Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Thoughts for 2015...

Hello everyone. Thank you for checking out my new post on thoughts for the New Year. It’s interesting how New Year’s is one of my favorite holidays. I love to reflect on the past and think of ways I can improve my future. I am always looking for opportunities to challenge and shape myself into a better person.

With that being said, I have a New Year’s resolution. It’s been on my mind for a while now, but I thought this would be the right time to share it with you, so here it is.

“Invest in those that are willing to invest in you.”

This year I want to focus on real relationships. I don’t know about you, but don’t you miss having actual, real, deep, through thick and thin relationships? I know I do. With living overseas, I understand (believe me) that it’s difficult to keep those friendships close. Facebook to me is a blessing and a curse. I think sometimes as we scroll through our friends’ statuses and pictures, we think we’re making a connection with them… when actually the connection is not real at all. How do they know you are thinking of them? How do they know how much you appreciate them? By a ‘like’ on a photo? …a simple comment? To me, it’s just not enough anymore. I want to focus on something deeper. I miss the days of real phone calls, letters in the mail… being who you REALLY are in front of those you love, rather than just showing everyone your highlight reel on social media.  

To clarify, this is not a dis on our beloved, Facebook. It of course is a blessing with making it easy to see updates on friends’ lives and such. Plus, we get to share all of our adventures with you! I do like that part of it all. I’ve just been thinking lately…. That as time goes on; we are losing that authentic realness with people.

In Korea I like to get to the bus or train stop early, and when I look around I see everyone on their cellphones. I am sometimes guilty of this as well. I know this sounds silly, but I like to challenge myself with “waiting” and not needing my cell phone. I mean, I seriously feel like a robot sometimes!!!

Wake up – check cell phone.
Go to bed – check cell phone.
Wait 5 minutes at bus stop- check cell phone.
Boring part in a movie- check cell phone.
The list goes on…

I mean, it’s a little ridiculous don’t you think? So like I said, I like to ‘just wait’, observe my surroundings, take it all in, and be a REAL person! I love to be curious, observe this new culture, look for something I’ve never seen before, think and ponder on my life in a new country. This is the type of person I want to focus on in 2015. I no longer want to be the person that opens their phone and finds themselves comparing their life to others, getting sad, and feeling lonely… It’s ridiculous.

So I know I’m getting a little off topic. But this year I want to invest in people. I want to be real with those around me; I want to go above and beyond to show people how much I appreciate their true friendship, because in reality, we’re all in this crazy thing we call life; together… it’s time we actually start living it… together.   

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Redefining My American Dream

When you think of the typical American Dream… what comes to mind? Some of you may often think about graduating college, maybe continuing education with a Master’s degree, getting married, having a pet, buying a house, babies,  and having a steady job from 9-5. In ways, all of that stated is sometimes what we view as “success.” We live in a society that values a strong working ethic. We may have time for fun activities on the weekends, during the summer, once or twice a year… but more often than not, many people push their dreams of travel, seeing the world, getting away from it all… and tack it onto retirement.

By teaching and living abroad, my whole world view of “success” has started to change. I won’t lie, there have been MANY days where I wish I was teaching in an American classroom, living in an American style house, and surrounded by American culture. I wish I was “comfortable.” Sometimes I catch myself looking at pictures of family and friends’ lives (through social media) and want the life they are living. In a way, I feel that my “real life” has not started. I feel like I am living in a fantasy world. My job is fun, relatively easy, my rent is free, I take trips with my husband every weekend, and we've been to over 10 countries together since we've been married… (August 2011) and I think my life hasn't STARTED yet?? Just because it doesn't fit into the typical American Dream?

So… with all that being said, I am trying to redefine what MY American Dream really is. First, it’s not comparing my life to anyone else’s.  Rather, it’s a life full of experiences; chances to share your love, kindness, inspirations, smile, and adventure with those around you; really, just loving people and loving them fully.  I absolutely love learning new things from people around the world. I love experiencing new culture, because I truly believe it’s making me a better person who sees the world and all the colors it offers and gives.

I am reaching my late 20’s (dare I say, 30!) and I figure now is the best time to change my thinking of success all together. If you would've asked me 10 years ago where I think I’d be now… I would probably say married, kids, house, dog, teaching…etc.  Typical Typical – and there’s nothing wrong with that! But, I’m slowly realizing that’s not the life God has intended for me.

