It’s been a little over three months since I stopped teaching in a South Korean hagwon and returned to the States, so I’ve been trying to reflect on my experience there. To begin my recap, I thought I’d just show you what my Korean apartments were like.
My first apartment was old, moldy and situated at the top of a trash covered hill prowled by raccoon dogs and giant spiders. It was where I was dropped off late in the middle of the night upon first arriving on the other side of the world. Not the best introduction.
My contract said I would have a kitchen, bathroom, bed, table and chairs, TV with cable, refrigerator, washing machine, AC, and closet. The apartment had no table, no chairs, a TV that didn’t work and was likely as old as I was, and no closet. Someone had however bought a rack that I could put a few things on, but for the first six months of my contract, I essentially lived out of my suitcases and used my bed as a table/desk. (Aside: I HATE eating in bed, so that wasn’t fun. I showed my bosses my contract and asked them to order me a cheap table and chair off of G-Market. They agreed — then never bought the desk.)
I mean, it was a place to live. Not terrible, but also not what I’d signed up for, and because it was so dirty, I was constantly paranoid about getting sick, so I spent a lot of time away from home, which is good, I suppose. Helped me fill up those cafe punch cards real quick.
In spring, when my school hired a bunch of new teachers to replace all the ones that left/quit, I moved into a newer building with them. It was located behind a bunch of repair shops and across from a factory, but still it was a night-and-day upgrade from my original apartment. Much cleaner, a desk and chair, no bugs, a working TV with cable (which I only used for about a week when my computer died, but still nice to have), and a wardrobe.
Not sure who chose the paint color and wallpaper though… My dad would laugh whenever he Skyped me, asking when Snow White and the Seven Dwarves were coming out. Take a look:
The bathroom and kitchen were much cleaner as well, though the kitchen in the new place had only one burner. You learn to work with it. I was just happy to have a place to come home to where I could actually rest.
Both apartments were about a mile walk from the main part of Yeongtong where Homeplus and all the shops were, but you get use to that too.