So I believe I mentioned last time that we have moved and changed jobs from last year. We were very excited to move into another apartment, not that the last one was bad, but we really wanted a place with a separate bedroom or at least a bedroom we could stand up in since we could not do so in our loft bedroom. On top of getting a new place, our recruiter told us that we would have two small apartments instead of one bigger one for being married. There just was not any other option for the schools as they provide for our apartments. Not the most ideal, right? But we had come to terms with this as one could be used for storage and the other we could live in. All this would change though after orientation...
Seth and I work at two different schools and the schools must work together to figure out our housing. While we were at orientation, which was a two week breeze for us , the schools discovered that we were married and our contract states that a married couple will only get ONE apartment. Not a problem, IF the apartment is big enough for us. Well the day comes around that we see our school and our apartment for the first time. We were in for a surprise. My school hired me first so therefore they were in charge of our living arrangement. I dont believe that anyone from the school had seen our apartment before giving it to us because it was not big enough for two people...
They set us up in an Officetel, which are very popular in Korea. An officetel is basicaally a small apartment, often times being a studio apartment. Our apartment last year was called an officetel but was twice the size of the one that was given to us this year. The first day I was mostly in shock that they had given us this small of a space, but I didn't want to seem ungrateful so I thank them for our place. Luckily the teacher that had come and show me the apartment realized it was too small for two people and spoke to the vice principal on my behalf. The next Thursday after school had started and the principal had come back from vacation (about a week) the vice principal came up to me and said if it would be ok to move THAT DAY. Seth's school had taken over the living situation because their apartment was bigger and at no more cost to them. No warning, no time to pack all the stuff we had unpacked in order to live. Luckily some teachers from my school were willing to help move us. So I left school two hours early with four other teachers and two cars and they had moved everything before Seth got home. Then came the troubles of the new place....
The second place was great, it had a separate bedroom with a window, an open living room/ kitchen with a huge window, a big 42" tv and a good size entryway with a cabinet for our shoes (Korean tradition to take off shoes first). The big downers were the super small kitchen (one cabinet), the small bathroom, and most importantly the HIDEOUS wallpaper throughout the place. I could live with the other two but the wallpaper had to change. As you can see in the picture on the blog, there were two majorly different wallpapers fighting for attention in this small space. The wall with the tv had the fake brick with colorful tulips and the rest of the place had light green background with a turquoise classical floral print. And the small kitchen had two walls with this special water resistant fake tile wallpaper that was the 70's olive green color. I could not wait to redo everything and get furniture as it was an empty space. But first wallpaper!
As wallpaper and flooring places are everywhere here we thought it would be no problem getting this done we forgot about the language challenge. We went to three places one night. The first walked us out and said to come back tomorrow as he was leaving at the moment we walked in. The second insisted on showing us this ugly wallpaper once we found out we lived in an officetel and refused to let us look at the good stuff even though we were willing to pay for it. And the third place , the lady kept asking us questions in Korean and I got frustrated and we left. Later that week we were visited a friend on the other side of town and came across another wallpaper place. We decided to check it out as we were with a friend that spoke quite a bit of Korean. Between her and my quickly layout sketch of our apartment (which was difficult as I had to estimate in meters) we had chosen wallpaper and gotten a quote for our place to be done the next week!
Tidbit: Koreans call the accent wall, or a wall that is different from the rest, the Point. I thought that was interesting.
So the next Friday Seth's co-teacher called and the owner and one other worker came to our place and measured all the walls then told us to move everything away from the wall (duh). They told us that would be at our place at 10:30 am the next day. The showed up at 9:30. Seth was still in the shower and not much had been moved yet. Quite a surprise for us. So they came in with a couple of bag and a small ladder. They did this a little differently than I remember it being done back in the states. The reason they came the day before is because they had pre-cut and pre-soaked all the wallpaper pieces! They had them in the plastic bags. She took out a piece hung in on the wall, trimmed and it was finished! The whole place was wallpapered in 4 1/2 hours and cost W300,000 (won) or roughly $300. I gave them a W50,000 ($50) tip because they had quoted us for W400,000. They were super nice and friendly. And our place looks great now with the coordinating walls. Now its time for the rest of the decorating!
Tidbit: The lady never stopped wallpapering for lunch so we bought a pizza and she ate with us. We later found out that in Korean whenever you have a service done for you in your house, it is expected for you to provide a meal for them.