Tag Archives: europe

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Anyeong Haseyo! Guess who’s back from Europe? Look what I did:

And nourished shall be thy body,dessicated by the scorching inferno of temperance

that, AND I wrote like 400 more words on my novel (coming in 2035 – a labor of agonizing love and chock full o’ genius), AND kept constantly reminding my old bosom buddy Hayes that living in Korea is way harder than living in France and that he should move that bottle of wine closer to the couch so I don’t have to get up because I’m on vacation and I’ve been living in Korea. Oh, and did he think he could drive me to the store for more wine? Because I started drinking wine at 11 am and might run out before dinner.  Whatever Hayes. Shut up. I usually live in Korea. For like four months now I usually live in Korea. My life is hard and burdened and totally cool. So totally cooler than your stupid life. In Europe. Which I also secretly want.

Pretty much any complaint/observation Hayes made about his new life situation elicited the same knee-jerk response from me: It is harder to live in Korea than France, therefore your discomfort is invalid and I’m better than you.

I can’t decide if this illustrates my natural fondness of pissing contests or some reaction that occurs when you encounter another American abroad. But I think there is a kind of currency to where one lives, when one chooses to live abroad. I have made a graph to illustrate my point. (Erins = Units of Cool. Look it up.)

See it in all it’s professional glory (and larger!) here.

So, supposing you’re an English-speaking American like myself, living in the States starts you out at 0. Then, as you get further away from other English-speaking Americans, and further from what one might consider a “safe” place with few repulsive diseases or the threat of frostbite/trench foot, the more Erins you acquire. So like, the most socially impressive place you can live is, short of the moon, on a remote volcanic island, unpopulated save for plague-harboring rodents which you are forced to hunt and eat.

Of course this is partially in jest, but there’s something to studying the question Why Do We Go Where We Go? And why do I think Cappadocia > Minnesota? Or Korea > France?  Look deeper into your black, withered hearts, Readers, and tell me that there isn’t a sliver of you that doesn’t travel for bragging rights. That doesn’t look forward to that first conversation whenever you might make it back home to say to some stranger, “Oh, I’ve just been spending the last year abroad. In Asia. What have you done lately?”

Air Strip

Yo readers, Erin reporting live from an uncomfortable chair in the Schiphol Airport, from the middle of a mind-numbing layover. Please tolerate my mumblings as I  entertain myself on this wifi.

So we’ve all been hearing about those body scanners getting instituted at airports, right? The ones that show your unmentionables to everyone? Well looky here at what’s hanging out at my gate.

show me your boooooooobs

Little did I know that Amsterdam was one of the preeminent purchasers of these stupid, rights/clothes stripping machines. (Illegal substances, duh. ) I just think these are so….paranoid. And violating. I don’t know. This is the world we live in – there’s no easy permeating of borders. If you go from place to place, this is the toll: giving some pervy Dutch nerd an eyeful.

While I’m all for flight security, I’m really not thrilled about wandering through this. Not only for the reasons already mentioned, but also because I have an anachronistic distrust of machines. (“Let me out of this consarned contraption! Egads, these auto-mobiles are surely tools of Satan himself!”) And this machine…this machines resembles all too much that pod Jeff Goldblum went into, only to exit as Brundlefly.

Can we all agree this is worse than terrorism or a butt full of drugs?

So yeah. If I come out of this irradiated or microwaved or spliced with fly DNA, I will be no happy camper. But not nearly as unhappy a camper as if Pervy Dutch Nerd dares describe my nudie security shot as “the unerotic body of someone who’s been eating a diet solely of cheese for an extended period of time.”

Swiss Miss, Day 1: Food Orgy

So I know this pertains to nothing, really, except how damn happy I am at this very moment. Friends, all my dreams are coming true already and I’ve been in Geneva about 12 hours.

Feast your eyes (wah waaah) on the grocery haul:

From left to right: Beer, wine, eggs, croissants, bread, baguette, bread, scotch, champagne, milk (meh), cereal (meh), espresso, cheese A atop cheese B, sausage A, sausage B, Sausage C, (obscured) salted ham, (obscured) bacon filets

It’s on like Donkey Kong.

Swiss Miss

Guys! It’s vacation time! Yes yes, potential EPIK employees take note: winter vacation comes with 2 weeks of paid leave. This is way more rad than all the other lame job benefits  I’ve had in the past. (You can keep that 20% off select entrees, Applebee’s. Jerks.)  While other people have decide to take this opportunity to go somewhere warm like Bali or Thailand, I, friends, am taking the road less traveled and less thought-thru – I fly to Switzerland tomorrow.

My feelings are neutral. *rim shot* <cartwheels off stage>

Why? I guess it’s because I really like hating snow and making myself miserable. Also, my friend is living there (Hi, Hayes!) and I will go anywhere that I don’t have to pay for lodging. I’m stoked, and I’m going to tell you why.

In Switzerland, things that should be made of wheat will be made of wheat: Things like bread, noodles, beer, grain alcohol, beer, BEER, flour, beer, bagels, cookies and assorted pastries, beer, and certain petroleum products used in plastics. (Beer!)

In Switzerland, there are white people the size of grizzly bears: Holy crap am I excited to feel small and anonymous. I’ve come to grips with being Completely Obvious the last few months, but it’s a lot of work to know you’re being looked at all the time, especially when you can practically see the exclamation marks over people’s heads as you walk past. “How the hell did that get here?!” has become the logical response to my face. So not eliciting that  reaction for a week will be great. And I’m not exactly a monstrous person, size-wise, but the Korean population is slight – a bunch of fine-boned, lovely bird-people. That means I kind of feel like a socially awkward Tyrannosaurus Rex. Self-esteem, you’re about to make a comeback.

In Switzerland, I will go beard watching: Damn do I miss facial hair on men. I realize that I’m in danger of sounding like a beatnik hipster type, but in this regard, I can’t help it. I remember last winter watching a friend’s band play (oh god, ouch, hipster, ouch) at a shady bar in Chicago. At some point I looked around the dark music hall and every. single. man. present had a full beard. I swooned. Megan was there, ask her. I also have extraordinary hopes that I will run into Pascal Baffert, the sole Swiss member of the Handlebar Mustache Club…just click on that link. Experience the magic for yourselves.

In Switzerland, there is cheese:

Erin: Man, I really underestimated how much I miss cheese.

Coteach: Korea has cheese. Korea has two kinds of cheese.

Erin: Yeah, but France has like, 500 national cheeses.

Coteach: The yellow cheese? Cheddar, you know it?

Erin: You mean those plastic-y Kraft-singles-looking-things at the store?

Coteach: What?

Erin: Nevermind.

Coteach: And we have white cheese too. It’s called….cream cheese?

Erin: <sigh>

Switzerland has it’s very own national cheese, just like America! Any country who takes the time to give their people a personalized dairy product is awesome in my book.

In Switzerland, I will sacrifice myself on the altar of travel: Like I said, I’ve been here a few months so the novelty has begun to fade. This vacation comes at the perfect time to throw myself back into the cold water of a language barrier and up against the wall of cultural differences (though after Asia, Europe seems really really mild, as far as cultural differences go.). When you travel, you’re forced to be the best version of yourself, trust people in an unquestioning way that in ordinary life doesn’t come so easy. I’m ready to be extravagantly uncomfortable again.

So peace out, homes. I will try and send you a line from the Alps, but I might also be lying dead in a cheese and beer coma. One can only hope.