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A few days ago my blog got a comment, asking if I was feeling any culture shock since coming home. In college, I studied abroad twice in Germany and didn’t experience a whole lot of culture shock but each time I was only away for a month. So after being gone for a year and a half I didn’t really know what to expect.

Again I’ve actually had very little reverse culture shock. One thing that I noticed right away was that there was less landscaping back in DC and Maryland and things were far apart. I guess I had forgot that but it wasn’t really shocking. I did however have two definite instance of reverse culture shock and both were when I was picking up lunch alone in a fast food restaurant. Both places were pretty packed and in the first instance, which was the day I got back, I was a 100% minority but there wasn’t a single Asian around me, let alone a Korean.

The second time I was definitely in the majority but it still felt weird being around so many English speakers but still not really having anyone to talk to since I was alone (like if I went into a Korean fast food place unless I was with someone I wouldn’t really be able to talk to anyone but for a better reason since I can’t speak enough Korean). This time around, I actually felt a little nauseous and overwhelmed for a moment. It was very strange especially since it’s only been when I was alone getting food. Maybe it’s because I had to run out and get lunch at the McDonald’s next to work so many times especially towards the end of my time in Korea so I have a strong memory of what it’s “SUPPOSED” to be like getting lunch at a fast food place.

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Okay, now for the long overdue post on how Marty was found (Side Note: He’s sleeping next to me now with his head on my shoulder, making it a challenge to type). To recap, Marty went missing the day after St. Patrick’s Day. I was reunited with him about a month later on April 14. He had apparently wandered over to Kyunghee University, which is just around the corner from where he had disappeared BUT is also across a highway. I’m still not sure how he crossed that highway, if he really did at all. When my students asked me why he was at the University, I told them he wanted to go to school and get smarter.

So here’s how I was reunited with him. In addition to spending basically all of March putting up missing flyers to find Marty, and then putting them into the millions of mailboxes in Yeongtong after it became apparent that people were taking down my flyers (I was not happy to discover this.), I also gave color ones to Yeongtong vets. One day, April14th to be exact, I got a text during class (but like a good teacher I did not check it until after class was up at 10pm). It was from the local vet that was across the street from work and basically said they think they had Marty.

I was pretty excited to get this text, especially since my hope in finding my dog was really starting to wane. I figured that a vet would definitely be able to recognize him. Even though he’s a yorkie, he’s pretty unique with his one eye, floppy ears and lighter than average coloring. But I was still doubtful because I had already been notified from other sources about other yorkies that were definitely not Marty.

I asked one of the Korean counselors to call the vet and ask if the dog only had one eye. For some reason, she called by the CDI phone and not her cellphone, which will be important later. When I asked if it was Marty, she only nodded which made me suspicious. Was she nodding just so I would go to the vet and check or was she nodding because it was actually Marty?

Anyway, I went to the vet and she was very happy to see me. She assured me it was definitely Marty and gave me the cell phone number of the woman who found him since she had gone home. So I went back to work and asked the counselor to call again and again she called from a CDI phone. The woman wanted to meet me at a Nong Hyup bank near the Kyunghee entrance. I was pretty much a mess of nerves the whole 15 minute walk there. What if it wasn’t Marty? I was so nervous, I didn’t even have my iPod on, which I basically live by.

So I got there and the woman is waiting with a friend inside the bank’s entrance. I can’t fully tell if it’s Marty. But once I got in and held him, I knew it was my dog. He had kind of a funny hair cut and smelled slightly medicinal so I’m thinking that grooming was why the woman had brought him into the vet in the first place. I was so overwhelmed that I only vaguely remember thanking the woman and leaving. The walk back to my apartment was kind of stressful. Marty was shaking the whole way and clearly didn’t like being on the street. However, once he was back in the apartment he was his happy, carefree self and gladly socialized with Han and explored how the apartment had changed in the month he was missing.

So the next day, one of the CDI administrators comes up to me slightly annoyed and asks why I didn’t thank the woman for finding my dog. Now, what happened after I got Marty may have been shrouded in vagueness, but I know I thanked her several times. Apparently the woman had called CDI (she had it’s number because the counselor called her from a CDI phone) and said she felt that I wasn’t grateful enough that she had returned my dog. And my boss felt that it reflected badly on the school so they wanted me to meet again with her.

