was the kind of friend who was always up for trying something new and different. The first week I met her, she talked me into trying the traditional Korean bathhouse (which, to me, was like.... uh, don't we have to be naked??!!). Good times, good times.

{She'll kill me for posting this picture. Goofing around and being tourists back in Seoul}

{Posing with girls in traditional costume}

This past week has been a lot of stuff from Korea revisited. It's been oddly nostalgic, but good. Now it's time to detox from the overloads of fun, drinks, food, and Montreal heat. Detoxing from dancing outdoors to Italian pop music and going to bed at 6am. Back to the gym, back to work, back to my life here.

Psst- check out my new favorite summer nail polish shade. Hello, neon pink nails!
{Essie nail polish in Fiesta}

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Vivian @ Vanessa's

Hop over to one of my favourite blogs, The Voyage of V, where another V (as in Vivian) is taking over to talk about... style, and travel. Check out some of my tips!

Thank you, Vanessa!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Live and learn

A lot of my readers and friends have expressed the desire to go abroad. I'd say, go for it! Maybe not for a full year- but go live somewhere else for a least a few months. You can get a job, volunteer, study, or just travel around with a backpack. I know it all sounds cliché, but it's true: seeing the world, and experiencing life in a different country (and not from the luxury of a hotel room), is going to change you... for the better.

Before my experience in Korea, I was a different girl. More princessy, more whiny. Small decisions, such as buying curtains or replacing my fridge, seemed so overwhelming. I had never seen a cockroach in my life. I had never stayed in a youth hostel. I had never visited a third world country. I had never seen people sitting on the side of the road, selling vegetables. I never had to use a non-Western bathroom. I never had to spend too much time on my own.

I had no idea what I was getting into when I quit my job and picked Seoul as my new home. I was terrified, but also excited, because it seemed so unreal, and I knew it would be a life-changing experience. Reality hit hard when I left my cozy white apartment on that snowy February evening, only to find myself living in a brown, cockroach-infested, cardboard apartment (I did cry when I saw it- go see the pictures!).Working for religious freaks that considered coffee-drinking a sin was quite horrifying. And the sewer smells in the streets of Seoul... and inside my own apartment? I was not prepared for that, and I used to get so frustrated.

But eventually, things got better. I spent my first few months hating life in Korea, but I knew it was a good experience, so I kept trying, and trying. I realized I'd have to go out of my comfort zone in order to be happier. I joined some meetup groups, met some great girl friends, started discovering Seoul, and all of a sudden I had a life there. I never quite got rid of the cockroaches, and avoided non-Western bathrooms at all costs, but I loved my lifestyle. I knew it was only for a year, so I had to make the most of it... and the most of Seoul.

Living abroad definitely made me grow as a person, and perhaps I needed it a bit more than other people. I became surprisingly independent, and way more open-minded about everything. I'm not shy about meeting new people, and I appreciate every little thing that was missing from my life in Korea: drinkable tap water, availability of cheese, fresh air, green spaces, a bug-free apartment, a clothes dryer, a shower that doesn't spray the whole bathroom. I learned how to be more respectful, and more understanding. The garbage smells in the summer heat just reminds me that I've smelled way worse in Seoul. Everything just doesn't seem like a big deal, and most importantly, I'm grateful for the small things. There's more to life than owning the latest trends. (I don't think I knew that before). I still love shopping just as much, but I shop at Zara so I can have more money to go on trips.

I'll always be one to encourage my friends to take the plunge and do something different. Even though it's difficult at times, the outcome is always positive, and it gives you friends and memories for a lifetime. 

And, am I still princessy? Peut-être un peu. 

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Life After Korea (is pretty good)

August. I've been back for six months now. Half a year! I can safely say that I'm fully re-integrated in my Montreal life now, even though I still miss living abroad. Those last six months have been the most difficult transition ever- I wish someone had warned me that the whole challenge of living abroad comes after, and not so much during. But I survived, and here I am, a bit older and much wiser. Still figuring out what I'm doing here, and what I want to do next. Getting a taste of Asia and living abroad has left me wanting more, more, more. Like eating a cupcake.

And what seemed like a gloomy, sad summer turned out to be one of the best so far: new friends, road trips, visits to old friends. Re-discovering Montreal, and being a tourist in my own city. Montreal is just the best in the summer. And so is Toronto. Yes, I adore Toronto! Not only is it big and stylish, but it's also home to one of my dearest friends.

Life back home has been completely different from what I had expected. Maybe worse, maybe better. I'm not sure yet. But I think it's for the best. What I know is, I've been having a blast in the past few weeks, and it really feels like summer...

Best cupcakes in Montreal: Cocoa Locale. Annie, this one's for you.

Road trip! Apparently, I can drive and fill up a tank.

Holt Renfrew's display of one of the best style blogs, Garance Doré

Brunch on St-Laurent

Tourist in my own city.

I heart Toronto

Koreatown in Toronto: of course I had to check it out. I almost died when I saw an E-Mart!

Mini cupcakes on Queen Street, Toronto.