I want to focus my life on working to live rather than living to work.

I must admit… My husband and I have been bit by the travel bug and our adventure is far from over. The world is a big place and there are so many places we want to explore. This life in South Korea has been the best thing that’s happened to us. And Guess what?  Kids will come, career will come, and time will pass. For now, it is time for adventure. It’s time to fully embrace escaping the comfort zone that few experience with exploring the unknown.

For me, my new “American Dream” starts today.

My husband and I on one of our many adventures.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Halfway done Halfway to go!

Hello family and friends! Thank you for checking out our blog. If you clicked on the link from my Facebook, you are probably thinking – 2 MORE years in Korea?!?! Yes, that is the truth and please let me take the time to explain why we’ve come to this decision.

Our first week in Korea!
Let’s start at the beginning:

So… exactly 2 years ago, my husband Cory and I anxiously arrived in South Korea. At that time we
were married for 2 months. We decided to come to South Korea for a multiple of reasons.

  1. The opportunity to work overseas for a period in our life
  2. Make payments towards our student loans
  3.  Experience a new culture
  4.  Travel!
Since I graduated with an Elementary Education degree and traveled to 4 countries before Korea, I developed a desire to teach in another country. When I was around 16 years old, I remember praying at a church retreat where God gave me a vision of children all over the world coming to thank me for impacting their lives. At that time, I’d never left the United States. It’s amazing to see the faithfulness of God.

Also, Cory felt a calling on his life saying he was, called to the nations. He never truly knew what that meant, but also never forgot it either. We actually never shared our “visions” with one another until we were dating for over a year and a half. That’s when Cory’s friend told us about the opportunity of teaching in South Korea!!! Everything all started to make sense.

We decided to look into South Korea more and everything with our heart’s desires became much clearer. We went through the entire (long) process of applying to teach in Korea (while planning a wedding!), got accepted, and are now living out our callings. It’s an amazing feeling.

The “Plan”

Our initial plan was to come and teach in Korea for 2 years. After Cory and I graduated, we knew we would have a LOT of school loans, but we were pretty SHOCKED when we found out just how much. Here we were…. Newlyweds with a teaching degree and youth ministry degree…and now almost $100,000 in school loan debt! Luckily we didn’t have any other debt… but still that was a big chunk of change!

We realized Korea would give us the opportunity to really make some serious payments towards these loans! In Korea, our housing is free and all other costs are very minimal. Therefore, my entire paycheck and half of Cory’s goes to these loans each month!!! I am happy to say that after 2 years of being here, we’ve been able to pay off $27,000!!!

So with all that being said, we are very happy with the amount we’ve paid off, but we really don’t think we’d be able to live at home comfortably with $73,000 in school loan debt. Not to mention; an apartment payment, car payment, insurance, gas money, electric bills, etc. We imagine that we would both have to get 2 jobs and hardly ever see each other. Now, that doesn’t sound like a very fun life especially because we love spending time together. That’s when we decided a third year would be best. As of today, we are actually in our 3rd year teaching contract! We are happy and excited to start another year.

So why 4 years?

Another perk to teaching in Korea is when you leave you will receive an accumulated amount of severance and pension pay. After our third year, we really could move back home – but our ENTIRE severance/pension pay would go towards our loans. It would bring us down to about $24,000 in school loans and not a dime in our pockets. OR we have the opportunity to stay a 4th year and move back with $0 in schools loans and possibly some money in our pockets (fingers crossed!!!) After we figured out our math (and hopefully our math is correct) we really had to ask ourselves what would benefit us more. What would benefit our future family more? Getting $100,000 paid off in 4 YEARS sounds unheard of, yet we have the opportunity. We kept asking ourselves, how can we pass this up?

Homesickness has really taken it’s toll with living on the other side of the world, but luckily both of our families are so understanding and know that this is not an easy decision for us. I really believe that the Lord is teaching us Diligence through this experience. Slowly but surely we will meet our goal and what a happy day that will be!!!

The reason why I am sharing all of this is to simply give you an update on our lives and to ask for prayer. Prayer for homesickness, peace, comfort, diligence, obedience, adventure, travel, safety, and making memories that will hopefully be an inspiration to others!

