After (almost) 6 weeks of being in the country, I finally got my first paycheck from work. No one really warns you ahead of time that it will take that long to get paid (or that $200 for three months is going to get taken out of it for your apartment deposit). But regardless it is still a moment to celebrate!
I didn't exactly go crazy, but I started walking around my little area (still need to post pictures, I apologize) and found a lot of expensive stores that I really couldn't afford -- eg. Marc Jacobs, Armani, Prada, etc. People here drive Audi R8s, they can certainly afford it, but on a teacher's salary unfortunately that isn't the case. So I settled on the lovely Daiso, the "dollar" store and stocked up on some cute looking pens and candy I thought the kids would like. Once I exited the store, lo and behold what did I see?
Seeming to call out to me from the distance. Glowing in all it's glory was a little store with a white front.
I walked in expected a small store with a few of the same kind of shoes all over the place and storekeepers who follow you speaking Korean even though it's apparent that you don't understand a word that they are saying, but it was a store that you would see in a magazine about budding entrepreneurs somewhere out in Chicago or Paris. They had a nature motif with heels delicately hanging on branches on the wall. And mountains of shoes places precariously on blocks.
Needless to say I did buy a cute pair of heels.
They gave me a discount :) I'm assuming because I'm a blonde American girl in a shoe store run by three Korean guys. Yes, guys. No women. Score. The three men were all very nice and knew some English so we chatted briefly about where I'm from and what I'm doing here. The girl I sat down next to to try on my awesome shoes was also very interested in trying out her English.
I'm honestly just excited to have found a little place that wasn't ridiculous over-priced and within walking distance besides Daiso. The one bad thing about living in Bundang, even though it's a very wealthy, clean, and safe area, is that it is really expensive and it takea about an hour to get to most places in Seoul (sometimes longer) which is where more of the affordable shopping is. Now I just have to find some place to get a purse and maybe some jeans that I can afford.
My next stop was treating myself to a nice lunch. I pass this one restaurant on my way home from work all the time so today I thought I'd try it out. I walk in, smile, and put my finger up to indicate "just one please"
"Here or go?" the young Korean waiter asked in broken English.
I point the same finger down to the ground as I say "Here please."
I could tell by his expression he had hoped it would be to go. Now he had to find someone to speak some English. Especially, as I found a few minutes later after finding a place to sit, that there was no English on the menu. Rare for nice restaurants.
After a few minutes of the waiters exchanging glances, one of the chefs or perhaps the owner comes out to help me decipher the menu.
"Oh hello," he says smiling.
Yay! English! I hate to be that person who can't speak a lick of the country's language but if I waited to learn how to speak Korean before I went into a restaurant I would starve. I had learned a few Korean dishes but they sadly did not have of the few meals I could think of.
He explains the menu to me and even suggests a soup to me. Sausage stuffed with beef and pork's head (gross I know, but surprisingly tasty) in a broth with green onions, rice, and clear noodles.
It was delicious :)
He also gave me a little dish with brine and tiny shrimp and said I should put the sausage into it and see if I like it. I did lol.
I paid my bill, chatted to the chef/owner/personal-food-savior, and made my way back home.
Overall, a good way to spend (part of) my saturday and first paycheck.