My house in Ireland is a regular house by Western standards. We each have our own room and the sitting room, a kitchen and back kitchen and a hot press, office and music room.Here it is;
Now don’t take me wrong, when I came to Korea, I knew I was in for a down sizing, I just wasn’t prepared for the size of the down sizing!!!! Apartment here are rent free for the length of our contracts so I knew I was no longer going to live in the lovely Ballybrowne (above).
I will never forget the day I arrived in Korea. I was tired, hungry, sweaty and all I wanted was to sleep and my former director brings me to my apartment and goes “this is your room”. And that room became my home for the next two and a half years. For anyone not living in Korea, I was living in what’s referred to as a “one room”. It’s exactly what it says on the tin, one room and a bathroom.You have a little kitchenette area with a fridge and sink and counter stove. My bed was my couch and I had a table and a few stools. This picture gives you an idea. It’s slightly random but it shows the length of the entire room from one end of the wall to the other.
At the beginning, I honestly wondered how I was going to fit all my things in there but as time went on, I came to some realisations;
1. I am only 1 person, therefore, I don’t need to live in a big space.
2. The bigger the space, the more difficult and time-consuming it is to clean. The best thing about living in my old apartment was that cleaning took no time at all!
3. Less is more. Ok, so I like to acquire things, but living in a small space taught me to use my space better.
4. Heats up fast.
5. Saves time. Theres only a certain number of places an object can be if you live in a small space.
6. I hardly spend any time in my apartment. It’s just a place to sleep and leave my stuff, drink tea and play music so it doesn’t have to be a mansion.
Once I got used to walking 5 steps from my bed to my kitchen, I actually started to love my apartment. It was like my little Irish haven.I put pictures and flags up on the wall so it felt really homely. I lived on a floor with 4 other apartments and in summer when my neighbours had their doors open, I would sneak a look to see how they had theirs laid out. After I moved jobs, I asked to stay in the old apartment because I was so stressed out from the other issues that I couldn’t face throwing an apartment move into the mix.
In the last 3 months or so, I’ve moved into a two room apartment down the street from my old one. Honestly, I don’t know what to do with the space! I now have a couch AND a bed. I have a breakfast table and two matching stools. I have a makeup table and chair. My piano has an entire wall. It’s amazing. I can actually walk from one room to another. In conversation I can now say things like “it’s in the other room” as opposed to the “it’s there” that I used to say in my old apartment.
Living in this more expanded space, however, means;
1. I now clean 3 rooms (bathroom) instead of the one and a half in my old place.
2. Having a bigger space means it’s easier to lose stuff and harder to find it.
I like to use this blog as a way of sharing how life is as a foreign teacher in Korea and it’s the size of the living space here is probably the thing that shocks new foreign teachers the most. Not everyone has the same size apartment. Some people get big ones and some people get small ones and some people get middle-sized ones so it depends on every school and situation.
Anyone reading this that is coming or getting ready to come to Korea should keep this in mind when packing their back and stick to the essentials! And keep it in mind that the foreign teachers in Korea, for the most part do NOT live in mansions!