Thank you to all who’ve supported us and followed our journey. I know we have missed out on so many things back home, but I promise we will be reunited someday!! We are looking forward to seeing you on our next trip home to the USA!!! January 28th – February 24th. First 2 weeks in Iowa and second 2 weeks in Illinois, so mark your calendars!!

Love you all and thanks for reading! ~ Cory and Michelle
Some pics we took to celebrate 2 years living abroad

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Highlights Throughout the Months - 2012


          Well I can say this was one of my favorite yet hardest months in Korea. My baby niece was born!! I really could have dwelled on the fact that I wasn’t there, but overall I was filled with so much joy for my family. Leighann Piper Bedford was born on September 6th, 2012. She’s absolutely beautiful and it’s been amazing to see my sister and brother in law turn into parents and my parents turn into grandparents! This little girl has captured my heart and I can’t wait until the day we meet face to face. Aunties loves you baby girl!


          This month we celebrated Cory’s 25th birthday! I embarrassed him at school throughout the day. He does not like being the center of attention but I wanted to make the entire day about him. I decorated his chair and desk with balloons and signs that read, “Happy Birthday.” Also, I made him wear a birthday hat during lunch. All the kids loved that! The teachers provided a cake for him. I put 25 candles on the cake which they thought was very strange. In Korea they have different candle sizes. A longer stick can be 10 years while the shorter ones are worth only one. Here I swarmed the cake with 25 candles which was very humorous to them. I guess I ended up teaching them a little American culture while I was at it. I always love Cory’s birthday because we become the same age and he can no longer call me, “old lady.” Haha, I love him to pieces and I will always be so excited to celebrate his life.

Happy Halloween


          This was also a very exciting month in our lives. Cory and I were going through our regular routine with school and home life. Until one day, I was walking to an academy I teach at once a week. On my way there, I ran into one of my students. To my surprise, she was holding a little kitten. My student said she found her in a pile of garbage and simply placed her in my hands. I could tell this little kitten was helpless and her mom was not around. I didn’t know what to do since I needed to be teaching my class in 5-10 minutes. I thought I’d put her near a bush and only hope she’d be there when I came back out. That didn’t work. As soon as I put her down, she was on the move. I remember looking at her eyes and they were infected pretty badly. I knew she would most likely not survive if I didn’t think of something.

I did have help from my two 5th grade students and we tried a few more things, but she kept scurrying off. I almost called it quits. I walked into the academy building and to my utmost SURPRISE, I walked passed a closet filled with banana boxes! The supervisor was trying to organize the boxes and I asked if I could have one. He had nooooo idea why I would need one, but he confusingly handed one over. I remember SPRINTING out of the academy building to save this kitten. One of my students was watching her thankfully and we put her in the box. When I walked back into the building the supervisor asked why I needed the box. Now, remembering there is a language barrier here… he could not understand the word, “cat.” So, I had to mimic a cat… haha. He understood, I went to class, and before you know it the supervisor came up to my class and told me he found a better box for the kitten and brought her inside the building so she wouldn’t get away. I was so relieved!!

After class, I ran home to show Cory and he could not believe how small this little kitten was. She clearly needed her mom still. Not knowing what to do, we smashed up some crackers and warmed up milk (later we found out that’s not a good idea) but she didn’t eat anything. We decided to take her to the vet the next day and realllllllllly tried not to get attached to this little one. We didn’t know how infected she was or if she’d survive. The vet took one look and mentioned how sick she was. Bacteria infections, eye infections…almost everything you can think of. We decided to go through with the shots to see if we could save this kitten’s life. The vet was very moved and could see our hearts towards this little animal. A few days passed and we took our kitten back to the vet. He could NOT believe her progress! He gave us good news and told us we ended up saving her life. After that, Cory and I have been attached to this little kitten. We were NEVER cat people before this incident. But, I can say now, we love her to pieces. We decided to give her a name; Miso. It means “smile” in Korean. She always puts a smile on our face. She is our fighter and we are blessed to have her apart of our little family.

Miso the kitten

          The highlight of December was celebrating Christmas. Cory and I had a very special Christmas last year. It was our first one as a married couple. We wrote 10 favorite memories/attributes about each other and put them in a box.

