Time sure flies! As the days keep passing me by, I am doing my best to recall my first two months here in detail. As many details escape me right now, at the most odd times during the day the finer points of my time here comes flooding back to me quite vividly.
On Saturday Eric & Jenny took me to a place called E-Mart. This place they say is similar to Walmart in the USA. They picked me up and we were off for an adventure of grocery shopping & to pick up household items that I would be needing to make me feel more at home. My one bedroom apartment came furnished with a twin bed (comforter included), two-drawer dresser, computer desk, TV, clothing closet, washer & clothes line, dining room, Korean-style bathroom & a kitchen that contained a two-burner stove (gas), stainless steel sink & a refrigerator that is shorter than me! I was also supplied with one frying pan, one ‘soup pan’, one small mixing bowl, two teacups & one set of silverware. So now I needed to fill in the gaps…lightly since I am only going to be here for a year at this point.
We arrived at E-Mart. This place seemed huge. Yes, like a Walmart, it has a little bit of everything: groceries, clothing, household items, shoes, nick-nacks, you get the picture. We made the rounds pickup familiar items and some not so familiar. Case in point: Koreans separate their food waste from their paper/plastic/cardboard waste. They have special red bags they use to recycle their paper products. Then they use this small, plastic bin that has a removable insert inside that they use to recycle their food waste. (Pictures to follow). So I picked up one of these too. As we made our way to the checkout, I unloaded my cart onto the checkout area. Time to pay…with my Won. Lucky for me I could see what the total cost was for all my new goodies on the register screen. It was cheap! I spent wisely…so far so good! Of course I was glad my escorts were there to help me figure out just exactly how much Won to give the cashier. As time goes on, the Won currency is pretty easy to figure out. But today I am glad I had assistance.
But hey, we aren’t out of E-Mart yet. Where is the bagger? It seems that we bag our own purchases. And should say box our own purchases. Along the wall opposite the checkout area are cardboard boxes & tape because it is up to the buyer to box up and carry out their own purchases. Hmm. OK-happy again I had assistance for this first shopping trip out. And the Koreans do it so quickly. I have a feeling I would have been there for quite a bit longer if I were all alone that day.
We arrive back at the car, packages, boxes in hand & arms. On our way back home, I was treated to lunch by my new employers. We arrive, remove our shoes & enter the cafe. We sit on the the floor at a table that has its very own self-contained grill right in the center of this ‘low-to-the-ground’ table. My hosts order lunch since the menu is all written in Korean. Rice, soup & several side dishes are brought to our table. The pit is lit and a slab of meat is placed right on the center of the pit. I sample some of the side dishes: kimchi, greens, etc. It is all delicious. The waitress comes back with a pair of scissors & begins to cut the thin piece of meat that has been cooking over the open flame. She leaves the scissors at the table so my hosts can continue to cut until the meat is done to their liking. Eric sees that I like one side dish quite well & asks the waitress to bring more for me. Heaven! I love Korean food! A vegetarian’s paradise! Jenny’s rice dish arrives which looks good too. The soup, rice, side dishes…all just perfect!
We arrive back home & Jenny & Eric help to carry all of my new goodies & groceries up three flights of stairs to me new digs. Jenny is putting stuff away so fast again! I am still trying to remove my shoes at the door! As fast as they were in, they were out.
What a great experience today. Now it was time for me to relax & settle in even more. And that is exactly what I did.