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Archive for April, 2010

Cost of Living

Here’s a breakdown of my utilities for my first month:

  • Gas – 41,860 (~$37)
  • Electric – 7,881 (~$7)
  • Internet – 13,820 (~$12)
  • Cable – free (landlord pays for it!)
  • Water – free (as far as I can tell)
  • Cell Phone – 18,590 (~$17) but it’ll be 35,000 (~$31) starting next month

Some of these prices aren’t for the whole month, so next month’s bills will be higher. That’s okay because I think it’s still pretty affordable! And, I don’t have to worry about rent or pay for gas(oline), parking, or car insurance. I spend more than I think on the bus and subway (950-1300/trip), but it’s still a lot cheaper than driving my own car. Overall, living in Korea is 100x better for me financially.

I could budget my money for food, travel and miscellaneous expenses, though. I usually load 10,000 onto my transportation card at a time, which gets me 7-10 trips. So, I can go downtown or out to other places 3-5 times a week on that money. I end up spending more on the weekends because I take multiple trips around town and sometimes take a cab. And I could eat at home more or choose cheaper places to eat at once in a while. That’s my plan from now on since I’ve gotten to try different things and enjoyed myself the past month and a half. I got a cash book to record my daily expenses. My goal for next month: budget my money and save, save, save!

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Adventures from A to Z!

I got this idea from my friend, Stephanie, who will be graduating from university very soon. She is trying to make a list of activities to do before she graduates. I thought, what a great idea! I should do that while I’m in Korea!

So here is my list of adventures, from A to Z, to have while I’m in Korea. They are things that I can only do in Korea or Asia. Or something I have never done before, like bungee jumping. This list will be updated many times. Please send me suggestions for my list!

  • Audience member for a TV show
    Bungee jump, Bboy competition
    Concert, Celebrity sighting
    DMZ Tour
    Everland Amusement Park
    Film Festival – Pusan International Film Fest
    G
    H
    ot Springs
    I
    J
    eonju (San Diego sister city), Jeju
    K-Pop concert, Korean bathhouse
    L
    M
    usic Festival, see a Musical (in Korean)
    N
    O
    pera House – see a performance, Olympic Park
    Pre-Championships for Track and Field – see Usain Bolt
    Q
    R
    ain – see him!!
    Ski, Scuba dive, Sky dive
    Tea ceremony, Temple stay (maybe)
    Unesco World Heritage Sites – see all the Korean sites
    Volunteer work
    Woobang Land – Sky Jump, fall 123 meters and attend a Wedding
    EXpo in Shanghai
    Yangtze River cruise
    Zoo (what else starts with Z)

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Turning Point…?

Here it is… my first rant. This is my first post written in anger and frustration. It’s due to a combination of events. Actually, I still love being in Korea and I’m having lots of fun, so this isn’t actually a rant about Korea. I’m really frustrated with the complicated tax exemption process.

I’ve been waiting for my residency certificate (Form 6166) since February. Soon after I arrived in Korea, I asked my parents to mail Form 8802 to request the residency certificate. I would’ve done it myself, but things got pretty hectic before I left. My brother went into the hospital the day before I left for Korea. So, I understand that my parents had a lot to worry about. I would do it myself, but I can’t do much from Korea. I already filled out the form so all I needed to do it have it mailed to the IRS. Simple, right?

Turns out my parents never mailed it. alksdfjalskdjf. I’d been eagerly waiting for the past 2 months, thinking my residency certificate was on its way. But, my parents had no idea what I was talking about. They could’ve said something earlier! They thought I was asking them to file my taxes. wtfff. I sent them detailed instructions, a copy of the form, and told them exactly where it was in my room. I am just going to have someone else do this for me. Parents = epic fail.

The worst part is that I have to wait another month once I send the form. I told my school I would have it soon. I hate having all the information and knowing exactly what needs to be done, but not being able to do anything about it.

Other things.. I tripped on the stairs at school yesterday. Ate it pretty bad and now I have a bruised knee. It didn’t put me in a bad mood though, it gave me a good laugh. But, lately I’ve been feeling accident prone and it makes me feel uneasy. Like I’m waiting for something bad to happen to me. I can’t shake this ominous feeling…

Some of my classes are becoming more rowdy. They picked a bad week for that. They shouldn’t give me any reasons not to be nice. Because when I’m not nice, it’s really, truly an unpleasant experience. Don’t want to unleash that anytime soon. I’m trying to enjoy myself here!

UPDATE: My parents did send my tax form back in February! My mom scanned a letter from the IRS saying they received my application and they’re processing it. But it took them 2 months to send me a letter telling me they are processing it… IRS= epic fail.