However, this Christmas was a little different. Christmas Eve was so fun. We decided to go to a coffee shop and have a little date night. I was so excited for Christmas morning. It is by far my favorite holiday! I wish I could say we woke up to happy joyful times, but it was the exact opposite. I indeed woke up Christmas morning with food poisoning. Something I’ve never had before. I guess this really isn’t a “highlight.” We still opened presents from our families back home. That was a lot of fun. After that, it was back to bed – the entire day. Hoping for a better Christmas next year! Thanks again to our families for sending us gifts from many miles away!

Miso's first Christmas

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

471 days

My my my, I sure am behind on this blog. Of course, we’ve been doing great! So many things have happened since I last updated. I hardly know where to begin. Since my last post we’ve been to Singapore and Australia (amongst other places). Both were amazing trips. I will talk more about our time there in another post.

Cory and I have been enjoying our time in Korea. We did re-sign to stay in Korea for yet another year! That will make it a total of 3 years! Crazy. We have 471 days left until we leave Korea; November 2014. That sounds like a lot of days, but the last 1 year and 7 months has flown by!

A lot of things have changed in Korea for us. First, we really have an understanding of our life here. At first, when you arrive in Korea you can’t understand anything. At least that’s how it was for us. You can’t read anything or talk to a lot of people. It’s pretty hectic, but... you’ll eventually figure it out. I like to believe that Cory and I now have a true/better understanding of Korea. It’s a pretty cool feeling when you can understand someone speaking Korean to you. I’m not talking conversations by any means, but just phrases here and there. It sure helps a ton! Korea truly feels like another home to us.

Also, Cory and I have met some friends over here that I believe we will keep in contact with no matter where life takes us. It makes a huuuuge difference having friends over here. It truly is an answer to our prayers. We are planning trips almost every weekend to hang out. It’s been a blast! We talk about how it’s so crazy how we all come from different paths yet we are here in Korea together. Some of us aren’t even from the same country! If you actually stop and think about that, it’s pretty cool.  God has been full of surprises our entire time in Korea. Only 471 days left, but we are so excited to see what else is to come! 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

What Korea has done for our marriage.

Wow! I am just realizing that I haven’t written on our blog since April! I know most people are keeping up with all our adventures via facebook, but just thought I would give a much more detailed update.

As you can imagine, a lot has happened since April. We did decide to sign another contract! We are now staying here until November, 2013. However, I am sure we will sign one more contract to keep us in Korea for a total of 3 years! Thank you to all who are supporting our journey over here.

First off I want to say THANK YOU to everyone for “liking our pictures” and following our adventures. I have had countless people tell me how much we inspire them. Quite a few people say they are 'living their lives vicariously through us.' It’s a great feeling to inspire others with something you love to do. I have been getting many emails about people being interested in coming to Korea as well. I am LOVING that! So, please if you have any questions or are interested – do not be hesitant to ask. I have had close friends to people I haven’t talked to in years ask me about Korea. I love sharing this experience and wish more people would take the leap that my husband and I have.

The best thing Korea has provided for us is a solid foundation in our marriage. Cory and I have never been closer. There’s something about moving what feels like a million miles away from home that causes you to really depend on each other.

I remember the first month we were here – Cory and I got into a little spat. I ended up getting so mad that I left to go to a coffee shop to cool down. Usually, at home I would go to a friend’s house (like all we girls do) and vent! (Sometimes that is not the best option). However, there I go stomping off to the coffee shop. As soon as I arrived, I ordered a coffee and sat there for about 5-10 minutes just going over why I was upset. Then, it HIT me! “I have no one here.” I thought. It was the first time I truly understood that it was just Cory and myself (and all these Koreans) in this small town - out in the boonies no less. Cory was my only friend here, and if I don't have him... I really don't have anyone. Suddenly, I got up from the table and ordered my husband a coffee drink.  I felt like I wanted to rush home and jump into his arms! As I walked in, he greeted me with a smile and just simply asked if I felt better. I apologized for my behavior and gave him his coffee drink which made him so happy. I can’t even remember what our argument was about.

