THIS IS MY NOW

So I believe I mentioned in my previous post about me being in a foreign land now. And I also mentioned that I will talk about it “next time”. So here it is, folks.

Couple months back, I doodled this on my neat personal journal:

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It reads: “THERE ARE FAR, FAR BETTER THINGS AHEAD THAN ANY WE LEAVE BEHIND. -C.S. LEWIS”. Yes, that amazing author who brought us The Chronicles of Narnia.

Anyway, why did I write that? Well, at that time, I was about to do a big move in my life, and I was very very scared. I got admitted in a graduate degree program (yes, I know, I just finished my Masters in Finance last year, but please, let’s ignore that fact for a moment because this second Masters will be…) in the Land of the Morning Calm, South Korea!

It was a rare opportunity, and I already made the decision to change countries (in case I get admitted) the moment I submitted my application form to this awesome university in the city of Ulsan. I was aware then that this will not be just a new adventure, or a fun fun time for me (since I really love South Korea), because I will also be facing a lot of challenges. And I am not even talking about the academics (yet) – because I know that the academic side is the “fun” kind of challenge, since I believe the program is hardcore, and awesome, and I really really want to learn the curriculum.

So anyway, I submitted my application around October-ish of 2014, and I am expecting the result to be in by January of 2015. So, being the “planner” that I usually am, I was very anxious at the start of the year because I could not plan my 2015 just yet. I was still waiting for the life-changing result of my application which would spell out how my 2015 should look like. You see, normally, during the Christmas-New Year season I usually spend a lot of time with my ‘new’ planner trying to project how my year SHOULD look like. But last year-end, I found it extra challenging because of the ‘pending’ admission results. Which obviously would determine which of the two very different 2015s will be in store for me.Β SO… to end my anxiety, without ignoring the conditionality of my situation, I made this diagram on how my year SHOULD look like:

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ECTFE is the acronym of the program I applied for. It means Energy Commodity Trading & Financial Engineering. So, the very trigger of how I would face 2015 is whether I get admitted to the program or not. If you look at the right side of the diagram, it outlines my Plan B. It will be a big heartache if I did not get admitted, hence I need a solid Plan B to keep me going… hence, I had to achieve a PRM certification plus at least one (or maybe two?) CFA exam. Blah blah blah… anyway, I’m getting bored trying to discuss the flowchart. It is self-explanatory anyway, so I’ll just stop.

Bottomline, I got admitted into the program, and here I am now, in the beautiful city of Ulsan in South Korea!

So anyway, I was able to obtain a student visa (the first challenge, per my diagram above). YAY!

Wala naman siguro magnanakaw ng identity ko diba? Ala Sandra Bullock sa The Net. Hehe

Wala naman siguro magnanakaw ng identity ko diba? Ala Sandra Bullock sa The Net. Hehe

And off I went to South Korea! At the very last day of February, just one day after my last day at work, and two days away from the first day of classes. Whew! What a whirlwind of big big changes – resignation, farewells, and a new beginning – in just one weekend! I still could not believe how all of that happened, and I’m still in one piece afterwards.

Haggardo Versoza mode - just hours away from last day at work, rush packing of luggage, and a round of despididas with family and friends

Haggardo Versoza mode – just hours away from last day at work, rush packing of luggage, and a round of despididas with family and friends

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Hello cold climate :)

Hello cold climate πŸ™‚

Anyway, I entered Korea via Incheon (and not Busan, where Ulsan is supposed to be nearer to), a much more familiar trip, via a much cheaper flight. My good friend DaleΒ fetched me at the airport and helped me with my luggage. I also had a small window to catch the cheapest bus trip to Ulsan from Seoul Station, hence, I really need someone to help me drag my things and find my way through the web-like subway system of Seoul.

While waiting for Dale at Incheon International Airport

While waiting for Dale at Incheon International Airport

The bus ticket

The bus ticket

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Been friends (and roommates) with this guy since high school and college

Been friends (and roommates) with this guy since high school and college

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When I arrived in Ulsan, I was surprised to see how big the city actually is. I thought it will just be a suburb or something. Luckily, my Korean friend Taegill arranged for his friend (who I have not yet met before, and who resides in Ulsan) to meet me at the bus terminal in Ulsan.

Taegill's friend with his daughter

Taegill’s friend with his cute daughter

To say that this guy was so kind would be an understatement. So, he and his wife and two cute kids fetched me from the bus terminal. Weeks before I arrived, they scouted the city to find me a cheap room where I can stay while I study. So, I only expected them to just fetch me at the bus terminal and drive me to the room that they found. However, I was grossly wrong.

They instead took me to a nice restaurant where we had a sumptuous dinner. I’m guessing Taegill told them that I don’t eat vegetables, so they ordered a “meat-ful” dinner for me, which by the way is not cheap here in Korea.

And then the kindness did not end there. They had me over in their cozy home, and gave me a warm bed to sleep on for the night. Me! A stranger they barely know. They invited me to sleep in their house, after doing a lot of favor for me. Also, before we hit the sack that night, they politely asked me to join them watching some kind Korean TV show while having drinks and evening snacks. And since I don’t drink beer, they gave me some wine, much to my embarrassment because I know that beers are big in Korea.

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I guess I slept in their son's room. What a nice family!

I guess I slept in their son’s room. What a nice family!

