an apology and laundry

First, I’m gonna start by saying that I know I’ve sucked at being a blogger since I moved here.  Settling in to my new life in Korea was not difficult, which was part of the problem.  As soon as I arrived I was busy, busy, busy and didn’t schedule time to post things here. . . . so let’s call this attempt #2.

And for my first post of 2014 (wow, two months in already eh?!) I will be writing about doing laundry here in Korea.  Many apartments have a washing machines, and in small places where a built in machine is included they are usually found where you might expect to find an oven. In traditional Korean cooking an oven is not used, only a stove-top, so the space under the stove is the perfect place to put a washing machine in a small, cramped apartment!  In other smaller places, like my first apartment years ago, the machine can be found on the balcony.

In my case, it’s under my stove, and I have to say that although I would prefer to have an oven, the location is convenient.  Just last week, I decided that I should probably attempt to read my washing machine manual since my clothes still felt a bit sandpaperish after washing and I had been doubting that I was using it correctly for some time.  So, yeah, I was totally using it wrong!  Turns out the fabric softener goes in the middle compartment with the flowery looking picture . . . and with the machine style and water type here in Korea, fabric softener is a must!

Washing machine drawyer

I finally spent some time trying to figure out what everything meant on my machine and created some labels for others who may be struggling!  I hope this helps someone else figure out what to do, or what they’ve been doing wrong!  And for my friends back home, I hope you find this somewhat interesting . . . . imagine using a washing machine with no words in English except for “Samsung.”  I do realize that not all machines will be the same, but, hopefully this can be a bit of a guide.  And, for those in Korea please note that when I changed my spin setting from 강 to 중 I started getting a lot less error warnings from my machine!

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p.s. my machine has a built in dryer too . . . I love that I don’t need to move my laundry from one machine to another.

 

shopping myeongdong

Today was a great day of shopping in an area of Seoul called Myeongdong. I met a Korean friend near exit 7 of euljiro1ga (을지로입구역) where you can enter Lotte Dept store. We thought it was best to start our shopping with an energy booster, so headed to Mr. Pizza, a Korean pizza chain. The half potato, bacon and nacho chips, and half shrimp and olives pizza that we ate was a bit strange for me, to say the least. Some branches have a pretty large salad bar, and although we each had to pay 4,000won ($4CAD), we only got one salad bar bowl (yes, bowl – not sure whats up with the bowls instead of plates, but whatevs). We tried to argue it with the waitress to get a second one, but, then decided my friend would go up first, empty her salad onto her pizza plate, ask for a clean bowl (we couldn’t have two bowls, but this is permitted), and then I’d go to the salad bar. Take that Mr. Pizza and your stupid one bowl rule! We ate, caught up on her upcoming move to Germany and her current love interest and the headed to a large Daiso store that I spotted across the street.

Daiso, is kind of like dollarama, and has everything from flower pots, to cups, to dog collars, to strainers. I’ve bought almost all of the small things I needed for my kitchen and bathroom at various Daiso’s since arriving. Next, we headed back to Lotte Dept store so I could grab some raspberry and blueberry jam. They have a large selection of imported grocery items, mainly from Europe, so I knew I could find my jam there!!

The fun part came next, we headed to Myeongdong shopping street just across the street. Love it! I’ve been there before, but not on a Saturday afternoon! So many people, mainly young Koreans and some foreigners, spending money on shoes, clothes, accessories, cosmetics and street food! I had some overpriced turkish ice-cream, served to me by a man from Northern India. Huh? OK, whatever. I guess all of us non-koreans are here for a reason. The people watching was the best, but seriously, I can’t spend too much time in this area or I’ll go broke. Soooooo, many cute things, and given I bought feet for my cell phone yesterday (yup, you read that right, feet, pink feet…..for my cell phone!) you can imagine how I can’t resist spending money!!!! Btw, my cell phone can now stand up on its own, should it choose to do so, without me holding it. All thanks to the pink feet I bought for it.

