Just a month of the familiar

Tuesday 24th January, 2012. 6.30am wake up. Out the door at 7.30am. A beautiful morning to be walking to work. I threw sensibility to the wind, opting not to take the stairs down to the bridge but kicking off my jandals and running down the hill through the freshly cut grass. 5 mins later I was sitting at my desk, jandals and grass replaced with heels ready for work.

My job’s never particularly exciting, and this last week’s proven to be a challenging one as I’ve tried to cover the unfamiliar portfolios of two absent colleagues. Today our manager gave our office a jar of lollies in a feeble attempt to keep us all sane during our peak processing time. The liquorice allsorts went first. Followed shortly by the milk-bottles and snakes. If I’m quick there might just be one or two lollies left tomorrow morning.

The sun was still shining as I wandered back home, resisting the urge to stop in at the dairy for a trumpet, or the bakery for a passionfruit donut. Dinner was followed by cheap Tuesday movies with a bunch of friends, and of course randomly bumping into other people I know. ‘Sione’s 2: Unfinished Business’ didn’t disappoint both for it’s double entertainment value of good humour and games of ‘guess the location’. The night ended with a short drive home singing along to The Rock and enjoying the sunset over the Waitakeres.

Tuesday 24th January, 2012.

Just one month from my anticipated departure date.


To answer what I’m finding to be the three most common questions right now

Am I excited? Yes.

Am I scared? Yes.

Is everything sorted? No.

Despite all the research I’ve done I really don’t know how I’m going to find this whole Korea experience. I mean really, our imagination of something we’ve never known relies on our ability to combine elements of presumably similar things we have experienced, and what we’ve seen and heard. I know that my imaginings of my new life in Korea will prove totally inadequate.

My mantra at the moment seems to be “It will be good, because I will make it good.”

It sounds convincing.

It sounds like a good strategy.

But it also sounds rather exhausting.

Trying to imagine the unfamiliar seems to make me more aware of the familiar. A typical day like today is full of all sorts of special things.

I opened my blinds to a harbour view and a beautiful summer morning.
I ambled my way to walk, crossing an inner-city creek just downstream from a waterfall seeing bunnies, pukeko and tuis.

I spent the day exercising my administrative prowess. It’s not a job I find much enjoyment in (12 days to go and counting), but I do get a sense of satisfaction after dominating a pile of paperwork. I also love the mix of people in my office, which really reflects the cultural diversity of Auckland. Sampling Indian cooking, learning about Vladivostok, and getting excited about an upcoming Chinese wedding… lunch is always educational.

Having recently watched my first Korean movie, I thoroughly appreciated watching a home-grown movie. Actually getting the jokes is always a good start. And when you come out of movie world and back to reality it’s always nice to be surrounding by familiar faces.

The drive home from the mall is a short one, whichever set of roads I choose to take. Not needing to spend energies navigating my thoughts went elsewhere. I’d thought a while ago about how weird it will be to not drive a car for a whole year. But tonight it dawned on me that I’m not going to have car time to sing along to the radio. Where am I going to sing like a fool in Korea? Will I have to resort to renting a Noraebang for myself?

As I drove westward the sky was orange behind the black silhouette of the Waitakeres. And as I parked my car outside our house I sat for a moment watched the reflections of the city lights dancing on the harbour. Auckland really is a beautiful city; people South of the Bombay Hills really don’t understand what they’re missing out on.

And now it’s dark and the stars are out. I see “The Pot”/”The shopping trolley”/Orion’s belt. I’m sure if I looked around I’d be able to find the Southern Cross too. Let’s face it those are the only constellations I know. But it’s still weird to think that in just a month’s time I’ll be going to sleep under a sky of totally unfamiliar stars.


To do list – 17th Jan 2012, 5 weeks (or 37 days) to estimated departure

So, I haven’t added to my blog in a while, despite encouraging numerous people to subscribe to it.

This does not mean that I have forgotten about it. I assure you that I have had many ideas of things to write, and have bits and pieces of entries scattered about the place that are far from being ready for publishing.

Entries such as “The Red Suitcase Challenge”, “Life on Sale”, “Hannah Poole = One Fire. Learning Hangul” and “South Korea; The Things I thought I Should Ask Google About My Home-to-Be.”

I fear, however, like so many brilliant examples of creative genius, they may never find expression outside of the mind in which they were conceived.

