Settling In

August 19, 2010

Mainly a laundry list of things to do… I received my foreigner registration card today. Let the records show it took three days’ processing time and one day to send via courier (for an additional 4000-5000 Won). Not bad at all. Now all I need to do is apply for medical insurance, register with the Department of Education, and set up a bank account. I wish I had a name stamp to make this process smoother, but I guess I’ll just have to wait. I also thought that my passport would be stamped “registered” to indicate that the Korean visa was used… anyone have any experience in this area? Did they stop doing this?

On Bugu-ri

A pretty small town, I have to admit. My apartment building houses women who I believe work in the sex trade; the town is basically designed to cater to the nuclear power plant workers and, as such, has a large number of bars and massage parlors. I can’t be sure of this as I haven’t seen anything firsthand.

The beaches aren’t the prettiest, but they do exist. I would consider running along them in the morning, but the sand just isn’t firm enough. In addition, large rocks would interrupt me every few hundred feet.

The biggest nuisance is a motorcycle which passes through each and every street and alley 1-2 times/week to spray insecticide into the air – chili peppers grow everywhere. I can’t imagine that would be healthy to breathe.

On Living In Korea So Far

Rooftops tend to be blue. When you see one large building in a city, chances are there are identical ones in the vicinity.

I have absolutely no trouble using my Bank of America VISA card, but it is difficult to locate an ATM which accepts foreign accounts. Citibank has branches in most major cities, and I’ve heard Kookmin Bank works as well.

I have successfully ordered beef, pork, and chicken from the butcher. Maybe it’s just because I live in a small town, but I haven’t seen too many ready to eat prepackaged meals like bento boxes (a few at Family Mart), or plastic-wrapped servings of meat for customers to buy. I’m able to order pork and beef as needed, but if I want chicken… well, you gotta take the whole bird.

Looking Inward

It’s amazing just how unfazed I am at living in a different country. I want the excitement all over again, but that wonder I felt when I disembarked in Osaka just doesn’t exist anymore. I’m just as comfortable here as I am in Haiti, in Santa Monica, in Austin, in Cooper Landing, Alaska. It’s all one big travel blob to me. Depressing, in a way. But at least I can manage.

Like many countries, Korea doesn’t make a habit of wasting resources. Air conditioners function by remote control, and are turned off as needed. Paying for gas is required when using hot water and heating the floor. Dryers aren’t too common; people save money by letting clothes air dry.

During Chuseok (추석) holiday, I should return to Japan via ferry. I’m going to get sick eating that much ramen…

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