Inside My Second Korean Apartment

Korean Apartment Tour

When I first moved to Korea, I shared photos of my apartment for anybody curious back home (hi Grandma! hi Mom!) or anybody curious in general. I remember how nervous I was about moving here in the months leading up to my departure, and I remember how great it was to see pictures of my friend Dylan’s apartment before I left. So if there’s anybody out there about to move to Korea to be a teacher at a hagwon and curious about what your accommodations will be like, perhaps this post can shed some light.

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This is the beautiful wall of windows I’m greeted with every time I step into my apartment. As you can see, I have no furniture apart from my bed (actually a futon) and a couple of little tables left by the previous tenant. I could really use a desk! But I’m making do for now by using my little built in table in my kitchen.

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I really love this table feature. It’s been working out wonderfully so far, but I’ve only lived here for two sleeps so we’ll see what I start using the space for as time goes on. The stools were also left behind and I love them too. My personal motto appears to be: “The more colour, the better!!”

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The Disney decals on the walls were also already there – aren’t they funny? The kitchen is very similar to my last one – it has two gas burners and the washing machine underneath. But my last kitchen didn’t have Winnie the Pooh so I think this apartment is winning.

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I also love this little table directly across from the kitchen. I’ve used it to store all my precious little things – a Ganesh god statuette that was a gift from my mom, a candle from Israel from my best friend, a rubber ducky I took from a fountain outside a love motel in Japan, you know, the usual. I killed off my succulent plant (typical, for me) so I repurposed its pink container to be a change jar. The full length mirror behind this table is also awesome.

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Lots of closet space, which is great, and I hung up my felt bunting across the ceiling because it refused to stick to the wall. I helped make miles of that bunting for Market Day at my last school and took some of the extras home. I love having it in here, it makes every day feel like a party!

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My reading materials and my bedspread and a little inherited table.

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A messy cabinet, with lots of storage!

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The bathroom, featuring a sneak peek of my ajumma pants (which I adore). My shower in this new place has a door (yay!) but the bottom isn’t totally sealed off so the water runs over the floor into the drain near the sink (not so yay!). It’s a good compromise, since some showers have no door or separation and all your stuff gets wet every time! I’m happy that I have an in-between-style shower.

And that’s that! It’s my second day at the new job today and I’m a bit overwhelmed but I’m just trying to work hard and do my best. I’m sure I’ll figure it out eventually!

Dare I say I like this apartment better than my first one? I think it has more personality! And more light! And fewer neighbours across the way! I might need to buy a few more things to make it more homey, but it’s really great.

Dealing With Feelings Post-Graduation + An Update On My Life in Korea

DSC_0160Somehow it’s been over a year since I graduated from university and since then I’ve had a roller coaster’s worth of highs and lows. I’ve been lucky enough to see some of the most beautiful places in the world, and to have found opportunities that I didn’t realize would be possible for me. I also spent several months working at a job that required me to serve people through a drive-through window in -25C weather while living back at home after 4 years of living on my own. Needless to say, in the past year I’ve felt on top of the world and I’ve felt totally distraught. I’ve felt hopeful and hopeless. I’ve felt confident and I’ve felt totally unsure of myself. I’ve felt so, so close to my loved ones at times, and at others I’ve felt very distant and lonely.

For me though, the good has far outweighed the bad. Even at my lowest points I still felt generally loved, supported, and grateful. Life has brought me wonderful experiences and opportunities that I never could have predicted or expected and that’s a pretty exciting thing. The past year has taught me so much about choice and acceptance and gratitude and being humble and staying positive and taking care of myself. It’s been difficult at times, but it’s also been so exciting to feel like I’m growing and making progress.

I try to be transparent on this blog and in my life because I think it serves precisely no one to pretend that everything is always great all the time. As you know, for the past three months I’ve been teaching English at a private school in South Korea. Yesterday, my boss told me that our school is closing down at the end of July. Everything is still very uncertain and confusing, but the gist is that I need to find a place to live and get a new job.  Yesterday I was mostly panicking, my brain going a mile a minute trying to figure out what my options were. I also spent quite a while in denial, hoping I’d wake up from a bad dream, and a bunch of time feeling sorry for myself. Today, I’m alternating between feeling totally overwhelmed and feeling like it’s going to be okay.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still upset and I’m still scared. Living in a country where you don’t speak the language is hard at the best of times and this, safe to say, is one of the worst things that can happen for a foreign teacher abroad…and I say that without any self-pity. And I know that it could be worse – some teachers get only a few days notice before their school closes, or turn up to find the school shuttered – in the grand scheme of things, my situation is better than some.

There is a lot I still need to figure out, but: I’m okay. I think I’m going to be okay. I think (I hope) that everything is going to work out. I can’t help but think that if this had happened to me right after graduating university I wouldn’t have been as well equipped to handle it. I’m proud to say that I haven’t completely fallen apart. After a minor panic attack in the bathroom, I reached out to my friends and acquaintances and asked them to put out feelers for me. I’ve been feeling all the crazy feelings I’m having (and I’m having lots of them) and putting them all out into the open where they seem smaller and sillier. I’m trying to square my shoulders and say “abundance abundance abundance” over and over and over to myself. I decided pretty early on that I was going to try to make this work, on my own terms.

I still don’t know how things are going to pan out. Like I said, there are lots of feelers out there, plus I’ve been researching lots of positions on the job boards and I’ve already heard back from one employer. I don’t know what my life is going to look like in two months, but this is a good reminder that nothing is ever certain or guaranteed. One year after graduating, I’m proud that I’ve grown into a person who knows she has a choice to either wallow and wring my hands or to react as gracefully as I can muster and take action.  I know that I can make the choice to be strong and generous instead of indulging the part of me that badly wants to use this as an excuse to be petty and small and selfish and to eat a lot of ice cream – which, let’s be honest, I still might do. I don’t always make the right choice every time, but I’m trying my best.

We recorded this episode of the podcast yesterday morning, before I found out that my school was closing. We talked about handling weird feelings that come up after graduating from university and going out into the “real world”. Little did I know the real world was going to feel so much more real in only a few hours!

The situation is scary and uncertain, but I’m trying to feel confident and to have faith even though I feel pretty overwhelmed. It helps that all my loved ones have nothing but confidence in my ability to handle this and to figure it out. They believe in me more than I believe in me, and while it’s hard to take their word for it, I’m trying. I’m trying to stay calm and fake it til I make it. Stay tuned.