Posted by: Cacille | March 19, 2012

My apartment difficulties

First off, I have to say, I love this apartment. It’s small but not shoebox sizes, it’s a big room for the birds to fly in, and there is a great amount of floor space. But, it’s quite badly out of date, save for the kitchen. Except for a few things there.

When I arrived, like most new people to Korea, I had no idea how to work the Ondol (Floor heating system). I wasn’t sure what all the buttons were for and had a hell of a time finding out. For the first two days, the only hot water I had was about 1.5 minutes worth before my co-teacher pointed out that I was pressing the wrong button. You see, you actually have to turn on and off your water heater here. It’s instant hot water after a 5 minute warmup (I usually give it about 15, but only cause I usually get up and turn on the heater, then sit online for that long currently), and while your hot water is on, your floor warmer is not. You gotta remember to turn it off though after your shower, otherwise you’ll burn through your fuel quickly!

I also couldn’t sleep well for the first few days. For one, the fridge was INSANELY loud, so loud I could barely hear myself think at times, and two, the mattress is HARD! I managed to find my pack of  earplugs quickly and learned to wrap the blanket around my back so I could sleep easier.  Did I mention I barely had bedding? My current bedding had not arrived from the cleaners yet so I had temporary bedding. It was fine, due to warmth of the floor heating the house, but still. That fridge was the worst part of it. I asked my co-teacher to contact the landlord about it possibly getting fixed. I’ve lived in many places and I KNOW fridges aren’t supposed to be that loud. It also wasn’t getting all that cold.

Turns out I was right. The compressor is going out, so said the fixer gentleman – in  the one word I understood of his explanation. “Compressor”. I understood immediately that word and what that meant. I’ve worked at Home Depot and Lowe’s far too long. He went away, did a bid, and the next day I hear back from my co teacher that the landlord will be buying me a new fridge as the cost to repair is the same as to buy another one. It will arrive in 3 days.  GRAND!  5 days later, I get an update from the landlord in broken English. “This Thursday”. Oh. Three more days. Ohhhkay <dejected sigh> <puts back in earplugs>.

On Thursday, my co teacher calls me. “Shelley, the landlord didn’t say why, but she says the fridge won’t be delivered till next Friday.” NEXT FRIDAY? This is Thursday. Not THIS Friday, but NEXT Friday? Yep. Next Friday. ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH!  I should mention here that I finally ran out of the milk that I had purchased, and had just unplugged the damned fridge altogether. My ears had started getting sore and rubbed raw by the earplugs and had to stop using them unless I wanted my ears to bleed. (Keep in mind, these are the softest earplugs on the market, and I’ve tried many types.) The downside to this, is that I no longer had a fridge to put food in. So now it’ll been three weeks with no fridge.  Three weeks of scrounging food from menus I can’t read, spending money I don’t need to spend, to buy pre-packaged or restaurant food that ends up most always being too spicy for me to eat all of it, meaning I’m starving, or pigging out on junk food all day.

So besides that, the apartment has only three plug outlets – two are in the kitchen and are used by kitchen appliances, and the one in the rest of the house is by the window. I’ve already run two power outlet strips off each one (which is worrisome, knowing they say never to run more than one off each set of outlets) but I’ve been told that it’s perfectly fine, the neighbor upstairs is running three freezers off one outlet upstairs (!!!) and neither of them have ever heard of someone running too many and burning up a place. Okay. That makes me feel a little better. It’s annoying having so few, due to needing to run long power outlet strips to power my new alarm clock and future table lamp.

Another thing that’s out of date is the microwave/toaster. Yep. It’s a toaster oven. Which is supposed to double as a microwave. It does…not well, but it does. Problem is, it’s easily from the 1980s. It looks like a death trap. At first, it smelled like a burning death trap too (I was frightened of it, seriously), but it did heat up my leftover chicken after oh, 5 minutes.

Annnd…the last thing. My gas went out and my Ondol control started blinking a error code. So I called my co-teacher, who was prepared to call the gas guy upon my say so, as we knew it was getting low. I get the tank switched out, costing 46000W ($43).  Cool, whatever. I go get money from the bank down the street. My cards don’t work – NONE of them work (American and Korean)After literally running back, I had to borrow money from the landlord. The gas showed to be working on my stove. Grand! He leaves. The Ondol was still blinking it’s little error code at me after 30 minutes. Called co teacher, co-teacher not available. ARGH! So I go up to school (She works night classes at school) and wait for her there and tell her the situation. She calls the landlord and finds it’s ANOTHER WHOLE TANK.

Where the HELL is there another tank in this place? I counted 5 tanks only a week before. 5 apartments. 5 tanks. ANOTHER 5 tanks, larger ones, are supposedly in this place. WHERE? So the OIL guy comes out. This one uses oil, not gas. It’s an older system and my co-teacher didn’t know that cause most apartments use gas for both systems now (Stove and Ondol). Ohhhh. So the guy fills the ondol oil, and somehow, my card works with him. Cost, 272000W ($255). I then realize I spent $43 on a tank of gas I didn’t need and considering I can’t cook anyway with no food due to no fridge, ::HEADDESK::.

And yes, this is all within the first three weeks of living here.

Did I mention that my washing machine did not even come in until last week? At least that is new. Also did I mention that I didn’t find the dishes till a week after I moved in? (They were hidden in an old, empty looking box under the TV, which was hidden behind all my stuff and two old lockers I rescued. I literally had a bed, desk, and closet at first.  Yep. That was my welcome to Korea.



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