Here I am thinking this country can’t get any cuter and then it hits me with something like this.
I finally got to move into my apartment and I have all these new coffee shops to try. I’m going to get a portable wifi so I can answer texts in my room, but honestly, I really like writing in these little shops. This one may be my favorite one yet. It’s on the second floor of a regular building, but the far wall is solid windows out on to the busy street and then throughout the store there are these little raised booths with little tables and a carpet and cushions and you take off your shoes and sit in the little booth and it’s just
And I think the cute girl in her twenties who is running the place likes me because when she brought me my drink I told her the shop was cute in the little Korean OH MY GOSH SHE JUST CAME OVER TO ME AND GAVE ME A FREE ENERGY DRINK. She was like, “this is for energy. For you.”
I can’t believe I was in the middle of writing that she liked me and that happened.
Tip: tell coffee shop owners, “귀여다” (kweyopda) and they will give you free food.
I know it’s not right to judge an entire country by one city but I mean…I’m not even in central Seoul and these adorable things keep happening.
Okay not everything is perfect. Yesterday was one of the more interesting days of my life. So I had to be out of the lovely J-Motel at 11am. Director told me I didn’t have to work yesterday morning (everyone else did…) and so I’m like, sweet! I’ll move in! But then the “cleaners” had to come before I could move in and that wasn’t until 5 so I was going to be homeless for 6 hours.
Whatever. I’ve spent entire days in coffee shops before. So I just had to bring my suitcases to the school, which was open because of new student orientation (why everyone was working) and then I could chill for a few hours.
So I go downstairs with my 2 suitcases that are half my height and half my weight, plus my big purse and Northface backpacking backpack not really knowing what to expect and front desk guy just goes, “key?” So I give it to him and then goes “okay bye!”
It’s about a mile walk to school, down some wide tiled sidewalks, across some busy intersections, past the usual convenience stores, coffee shops, and chicken places. I figure I’d just get a cab. It’s a short walk–unless your pulling a year’s worth of your life with you. I get out to the main road and…it’s closed. Someone decided to hold a freaking marathon down the center street, so no cars were coming.
I didn’t know how long it was going to last or where it stopped or ended, so I just thought I’d pull until the next street.
I mean, the pioneers pulled 500lb carts through freezing rivers. I can pull my suitcases a little down the road right? So I called upon my pioneer ancestor blood and started off.
I kept pulling and pulling and the runners weren’t stopping and there came a point, about a 3/4 of the way there when I realized I was going to have to go all the way. I was sweating a storm, but I couldn’t take my coat off because that’d be one more thing I had to carry. And it’s not like the sidewalks are smooth as you can see–but you don’t really notice that type of thing until you’re rumbling down. And people were looking at me and it was just…
And then I had to cross the street…twice. Crossing the street here deserves its own post which I will make someday when I have nothing new to write. Let’s just say, I understand why the “hit by a car” plot point happens in literally every drama.
Anyway, I did eventually make it to the promised land of Lotte Market, where my hagwan is on the second floor. I got my exercise for the month.
Oh my gosh the coffee girl’s shift just ended she said goodbye and bowed to me as she left. Gah sooo cutteeee.
So at around 5, Head Teacher helped me take my stuff to my apartment. Let’s put it this way–I’m jealous of Harry Potter’s cupboard under the stairs.
If I was a Sim, my environment bar just dropped to flashing red.
However, I’m a big believer in that there is ALWAYS a way. I refuse to let this be a bad situation. I’m living here for an entire year and I’m going to like it. So I sat on my bed and visualized for about 2 hours. Okay, people probably don’t know what that means. Basically, sometimes I like to sit places and just imagine something in a completely different way. I didn’t realize this was weird until I told a friend about it and they looked at me like
I’m only even saying this because I’m behind a computer screen and therefore cannot see your reaction.
Anyway, I got what I wanted the room to look like in my head and decided to start the next day (today) but then I found a pepsi in the fridge Previous Teacher had left behind and that’s why I was up until 1am moving things around.
So, as you can see, there are a lot of things I do not need in this flat-closet-room thing and having extraneous accoutrements gives me stress so I just decided to get rid of it all. Dad you’d like this–so basically every other corner is a Swap Shack. People just drop off the stuff they don’t want and anyone can come and get it. I think it gets cleared away every couple of days. I don’t really understand the trash system here yet. I consider myself more of a giver than a taker, so basically I threw everything but the bed and fridge out to the corner.
And now, it looks much better. My environment bar is probably about 2/3 now. I took a picture, but I’m not going to put it up because I want you to see the after pictures when it’s all done. I have many things I have to get that I won’t be able to until after March 10, when I get paid. And they all have specific places to go for certain reasons. It’s all planned out and I cannot wait for it to become real.
There’s a lot more I can say about today, but I think I’ll just relate one more story. The rest is all about my street, the market, the overpass, SO MANY THINGS. But, I’ll just say that this coffee shop girl is actually the third friend I made today. That’s right, I made two friends this morning.
I went to a coffee shop “Cafe Crema” first thing in the morning to check my interwebz and it was a tiny shop run by a woman in her late twenties probably. It’s only just bigger than my apartment, but adorable (obviously). I ordered my usual hot chocolate and she handed me a little frequent diner card. Then I noticed that on the counter was a box of these exact cards written with names on them. It looks kind of like an open library catalog, which are completely irrelevant now and anyone under 15 probably won’t know what I’m talking about. Anyway, I wrote my name on it and asked if I could put it with the rest of them and she gave me a HUGE smile, stamped it, and filed it away with the other 50 or so. And then this afternoon, she must live close by because we passed on the street and she waved to me.
But this is my favorite story. So–I live on this market street right? (more on that in another post because this is already atrociously long). And I saw a little ahjumma with a mochi stand so I went to buy some from her because Mochi. I had my adventure bag on and it was already full of stuff to clean my apartment, and then I was carrying garbage bags in my hands, but I wanted some Mochi anyway. So I go to pay and I have to bring my backpack around to my chest to get my money out and I may or may not have a socially unacceptable large pin of a certain celebrity pinned to the front of my bag
And this woman goes “oh!” and points to it and smiles.
I said, “줗아요” (joayo–I like) and she had this twinkle in her eye.
Ladies and gentlemen…I found a 50 year old fangirl.
It may have been one of the most magical moments of my life.
She then proceeded to not only give me a bag for my mochi, but also grabbed a bag, took the stuff out of my hands, and put it all inside. I know you’re thinking, “Mallory–it was just a bag. What’s the big deal?” Well, in Korea, it’s BYObag. Make sure you bring some kind of sack to the grocery store otherwise you’ll be walking home juggling an armload of stuff. Yeah. Also, you have to pay for specific city issued trashbags here. They’re about $1 each, which isn’t a big expense, but still. I’ve never had anyone bag my stuff for me, let alone at a stand.
But now–we are friends.
Okay everyone has left the shop it’s just me in my socks and now there’s an ahjumma at the register who doesn’t look nearly as friendly. And tomorrow is my first day of actual school so I’ll have A LOT to write about. But, one of these days, I’ll be able to go into more details about the little things. I promise.