First Day of Freedom: Anyang, Apartments, and Spontaneity
Saturday marked my first full day of stress-free freedom, and I was determined to enjoy it as much as possible. So determined, that I woke up at 5am! I am still so surprised by my new found love of the early morning hours. Today, I woke up at 8:30 and was disappointed that it was already so late. I think, perhaps, it’s that there is still so much to do, and there are simply not enough hours in the day to accomplish and explore everything.
Saturday I began by updating this guy, as I was three days behind, enjoyed a long, hot shower, and sorted through a lot of logistical stuff, researching and banking and the like. Around 11am, I met two friends in their room downstairs, and we headed off to Anyang, where I will be living for the next year. One of them had just received her Korean iphone 5, and I was very jealous. Any fear I have of getting lost will disappear once I get a phone. I may go ahead and order one today. They were both so nice, though, to come with me to help me pick out an apartment!
We were all hungry, so we walked around the Pyeongchon area a little bit to find food. It was a Saturday, and a lot of places were closed. But there are a lot of places to eat around there (also, a lot of bars!) so maybe during the week they are all open. The moment we noticed the mountains in the background, I knew I loved Anyang and would love living there. You can kind of see the mountain in the background of this picture:
We found an open place, and I had some noodles and my friends had gimbap. The portion sizes are so huge here, and you can’t really take food home (the gimbap was easy to wrap up in foil though), so in the future, gimbap may be a smarter, and cheaper option.
The real estate office was easy to find, but they didn’t really seem to speak English, so thankfully my friend spoke Korean and helped translate. When I heard the prices of the apartments, the stress really started to hit me again. I had heard that in Anyang you could find places around $400, but all the places they have are around $650, not including the $100 maintenance fee and utilities. We looked at the first place, and the lady who lived there had so much stuff! But I was surprised, as it had dividers and I was expecting just a room, pretty much. Finally, after that place, we bumped into my real real estate agent with whom I had been talking to. She spoke English, thankfully! The second place was in the same building, but was completely empty, and cheaper that the first room, even though it was the exact same model. The other teacher from training was also there, and, out of all the rooms we looked at, we both picked that one as our favorite. The other units we looked at all had some kind of fault. My second favorite actually had a room with a sliding door, so I could have an actual bedroom and living room! That one was cheaper, but rank with a smoke smell. They promised the smell could be dealt with…but I don’t know if that’s possible. Other places were all pretty dirty or run down, had hideous wall paper, and were just a room, pretty much. Almost all of them had really nice views of the mountains, though, and I forgot to look in the first two.
So, which apartment? I’m not sure. The second one, hands down, except that I would have to fight my coworker for it, and I know he has quite a bit more money and could pay more. He has also been amazingly helpful, as he taught for a different school in Anyang for the past year, and I really don’t want to fight him for it. The good news is that I got my agent to haggle down the price of the first apartment, so I may just choose that one. I could probably get the smoking apartment price down a bit too, but as much as the lure of a room entices me, I don’t want to live in that smell. The other good news is that we don’t have to pay rent up front, just a small deposit until we move in, and then we get that back and pay the Realtor $250. My money will not come in till later next week, so this is a huge relief. Oh, and there is more good news! I knew we got a flight reimbursement, but what I did not know was that it would be the full million won (1,000$ minus taxes). I paid under $600, so yay free money! Well, I’m just calling it payment for all of this ridiculously unpaid training we’ve been doing. Today I will make up my mind about an apartment and tomorrow, secure one of them.
After looking around 7 places, I felt bad for my friends, but they were interested in seeing what other apartments looked like. One of them had an Aunt living in Anyang, and she invited us to hang out at her place and offered to take us out for some Chinese food for dinner. I was excited that finally things were happening spontaneously, and also that I would get to see a real Korean apartment, not just a cheap office-tel. Most Koreans live in apartments, houses are very rare, but the family apartments are bigger and nicer. We took a taxi to her Aunt’s place and it was really nice. She was really sweet, she’s an English teacher too, so she spoke English. I got to watch my first Korean TV, and she gave us some persimmons, the only fruit I’ve had here other than bananas. It was really hard to peel, but it was worth it and the best thing I’d tasted in days! We took a taxi to a Chinese restaurant and had some more authentic Chinese food (it was still Korean Chinese, but I bet that’s closer than American Chinese) which was good. Unfortunately, a lot of the starters and the desert had pineapple in it (I’m allergic), but the food was very tasty. The Aunt’s friend from church also showed up, she lived in the US for quite a while.
After dinner, they took us to an apartment building further out from our branch that was maybe $100 cheaper. It was all brand new and nice, but the apartment units were smaller than my college dorm room. Yes, furnished, which none of the other places were. But I really don’t think I can live shut up in a prison room for an entire year, and also be further away from my school and future friends and all the nightlife. For just a $100 difference, I do not think it’s worth it. I don’t need a TV or a bed frame, and I really don’t want to be cooped up and miserable. At least in the dorms you have a common room and lounge area. I would just have my bed and barely any other walking space. But still, something to consider, and so nice of the Korean ladies to help us out! It was a wonderful evening :) Today I am going to figure out my budget for the next two months, so I can make the right decision. Despite the stress of finding an apartment and figuring out how to pay for it, yesterday was a really fun and spontaneous day and I am happy :) I think there’s something going on outside here in Gangum, I can hear very loud singing…I may go investigate!