#Korea Week 20 + 21 – SETTLED
#Korea is a weekly series on my blog documenting my time leading up to and during to my year in Korea. It’s very much unedited, stream-of-conscious writing! Check out the original post for a longer explanation here
WEEK 20 +21: AUGUST 20TH – SEPTEMBER 2ND
Just wanted to say my thoughts + prayers are with Houston and Bangladesh right now before I dive into this update.
Holy crap, I never thought this day would come! Sorry, I skipped last week, but I’ve just been trying to combat low motivation and trying to keep myself organized so I don’t lose important things for the millionth time (*cough* my passport *cough*). Let me see if I can remember everything since my last update.
So I got my visa. It was ridiculously easy to have it done in Fukuoka, and I wrote up a quick post with details. I just need to finish it. Fukuoka was absurdly humid, so I didn’t wind up doing much while I was there. I went to Fukuoka Tower and wandered around, but I mostly tried to find places with AC. I did make a cute, little video if you want to watch.
Anyhow, I flew back into Busan and was pretty exhausted and sweaty, so I just got on a bus back to Yeosu and promptly passed out. Funny story actually because as I was in an elevator to go up to the place I was staying, a foreign guy came in out of nowhere. Instead of being a friendly individual, I straight stared at my phone (reading the Taylor Swift Reddit) and didn’t say a word. I can pass for Korean if I don’t say anything (and this comes from every Korean person I’ve met), and sometimes my anti-social tendencies come up big time.
Welllll, awkward because when I went to the Yeosu welcome dinner for all the new foreign teachers, he was there. Moral of the story, don’t let your anti-social tendencies take over, folks, especially when the Jeollanmdo expat community isn’t that big. Oops.
Also on Friday (before the dinner), I went to Suncheon to sign the lease on my apartment! I also fell in love with a black kitten at the little shop near Suncheon’s bus terminal where I needed to recharge my phone. I got so caught up petting him (her?) that I didn’t realize the girl had finished recharging my SIM until she looked at me like I was a little nuts.
Moving on, I moved in on Monday and have spent the last week buying everything for the apartment and getting organized! Pro Tip (actually I need to make a “practical tips” post for Korea), there are two Korean addresses. On my contract is the old style address with the neighborhood (-dong), but if you ever send anything to yourself internationally, you’ll need the new style address (which is the street and house number). I realized this when I was looking up my address on Naver Maps and getting a 100 number instead of the 900 number on my leasing contract. Also, no, I never realized this about my old place in Namwon either, I always just had the street address.
Anyhow, my apartment is currently one-half cozy and moved in and another half packing trash! I’m waiting for my shipment to come in from iHerb since I ordered a lot of eco-friendly house products there and only got the bare minimum here to clean when I moved in. Luckily, I also live right down the road from Home Plus, so I can get a lot of gear right away instead of waiting on Gmarket. Here’s what I still need to get myself though:
- Proper cutting knife (just tried slicing carrots with a regular knife…)
- A cozy chair like the one in my feature photo! It’s Ikea and I know I can get it off of Gmarket. Elissa had one in her apartment, and I LOVED it. Especially now that all of my things are on the ground.
- A long table to use for eating
- A shelf to hold kitchen things since my counter space is less than a foot wide
- A toaster (for my avocado toast when I find avocado :P)
- A microwave
- Some more storage boxes + hangers – they’re a pain to carry back so, I wind up buying like 1 or 2 at a time
- A table or something to write on. I hate holding my laptop on my lap, so something I can open up over my bed. Also, can double for when I just want to eat in bed.
