Emart Town- Ilsan

When regular Emart combines with Emart Traders, Emart Town is the result. On June 18th, one opened beside Kintex and my coteachers came back with stories of how brilliant it was.  I headed along myself to see what all the fuss was about.

Where is it?

This Emart town is in Daewha, Ilsan. It’s next to KINTEX. Honestly, unless you have a car, it can be a bit difficult. It is on the road opposite Hyundai Department Store. It’s very well signposted. If you want to go but don’t have a car, simply get out at Daewha station and get a taxi to Emart Town. It’ll be a 5 minute or so drive.

I believe the 062 bus stops there but cannot be certain.

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What can I buy there?

Everything! There is an Emart, an Emart Traders (for Costco style shopping), restaurants, a hairdressers, beauty shops, a pet store, an Electro Mart and possibly many that I’ve forgotten.

I went to the Traders section and was over whelmed by the sheer quantity of products available. I spent about an hour picking up my things but I could easily spend an entire day there.

Random Tip- The green trolleys are for the Traders section and the yellow trolleys are for the regular Emart.

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Do I need a membership card or special credit card?

No. The best thing about Emart Town is that you don’t need to be a member at all. You can pay in cash or by card. If you have an Emart points card, you can use it but if you don’t, no problem.

Worth a visit?

Definitely. There are a few things that make it a better shopping experience than Costco;

  1. The place is HUGE so while there are a lot of people, it doesn’t feel like that.
  2. No membership card needed.
  3. Great range of food. In my opinion, better than Costco.
  4. It has a regular Emart so if you don’t want 5 million of something, you can buy it there.

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The LASIK experience.

My first pair of glasses were giant pink ones that enveloped my entire face. I didn’t care though, I loved them and that’s all that mattered. As time went on, I got a little more stylish with my glasses and contacts were eventually added to my eye wardrobe.

That’s the way it’s been for 20 years, glasses and contacts. Now, I’m a few months away from returning to Ireland to study so I decided that I should get LASIK while it was available to me at a good price. Among the many advantages to living in Korea are the medical procedures. You can have any procedure you so desire and it won’t break the bank. People pop in for nose jobs here like they pop in for a manicure.

My friend had gotten LASIK done before she left and was happy with the result so I went to the same clinic as her. It’s called Yeabit eye clinic in Hwajeong. About a month before the procedure, I went in for a consultation.It took one hour. It basically involved them testing and measuring my eyes to check that I was a candidate for the procedure. They also put three different drops into your eyes which dilates your pupils so my eyes looked a bit funny for 24 hours.

For two weeks before the operation, you’re not allowed to wear contact lenses.I had my appointment on a Thursday and on both Monday and Wednesday, the nurse from the clinic Kakaoed me to remind me of things and give me a chance to ask questions.

The day of the procedure, I was slightly terrified. All kinds of thoughts went through my mind. What if I go blind? What if the machine breaks down in the middle of the procedure? What if……and so on. Eventually, I told myself to man up and just do it. You have to do the same few tests when you arrive so they can compare measurements and so on. You then go to the pharmacy, conveniently next door to collect your eye drops.

Back to the clinic and you get a shot in the hip. What’s in the shot I don’t know but it didn’t do me any harm. Then they draw blood for your Plasma drops. Plasma drops are exactly what you think they are, eye drops made from the plasma in your blood.

Then they lead me to my waiting room. I’ve been to hotels where the room wasn’t as nice as this one. It had a bed, a wardrobe, a couch, a sink, a foot stool and the glass in the window was multi colored. The place was so beautiful. The nurse came in again to  explain what would happen during the procedure and what to do and not to do and so on. For both eyes the procedure takes just 15 minutes. The key is just not to move after they position your head.

There was no need to work myself into a state over the operation. It was all very basic really. You lie on a declined chair and the doctor places you head in the correct position. After that they place a mask over your face and cover one eye. The drops go in, you look at the green light and then the red one and then it’s done. They place something in your eye so you can’t move it. The worst part is after the laser. They warn you it’s coming and not to close your eyes but between the anaesthetic and the darkness that comes, you don’t know whether your eye is open or closed so you just have to hope for the best. Your vision only goes for a few seconds before it returns. Then the second eye is done and it’s all over.

Honestly, the worst part of the whole experience was when they removed the mask from my face. It sticks to your face and I believe that I left a layer of my face on it when they took it off. I expected to be lead, unable to see to the waiting room but I had vision straight away. I waited 10 minutes for the good of man kind before I walked away. I caught a taxi and went home.

For three hours, you get “onion eyes” That’s the best way to describe it. It’s not painful but it feels like you’re chopping onions. I just lay down, closed my eyes and entertained myself by praying, listening to music, singing, talking to myself and so on. By the end of the three hours, the stinging had gone and I felt back to normal.

