I usually update on weekends but I'm trying to be better. I've only done 3 posts in 20-something days! Once you start blogging, you can't stop. People start to expect and anticipate your updates, which I love!
I've officially settled into my environment though. Now I truly FEEL as if I live here. This is my home right now. Feels weird to say but it's true. Everyday is not a mind-blowing experience. Yes, things happen but I have a routine. So I decided I'd just talk about my routine :) Many of you will never make it out here to see me so here's what a "normal" day is like for me here. The past couple of days had some interesting moments that I'd like to share.
I wake up around 10 or 11. Sometimes I wake up at noon though when I've stayed up chatting and doing nothing til 430am. I may go to the gym if I feel motivated enough. Yesterday, I went to the HomePlus because my fridge left a note on itself saying, "Put some food in me, dangit!!!!" I eat out everyday because it ends up being the same price anyway. It took me an hour to find 10 items. It's not that supermarkets are laid out any differently here - produce in front, meat in the back, and everything else in between. But I really have to be sure what I'm getting. So I've developed a system to help me out - I take pictures of what I like and what I don't to make sure I buy the same thing each time. For instance, the dumplings I really love have pork and vegetables in them. One time I bought some that had spicy kimchi in them...that was a no-no. The outside of the packages have wonderful pictures that tell you NOTHING about what's inside...and of course, the writing is in Korean.
Going grocery shopping is usually a brainless task...but for me here, it requires all of my senses. Koreans probably think I am nuts but there I am, in Aisle 6, shaking and sniffing everything in reach. I also like something called bulgogi, marinated beef with vegetables. I've learned how to order it now. I walk up to the guy and say, "Hana saram..." or "one person". He smiles and hands me about a pound of the stuff. Nice and easy. I really wanted some nice, big Jersey tomatoes. But I can't find them here. What I thought were tomatoes was actually a fruit called a persimmon. They are sweet, almost like apples.
As I wandered down the condiments aisle, I saw the canned fruit. Oooh, peaches!! I got really excited. Right as I was about to reach for it, I looked up and saw....canned silkworms right next to it!!! YIKES!!! I used to grow those back in 2nd grade...never thought I'd see them sitting next to my canned fruit. They are somewhat popular though. Steve told me that they sell them on the street, too. There's a really annoying van that always drives around blaring its speakers...yeah, he's selling silkworms. Needless to say, I passed on the canned fruit...kinda lost my appetite after that. : \
Checking out always makes me nervous, too. I don't know why but it does. The clerks are really nice and I appreciate them always trying to give me a chance to speak Korean. However, I'm not having full conversations here. One thing that's interesting about grocery stores here is they don't give you bags for your stuff. Like, you know there's a whole separate job back home just for people to put your stuff in bags. But no, you have to ask for plastic bags AND they charge you extra for it. I think it's only like 5 cents or something. So now I've started bringing the old bags to re-use. When you exit, they have an area at the door that looks like a gift wrap station, but people are just putting their stuff in boxes, like at Cosco. Correction, people are FIGHTING over the boxes.
Then today, I had to go to the bank to pay my gas/heat/electric bill. I was already angry that I had to cough up $170 this month. My hole-in-the-wall BOX of an apartment cost $170 last month to heat!! Angry....anyway, so the bill was due today. I'm a member of Woori Bank and Steve told me I could just do a transfer to KB Star for my bill. But NO, I could not. I walked into my bank holding the bill in my hand, looking like a helpless puppy I'm sure. The greeter led me over to someone who spoke moderate English and they called KB Star. The lady told me I couldn't transfer, had to come into the bank. Fabulous. So, that meant a hike across town. When I walked into the bank, it felt like the NY Stock Exchange - bells going off, people shouting numbers in Korean, some random guy selling cell phones in the corner, babies crying. I walked in and walked right back out...I thought "Oh God, it's too much..." It was really overwhelming at first, but I took a moment to scan my surroundings. There were 3 different sections, all with different numbers showing and different tickets to be taken. Which one do I take??? If I take the wrong ticket, I'd get sent to the wrong window and have to wait all over again. So I picked the area that looked most "normal", meaning without fancy chairs and glass partitions. #212 - Great...they're only on #195 and creeping along.
So I sat and waited quietly while the chaos swirled around me. I watched everyone and tried to practice understanding my numbers (sahm-o....3...5...crap, I lost it). My brain started to hurt. After 15 minutes or so, my number was called. The teller greeted me with, "How are you today?" A little dumbfounded, I almost forgot that I knew English. We chatted for awhile. She asked me how long I'd been here, when my birthday was, what I'm doing, if I like it, etc. Her English was slightly broken but she was damn good! Not shy at all...so that was a bright spot in my otherwise chaotic day.
Those are usually my morning adventures - simple tasks that are suddenly a challenge when you have no idea what anyone is saying. I'm learning more Korean though, a few words a week. I can now say when I like something ("Cho-wy-yo") and That price is too high ("Nomu pissayo") and I speak a little Korean ("Hangung-mal-rul chom hae yo"). I'm trying!! It comes out a little jacked up but the effort is appreciated. Once I start taking classes and understanding how the words are connected, I think I'll learn it quickly.
Well, it's 12am and I have about 3 more hours of doing nothing....so I'd better get to it!!! Until next time, J