Moving Apartment in Korea

In the five years I’ve been in Korea, I’ve only moved twice. The first time was to a bigger apartment just down the street but this time I made the big move from Paju to Ilsan.

It all happened rather quickly. I knew for a while that my apartment contract was up and informed my co teacher of my intention to move to Ilsan. Neither of us saw the urgency of apartment hunting before summer holidays so we both arrived back on August 4th with no new apartment sorted. We were so slack that we didn’t even know when I was supposed to move out of the apartment I was in. After a phone call to my land lady, it turned out that I had just 10 days to get myself together and move out.

This is when my co teacher proved how much of a legend she was. Ilsan is a large enough city with several areas. Here is a map I got from Wikipedia; (http://ko.wikipedia.org/wiki/%ED%8C%8C%EC%9D%BC:Korea-Goyang-si-Ilsan-gu-map.png)

 

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My school is in Daewha so naturally I wanted to stay close but after a few more phone calls my co teacher deemed the apartments too old to stay in. By lunch time on Monday she had chosen an area she saw fit and had an appointment booked with the real estate agent. Excellent.

5.30pm and we’re looking at apartments. I should take the time to outline how this works. For me, the apartment is provided by the school. This means that I was on a budget in terms of key money and rent. Key money is the large sum you hand over at the start and you will get it back at the end of the contract if there’s no major damage to the apartment. In this case it was 5,000,000. Key money can be any amount though, from 3,000,000 to 20,000,000, depending on the size of apartment.

Then you have your monthly rent. In my case it was 500,000. Again, rent can be any amount depending on the size of the apartment, area you live in etc etc.

So we looked at a few apartments. My coteacher turned out to be super fussy. There was a funny smell, it wasn’t big enough, the building wasn’t secure enough, bad location and on and on until we arrived at a brand new building.

So new, that the apartments weren’t even finished yet. We looked at a one room but since there were no doors, I stumbled into a larger two room. This was my preferred space and after my co teacher negotiated the rent, I was good to move in.

My boss signed the contract on Tuesday and the following Thursday I moved out of my old apartment. Looking back, moving out was a stress free experience. I simply put my stuff in boxes, left them together and had the movers take care of them.

Moving out of an apartment in Korea is actually a big business.. You call up a moving company and tell them when you’re moving. They confirm that they are available and ask how much stuff you have, what floor you’re on and what floor you’re moving to. You get a price and pay a deposit. They turn up to your apartment on moving day, park the lift and truck outside, speak with you about what you’re taking or leaving and then you’re free for 30 minutes. Well that’s how long it took for them to move all my furniture and stuff out of the apartment. And they are thorough. They simply take out your window and move everything out. Here are some pictures to give you the idea……

 

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You can see the crates in the last picture. While they were doing that, my co teacher and I were having some refreshments…..

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The worst part of the day was sorting out the bills at my old house. We had to go to the real estate for that apartment, who had to call the gas company, electrical company and figure out how much was owed. Eventually, we got it done and off to Ilsan.

Same thing happened there but in reverse. They took everything from the truck and it was all put into my apartment. The man even suggested where he though everything should go. They were so good in fact, that they re made my bed and put my shampoo and conditioners in the correct area. After that, it was me and a tonne of boxes in an apartment building where I am the only resident.

The new place is working out well. It’s more compact that my old place but more of an apartment, if that makes any sense. Everything is new and there’s CCTV around the building, an electronic key pad on the door as well as a camera outside to see who rings the bell.  It has a beautiful shower and the days of having the shower over the sink are over! (It’s the small things in life, you know)

Right now I don’t have any pictures of the new place but as soon as I do, I’ll upload them here!

 

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3 ways to find an E.S.L. job in Korea

If you had asked me how to get a teaching job here three years ago, I would have responded with a list of recruiters. Now, the method by which teachers are recruited has changed. Lots of schools want to cut out the middle man so here is my list of how to get a teaching job in Korea;

1. Update your status.

Everyone has Facebook, right? Some people use Twitter. These are honestly some of the most powerful tools to get you that job.

Think about it. There are so many people who are either currently living and working in Korea or used to work here and still have contacts.  If you have 500 friends on Facebook and just one of them shares your status about wanting a job in Korea, how many people have you reached? Ask even friends of a friend to get in touch and keep an ear out for possible job openings.

My good friend Janet (http://janetnewenham.wordpress.com) has recruited 3 people for her school alone. She simply used the power of social media to get the word out.

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2. Search the web;

Some school try to hire directly so they advertise on websites like Craigslist and Dave’s E.S.L. cafe. . Recruiters also post here. There are also group on Facebook like  “jobs in Korea” that get a variety of postings from schools and recruiters you can look into.

 

3. Use a recruiter;

A quick survey on my Facebook page showed that people highly recommend;

1) Korvia Recruiting  – For public school positions.

2) Korean Horizons– For public school positions.

3) For South Africans, Teach Korea.