For the next few weeks, I’ll have to put drops into my eyes at regular intervals during the day.

Today, I returned for a follow up and my vision is better than 20/20. Wahoo! Supervision! The bad news is that I’m not allowed back to football for a few weeks but it’s a small price to pay for perfect vision.

LASIK is the best decision I’ve made and I highly recommend it. Here are all the need to know details in terms of the financial side of the procedure.

Consultation fee: Included in procedure cost.

Procedure: 900,000won total for both eyes.

Medicine: One day of pain killers (which you only take if you need )

2 sets of drops: 17,000won

Plasma Drops are included in the 900,000

Follow up check: Free

Total Cost 917,000won.

I live in Ilsan so I got this done at Yeabit eye clinic which it right beside Hwajeong Station on Line 3.

Random Recommendations:

Eat a meal shortly before the procedure.Then afterward you can close your eyes for three hours and not worry about food.

If you have no complications, go home as soon after the procedure as you can. The onion eyes only started as I was travelling home in the taxi so if you can get home before the onset of that, brilliant.

Take a rest day the following day. Although I feel perfectly normal, my eyes still look a little red and are a little tired from yesterday so naps are required.

If you have any questions about this that I can help you with, just drop me a line shaunabrowne87@yahoo.co.uk

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!

 

Ilsan Lake Park

Ilsan is undoubtedly becoming a very popular place. Recent construction has seen the arrival of One Mount, MVL, Aqua Planet and lots of new apartments to deal with the increased population. It’s just a short drive from Seoul and it’s a really fun city with lots to offer.

One of my favourite things to do in Ilsan is a trip to Lake Park.  Lake Park covers a HUGE area, over 900,000 square metres and boasts the largest artificial lake in Asia.

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These days, I go to the park to run. The track around the perimeter covers approximately 4.9km and it’s so wonderful to see the assortment of walkers, cyclists, runners, skateboarders out and about exercising. The walking trail is longer at about 8.9km. There is also a basketball court and a game area.

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If you’re not that into exercising, fear not. There are a tonne of things to do in the park. It’s the ideal venue for a picnic and a get together with your friends. It has lots of open spaces for people to sit and enjoy. I’ve gone with my friends a few times and the atmosphere on a Sunday afternoon is perfect. It’s peaceful and relaxed and you can spend the afternoon people watching is you wish.

It’s a great place to bring your family. There are lots of things for children to see and so.

 

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You can easily get lost in the park. Even a gentle walk will bring you to pagodas, gardens, the cactus centre, the mini zoo, there is such a variety of things to do here, you can never get bored!

At the weekend, you are bound to find live entertainment in the park. There always seems to be a band or singers performing and entertaining the crowd.

A few tv dramas have been filmed here also, the best known probably been Star’s Lover.

 

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The musical fountain is also here. You can enjoy a performance several times during the day.

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Really close to the park is One Mount and Aqua Planet. One Mount has both a water park and a snow park as well as shopping so together, this could be the perfect get away from Seoul!

 

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Directions: Jeongbalsan Station (Subway Line 3), Exit 1 or 2.
Walk along Jungangro-1261 beon-gil Street or Jungangro-1275 beon-gil Street for 10min.

For those with a car, there is a car parking fee. It is 300 won for the first 30 minutes and an additional 100 won for every 10 minutes after that.

The dentist.

I hate the dentist. The very thought of going there makes my palms sweaty and my stomach turn. I don’t even know why. I’ve never had a particularly bad experience at the dentist but as soon as the word is mentioned I feel slightly sick.

In Ireland, the dentist, like the doctor were only places you went when you actually, desperately had to. Not exactly a great way to be but each to their own.

These days, in the state of being an actual “grown up”, I’ve had to be more pro active about such things so I’ve been to the dentist a few times.  I used to use a dentist in Paju but it didn’t get the most positive reviews from my other friends and nobody spoke English there so I decided to try somewhere new.  .

Yesterday, I went to a place called Star 28 in Ilsan, La Festa.  My friend Ian recommended it to me as they could communicate in English. After getting terrifically lost (how many 5th floors can there be?), I eventually found it and what greeted me when I walked in was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. The waiting room had  huge couches, tables and chairs, a computer and magazines to keep you going while you were waiting. The receptionist signed you in and had you filling out the forms as if you were simply buying a new pair of shoes. After waiting there for a while, they could have pulled all my teeth and I wouldn’t have cared.

Eventually I had to see the actual dentist. They brought me to a private room and took some pictures of my teeth. Small talk was had before the nurse explained a little about what they needed to do. I must note here that she told me in Korean and for the most part I understood. In fairness to her, when I didn’t understand she just phrased it differently so I did.

The dentist then came to do his own examination and then we sat and had a great conversation (in English) about what he was going to do. Then the nurse took over and told me how much it would cost, how I didn’t have to pay it in one go and how it would maybe take two visits. She then finished by telling me that I needed some scaling but because I have National health insurance, it was free.

