Saturday, January 16, 2010

Korea, second round

Well folks, I arrived last night back in Seoul after a two month visit home. I don't start work for another week, thank goodness, so I have time to rest and get settled. I think the second time around is going to be much easier in terms of adjustments, though there are lots of changes in my life in Seoul this time around.

I have moved into my new apartment. This time I'm living in a villa, instead of an officetel. For those of you outside of Korea who have no idea what a villa or an officetel are, I'll give you a quick explanation. An officetel is usually a modern apartment building that happens to have some offices on the first floor or two. Then it's usually a high rise with modern, typically smallish apartments (or at least English teachers live in small ones). My old apartment had a modern shower in a beautiful bathroom. Kitchen was small, but had everything I needed (minus a microwave), and the sleeping/living area again, was small, but comfortable and clean.

Villas are smaller, typically brick apartment buildings, usually with only 3-5 floors. These types of apartments fill the backstreets of Seoul, while office tells often line the main roads. My new apartment is larger than my officetel, as typical of villa apartments. I have two rooms , plus a hallway area where there is a small kitchen area and a bathroom. The kitchen did not technically come equipped, as they typically don't. Fortunately, we were able to buy the gas range and fridge from the girl moving out (along with a large portion of her furniture for that matter). The bathroom will be the biggest adjustment. The bathroom, which is slightly raised from the rest of the apartment, has a shower head that faces the sink. The bathroom gets covered in water when you shower, so I'm going to look for some ways to hang some shower curtains to keep the water contained. The other problem with the bathroom is that it is FREEZING cold. We've been keeping the door to the bathroom shut because when it's open you feel a draft throughout the apartment, but when you open the door to go to the bathroom it's like walking into a refrigerator. I'm wondering if some strategically placed curtains might not only constrain water, but keep the important part of the bathroom a little warmer. (If anyone has any experience with this, let me know please!)

We're still playing with ideas on what to do with the two rooms we have. One room is quite small. I have a feeling the bed might fit in there, but not much else. But, if we kept the bed in the small room, then we could have a much more open and comfortable living area in the other room. The other option is to make the small room into a sort of storage room, to keep all the things like clothes, skis, luggage, etc. that visitors don't need to see, out of the way. Then the bed can fit into the large room with hopefully enough space for relaxing. We're even toying with the idea of a sofa, but I really don't see where it's going to fit...

For the moment, we still don't have a bed, which makes the whole organizing idea a little tough since I don't know how much space I'm working with. We're going to go furniture shopping after the boyfriend gets out of work today and see if we can find anything. For the moment, though, we have a yo (Korean style floor mat) to sleep on, which is not very thick, but I still find comfortable. I might need to turn the heat down while I sleep though... I find the ondol (Korean floor heating) to be baking me while I sleep.

My other slight problem is that my flight from Boston-San Francisco was delayed two hours and I got on my connection to Seoul with just barely enough time for myself to run from the domestic terminal to the international terminal. Not to mention the fact that there was no way my luggage was going to make it to the new plane. When I got to Incheon, they already had paperwork out with my name written as they knew exactly where my bags were... which was not in Incheon. I'll be waiting for a call today, hopefully not too late, about when to expect my bags to arrive. The good thing is that I had more clothes here than I realized and can easily survive for a few days without my bags, if necessary.

I'm hoping to recover from my jet lag quickly. Today I woke up at 5 am and now at 9:50am am still wide awake. I'm expecting a crash at any moment, considering how little sleep I got on the plane and the day before leaving.

Photos to come once everything is clean an organized!

Also, definitely looking to buy:
Tension Rods for shower curtain
Bed (larger than a twin)

This list might grow as the week progresses...


  1. I have lived in a place where the bathroom did not get heated in the winter. Solution: put in a small electric heater when not showering. Take out when showering.

    Bathrooms are usually drafty places. Maybe look for any windows or pipes where there are holes around the area. You can seal this things up with sticky foam or some kind of actual sealant. Duck Tape works too (yes you can get it here). Basically the challenges you face with your new place will need McGuiver like solutions. Time to get crafty!

    Still need my stuff?

  2. Welcome back!

    My bathroom is refrigerated too--works out fine in the summer ...

  3. It must be very nice to be back in Korea!! Hopefully, in a month's time I'll be making the journey as well! :)