I was perfectly happy to meet with her because I did want to know more about how she had found my dog and when she had found him since it seemed like she had had him for a little while. But I was pretty annoyed about all the offense people were taking about this. First of all, it did not seem like the woman spoke much English, so it’s not like I could have really thanked her properly when I met with her. Second of all, while I do understand she had bought things for Marty and had probably bonded with him, he had a harness on when he went missing and was clearly someone’s pet. Why did she try to keep him instead of trying to find his owner? And if his harness was missing and she thought he was a stray, why did she not take him to a vet to get at the very least his creepy missing eye looked at? ( I love Marty, but his eye is creepy.)

But that meeting never came to pass. She kept calling the school but postponing the meeting because she had health problems and has to be at the hospital a lot. So I’ll never really know what happened to Marty in that month he was missing. Occasionally I’ll notice he’s a little timid in situations that he wasn’t timid in before but overall there don’t seem to be any lasting effects of being missing. And actually one good thing has come from this. Marty was a little stubborn before he disappeared but  now he’s pretty much 100% obedient to me (However I wouldn’t recommend loosing your dog as a method of obedience training…).

Alright, Daegu Part 2, which will actually go with my  next post about how Marty was found.

The whole reason I went to Daegu was to rescue a Welsh corgi puppy from the KAPS (Korean Animal Protection Society) shelter. I randomly found him in a video on the ARK website – he hadn’t been at the shelter long enough to have his own adoption page. When I got there, a shelter volunteer had taken him out and clipped his nails. Unfortunately, the little guy’s a barker so for the 2 or 3 weeks he had been there he hadn’t really been taken out of his cage because the volunteers thought he might be aggressive. So they couldn’t tell me too much about him.

So I took this mystery dog home with me to Marty. He was very quiet on the train ride home. At first he sat under the seat watching me but eventually he let me sit him in my lap. After a little while, I noticed he was silently crying and there were bubbles coming out of his nose, like when a little kid is crying hysterically. Poor puppy.

Well after thinking it over for a few days, I decided to call him Han Solo (since han(a) means 1 in Korean and solo is also 1). He’s in the US with me, Marty and my beagle and frankly loving having a big backyard to run around in.

I can’t say for certain what kind of background Marty or Han came from but the likely two scenarios are either they were owned by a Korean who no longer wanted them (Marty probably when he lost his eye and Han when he grew bigger and started to chew on stuff) OR, and slightly more distressing, they were owned by a foreigner who abandoned them when they went home.

Before I left, I noticed there were a lot of dogs out and about around Yeongtong. Which makes sense, since the weather was nicer so people were coming out of hibernation. But I also noticed that a lot of the dogs were owned by foreigners. I know a few of them, who have every intention of bringing their dog home with them, but I know just from looking at the ARK page there are a lot of people who still don’t bring their animals home with them. Sometimes it’s because of unforeseen problems, but it seems like a lot of times it’s because of unforeseen costs. Four of my co-workers actually got puppies from pet shops shortly before I left and I can only hope they bring their dogs home with them.

It’s a big responsibility having pets, even more so when you have to travel with them. Here’s a quick step by step for getting your pet home with you:

  1. Get a carrier for your pet that it can stand up and move around naturally in.
  2. Get your pet used to the carrier to ease it’s anxiety on travel day.
  3. Make sure your pet is vaccinated for rabies no fewer than 30 days before your flight.
  4. There are likely to be other health requirements and vaccinations depending on what country/ state you’re going to to make sure you’re aware of them (I few into Dulles, and a rabies vaccination is all Washington DC wanted).
  5. After you book your flight, reserve a spot for your pet. (Side Note: Try to make sure it’s a non-stop flight and that the airline has a separate pressurized, temperature controlled cabin for pets, if your pet is flying cargo). Generally pets lighter than 5kg, with carrier, can be carry-ons while larger pets fly as cargo. The price will vary by airline so make sure you’re aware of what they charge, and be ready to pay it when you go to the airport.
  6. Take your pet to the vet and get a certificate of vaccination and health certificate. Also, the airline might have a form that you need to fill out. Make sure those are with your at the airport when you check in.
  7. When you take your pet to the airport, make sure there is something absorbent in the carrier, like newspaper or a pee pad. Also, the carrier should have a water bottle and a flight’s worth of food attached to the door so the pet has access to it. The airline will likely give further instructions.
  8. At Incheon airport, take your pet with its forms to the customs office on the second floor. It’s in section 8, if I remember correctly. They’ll charge a small few (10,000 won for dogs and cats) and issue you another health certificate that you need when you check-in.