Since moving to Korea, I have had many requests for a tour of my new digs. Now that work has settled down a bit, I finally have some time to post about my current accommodations.
My apartment in Korea is the smallest place I have lived in yet. The good news is, I love little apartments! Coming from Toronto, I am quite used to living in small quarters and have actually come to prefer it. Small spaces are easier to clean and I am less inclined to fill it with useless junk I don’t really need. I would say the only thing that I don’t like about little living spaces, is that it makes it difficult to host dinner parties or board game nights (two things I love to do). When I saw my apartment for the first time, the size of it didn’t faze me. There were however a few things that I did need to get used to…
The best part of my kitchen is the yellow and lime green “tile” back splash, and the reason I call my pad the ‘Citrus Palace’. The most challenging aspect of my kitchen is the lack of counter space for cooking. The solution: if I put my drying rack on top of my fridge, and my cutting board on top of my sink, I can cut my veggies and put them into a bowl I put on top of my gas stove (when its turned off of course). As a result, I tend to stick with simple one pot dishes when I cook here. My petite fridge also doubles as a shelf for my toiletries and a small mirror that is the perfect height for braiding my hair before I run out the door to work. I should also mention that there is no oven, just two gas burners. Good bye baking.
The washroom is a one-stop shop. My toilet, shower and sink are all in the same small room, meaning there is no shower stall or bathtub. When it’s time to shower, I have to turn on the sink,and hit a button to change the water flow from the sink faucet to the showerhead. Yes, I shower right beside the toilet and everything gets wet. Like all expats, after a week it seemed normal. I did however hang up a Daiso (dollar store) shower curtain with sticky hooks (also from Daiso) in an attempt to keep a few things dry-ish in the mornings. I still often forget to switch back from shower mode to sink mode, so I often end up spraying myself with the shower later in the morning when I am fully dressed and on my way to work. Because the bathroom floors in Korea are often wet, there is always a pair of slippers/flip-flops available to keep your funky graphic Korean socks dry.
My bedroom is pretty standard – bed, dresser, desk and night table. The interesting thing is that one wall is covered with squishy wall paper. If there was a sudden shift in gravity, I could sleep quite comfortably on the one wall because it has a layer of foam on it. You would think foam walls would mean a quiet apartment, but I can still hear my neighbours pee.
Summers are hot and winters are cold in Daegu. Ondols keep my apartment warm(ish). Ondols use a traditional heating system that uses warm water to heat up the floors. There is a control panel where I can switch the ondols on when I am home and turn them off when I leave. Ondols feel good on your feet, but I am a big baby when it comes to the cold so I also bought a space heater to keep the air in my apartment warm (and some fuzzy Disney socks). Note that one should NEVER wear outside shoes on someone else’s ondles. This is a big no-no in Korea. I have to take my outdoor shoes off at the gym, work and even some restaurants. Personally, I prefer to be in my socks so I am a big fan of this.
The labels on my laundry machine are all written in Hangul (Korean). When I first arrived, I tried to translate the buttons on Google, but now I just press the big button and hope for the best. It seems to work out okay. There is no dryer, so I hang my laundry up near an open window. Some apartments, like mine, have a sort of sunroom area, like an enclosed balcony where laundry is hung to dry. It is quite humid in Daegu so drying can be a multi day process. Even then somethings still never dry.
The Front Door
The best part about my apartment is that I don’t need a key! All of the apartments here use an electronic combination lock pad on the front door. There is no need to worry about getting locked out. When I eventually move back to Canada, I foresee many lock outs as I transition my brain back to making sure I have a key before leaving the house! The door, like most in Korea, is metal so I often find flyers for take out food stuck on my door with magnets. Now all I have to do is learn how to order food on the phone in Korean….
And there you have it my friends, my cozy little hovel I call home 🙂