The regular filling was 70,000won (48euros) and the more advanced work was going to cost me 100,000w.(70 euros) I really wanted to say “that’s it? 170,000 won (118 euros)?

Worst thing about the experience is that when you’re having your work done, they put a cloth over your eyes so you can’t actually see what’s happening. In some ways, it’s a good thing and in others it’s bad. To hear the drill or whatever freaks me out but I just practiced some reels in my head so it was all over before I knew it. And painless. I went home and did my usual run before eating dinner.

I have one more appointment next week and now I’m not so terrified so I’ll happily go in and keep my smile smiley and leave knowing that I’ll still have money in my wallet!

A day in the life of Shauna.

The alarm rings and I turn it off. The next alarm rings and I do the same. Five alarms later, I decide to get up. It’s 7.30am and the start of a whole new day. I’m up and ready, eating my breakfast by 8ish. I spend the next 30 minutes watching whatever English programme happens to be on tv at that time of the morning.  These days it’s usually Poirot or Miss. Marple. At what is supposed to be 8.30am but in reality is 8.40am , I leave my apartment and head to school. The journey takes just 20 minutes in my car, Spuddy.

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Classes start at 10.10am but the teachers are all there for 9am. I use this time to prep for the day but mostly I use it to think of little games we can play at the beginning of class.  Classes in my school are only 25 minutes long so I try to play one game with each class before doing book work. The curriculum is made for me so I know what I have to do in each class.   It’s also a good time to say hello to the children and since there’s always a drama at school, I can hear all about it during this time. I teach children from Korean age 4 to Korean age 7.  Let me describe to you the sounds you hear from the staff room in the morning.  Imagine a child still using their outdoor voice and multiply this by 50. Then throw in a crying child and two fighting children and you have a good idea of the chaos here in the morning time. To be fair, once we get over the initial “I’m at school again” shock and excitement, they calm down.

The day goes from 10.10am first class to 2.30pm all classes over. Then there’s a special 40 minute class from 2.40pm to 3.20pm and then desk warming until 5pm. My school isn’t an English kindergarten it’s a Korean one so the children all speak Korean except to me where I make them speak English. If there’s ever a way to improve your Korean, it’s work at a school like this.  I’ll never forget the first few months I worked here. My Korean was pretty basic so when a child asked me to go to the bathroom, I would have no idea what they said and would spend a long while looking them up and down trying to decide from their general posture what the matter was! Like all things in Korea, it was a learning experience.  They learned to use hand signals and I learned how to speak better Korean. With the exception of 3 teachers, the majority of teachers here don’t speak English so if I want to report an incident in the classroom or talk about a student, it’s done in Korean or Konglish.

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Since this is a day in the life, lets take my Monday. Class schedule looks like this; 7yr, Free, 6yr, 6yr, Lunch, 5yr, 4yr, Free, Special Class.

The seven-year olds are a great class to start with. We talk about the weekend, we do some book work and then they play a quiz game similar to hangman where they have to guess the letters. These days they’re actually getting really good at guessing the words. I’ve had to turn those words into sentences and today they got the sentence ‘ I had a banana and bread for breakfast” before their lives ran out.  The class is brilliant. They make up their own English and speak to each other in this unique language “Robin, this eat no don’t do that not so good” Great effort and great use of all the key sentences I use.  The class leader also disciplines them and I love to watch how the whole thing works.

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Sixes are a different story. Some of them have never learned English and some of them have not only been learning English since they were 4 but they have home tutors.  This makes for an interesting class, every class.  The dynamic is often fragile as the faster students pick on the slower ones. I start all their classes with a game that involves easy vocabulary like colours or animals to level the playing field but sometimes that doesn’t work. Today we’re talking colours and one (there’s always one) says dinosaur.  The game is over. Book time and yes there is one for everyone in the audience ( I really do say that). Best thing about sixes is that they aren’t afraid to give themselves praise.  They spend the class pointing to their work going “teacher, good job, good job”(not a question, a statement)

Lunch on a Monday is the calm before the storm. The five and four-year old classes on a Monday are the worst. The fives are so unpredictable. I never know what they’ll be like. I try singing and they look at me like I’m crazy. I try a game but they don’t get it so I go straight to book and they don’t want to do that either. So it’s a terrible waste of a class.