- A bike! My centers actually aren’t far from me, but they’re just a little too far to walk. So I figure a bike is my best bet instead of paying for the bus or taking taxis all the time. Also more eco-friendly and safer for the citizens of Suncheon than me getting a car
- The DSLR camera I want (that’ll come later though)
- A cat (jk…or not. I heard a dog barking in here the other night, and no one told me pets weren’t allowed…)
In terms of groceries — holy moly, I cannot believe how much the selection has grown in the months I’ve been gone! I found blue box mac and cheese (which actually tastes like crap, so I don’t know why I got excited…) AND almond milk. I drank my friend’s almond milk in Rhode Island, so I’m declaring myself at least mostly not allergic to almonds anymore. *cough*
Okay, in other news, I went to Suncheon’s welcome dinner this week as well and actually forced myself to be social. It’s weird to see SO many foreigners in one place (both Suncheon and some Yeosu people came) because I’m so used to Namwon where there were maybe 15-20 of us in all. Honestly, there are people who’d never heard of Namwon, and Suncheon is literally a 30-minute train ride away. I didn’t think it was that obscure of a town.
Anyhow, I start work tomorrow/today (since I’m writing this so late), and I’m excited to get into a groove! I’ve been mobile since mid-July and more or less mobile since this winter, and I’m so happy to just be in one place that’s 100% my own. The only thing I don’t LOVE is that I don’t get a ton of natural sunlight since my windows face the walls of another building.
Some Things I’m Loving:
- TAYLOR SWIFT IS BACK! TAYLOR SWIFT IS BACK!! SHE’S OFFICIALLY BACK, AND I’M LOVING IT. I hate the album cover but I also hated the Vogue cover, and I think they’re by the same people. In friggin’ LOVE with the music video, and yes I went back to watch it a billion times. I’ve been a fan for 10 years– you know I scoured Tumblr, Reddit, news articles, Twitter, etc for all the details. During her absence, I straight up Googled her randomly just to see if there was any news on how she was doing. Hoping she comes to Korea. She came during her RED tour, but not 1989.
- Watched all of “Versailles,” and holy fudge, it’s so good. It’s a lot more understated than I thought it would wind up being, which I actually love. If you thought “The Tudors” was good but kind of got melodramatic, then you’ll like “Versailles.”
- I FINALLY finished Without You, There Is No Us. I started it a while ago and have read it in small increments. It’s just a really heavy book, and it just put me in a sad headspace reading a chapter at a time. It’s so good, though. Like Suki Kim deserves all the praise in the world. Her book is doing what Liberty in North Korea has been doing — humanizing North Koreans, which is SO important for understanding the country and why we can’t and should NOT just Nagasaki/Hiroshima Pyeongyang. I sometimes think about my students from Namwon and how they’re going to get on with life, and I know I didn’t have nearly the same bond as Kim had with her college-aged students.
- I’m also in the middle of All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda. I was on a roll reading it and then kind of stopped for a bit. I 100% spoiled it for myself like I do with every book I read, so I know what’s coming. I’m intrigued with how they get there. It feels slower paced than In A Dark, Dark Wood, but I also was on a plane for hours reading instead of bopping around. My book club’s next pick is A Man Called Ove, so I’m excited to start that one!
- The GOT finale! I can’t believe how quick that was. I will be pissed beyond belief if they wait until 2019 to release anything… I’m not going to lie when I go back to the earlier seasons and watch clips, I realize just how much detail and finesse they put into every show. This season felt way too quick, and almost like they were vomiting everything on us. Honestly, I don’t care if you make the direwolves a normal dog size and pretend they never looked big if it means we actually get to see them. The dragons are cool and obviously vital to the story, but I personally DGAF about them in comparison to how much I love Nymeria and Ghost. ALSO, I AM NOT HERE FOR THE INCEST. On the one hand, we’ve been villainizing and grossed out by Cersei and Jamie for their weird incestuous love, AND we’re based on actual history, we’re led to believe that the Targaryen madness was more or less born out of the constant incest. So why would the ultimate story be Jon and Dany hooking up and having a baby? Just. NO. Also, I’m sorry, I love Kit and Emilia, so this isn’t on them but probably more the storyline pacing and direction, but if you go back and watch their scenes with Ygritte and Drogo, you’ll see how little chemistry they have. Fudge, I could go on for a whole other post about this!
