Can one write a Korea expat blog and not dedicate a post to one’s apartment? Would this violate the physics of the blogosphere?
I’m not about to find out. So let’s take a tour of my new digs.
My house key is no more. While I never encountered the terrifying and awkward phone calls that follow lost house keys, I’ve had a few scares.
For example, before departing Incheon for Hong Kong, my heart sank as the typical metallic poke was absent from my pockets while shuffling through the security checkpoint. I later discovered I had stashed them in my checked bag.
Nowadays, I still struggle with the irrational fear of having no keys in my pocket. But fears fade as we adapt to new circumstances.
Also, whose sexy sandals are those?
In typical Korean fashion, my apartment has a separate entry room for removing shoes. The shoe closet is surprisingly spacious, extending to the ceiling. Now all I need is shoes.
I jury-rigged a charging station above a small bookshelf for my phone and headphones. As the torn wallpaper suggests, this has taken some trials and many errors. A small basket for my phone and pocket junk complement a change bowl. I’m no handyman. I have blister-scarred hands from screwing the bookshelf together prove it.
The apartment came unfurnished – a golden opportunity to design a space around the lifestyle I want. For one, I have not sprung for chairs. The Institute let me borrow a small coffee table and I purchased some floor mats for eating meals.
This setup has been a boon to my hip flexibility. Cross-legged seating becomes easier day by day.
I also assembled and printed a poster that reads hara-hachi-bun-me. This is a Japanese expression gleaned from a Confucian proverb. It is a popular pre-meal blessing in Okinawa, where one vows to eat until they feel 80% satisfied. To be fair, I hold fast to this promise when I sit to eat. But when I stand back up and graze the fridge that I gift my stomach that remaining 20%.
The apartment came with a gorgeous television. I’ll shed a single tear as it gathers dust and stays dark this year.
In true frat-boy fashion, loosely-hung sports jerseys serve as my primary wall decorations.
Like my past pad, this unit keeps the laundry machine in subtle separation from the rest of the apartment. I can wash and hang my clothes by the sunlight and fresh air for efficient drying (though rainy days complicate things).
I purchased a box fan for ventilation and a small vacuum for cleaning. One issue with my neighborhood is ongoing sub-street construction. I think the city is replacing subterranean gas lines right now. This leads to occasional water shutoffs as well as a metric ton of dirt tracked in from the muddy streets.
The kitchen is small, but still a bit larger than my Namak home. For one, this kitchenette has the blessing of counter space. My water bottle serves as a sexy model.
The sink is large enough to chop plenty of vegetables, the appliances are brand new (the whole apartment is only a couple of months old), and there’s even a compartment below the stove for smaller appliances. In lieu of a microwave, I raise you a slow cooker and electric kettle.
The only disappointment I felt from this apartment was the bathroom. My old bathroom was substantially larger. A small glass partition separated the sink and the shower.
This time, the sink and the shower are one. A knob atop the faucet must align with the correct setting to avoid a surprise soaking.
A state flag and sports jerseys really give the apartment a freshman college dorm room vibe :P. I’m happy to stay young-at-heart and low-key ashamed of my aesthetic stagnation.
One big blessing was a built-in wardrobe. I can store all of my clothing and then some. Now I wonder if I over-stripped my closet in Namak. Maybe I could have kept that puke-green stained Value Village Nike jacket after all.
Gas line construction butted up against a gambling computer café provide a scintillating view.
In terms of overall square footage, I cannot tell if this place is larger or smaller than my old one-room studio. While my new unit offers partitioned rooms (Korean realtors call it a two-room), I quietly pine for the open floor space of my old home.
But the place is brand new with brand new appliances. There is a lovely park with pull-up bars and a pagoda for meditation right next door. Work is a 10-minute walk away. I have no complaints.
The unfurnished state also allowed me to engineer an environment that suits the habits I want. I want a place to eat, sleep, clean my clothes, and clean myself. Ian is not much of a nester.
So this place is perfect for me. While I currently consider it just a “new apartment,” as the weeks pass I hope to consider it “home.”