…Second Impressions of Life in Seoul

Some vignettes:

Tea here is exceedingly expensive. When you sit down to a meal and look at the drink menu, nearly everything starts at around $5, and there are no free refills. There are coffee and tea shops on every corner, midway through every block, and even more often than that, however, they’re also really expensive. Even Starbucks’ cheapest option is $3, and that’s for one tea bag in the smallest cup possible. Since I go there occasionally to work on writing, I try to look at that $3 as a chair rental fee. The cost is still a bit harsh after the $1 cups of tea I used to nurse all day with free water refills at the coffee shops where I wrote my dissertation in the Berkeley/Oakland area.

Now that the winter is over (more or less), I feel a lot more optomistic about life here. Still rather lonely and having a hard time meeting people on a more than superficial cocktail party conversation level (as is a complaint of nearly every ‘trailing spouse’ at some time or another, if not always), but at least going outside isn’t a battle with death. Neko and I have been on a few walks in the neighborhood, and visted some playgrounds, all of which are way too big for her to enjoy without active participation from me. That, of course, is getting increasingly difficult as the arrival of Panda-baby comes ever closer. Luckily, Neko enjoys the novelty of just being outside in our yard and poking at the mud. The psuedo-American neighborhood is nice for that kind of thing, even if you feel very isolated from the rest of the city.

Most of our adventuring happens on the weekends, when Mr. Adventure can come along. We hit a big palace over Lunar New Years, an aquarium in an underground mall, a nearby street full of foreign foods and sock vendors, and spent an entire day wandering through Gangnam (of Gangnam-Style fame) in search of a particular camera store. Mr. Adventure’s starting a photography class this weekend, so I am guessing he’ll get some assignments that will take us out and about in new places, but we’ve been saving some of the more interesting sights for the wave of potential visitors that might come our way (and yes, there’s room for you!).

The house is coming together, but the lack of useful storage has hampered the process a bit. The closet floors are all sloped at a 45 degree angle, to keep your shoes neatly displayed, it would seem, but that just means you can’t store anything other than shoes in the closet. So, even though we have great closets, we just don’t have enough hanging items to fill them, and everything else we put in there comes tumbling out when the doors open. In the kitchen there is only one bank of three drawers, all of them are 8″ deep. So, we put our utensils in one, our cooking tools in another, and our towels in the bottom. But, for everything else that might be drawer-worthy, we haven’t found a good solution. Shelves are wasted on ziploc bag boxes or cookie cutters, for example. We’re still puzzling it out. Neko’s penchant for unloading things has also meant that the bottom drawer is perpetually in disarray, or dumped on the floor, and that all our trash bins have to be displayed on tables or other furniture. It’s not very aesthetically pleasing. Once we finish hanging the remaining artwork, however, we’ll take some photos to show it all off.

Most recently, I wrote a chapter for an upcoming book on “how tos” related to foreign service life. I think it will be out this summer, and I’ll link you to it then. It was a fun little project, and I’d enjoy doing more things like that. I’ve also been tutoring and odd-jobbing it, as I was the first year in Dhaka. I’m going to be a stuffed animal doctor this weekend, for example, gotta use those mad sewing skills. I wonder if that would be a more steady source of clients than editing is…. 🙂

2 thoughts on “…Second Impressions of Life in Seoul

  1. Hi, Panda’s mom. How is that aspect of life going for you? I hope well, and will continue well. Your description of the experiences in Seoul sound interesting, if limited so far. Good for Matt, taking a photo class. He has certainly seen lots of different bits of life in Dhaka, and probably will there too. Things here are rolling along about as usual, with a wet but not snowy winter for Portland. I haven’t yet tried skiing; Laurie and Rick are going over this weekend, but taking 2 dogs in cages, plus all the equipment they took to avisit with friends in Idaho, so no space. Oh, well, I get some walking here plus swimming at MAC. ANd exercise in our wellness center, table tennis and mileage down the hall and back! Mike has visited some, and Laurie comes to help me visit doctors. I’m learning to ride the busses here, plus one trip in the Plaza “jitney”, a Toyota of recent vintage, and several in our busses and in the Presbyterian pick-up bus for free. They stop at Willamette View and here, for 4 to 12 passengers, a handy way to cover 1/2 mile, and much further for Willianette folks. Gotta catch up with my taxes soon, and hope to see some relatives. Love to you, and thanks for news, Jeanne STeed.

  2. Brrrr. It looks cold there,with all the snow. Spring has come here, ‘tho the mountains are still white. There’s a pretty dogwood out my west window, and lots of cherry trees our east side, plus around the track below. You’ll get it soon! Your pictures are interesting, I printed some of Niko and Easter eggs. Our hall and public spaces are getting redone, also the furniture in our llobby. Love, Jeanne

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