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Awful, shocking and now to finish the day on a low note is the four-year olds. Of the three 4-year-old classes in my school, these are the worst. The first 6 weeks, they spent every English class crying hysterically when I entered the room. I didn’t even say anything. Now it’s May and only one of them hysterically cries. He gets so upset that he’s not only crying but sobbing uncontrollably to the point of almost vomiting.  These days he’s taken out before I arrive which calms things somewhat. The other students have been bribed to not cry by the homeroom teacher. So finally the class begins. By this time it’s 1.30pm and these poor little children are so tired. We sing a song and they don’t react in any way. So we sing it again, with a little more enthusiasm and only one joins in. Enough with that, I take out the book we’re supposed to be “reading”. Except by reading , I mean looking at the pictures and learning single words and making appropriate noises. So, the frog goes rweeebbuddd and I jump up and down, which also gets no reaction. The same goes for the elephant, the cat, the snake and the fish. One child has fallen asleep. One is engrossed in the contents of her nose and the other is just staring into space.

Snack time followed by special class.  Special class today is for the 7 year olds and I only have two. We turn on the computer and the material we’re using have a special programme of interactive activities. That’s how they spend the first 15 minutes. Then t’s book time.  The book is pretty difficult for students who don’t learn English all day so it’s a slow process. Today, I want to jump out the window. The activity is a comparison of the two stories and they have to tell me the differences. Except they don’t see any so I try to hold back the frustration. Eventually, we find 3 differences and manage to write them down correctly so it’s not a completely wasted effort after all.

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The final hour of the day is spent chillaxing in the English room (above).  The children have all gone home so I take in the rare moment of silence.  This is when the weekly report gets done or any preparation is completed. But usually I catch up on whats happening around the world.

For your entertainment, this is what happens on the first day of term when no students show up to class…..https://www.facebook.com/540988015/timeline/2013#!/photo.php?v=10151324946708016

This blog is dedicated to Brian Healy and Edel Feely. The coolest followers I have. Thanks guys and keep the suggestions coming!

8 habits I’ve picked up in Korea.

Can I kick these habits when I go home?

1. Bowing; When first I came to Korea, I would stare in amazement at all the people bowing at each other. They bowed all the time, to say hello, goodbye, sorry, the list goes on.  Then I started doing it.  Turns out it’s really fun.  It completely takes away the language barrier, I bump into someone and I just bow.  They know I’m sorry.  I smile and bow, they know I’m happy to see them.  I bow several times while back away towards the door, they know I’m leaving.  Brilliant.  Now, almost four years later, I bow all the time.  I even bow to my foreign friends.  Yes, it gets kind of awkward but whatever, bowing is bowing.

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2. Shoes; Before I came to Korea, I saw shoes as shoes.  Now, I look at shoes and buy them according to how fast I can get them on and off.  Since we take our shoes off when we go into a lot of places, this is essential. You do not want to be slow as a wet week getting your shoes on after you’ve all eaten.  Chances are your party will already be sitting down for beer by the time you get your ridiculously complicated shoes on.  Or worse is at the airport. Sometimes they make you take your shoes off at the security clearance.  The last thing you need is to be holding up the whole line because you can’t get your shoes off.  Fact.

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3. Replacing my ‘v’s with ‘b’s; Possibly my worst habit.  I can’t help myself.  Four years of hearing it day in day out will do this to you.  Koreans have difficulty saying the ‘v’ sound so it usually comes out like a ‘b’. Now, I’ve started to it as well. It’s a bery bery cold day today.  Mostly on the word ‘very’. I’m bery happy!

4. Saying things twice; I have no idea where this one came from, but I say things twice.  For example in a normal school day, I might say, “clean up clean up, hello hello, goodbye goodbye, hey hey, why why thank you thank you”

5. Speaking louder when people don’t understand what I’m saying; When I speak in Konglish and someone doesn’t understand what I’m trying to say, I repeat the sentence a tone louder.  I can’t help myself.  It’s possibly to do with the fact that my Korean skills suck or that my English has gone down hill (refer to points 3 & 4). I must remember that if a person does not understand me, it’s not because they’re deaf , it’s because the sentence itself didn’t make sense.

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6. Making a V when taking a picture; For this one, I think I’m going to need years of therapy to help me stop. When someone takes a picture, or there’s a camera is the vicinity, my fingers automatically make a “v” beside my face.  Every time.  It gets pretty awkward when I’m at an event where doing the V is really not appropriate, in which case, I spend the entire night telling myself not to do it .

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7. Looking at myself in every reflective surface; Korea is the land of mirrors.  There are mirrors EVERYWHERE, elevators, bathrooms, toilet cubicles, handbags.  The list goes on.  People in Korea are always looking at themselves in reflective surfaces and now I’ve joined them.  I’ve got a pretty mild case and I’m not one of those girls who takes 5 million pictures of herself on the subway (that’s random as hell) but I do use the elevator mirrors and other convenient reflective surfaces to make sure I’m still foreign.

8. Brushing my teeth after lunch: I never did this in Ireland. Now, it’s a habit and if I don’t do it, I can feel the guilt gnawing away at me. Must….brush…..teeth…….

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If you’ve got something you’d like to add, leave it in the comment section below!