However, that was the first time I realized that communication is key – and more than ever – in our marriage. Since then, we have had a few spats here and there, just like any normal couple, but nothing major. Like I said before, we have never been closer. We tackle obstacles as soon as they arise. We communicate, learn from one another and move on. I can honestly say that Cory and I are best friends. We love each other’s company and truly enjoy doing things together. I am blessed to be his wife. This experience has been a wild ride for the both of us! I love that we can laugh together and try to figure out all the strange and peculiar things of this far away land. I think we will be talking about this experience for the rest of our lives!

As well, this has been a major blessing financially. Korea has provided stability and we are so thankful for that. We are FINALLY starting to make serious payments on our student loans. It has been a little difficult to fully understand how much we can live off and how much to send home. But, we have it figured out. I am so excited that we are starting to pay around $2,000 a month towards student loans, and we are able to live comfortably and travel Korea. What a blessing!

Overall, I love what this is doing in our marriage. We will have endless stories to tell our children and grandchildren someday. Mostly, I am hoping to inspire others to get out of their comfort zone and try something new that could potentially change their lives forever. It changed ours.

 Happy to say we celebrated our one year anniversary on August, 20th. Here's to many more!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Update on our lives

It has been a while since I last filled everyone in on our life here in Korea. There have been quite a few things that have happened since I last wrote.

First, let’s start with our vacation! Cory and I had the amazing opportunity of going to Malaysia and Thailand for 20 days. It was so wonderful. The warm weather, the people, the culture and the FOOD were all great.

Our first journey took us to Malaysia Cory and I did a home stay with a man named, Din (pronounced Dean). That’s where you rent out a bedroom in someone’s home. Din was the most heartwarming, hospitable man I have ever met in my life. As well, the room was very inexpensive ($11 a night!) Din showed us around Kuala Lumper (the capitol of Malaysia). He drove us to many places and almost seemed like our private tour guide. It was a great experience staying with him and I would highly recommend others to stay there as well. We stayed in Kuala Lumper for 4 days and saw the majority of the city plus more!

^ Here we are at the Kuala Lumper Bird Park :) Having a wild time!

 Next, it was off to the Batu Caves. When visiting these caves you could literally see monkeys everywhere you looked. They were NOT afraid of people one bit. Cory and I LOVED this part of the trip.

Lastly, we visited the famous Petronas Towers. Below is a huge shopping center. These were amazing to see at night!
Next, it was off to Thailand! Cory and I could not wait to get to there! We took an 8 hour bus ride from Kuala Lumper to Hat Yai, Thailand. We ended up playing UNO the entire 8 hours. It got pretty intense :) I recall winning 13 games in a row…

When we reached Hat Yai, we stayed the night in a very low budget hotel. Let’s just say we were happy we were only staying one night! The next day, we took a 5 hour van ride to Krabi. We absolutely LOVED staying in Krabi. We decided to stay in town for a few days because it was a little cheaper compared to staying close to the beach. Our hotel was $12 a night… not bad at all. With our room being so cheap, we were able to do MANY activities. While staying in Krabi we went: elephant riding, jungle trekking, kayaking, snorkeling, white water rafting, and ATV riding. It was AMAZING! My favorite by far was kayaking around some of the most beautiful islands in Thailand – absolutely breathtaking. 

After Krabi, we decided to slow down the pace and head to Koh Lanta. Koh Lanta is a calm island. There are still tourists there but not as many as the more famous islands in Thailand. Since it was a little calmer, we were able to rent a motorbike and go motor biking around the island. It was soooooooo much fun!  Other than that, we relaxed and went to beach most days. One night we did end up going to a Muay Thai fight. It was so crazy to see 6 year olds to grown men fighting each other. I actually enjoyed it…and of course, Cory loved it! The greatest thing about Koh Lanta was the people we met. That’s the greatest thing with traveling: You meet people from all over the world. We made friends with this young couple from Sweden and a girl from Holland. Even though we only spent a few days together, we became good friends. It was so fun talking about our different cultures and life experiences. Koh Lanta was a fantastic trip!

After 20 days in the sun, it was time to come back to our home in Korea. The vacation was much needed and we loved every minute of it!

As soon as Cory and I got back from vacation, we started planning our next trip! That’s the thing with traveling; once you start you do not want to stop. Good thing our school grants us one vacation a year. So we are looking forward to February 2013…. Australia and New Zealand! Here we come!