4) Star Teachers 

 

With using a recruiter, make sure they are actually IN KOREA. The exception seems to be Teach Korea. They are based in South Africa. According to a friend this is because there are very specific problems with getting all the documentation in S.A. and this recruiter is excellent at walking you through what needs to be done.

From experience, choose a good recruiter and then trust them.

* All the above were recommended by friends. If you have one that you’d like to share, please comment below!

 

 

All things beauty.

If my mother taught me three things about taking care of my skin it was cleanse, tone and moisturise. That was it. That’s what would make my skin great and for the years I was living in Ireland, it worked.

When I moved to Korea however, that all changed. There were stores every few metres selling products I’ve never heard of.  For me “essence” was a word that proceeded vanilla, “serum” was the cure for a random disease and although I had no idea what “emulsion” was, I would have guessed it had something to do with paint.

After reading an article on the uses of all these products by the author of The Wanderlust Project, I decided I would try a more Korean approach to skincare.

Skincare products in stores like Etude House, The Faceshop and Missha are extremely affordable so I figured there wasn’t much to lose.

Now my skincare regime goes like this;

1. Wash face with a cleanser.

2. Cleanse (using a cream cleanser)

3. Tone.

4. Apply Serum. A serum has a specific function more than what a moisturiser can achieve. For example brightening, whitening etc.

5. Apply Emulsion. An emulsion is a very light, thin moisturiser.

6. Apply moisturiser.

7. Apply sunscreen. If your moisturiser has an spf, this isn’t necessary.

8. Primer. Prepares your skin for makeup.

9. BB or CC cream. Here are some of the ones I use;

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10. The rest of the makeup. However, if you’re just going for a normal day the CC and BB might suffice depending on the type of skin you have.

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It’s slightly exhausting to do it all the time and frankly it’s a little time consuming. I’m sure I’ve actually skipped some steps because I’m lazy so don’t take the above as the gospel of using Korean beauty products.

Has this new regime actually improved my skin?

I’ve always been really lucky to have good skin. There has been a definite decrease in breakouts (possible due to the higher level of attention I pay my skin) and my skin feels more moisturised.

Disclaimer; All opinions here are my own. All products shown are simply personal preferances and no commission has been received. 

 

 

How to use a Korean washing machine.

You’ve come to Korea, you have a job, apartment, things are going swimmingly until…………………….you need to wash your clothes. And then you see this (minus the carpets);

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Excellent. You throw your clothes in and then you see this;

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It’s all in Korean and you don’t have a clue. Well fear not. I have translated the words to make it easy for everyone.

급수; Water Supply

온수; Hot Water

냉수; Cold Water

물높이;Water level

;High

중;Middle/medium

저;Low

코스; Course

표준;regular cycle

이불; duvet and bed clothes

절약; Economic cycle

울;wool, fragile cycle.

불림; Soak

세탁; Wash

헹굼; Rinse

탈수; Spin dry

전원; on/off

동작; start your cycle

일시정지; Pause.

So you simply press the big buttons until the light shows beside the  option you want. Every machine has the buttons designed slightly differently but they always mean the same thing. Also, since my Korean is middling to so so , I might have made mistakes. Apologies if I have and be sure to point them out so I can fix them.

Apps for everything.

Here’s the backstory.

I needed to do a Costco run and so did my sister. She finished work at 7pm so to save time I told her to take the bus home. “Which bus” she said. “Aaaahhhhh the 9710”, I said. 15 minutes later she texts to say she’s in Wollong. Excellent, that’s just out the road. I picked up her partner and we drove to meet her at the bus stop. 15 minutes later she text me again with the words “this is taking too long”.

Sharp intake of breath as I realised with a certain dread and fear that perhaps the 9710 didn’t go to Geumchon, it was on the road to somewhere else. So I did what all people would have done in that situation, told her to get off the bus.

Now we had her at a bus stop who knows where and me sitting in Spuddy in Geumchon. Never fear. The thought of having to tell my father how I lost my sister somewhere between Wollong and the 9710 destination, forcing her to speak Konglish to strangers and sit on a cold bench until she wasted away because I told her to “just wait there” had me thinking of a solution.

So here’s what we did. I called her to describe the bus stop and surrounding area. The best she could do was “there’s a petrol station across the road and a green building over there”. Wow! Thanks. That really narrowed it down. Fail.

This being Korea though, I figured there was an app for finding her.  And there was. It’s called Seoul Bus. First, I got her to read the number of the bus stop. Then, I went on Seoul Bus and typed in 9710, scrolled down until I found the number she said she was at.

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Each bus stop is labelled with the name of the stop so I typed the name of the stop into the Sat Nav in my car and headed on the short 11km drive to find her. And did I? Of course. The sat nav brought me to literally 100 metres of where she was standing.

 

So what did I learn from this experience?