When I woke up the next day, the guy’s wife cooked us a lovely breakfast, and then we took off. They drove me to my place, and they even bought me A LOT of stuff that they realized I would need. I can’t believe the amount of blessings I have been getting from this nice family. I hope I can return the gesture someday. Really.

This is my street

This is my street

backdoor view

backdoor view

and this is my room

and this is my room

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Look at all the stuff they bought me!

Look at all the stuff they bought me!

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They surely are a lovely family. I hope and pray that God will give them so many blessings. I don’t know how I would survive without their help.

By the way, did I mention that before they took off, we drove to my campus, so that I can see it before D-Day and get a feel of the trip to school. They also pointed me to the right bus stop and told me the correct bus that I should get on. What a generous family!

So anyway, I am now living in a small room. It is actually very small that it only fits one bed, a desk, and a chair. But it is all I ever needed and it is all I can afford anyway. The toilet and bathroom is shared, but that is perfectly fine. I will have less privacy, but on the other hand, someone readily cleans the toilet and bath for the tenants. Also, there is a common kitchen, with (read) FREE RICE. Gosh! I will not even wonder if I get fat here.

Anyway, let me show you some photos of my amazing university.

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That right there is my building - the School of Business Administration

That right there is my building – the School of Business Administration

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At the main lobby of my building is a nice fixture that displays some latest market movements and market news, as well as weather forecasts around the globe. Neat, eh?

At the main lobby of my building is a nice fixture that displays some latest market movements and market news, as well as weather forecasts around the globe. Neat, eh?

Pinoy Haksaeng

Pinoy Haksaeng

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The high-tech library with turnstiles and elevators(!!!)

The high-tech library with turnstiles and elevators(!!!), which by the way is open 24-hours

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with electric outlets for the laptops - super-conducive for studying!

with electric outlets for the laptops – super-conducive for studying!

Should I join? Haha. Okay, I really really would love to, but I restrained myself - not an easy task, btw.

Should I join? Haha. Okay, I really really would love to, but I successfully restrained myself – not an easy task, btw.

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Some cultural show at the auditorium (might post videos of the performance later)

Some cultural show at the auditorium (might post videos of the performance later)

The Student Union Building - with lovely lovely cherry blossoms

The Student Union Building – with lovely lovely cherry blossoms

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my student ID, which amazingly is also my ATM card, and my bus card, and my debit card - I can use it even for off-campus purchases (!)

my student ID, which amazingly is also my ATM card, and my bus card, and my debit card – I can use it even for off-campus purchases (!) — too bad they misspelled my middle name though

Seriously, I feel SOOOOOO privileged to be here.

I had a rough 2014, and this is what I get in 2015! In the words of Jordin Sparks and Blake Lewis, THIS IS MY NOW.

…and I am breathing in the moment
As I look around I can’t believe the love I see

πŸ™‚

In Gongeoptap, one of the main rotaries of Ulsan,

In Gongeoptap, one of the main rotaries of Ulsan,

Eating pyeohaejangguk, my favorite Korean dish

Eating ppyeohaejangguk, my favorite Korean dish

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Need to get used to this for now... at least I can see my family from time to time.

Need to get used to this for now… at least I can see my family from time to time.

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Missing cheap and delicious food from the Philippines... :-( Even alcohol. :-(

Missing cheap and delicious food from the Philippines… 😦
Even alcohol. 😦

So I have to stick with this for the moment - chocolate with alcohol. :-)

So I have to stick to this for the moment – chocolate with alcohol. πŸ™‚

A gift from my officemates in Deutsche Bank

A gift from my officemates in Deutsche Bank

My alien card. :-)

My alien card. πŸ™‚

I guess I have to go back to this scene, right here, again... this kinda reminds me of a photo I posted in Facebook couple years ago...

I guess I have to go back to this scene, right here, again… this kinda reminds me of a photo I posted in Facebook couple years ago…

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Thank you so much, Lord, for all your blessings. I will do my best to maximize my experience here and come out as a much-improved individual.

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About lonewulf

I am a self-confessed 'jologs', a country boy who now works in the big city. I studied Applied Math, and am now completing Finance while working as a risk analyst. I feel extremely happy whenever I dance, draw/sketch, and write. I also like to read books, eat (not fruits, or vegetables), sleep, and travel.

4 comments

  1. Great post! I lived in Ulsan in 1998-99 but it’s probably a completely different city now. I made a lot of good friends there and had a good time before eventually settling in Busan. It’s great that you have people there looking out for you too. I had to figure a lot of things out for myself. It was a bit of an adventure, to say the least!

    I blog about expat issues and life overseas as well over at bosmosis.wordpress.com and am always looking to connect with thoughtful bloggers who share that interest. Please drop by if you have a chance. Cheers, and good luck in Ulsan!

    • Thanks a lot! πŸ™‚ And thanks for dropping by. It’s nice to know that someone who knows Ulsan stumbled upon this post. πŸ™‚

      Yes, it probably looks a lot different now. Actually, I have just been here for less than two months but I can see infrastructure projects around the city progressing much faster than I would have imagined. I do hope to visit Busan one of these days.

      P.S. I just followed your blog. Looks interesting.

      • Thanks for visiting!

        Yes, I haven’t been to Ulsan in over ten years. You’ve been here long enough to already see how fast the cities can change. It would be interesting to see what it looks like now.

  2. Pingback: SEOULITE FOR WINTER | Lonewulf's Den

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