- Speaking of watching old scenes, I’ve been on a weird Youtube binge where I keep playing “Office” clips as I go about my day. I’ve never actually seen the “Office” as a whole (I started right before I left on Netflix, and now it’s not on Korean Netflix), so all the scenes are new to me.
- ALSO “Shameless” has a start date! It’s in November, I believe. I need my Gallagher fix.
- New Songs (basically most of my new exposure comes from the “Pop Rising” playlist on Spotify): “Meant to Be” and “(Not) the One” by Bebe Rexha, “Broken Glass” by Rachel Platten, “Without You” by Avicii, “Unforgettable,” by Thomas Rhett, “Think Before I Talk” by Astrid S., Reggaeton Lento by CNCO + Little Mix, He Like That by Fifth Harmony, “Havana” by Camila.
- OH, HOW COULD I FORGET THIS? Such an incredible, moving song. The video made me cry when I first saw it, and then the live performance had me crying all over again.
- As a side note, my big is being a real everyday hero! She’s teaching AP Bio for the first time at her school in North Carolina (and basically getting paid less than me for doing twice the work in terms of motivating students AND actually lesson planning). Of course, since the school is underfunded and in the boonies, they have exactly none of the supplies her kids need, including textbooks and lab equipment. She has a gofundme set up, and I thought I’d mention it here because I know I’ve donated to random things before, and you just never know! She’s awesome, and I personally have a soft heart for smart kids who don’t have the means to do what they want!
Wow, I really need to not take a 2-week break between updates. I had more to say on GOT than I thought… Anyhow, I’m sure next week will be pretty slow and boring since I’m getting used to everything, but there’s Week 21 + 22 a not 2,000-word nutshell!
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Yay! Glad you’ve settled in now. I had similar anti-social encounter with another western customer at the nail salon…who then happened to be a covering teacher for my school that night. Awkward.
Oh man hahahaha I feel like it’s always karma for me not being social or polite!
I am also guilty of the foreigner thing! It has only been a week since I left orientation but I’ve already fallen into the habit of staring wordlessly at other foreigners. No communication whatsoever, but a wideeyed stare like I can’t believe what I’m seeing. If we make eye contact, avert and stare at the phone.
Thank you for the pro tip on addresses. I was trying to order from gmarket this weekend and could not figure out how to enter my address. I’m gonna check out iHerb now as well. Any other sites you recommend? The learning curve in Korea is kind of steep for me. Trash disposal is a mystery. The bus doesnt stop when I use the button. Every time I ask someone where to buy something, they say to go to Gwanju. I can’t carry a laundry rackand microwave from Gwangju to Naju on the subway and bus!
Haha it’s so bad! I need to not do it because I got into the habit and when I went home to the States, I was so socially inept haha
Of course! Gmarket does still allow the old address with the -dong, but the street one is easy. I believe I just used the search function to choose everything (but it was tricky when I first did it).
Trash Disposal — super easy! I’m not sure where you’re at, but bigger apartments usually have their own sorting, or you have to put it all on the sidewalk. Basically all trash goes into a specific trash bag you can buy at any grocery store (just ask for the sseu-rre-ggi- beong-teo — they’re also usually out, so you can point haha). Any other recycling can go into the blue bags. They’re kind of tricky to find because for whatever reason they’re not at grocery stores? I need to find them in my area but I remember randomly a bedding store sold them in Namwon! The older women collect the recycling for cash, so just keep it neat and easy for them to pick up. A girl in my old building use to tape all the big cardboard boxes together a few times a year.
iHerb is the BEST! I wish I had known about it sooner. Also, Gmarket for anything like a laundry rack or microwave! Does Naju have a Lotte Mart, Emart, or Homeplus? You can also get them from there, and if you want ask your coteacher if they can take you there after school one day!
I really do need to write a practical tips post haha