Tuesday, October 25, 2011

New Phone

I had a really good weekend.  I spent Friday night with my coworkers and then Saturday evening with Claire.

We got me a cell phone.  Since I wanted a smartphone she had to co-sign for it with me. 

I wasn’t able to get my iPhone unlocked (thank you AT&T) and even if I had it would’ve cost ₩200,000 or $200.  I looked into getting a Korean iPhone, but it would’ve cost ₩30,000 a month, on top of my monthly plan.  The phone I ended up getting is only ₩5,250 a month on top of my monthly plan.

It’s this phone: 

And here's what mine looks like:

My Pretty Phone!

Total, I pay ₩65,000 a month and I get 300 texts, 300 minutes, and unlimited data.  The data is the important part, because everyone uses apps to communicate.  Since almost everyone has a phone that uses apps. 

Skype is a popular one, but difficult without wifi, because it’s so picky sometimes, especially for calls.
KaKao Talk is a big one over here.  It’s sort of like AIM, just from phone to phone.
Viber is one that was recommended to me in the states and it basically lets me call or text anyone using only data if they have this app also.

There’s also plain email and Facebook.

Since my phone is a Google phone it also works really, really well with Google chat. 

If you have a smartphone and want to download Viber or KaKao send me an email and I’ll send you my phone number over here.  Don’t call me on it…please…the international rates are crazy because I didn’t pay more to get cheap ones.  You just use my number to look me up on those two apps.  Also, if calling me on Viber, please remember that I am 14h ahead of the Central Time Zone (13h ahead of Eastern Time Zone) and that I work from 1pm to 9pm my time – which is 11pm to 7am Central Time.  That shouldn’t be a problem, since most people are asleep then, but still, I thought I’d mention it.

Going to get a phone here is an entirely different experience from the states.  Claire took me to the store where she got here phone.  It’s an Olleh store which is for the carrier KT – one of the top three carriers in South Korea.

While there they were really helpful and friendly.  They gave me a case for my phone for free, as well as a screen protector.  They also gave Claire a new case and screen protector.  While my paperwork was being processed they gave us hazelnut canned coffee (canned coffee is huge here, a million different brands, not just Starbucks).  Then, when I got home and looked in my bag, not only did I find the cell phone box, but I also found a cute mug that they just gave me for free.

It was amazing, especially because that would never happen in the US.

It’s interesting. 

The longer I stay here, the more things I notice that are different, and in a pretty good way.

Sure, my apartment is small and my bathroom is odd, but it makes sense.  I’m living on my own, why do I need a big place?  It’s not like I would use it.  As for the bathroom, it’s really not that big a deal.  I’m more comfy taking a shower in there than I ever was in one of my showers at home, with the exception of one of the big, expensive showers. 

It’s odd walking down the street or in a crowded store.  If you bump into someone, you don’t apologize; you just ignore it and keep going.  This may seem rude, but it’s not.  This place is crowded, there’s no way to avoid hitting someone sometimes – especially at E-mart on the weekend.  What is so nice about this is that no one gets a nasty look for being in the way. 

There are some other things I’m noticing, but I’ll save those for a later entry.

So, I hope everyone had a good weekend back home and that you have a lovely Monday.  Mine is pretty much over now and it was a pretty good day.



Good Morning!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Late Nights

My working hours are from 1pm-9pm and I'm naturally a night owl.  This means I have a rather odd sleeping schedule.

I usually wake up about 10am and go to sleep around 2am.  It suites me, I like the late hours, I'm more awake at work.  I don't have that sinking spell halfway through the day like I did during my student teaching.  Sure, I miss seeing the early morning, but I get to enjoy the stillness that is night, so it works out.

Last night when I got off work the weather was nice and cool and crisp.  I ended up running by my apartment, dropping off my laptop, and grabbing my camera.  I then took a long meandering walk around my neighborhood.  This city has an entirely different feeling to it after dark.  It's more at peace with itself.

