Saturday, July 14, 2012

Lessons Learned

Henry Ford said, "Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young."  

We've certainly learned a lot in the week+ we've been here.  They are all part of our Korean experience!    

First, you have to step UP into the main part of the house.  The foyer here is where you take off your shoes before entering the house.  That means you also have to step DOWN to leave the house.  You may not notice this when you can't see the floor for the 50 lb. suitcase you've just carried up 3 flights of stairs.

In the same way,  the bathrooms are considered wet rooms, so almost anywhere you go, you must step down to get into the bathroom.  This can be quite a jolt at 2 am, so make sure you're conscious or dribbliage may occur! 

We have met a new friend, Chelsea, who is from Canada.  She's been here a while and offered to take us sight seeing.  We ate lunch at an authentic Korean place, Kimbop Heaven. We then set out for Coex mall via the subway.  I'm learning that most Koreans like to walk while staying to the left.  For instance, Zane exited the subway on my left while I was talking to Quade, who was on my right.  I put my arm out to put it around Zane's shoulders and looked simultaneously.  It wasn't Zane, but a very nice, laughing, Korean lady! 

While still in the subway, we went to the restroom.  I again, stayed to the right out of habit, and got tangled with a blind man and his cane as I turned the corner.  For this one, I may go to Hell, but God knows I've worked with the disabled for almost 20 years, right?!?   Note to self...stay to the left!!

 Here we are in Insadong..a market where you can find most anything.

I've learned you need to get a Korean hairdryer.  I tried using mine an adapter I brought from the States.  It wasn't running at full speed, though the setting was on high.  But, I kept going, bound and determined to not have frizzy hair today!  Three minutes into styling, it powered down and ended with a pfsssft and a cloud of smoke.  Thank God it didn't set off the smoke alarm!  Not sure I could've explained that to my Korean landlord.

We learned you only turn on the air conditioner an hour or so a day or you get fined for excessive electricity usage.  The business office called and told us this after we'd run ours for 4 days straight.  So, the windows are open, make sure you plug the holes in the screens or you get rabid gnats!  You also learn with the windows open, that the garbage truck comes in the middle of the night.  It's not a hobo going through your trash for aluminum.
(We've since learned that it's not a fine..but more like a graduated scale for your bill...the more you use, the more you pay.)

Zane has learned to bat his baby blues and he can get free stuff.  The Korean ladies love him.  At the convenience story the other day, he bought a Gatorade.  One clerk physically turned him to show the other clerk his eyes.  He didn't get anything extra on this trip but a boost to his ego.  But, he did get me 2 extra dumplings last night from the street vendor who also gives him extra buns.  I don't get anything extra when I go alone.  I guess I need the Zane touch.  (We now know that this is 'service'.  But, Zane does get extras all the time, too.)

Quade has learned that Koreans love spicy food.  He and Tre got into a contest to see who could eat the most.  They were both sweating and moaning.  There was no real winner, but Tre said he wouldn't get in a contest with Quade again!  

We learned that you have to recycle.  Which I love!  But, the rules are strict and you can get fined if you bag something the wrong way.  You have to buy the bags for regular non-recycled items (pink bags) and food waste (yellow bags) from the local market. 

We've learned that Itaewon has a great Mexican restaurant!  If you need to see some American faces, this is the area.  Right near the US military base.

We learned if you get off the subway at a different spot just to see what you can find, you might find something awesome!  And, we did.  Yesterday, we let the kids take the subway to the Jukejon station by themselves.  This is where Emart is.  They'd found some models there and wanted to get more.  We got off at Ori station just to see what was there.  We found Home Plus.   Sorta like a super Walmart.  I was so glad.  We found a mattress pad. They'd been over 245,000 won at Emart.  They also have their workers do exercises periodically, which offers much comic relief..but we didn't let them see us, of course.  (See Tre's video post on Facebook.)

That's the Final thing to share about what we've learned thus far...queen sized mattresses are as hard as a rock.  For some reason, it's literally like sleeping on your box spring.  So, this is my new best friend.  A mattress pad.  Best 69,000 won I've spent so far!

1 comment:

  1. Hello there!
    I came across this blog and wanted to reach out to you. I am an OSU grad and am moving to Seoul in February.
    I want see if we can start and alumni chapter going out there. Feel free to contact me! I'd love any advice you can offer!