Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Another dose of daily life

Last you all heard, it was Friday, right? So here's Saturday-Tuesday:

As usual, I got up, ate, took a shower, took my time getting pretty, and did the whole internet routine (email, Facebook, etc.). 주환 (Joohwan) had said that he'd come over around 2pm, so a little before that I grabbed a book, walked around the block, and sat on the stairs outside my 고시원 (goshiweon) to wait for him. As I was reading, people walking by stared more than usual. Come to think of it, I've never seen someone just sitting outside reading. So that odd action mixed with my ovbiously different ethnicity must have been the cause. On middle-aged man walked by, stared, and while walking backwards said, "Hello!" Being polite as I am, I looked up in a surprised fashion, smiled and said "hi" with a wave, and went back to my book. A minute later he returned with a couple of books in his hand and a pen. He said something like, "Uh, hi. I loves Americans. Where you coming from?" I answered, "Michigan." He replied, "Ah, I like lunch you. Phone number?" To which I, somewhat flustered, replied, "I don't have a phone. Sorry." He then asked, "Where you living?" Mildly perturbed, I answered, "Over there," and pointed far away. He said, "Okay so I can call you?" and positioned his pen on the paper. I repeated, "I just moved here last week. I don't have a phone. 저는 전화가 없어요. 미안해요. (I don't have a phone. Sorry.) I'm waiting for my friend." He looked confused. I said, "My boyfriend can't call me because I have no phone, so he is coming to meet me here." He caught one word. "Your boyfriend? Okay, see you." With that he walked away. I looked around nervously and walked back up the stairs to my room. I had a message from 주환 (Joohwan) on MSN saying he'd come around 3. It was then 2:30. So I told him that if anyone asked, he was my boyfriend, I didn't have a phone, and I lived on the other side of 까치산 (Ggachisan). So he told me when he was leaving his house and said, "I'll be there in 5-7 minutes." So exact, haha.

When 주환 (Joohwan) arrived, it was the same routine as last week. Just follow him because I have no idea where I'm going. It's like an adventure. He told me what to say to buy a subway card, and went with me to the window to help. So, now I have a subway card. We went to an English conversation group he goes to every Saturday from 4pm-6pm. All the people in it have been abroad, and they want to keep their English skills. The leader is a young Korean-Australian woman who works as an English teacher with the company that hosts the group. They read articles and discuss them. This week it was a "Dear Abby" letter and an article about British political scandal. After the meeting was over, the leader, another girl, 주환 (Joohwan), and I went to a restaurant for dinner. The other girl's friend met us there, too. We stayed at the restaurant eating, drinking, and talking from about 6:30 to about 11:30pm, and I was so tired by the end. But, it was a lot of fun. The leader and the friend who had met us there went their separate ways, but the other girl lives on the way to 까치산 (Ggachisan) so the three of us headed to the subway together. While transferring trains, we realized that the next one was, in fact, the last train home. So, like everyone else getting off the first train with us, we literally ran through the subway station to get on the second train. It was a first for me: a crowd of people, young and old, casual and professional, who usually walk confidently and i na composed manner, running desperately up and down stairs and down long hallways and onto a train to sigh with relief. Note to self: try to head home around 11pm. Haha.

On Sunday, 주환 (Joohwan) came to get me and took me around the corner to the main street to get a cell phone service. Yay! He had gotten an old cell phone from somewhere or another, I'm not really sure. Then he did all the paperwork under his name and got everything prepared. It cost me 20,000 Won to get a charger and some prepaid minutes. That's less than $20. Good deal! Incoming calls and texts are free, and there were no deposits or start-up fees. Because nobody really does and office work on Sunday, they said my phone would be activated Monday between 11am and noon.

