Tuesday, August 05, 2014

last day

As the time for a transition approaches, I can feel my options narrowing. What can I do today, on my final full day before I leave Hayang? I regret not having visited our campus's art museums, and at this point I doubt I'll ever see them. I had one or two art students, one of whom, last semester, showed me cell-phone pics of his sculpture work. It was amazing. Another student, majoring in design, showed me some of the work he was putting on display for a design exhibition that happened late in the spring semester. That, too, was very impressive. So yeah, I regret not having strolled through our art museums.

Time is limited, which means my options are limited. Freedom is circumscribed by circumstance. I still have plenty to do in terms of packing and prep. Most of the packing is finished, but today I must devote myself to jury-rigging a box for my ironing board, and that's going to take a while. I also have to clean my apartment's floor. I had spent much of yesterday cleaning all the accumulated grit and oil-spatter in my cramped kitchenette; I also cleaned all the hair and dust out of the various sliding-door and sliding-window tracks in my studio. "Leave the place the way you found it," my landlord texted me the other day. So I'm trying to get everything as clean as possible for the next occupant.

With a to-do list that also now includes canceling my gas and electricity as of tomorrow (I leave my place at around 10AM), I have only a little free time to do other things. Truth be told, I have no inclination to visit places: I'd rather spend the day saying goodbye to the various shop and food-stall ajummas and ajeossis that I've come to know over the past year. I realize I won't be able to see them all, which causes a twinge of regret. But most of all, what I want to do today is have one final, decent meal, either in Hayang or in Daegu. Then tonight, I'll do one final walk around campus, taekbae out my last three boxes (oven, ironing board, electric fan), and try to get a halfway decent night's sleep before I wake up at 6AM on the morning of my departure. A final shower, a final wipe-down of all surfaces, a final packing-up of everything I'll be carrying out in a suitcase and a backpack, a final visit from staffers from the gas and electric companies a little after 9AM tomorrow, et voilà. I'll be off to Seoul.

Once I'm in Seoul, I'll be housed in Third Ajumma's building and will have a month to find a more permanent residence. I won't feel anywhere near settled until that happens. The first month or two of teaching, come September, will be a bit stressful as a result. Even after I find a place, I doubt it'll be the place I call home: given my financial straits, I'll be settling for a not-completely-satisfactory apartment, not settling into the apartment of my dreams (personally, I'd like an officetel, but that's beyond my budget).

But all that is the near future. Right now, it's enough to live day by day, for sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Like in a badly choreographed kung-fu fight, then, we face one evil at a time, always hopeful for a better future. And that's coming, I think: going back to Seoul was always part of the master plan. Eventually, I see myself in my prized officetel, raking in a more-than-decent salary, having the free time to read, cook, travel, and write—maybe even write something worth publishing. For the moment, though: one evil at a time.



  1. You've been gone from Seoul for a while, so I'm willing to bet that the same crazy overnight housing explosion that has happened (and is still happening) in Daejeon is happening in Seoul in regards to old villas being renovated into small apartment buildings in those same villa footprints. There are so many that rent has really fallen in Taepyeong-dong, Daejeon. So much so, that many of these new units are renting in the 250,000 - 300,000 won range per month with no key money needed.

    I was just looking at a job at a public school in Seoul where the contact person told me that I could find similar housing arrangements in that part of Seoul for between 400,000 - 500,000 won per month. This was a couple of weeks back, so I can't exactly remember the location as I really don't care to work outside of Daejeon.

    I recommend checking Craigslist and the South Korean apartment websites to see what's out there in the area you want to live in. Even if you have to pay a little more to live by the school, it might make more sense to live close enough that you don't need to spend any money on transportation. Good luck!

  2. Thanks for the advice, John. I'll definitely look into the online resources before I actually pound the payment. Good thinking.

  3. 오리 이야기, down by the stream in the center of town, southwest side, is pretty awesome. They also told me they don't use any crap like 미원 or 다시다, which is rather rare.

    However, for a last dinner in Daegu, I think there's only real one option: Grilled pig rectum. Oh, won't you miss that?

  4. Also, it might be a good idea to ask the support staff around your school. I'd ask anyone from the guards to the cafeteria workers for any useful information on area housing. More than likely, most of them will be locals.



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