1. The 9710 doesn’t go from Munsan to Geumchon. It goes from Munsan to Seoul.

2. She was about halfway to Seoul before we realised it so the bus doesn’t waste any time getting you places.

3. The Seoul Bus app is the business. You can search the bus number to find out where it stops, the bus stop number to find out what buses stop there or you can search the map for bus stops nearby. The downside to this is that you must be able to read the Korean.

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4. She would have stayed lost ( or would have had to take the bus back in the opposite direction) if I didn’t have Sat Nav in my car. I have just discovered the t- map app on my phone. T map is exactly like sat nav but it brings you the fastest route at the time you’re travelling. Again, it’s in Korean but apart from typing the destination, it doesn’t take a genius to follow the arrows.

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We did eventually make it to Costco and our evening was completed by some 500won colas and dinner off plastic plates. What a life.

 

How do I use my heating?

When you come to Korea, you can say goodbye to the word radiator and say hello to Ondol. Ondol is an underfloor heating system that has been used in Korea for centuries.  Since many Koreans still sleep and sit on the floor, it’s extremely useful in the cold weather. In fact, most winters there’s nothing I love more than throwing my duvet on the floor, turning on the ondol and having a little nap.

But for foreigners who can’t read Korea, it can take a little while to get used to the dials. It’s sometimes a case of trial and error but fear not, here is a little explanation of what the words mean. (Every dial is different but generally the words are the same)

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The first picture us much more common than the second. The second is a lot older than the first but if you look carefully, you’ll see the same words on both. Let’s take a look at some now.

1. 빠른온수- Fast hot water

2.  온수온도 and then  고, 중, 저. This means water temperature, high, medium, low. 

3. The wheel says 외출/온수전용. This means the temperature you want to set it to if you go out. Turn it up or down etc.

4.  난방선택 and then 온돌, 실내, 예약.난방선택 is heating choice. 온돌 is the floor heating, i.e. it heats the floor but not so much the water. 실내 means indoors or interior and in my apartment it heats the water and the floor. 예약 means reservation. You can set the heat to come on at a certain time but this has never worked for me so I wouldn’t know.

My tip is to leave your heating on continuously low during the real winter, especially if you go on Christmas holidays. If the pipes freeze and burst, the whole floor has to be taken up and it’s an expensive job. Leave the heating to 10 or 15 degrees. The heating only comes on if the temperature goes below that point so it’s not like it’ll be on the entire time.

I hope this helps someone somewhere! Apologies if my Korean spelling or explanation is useless, as it turns out, I’m foreign. Feel free to correct any mistakes below!

Shauna & Janet on the “Most useful phrases in Korean”- Part 1

It’s always useful to have a few phrases in Korean before you come to Korea. Right? That’s what we thought anyway. And by “we”, I mean Janet and I. Janet is the person behind the janetnewenham.wordpress.com blog.She’s also Irish and living in Paju so we thought we’d try a vlog over some Barry’s Tea. Since we want people to be involved, we let our Facebook followers choose the phrases we put up. Here’s what they came up with;

1. Hello– 안녕하세요. Anyeong ha sayo.

2. Thank You– 감사합니다 Gamsa ham ni da

3. Yes– 네 ney

4. No– 아니요 ah ni o

5. Where is the ___________? ________ 이 어디에 있어요? ___ o d eh is oh yo?  For example, “Where is the bathroom?’ The word for bathroom is 화장실( hwa jang shil) so the sentence becomes 화장실이 어디에 있어요?

6. How to I get to _______? _________ 어땋게 가요? o ddeok kay gay yo? For example, How do I get to Seoul is 서울 어떻게 가요?

7. I’m sorry– 미안해요. me ann ham ni da. There are a few ways to say I’m sorry. You can use this for any situation where you should apologize for something.

8.Discount Please, 갂아 주세요. Gakk ah chew say yo. This can only be used when the price isn’t set. For example at a market or somewhere.

9. Simmer down/calm down; 침착해요. Chim chak hay yo. A great one if you’re out and about and someone is bothering you or something like that.

10. How much is this? 이거 얼마예요? e go ul mah eh yo? (이거 being “this”).

11. Directions; 직진- jik jin,  Straight

오른쪽 oh ruhn chuk, Right

윈쪽 wen chuk, Left

여기 세워 주세요. yoh gi say woh Chew say yo, Stop here please

12. Really? 진짜? jiin ja? I love this word! Even these days when I can’t follow my student or whatever I just reply “진짜”?

13. One moment please, 잠깐만요. Jam can man yo, . You can use this when getting off the subway, bus or just to say “wait a minute”

It’s not very much fun just reading it here is it? No. That’s why Janet and I put together a little video of how to pronounce it and we loved it so much the memory card ran out of space. So this video is part one and we’ll post part 2 next week!

Since we’re not Korean we probably made mistakes in spellings so apologies. If you want to see us do any more videos on Korean or life in general in Korea or whatever, leave us a comment or tweet us, @iamshaunabrowne or @janetnewenham.