Here's some of my favorite pictures from last night.  I think they demonstrate how my neighborhood feels after dark.  I hope you enjoy them:

Trudging Home

A Bridge between Worlds

A Light amid the Darkness

Resting after a Day of Work

Forgotten Newspaper

Lonely Car


A Forgotten Road
Forgotten Chair

Open Late

Halloween Cometh

Shining in the Street Lamp

Ordinary from a New Angle

Reflections of Light

A Rough Wall
After my walk I returned home, changed into my exercise clothes and went to the park.  After jogging a couple laps I joined the Ajumas on the exercise equipment.  These are all women of 50 or more and they were a lot more physically active than a lot of people I know that are half their age.  When I'm their age I want to be like them.  So that's some good motivation for going there every night I can.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Lake

On last Saturday afternoon, after the hiking and a nap.  Casey and I met Jessie at the McDonalds, then we took a taxi to Too Ya Il.  It's a park that circles a lake.

Here's some pictures:
The pavilion in the middle of the lake is a little coffee shop.

So many lilypads, but no frogs...

Such a pretty, natural lake, with tall buildings surrounding parts of it.

Two of the three flowers I saw.  Amazing that they were different colors.

The newly hung lanterns for the Changwon Festival.

The only waterfowl we saw there.  I think it was getting too cold for them.
That's the lake portion of the park.  There was also a lot of other things there.  Like little areas in the "wilderness."
The farther from the lake, the more natural the area was.
No picnic tables here.  Only benches and these platforms.  People sit on them and it's like they're on their floor at home.
What made the most impression on me there though was the GiAp TooLoo.  It basically means "pressure road".  To use it you take off your shoes and walk along it.  Here's a few pictures and a video.
Jesse was a pro on this thing.  I don't know how she moved so fast.

Casey is eyeing the most painful section.  I think he stopped to take a picture to give his feet a break.

That gentleman wasn't the only old person I saw walking across those stones like I walk across carpet.

And here's a video:

And that concludes my tour of Too Ya Il.  To end it, here's a picture of a guy on a unicycle:

Thursday, October 20, 2011

City 7

I think the location for my school is probably one of the best in the city.

I’m in this building complex called City 7.  It’s pretty much what Destin Commons yearns to be.  There’s a shopping center with lots of middle and high end stores.  There’s also the department store Lotte Mart, a huge movie theatre, and a plethora of restaurants. 

And that just covers the three “cones”.  There’s also the small five story building where my school is and a number of other offices.

Then there’s the three high rises that are full of apartments.  About half of my students live there.

There’s also the reasonably tall Pullman Hotel.  It’s a five star hotel with lots of amenities. 

On the weekends (or at least last weekend), this place was crawling with shoppers and diners.  On the weekdays it’s never empty, though the business does fluctuate depending on the time of day. 

The architecture is also amazing.  It’s not anything I would want in my house, but it gives a regular shopping center an air of grandiose.  Each of the “cones” are separate sections connected by covered walkways.  Each cone features a glass roof that lets plenty of sunlight in, offering the illusion of being entirely outside, but still keeping the rain out.  The thing is, the shopping center is mostly outside.  There’s no heating or air conditioning and you just stroll right inside from the sidewalk.

There’s a McDonalds here and it is open 24 hours.  The Dunkin Donuts is open most of the day, everything else has very limited hours, but you can still wander by and window shop at any time of the day or night. 
Also, if I need to catch a taxi, there’s always one nearby and if I go out and forget my address card I can always tell a taxi “City 7” and they’ll take me right here, which is only 10-15 minute walk from my apartment.
I think I hit the jackpot in terms of locations.

Oh, and I can’t forget Family Mart.  It’s a local convenience store like 7-11 (which they have here).  From there I can get pretty much any drink or snack or, well, anything.  There’s one right outside the elevator to my school.

I think I might have also hit the jackpot in terms of Hagwans.  The Korean teachers are friendly.  Jesse and Claire are awesome.  Then there’s Sophie, the receptionist, she’s really nice and helpful, even though her English is limited.  Esther and Donald are good bosses as far as I can tell so far and nothing the previous teachers said has disproven that.

Oh, and the other foreign teacher knows what he’s doing and is a good person to work with.

So, I think I’m doing pretty well.

Here’s some pictures of City 7:

That's Lotte Mart down there.

My apartment is out right past those trees in the maze of houses.

Korean KFC - I have one boy that wants to go to Kentucky to try "real" Kentucky fried chicken.

Korean McDonalds - It does delivery here and is the only restaurant I've seen open 24h a day.

Very good sushi here, but it's all Americanized sushi.  I'm still searching for an authentic sushi restaurant.