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Korean School System

At my middle school, and other public schools, students go to school on the first, third, and fifth Saturdays of the month. So it’s not really every other Saturday. Sometimes, it’s two Saturdays in a row if you have a 5th weekend in the month followed by the first weekend of the next month. I can’t always say “Have a good weekend!” on Fridays because sometimes, they have school the next day! And I don’t want to rub it in that they have to work on Saturday and I don’t. I feel kinda guilty about that!

I also found out that there’s a 7th period! I’ve only had to teach one class during 7th period because there was a schedule change. I don’t think there’s a 7th period every day. At my school, they only have it on Tuesdays. The Korean school system confuses the crap out of me.

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Hand Mirrors

What’s up with the hand mirrors?

Mirror, mirror...

All the girls seem to have one. Instead of carrying around compact mirrors, girls carry mini hand mirrors with ornate designs. They’re kind of like the hand mirrors that came in the vanity sets I used to play with as a little girl. Girls in my class bust out the hand mirrors and fix their hair and just stare at themselves right in the middle of my lesson! I get really mad when they do that. I’m not sure if this is acceptable behavior in Korea, but I find it really rude that they aren’t listening and personally I find it in bad taste to publicly admire yourself in the mirror.

That doesn’t seem to be the case though in Korea. It seems more acceptable for a person to check his or her appearance in the mirror in public. I find it strange sometimes that people are comfortable primping and grooming themselves so openly. Like when people walk past a shiny surface or window to check their reflection. People back home check themselves out too, but we try to do it discreetly or even secretly. Because when we catch someone checking themselves out we find it really funny. Like when I walk into Geisel and try hard not to look at my reflection because I know the people sitting  inside are waiting to catch me checking myself out. I know it’s not just me!

In addition to people carrying their own mini hand mirrors and checking themselves out in every reflective surface they pass, there are full length mirrors in most of the subway stations. I noticed them because every time I walk past, I’m so tempted to look at my reflection! I never do, but I notice that most of the people that walk past the mirror turn their heads to look at their reflections. It should be okay for me to look at myself too, right? I shouldn’t feel vain if everyone else is doing it!

I think I’ll just give in and unabashedly check out my reflection in the subway mirrors and store windows. I just don’t want to make it a habit and keep doing that when I go back home!

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So I’ve wanted a Big Bang poster ever since I saw the ad for Lollipop 2. I don’t know if they sell the poster in stores like Home Plus or EMart or if it’s only a promo poster for cell phone stores. If that’s the case, then the only way I can get a poster is to steal one from a cell phone store. Too bad there’s always someone out there trying to corral people into the store. I can’t make a quick getaway. Maybe I should just point to the poster and say, “Service?” and they’ll give it to me for free!

Even though I have my heart set on a Big Bang poster, I’m open to other Big Bang merchandise. I unexpectedly found some while I was shopping for socks! Check ’em out! They’re even eating lollipops ^^!

3/5 of the group!

I want to get the whole set. But they didn’t have G-Dragon :'(! They most likely ran out of G-Dragon socks. I’d buy at least 3 pairs of those! And I can’t even remember the last guy’s name. He’s not that cute anyway. Sucks for him.

TOP ^^

TOP socks! He even has a lollipop and glasses like in the poster!!

Taeyang

Taeyang complete with sideways cap and fade.

Seungri

Seungri looking cracked out. G-Dragon’s fault! Crack! Crack! Crack! Crack! (Check out the video to Strong Baby below)

Didn’t think much of Seungri…until I saw this! wowowow

A month ago, if I heard the words Big Bang, TOP, or G-Dragon I would’ve thought of the the nerdy TV show, idk…Top Gun, and wtf is a G-Dragon?? Look at me now… I know the names of all the members (okay, except for that one guy) of a Korean boy band. A milestone! Actually, I should focus on remembering my students names before I learn K-Pop singers’ names!

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I was in the middle of showing a video in class when this woman in a white lab coat walked in holding up white stips of paper. I seemed to be the only person surprised by her appearance.  I stopped the video and tried to figure out what was happening. At first, I thought she came in to take everyone’s temperature. But then she handed out the white stips of paper to everyone and the entire class stood up and left…

Turns out, they went to the bathroom to uh… test their urine. It took about 5 minutes, which is a lot faster than I expected and would never be possible in a middle school back home. A class of American middle schoolers would take an entire period just to pee on a strip of paper. Then they all came back and sat down. I was joking with them and said, “I hope you washed your hands!” But some of the boys looked at me like “Wash my hands? What are you talking about, Teacher?” Yikes, I hope they used soap!

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