Whilst creative expression can be liberating, the only words which seem to be migrating from mind to paper these days are “To Do” items. “To Do” items, in significant numbers, have the ability to control their host. At present there is a constant, and simultaneous flow of “To Do” items to and from the land of Hannah’s Mind. Current statistics clearly evidence net immigration resulting in positive population growth. This has put serious strain on the management of Hannah’s Mind. As such a concerted effort must be made to encourage emigration of “To Do” items from Hannah’s Mind, and the wider Republic of Hannah. Today’s census clearly highlights this problem.

To Do List

  • Get venue for farewell party Done. 
  • Invite people to farewell party Done. Schedule for Saturday 11th Feb
  • Text all the people who haven’t responded to my party invite Monday 
  • Quit work Done. Last day is Friday 10th Feb
  • Get certificate of attainment notarised Done 17th Feb
  • Get certificate of attainment apostilledSent to the Department of Internal Affairs 17th Feb
  • Get visa photosThursday?
  • Research FedEx of docs to agent Friday?
  • Finish TESOL courseDue Saturday 28th Jan 
  • Send documents to agent – Ready by end of Jan?
  • Visa processing in Korea – 5-10 days after submitted to Korea
  • Visa processing in NZ – ~5 days
  • Book flights – after visa is obtained
  • Book travel insurance – after flights booked
  • Book accommodation for first few nights? – after flights booked
  • Sell car – Feb
  • Sell bed – Feb
  • Sell drawers – Ready now
  • Sell/give away/throw out clothes – Ready now
  • Take photo of room so we can put it up for rent – Saturday
  • Transfer flat budgeting responsibilities to someone else – Ready now
  • Get off the tenancy agreement – Ready now
  • Buy marmite and other treats to take – Ready now
  • Buy thank you gifts to take – Ready now
  • Buy toothpaste, deodorant and other random toiletry items that will apparently be hard to find – Ready now
  • Research immunisations again  – Ready now
  • Visit grandparents – Schedule ASAP
  • Cancel joint credit card – when visiting grandparents
  • Visit cousins – Schedule ASAP
  • Flat hangout – Schedule ASAP
  • Best friend hangout – Schedule ASAP
  • Other important people farewells  – Schedule ASAP
  • Find a ride to the airport – After flights booked
  • Pack – Late Feb
  • Cancel car, life and contents insurance – Late Feb
  • Cancel/Forward mail to parents – Late Feb
  • Create backup of hard drive to leave in NZ – Ready now
  • Sell bike, TV, entertainment unit, shelves, DVD player, sofas, stereo, fridge, books, heater and other stuff – Ready now
  • Go up the Sky Tower – Schedule now
  • Work out what other items are still on my Auckland bucket list – Research now
  • Get glasses prescription – Thursday when in mall for photos (phone them Thursday to have them set it aside)
  • Write blog (Or at least finish and post all those pre-departure blog entries I’ve started and never sent)
  • Take cool picture for blog background (so it’s not some random Chinese picture) – Saturday
  • Give Dad power of attorney on my accounts – Research now
  • Should I write a will? – Research now
  • Work out what’s missing from my to do list
  • Establish emergency contacts list – Mid Feb
  • Exchange money for won – Mid Feb
  • Maintain daily practices conducive to general well-being i.e. work, sleep, eating, exercising, blob time, socialising and dancing continuous
Key Diary Dates
  • Wed 18th Jan – Swing dance classes recommence
  • Fri 20th Jan – Shared lunch at work
  • Sat 21st Jan – Working overtime
  • Sat 28th Jan – TESOL course expires
  • Sat 4th Feb – Workmates wedding! Super exciting ^^
  • Fri 3rd – Sun 5th Feb – Find some friends to go to the lantern festival
  • Tue 7th Feb – Dinner with friend from Aus
  • Fri 10th Feb – Last day at work
  • Sat 11th Feb – Farewell party
  • Fri 17th – Sun 19th Feb – Geon Art Deco Weekend, Napier. Road trip, dancing, friends, history, dress ups – YES PLEASE.
  • Thu 23rd-Fri 24th Feb – Estimated departure date
  • Mon 27th – Wed 29th – Orientation
  • Thu 1st Feb – Korean public holiday
  • Fri 2nd Feb – First day of work as a English Teach in Seoul!
As you can see this “To Do” issue is quite serious. If you can assist in any way, be it through practical or emotional support your contribution shall be greatly appreciated.