After that, 주환 (Joohwan) asked me if I wanted to go home or if I wanted to hang out with his friends whom I'd never met. My first impulse was to say I wanted to go home, but I didn't have any plans and this was an opportunity to socialize, something I don't get to do much yet because I don't have a lot of friends here. So, I said that I didn't have any plans, so.... So, we went to go meet his friends. There were three girls and one guy. One of the girls is Joohwan's ex-girlfriend, but they're still friends. It was the guy's birthday, so we went to an adorable cafe and had something analagous to Italian Ice, some fruit, fresh fruit juice, and white toast with cool whip (surprisingly very delicious). They had bought a cute little cake too, so they lit the candles and sang "Happy Birthday" in Korean (saeng-il choo-ka hamnida, saeng-il choo-ka hamnida, saeng-il [name] saranghae, saeng-il choo-ka hamnida). Then the boys went home one by one and I went to a bakery and a clothing store with the girls. The bakery is named, "Le Pommier," which I explained to them means, "the apple store/person" in French. There is a glass case full of apples above the counter, and the packaging on some of the bread has an odd poem about apples in English that made very little sense. Korean bakeries are amazing. I honestly think bread is way better in Korea than in America. I still have to go to Paris Baguette and see how it compares to France.... Anyway, after going to the clothing store and looking at bras and underwear (oddly not awkward), the girls walked me back to my 고시원 (goshiweon) and said good night. They know where it is because they're also friends with 미주 (Miju). They hang out every Sunday after church, so they invited me to join them next week, too.

I am over jetlag. I woke up around 11am Monday :) Back to my old self! I decided to see if my cell phone had been activated yet, so I turned it on. Sure enough it was connected to the network! Excited, I sent one of my friends a text message. He replied soon after, and I tried to reply back but it failed to send the message. I tried calling a couple of people, but there was some woman's voice saying something wasn't there, followed by a beeping tone. I took a shower and ate, tried again, and still nothing. I figured out how to put the menu in English, and played around with settings, but still nothing. Frustrated, I felt oddly exhausted. So, I went back to sleep and woke up around 5pm. After trying again, I decided to throw on some makeup and go to the cell phone store. On the way there, and old man offered me a drink, and when I refused kindly he tried to hand me a bag of chips. Flustered, I refused and thanked him, then kept walking. A guy walking past looked at me and laughed a little. I said to him, "두번재이에요!" which I believe means "This is the second one/time!" He laughed again and kept walking.

Then, all alone, I walked in to the cell phone store and went to a representative. In broken Korean I explained that if my friends wrote something, it was okay, but I couldn't do anything. I handed her my phone and she talked to the other two, who were there on Sunday and set it up for me. They said I'd paid 10,000 Won for minutes (I caught that in their conversation). I guess the problem was that the minutes weren't properly credited to my account. The representative did that and handed the phone back to me, prompting me to make a call to see if it worked. I called 주환 (Joohwan) and it rang. Success!! He didn't pick up, but that wasn't the point.

I spent the rest of the evening getting in touch with old students. Two of them, 승범 (Seungbeom) and 경수 (Kyoungsu) sent messages back and forth for a while. At some point during the evening 주환 (Joohwan) called and apologized for not picking up earlier. I told him why I'd called and he was so shocked and proud that I'd fixed the problem by myself using Korean. :) I was getting hungry, so I decided to make some curry I'd bought. But, I can't read the directions so I grabbed the package and walked around looking for my landlady. I couldn't find her anywhere, so I just made shin ramyun (spicy ramen) again. On the way back to my room with my ramen, my landlady was in her office. Sigh~

Today the weather was beautiful. I can tell I'm from a colder climate than everyone here, because I was walking around very comfortably in a T-shirt past all the Koreans in sweaters and jackets. After my shower and internetting, I decided to hit the market during my walk so I could make something great for brunch. I bought pork (돼지고기 dwaeji gogi) and the storekeeper asked about me in English a little, then gave me some free green onions. I also went to the grocery store and bought garlic and 고추장 (gochu jang = red pepper paste) for cooking. I ended up frying the pork with worsteshire (I can NOT spell that ever, for the life of me) sauce, garlic, and green onions. Then I cooked egg fried rice in the remaining sauce and combined everything for a delicious stir-fry. I don't think I'll eat dinner tonight; I'm still full.

After eating I went to play piano for about an hour, then went on an extra-long walk because my normal route is starting to feel short. Also because I ate so much for brunch. Now I think I miss chocolate, so I'll go out and hit a store or two in search of some cheap, delicious chocolatey goodness. I finished my Andes Mints yesterday :(

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