Sunday, September 12, 2010


The jet lag, the seventeen hour time difference, the excitement of being in new place, and the nervousness of beginning a new job the following morning left me restless in my sleep and woke me up early. Which turned out to be a good thing since it took me ridiculous amounts of time to figure out several simple things.   First of all, I really, really should have listened to what the director and her daughter were telling me the day before. I realized upon waking up and going to boil some water for coffee, that I didn't know how to turn on the stove. At All. It didn't help that all the directions were in Korean. I also didn't know how to get any hot water. I couldn't figure out how to throw anything away. Trash cans? Anywhere? I couldn't find the milk in a grocery store. Its really frustrating not knowing how to do simple things like this. Eventually through trail and error I realized that to use the stove, you had to turn the gas on. (Ohhhhh)  And to use hot water, you had to press this certain "for hot water" button. But you had to turn on this other device before pressing the hot water button and then wait a while. And then the hot water worked. Some of the milk doesn't have to be refrigerated here, so some stores have milk on shelves. Next to items similar to top ramen. The trash system here however I didn't figure out on my own and had to ask someone. The trash "cans" are not can shaped at all, or bin shaped or any round shaped object you may associate with a trash receptacle. They are softly square shaped but then the back panel of it rises up and then curves downward towards the the front, like an open combination lock. And these trash "bins" come in pairs. One is always yellow and the other is always green. And there is no opening to them. In front, where the curve ends, are three screens depicting some image of a person,  I assume throwing something away, and korean writing. So I have no clue as to the meaning of the different symbols.  And that is it. If there is an opening to the trash "can" it's the same color as the rest of the "can" and its a mystery to me. I was told that to "open" the trash can, you need a special key. Like the key card I have to my building, but if you don't have one (I don't) you can just leave your trash next to the "can" and it will be picked up. Which leads me to another trash problem. They have a pretty sophisticated trash recycling system in place. The yellow trash "bins" match up with the yellow trash bags (and you HAVE to have the special yellow trash bag to go throw into the yellow trash "bin" otherwise you can't throw away there) and these yellow trash containers are only for compost. ONLY compost goes into the yellow trash containers. Then there are red garbage bags that match up to the green garbage containers. And you have to have a red garbage bag to throw away garbage in the green trash "cans". And only non-recyclable and non-compost trash goes in those trash containers. I don't know where to throw away the recyclables or what color bag they go in. I also don't know where to buy the correct color bags for the correct color trash "can" and I don't know how to ask for them. (I haven't seen them at my local convenience store) So for now I am totally messing with their system and throwing my trash away in non yellow or red trash bags and leaving them next to different colored trash "bins". I really am completely clueless. I feel tired the moment I get home from work (not that unusual, I hear). My first day off was Saturday and I slept almost the entire day. It is hard not speaking the language, but it sure is a motivation to learn how to speak Korean. Outside of the school, English is not spoken. It is very different from my other travels, but it is also something I have sought. I am still barely into my first week in a new and foreign place and it wouldn't be any fun if I was feeling like I knew the place.


  1. i will say that you wouldn't have felt so clueless had you watched the new kirate kid before you left. will smith's kid is they key to transnational comfort.

  2. Hey! Now that's right. Elizabeth, you've got to get into one of those fung-schway classes where everyone gets out into the park and moves together at a snails pace. Heck, I'll bet with a little bit of that, you'll be talkin' trash in no time! And que pasa with the yellow/green/red bags, chula? Just put everything in a brown paper bag and throw it into your neighbors yard! I don't think that I'd do too well over there.