After a few hours, and a few dollars dropped, we started talking about beer and dinner.  Note: I discovered Olive Young – a chain I Korea where they sell all brands of shampoo, face masks, body lotion – like a large version of “the good stuff section” at Shoppers Drug Mart – may be my new favorite place in Korea!! I asked to stop at Muji first, to see if I could find some furniture. OK, so maybe Muji is my new favorite place in Korea, because I spent a lot of money there on new bedding……which I really did need. I also bought slippers and realized that in can’t afford furniture at Muji on my budget (sad face). More on slippers in Korea will come later!

Myeongdong Day

‘love’ motels

Well, I’ve only just arrived in Korea, but leave it up to me to have my first post be about ‘love’ motels. Space is at a premium in Korea, and so it can be difficult to for couples, especially young couples, to find a place to be alone….wink, wink, nudge, nudge. So, cheap, hourly, hotels can be found all over the place, complete with discrete parking lots. Inside, you’ll find all of the necessities, including a selection of high quality films (some may call them pornos), and toiletries, so you will look as fresh leaving as to did going in. No need to explain the bedhead to your parents when you get home. I walked by this one this morning, and really enjoyed the name. It’s just so to the point!

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my life fit into three suitcases, plus one overweight carry-on…..and one large and heavy purse

And, I’m off to Korea! The house has been sold, all of my furniture has been sold and/or relocated to new homes, but, there are about 15 large Rubbermaid bins being stored in various closets and crevices of my parents home with things I can’t part with yet. I’m excited to find out  what  this new adventure in Korea will bring! There were a few tears at the airport this morning from my mom, but, it was otherwise an otherwise uneventful departure.

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finding a place to live

Well, it’s Monday and tomorrow is my last day of work in Canada. I’m leaving on Sunday, and as of now I will be  homeless on arrival. I spent a lot of time on Craigslist Seoul looking at places and started communicating with five real estate agents, and then a sixth last night! One ‘broke up’ with me after a month of telling me to wait until closer to my move date, sent me one listing, then told me he didn’t feel comfortable working with someone who wasn’t in Korea. I sent him a lovely response thanking him for wasting my time. My friend went to look at one place that I thought might work, but I wasn’t particularly impressed with the landlords offer to change the dirty vertical blinds at my expense!

Last night, I came across a listing of a loft style officetel that I really liked!! Contacted the real estate agent immediately on kakaotalk and she responded right away. My friend is going to view the unit today! Fingers crossed there are no issues and I’ll be putting my deposit down tomorrow to hold it. If this doesn’t work out, then I’ll give up the search until I arrive and spend some nights in a hotel.

why is this happening?

I suspect this won’t be my only post with this title, but in this case I’m asking the question for a GOOD reason! A lot of people have asked me why I’ve decided to move to Korea. Most people give me a wink-wink nudge-nudge and ask if I have a boyfriend over there (although my cousin asked if I had a boyfriend OR girlfriend – how politically correct of him!). Sadly, I do not have a boyfriend waiting for me . . . . this is all about ME!

The year 2013 has been a big year of personal change, and through the process I’ve decided to pursue a dream that I’ve had for a long time. I have always wanted to be fluent in a second language, and core French in the public school system in Ontario just didn’t cut it. I lived in Korea in 2001/02, have regularly visited the country for my current job, and have experienced exponential growth in the number of Korean friends on my contact list over the last two years! I think those friends are probably the most influential reason why I’m going back. My modest knowledge of the language and culture seemed to encourage them to keep teaching me new things, and my desire to return to Korea has grown as a result. My new found freedom this year has resulted in the decision to leave a wonderful job that gives me the opportunity to travel around the world to pursue this dream.

Along the way, I hope to share my experiences in a fun and humorous way!! Feel free to ask me any questions that you have about my posts, or other questions in general. And please don’t take offense to my candid observations. What is written here will be about my personal experiences only.  My goal with this blog is to allow my friends and family enjoy this journey with me as I learn more about Korean culture and language, and myself. But, everyone is welcome to join me!

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This is an image of the basic vowels in Korean language, and what I’ll be studying for the next year or two. Wish me luck!!

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