Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Learning Curve for Apartment Living

This doesn't surprise me especially much, but there are a lot of things about solo apartment living that I'm being quickly forced to learn how to do. These are things that I didn't know I didn't know, so each one comes up rather unexpectedly, and taking care of them can be an adventure.

For instance, I have had to learn how to set up automatic bill pay (자동이체) with my bank, so that I can -- get this -- pay the bills. I went to the bank in person today and tried my hardest not to come across as a stupid foreigner, but within thirty seconds I failed to understand the clerk when she asked for my ID card (신분증) and what account I wanted to transfer funds to, so that's that.

I have also had to figure out where to buy the specific trash bags (쓰레기 봉투, not 봉지...) required for regular garbage pickup, how to return a purchased item (반품하다; at first, I asked an employee where I could go to "분팜하다", which is like asking about the powdery palm trees, which makes no sense), and how to get free furniture (hint: it rhymes with "humpster hive"). And as soon as I feel comfortably settled in, I ought to throw a 집들이, or housewarming party. There's not much room for other people in this cozy little 원룸, but I'd like to invite friends over. Only I have no idea what is proper protocol for a 집들이 in Korea! Maybe we'll bake cookies?

Then there's all the stuff that I know how to do but have grown accustomed to not doing thanks to having had a homestay, like washing all the dishes myself, figuring out how to get Internet access, and locating the closest amenities like grocery stores and restaurants for when my fridge is empty (as it is now).

The learning curve is pretty steep, but I've got help in the form of friends, fellow expats and their Facebook group, and the awesome website Changwonderful, which has tons of useful information about my city: advice on how to separate recycling, where to get a bike share pass, etc. I've read it all before without having to worry about it, but now I have to worry about it!

All of this notwithstanding, being fully independent now, in a way that I have never been before in my life, is still very exciting. I'm looking forward to the months to come.

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