Monday, December 12, 2011

Cooking and Furniture

Well, Aunt Diana sent me another long email (even longer) with lots and lots of questions in it.  So for the next few entries I'll be answering these questions in as much detail as I can.
Do average Korean apartments lack ovens?   Do they have microwaves, or is everything prepared on a stove top? What is a normal Korean living arrangement?  How big an apartment?  How many rooms?  How does it compare to an American apartment?  What type of furniture do they have? 
Yes, the average Korean apartment lacks an oven.  My apartment is a little basic since it has a single hotplate built into the counter.  Most are like Casey's and have a two burner gas range like this one:

Some of the more expensive ones have three burners and even a small little oven that could MAYBE fit a brownie pan.  I've only seen them in stores and some people's apartment tour videos.

The main reason ovens aren't big here is because most Korean food doesn't use an oven and most people here eat Korean food.  If you want something baked you go to a bakery or a restaurant.  It's just the way it is.  There culture isn't one based around bread, it's based on rice.  Rice doesn't require an oven, unlike bread.

I do know that they have real stoves and ovens here, because I see them for sale at the store, but most people don't have them.  I think having one is like having a six-range professional style gas stove back home.

So this in Korealand:

Is equivalent to this in the US of A:

Yes, we have microwaves.  Every convenience store has a microwave.  They love their extra appliances here.  Microwaves, toaster ovens, electric tea kettles, and rice cookers are very popular.  My apartment came with a rice cooker, but I haven't had occasion to use it yet.  I also have a microwave that works really well.

We have a toaster oven here at the school that supposedly belongs to my apartment because the first teacher, Emily, bought it and then just brought it to the school for a lesson, never taking it home.  I'm just fine leaving it at the school since I don't have room for it anyway.

I could get an electric tea kettle, but I have a serious lack of outlets in the kitchen and my tea kettle on the hotplate works just fine, so why waste my money?

I'm not sure exactly what you mean by a normal living arrangements, but I'll give it my best shot.  Land here is very expensive.  Most Koreans marry late and live at home with their parents until they do get married.  That is, if they're still in their hometown.  I know a couple of people that live on their own or have lived on their own or with roommates but they all had to find jobs away from their families.

It's a different way of viewing things and I find that it makes sense, especially with the lack of land here.  Living with your family until you get married or move to another town allows you to save money.  I know this is becoming more common in the US of A with the current economy.

My apartment is a shoebox (as seen here), but it's just fine for only me.  It's not like I'm a huge entertainer, and even if I was, the cities are set up for people to do lots of easy and cheap things outside of your house.  Casey's apartment is even smaller (as seen here).

Michael B. on the other hand has a rather large apartment feels really too big for one person.  The kitchen is twice the size of mine, he has four rooms around the size of my one room and the bathroom is twice the size.  Casey and I were in shock when we saw it.  It takes up the entire second floor of a house, the same area that has four apartments in my house.  I don't have a video of his place.  Maybe I'll get him to let me make a video, I'll ask him whenever I talk to him again.  Or if he reads this blog he can let me know.

The only guaranteed furniture in an expat's apartment is whatever it lists in the contract.  This typically includes: bed, drying rack, and wardrobe.  My apartment also came with a short night table, dining room chair, and a short dining room table (no chair necessary).

Casey's came with a shoe cabinet, short night table, and weird clothing rack thing.

Michael B's came with a desk, desk chair, couch, arm chair, bookcases, a tv stand, and a water cooler.  The water cooler is awesome because it's much cheaper to buy water for it than it is to buy the 2L bottles I use and it also gives you a continuous supply of hot water, as well as cold.  That's what we have at a work and I'd be in heaven if I had one at my apartment.  If I did though I have no clue where I would put it...

I hope I just answered those questions well enough for ya'll.  I'll answer more later.  Right now I'm going to kill fifteen minutes and then go home.  My Monday is almost over and for the folks back home it hasn't even begun yet!

Being in the future is awesome!

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