Lost in Chungju

I’ve taken to wandering the city before going to work at the school in the mornings. It seems to be helping me get my bearings, plus it’s something to do when I can’t sleep. I love that even though Chungju is a small city there is some form of life around every corner at every hour of the day.

Yesterday was pretty frustrating. I spent about two hours looking for E-Mart (the Korean equivalent of WalMart). I knew there was one close by because I had seen it when Mr. Shin drove me home a few days ago. I finally gave up and got the Korean characters for E-Mart from Genie (she’s my boss at ESL) so I could give it to the cab driver.

The driver was very patient with me and even helped me figure out how to pay him. (I’m still having troubles getting used to the Korean won.) I got to E-Mart and was overwhelmed by the amount stuff and people. I finally found my way to the electronics section and got the converter I was looking for and a few other things for my house. I also picked up an ethernet cable so I could finally have internet at my apartment.

The cashier was not very patient with this foreigner. And I think I got yelled at in Korean. On the plus side of not knowing the language, it was pretty easy to ignore her. I also handed over exact change! (Seriously, I was totally proud of myself for this.)

Next I took a cab back to my apartment. This time the cab driver was friendly and he used his GPS to find my place from the Korean address I gave him. (Thankfully, Genie wrote this one down for me, too.) Unfortunately GPS got it wrong so then I stuck pointing across his face from the back seat saying, “left, left.” Thinking the whole time, “God, no wonder people think Americans are rude. What the hell is Korean for left?!”

Finally I was home and with a little bit of work I was able to hang some pictures I brought with me and charge my laptop with my nifty converter.

Everything was taking way more effort and time then it should have. I was trying to hammer nails into a concrete wall. So that took patience and effort. Not to mention the two times the hammer hit the nail just right to send it rocketing off the TV. Then the converter had these stupid plastic things making it almost impossible for me to shove the plug into the outlet. I finally worked it out after practically smashing my thumb off.

Then it was time to get the internets working. And this is where I failed. The cable was too big for the outlet in the wall, but just the right size for my laptop. So now I have to figure out if I need a converter for the ethernet cable, if I can just set up wireless and find someone who is willing to translate for me. This should be fun.

At least hanging up my photos made me feel a little closer to home.

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About kristamaesmith

I'm a writer based in Salt Lake City, Utah where I cheer for the Jazz, walk my dog, and spend too much money in local restaurants. I work in marketing for higher education and blog about food, travel, film, and whatever shiny moment catches my fancy.
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5 Responses to Lost in Chungju

  1. Erin Carr says:

    I remember when I got to Italy how long everything took. You don’t know where things are, you can’t ask where they are. But it gets so easy so quickly. Soon it will be like you lived there for months, becuase you have. lol I miss you! Have a great adventure. I’m glad the nails bouncing off the TV didn’t kill you in their rickshaw.
    p.s. converters are the worst. I barrowed Scotts, I almost electricuted myself. It was so big and complicated. I went out and bought the cheepest, smallest one I could find.

    • saltcitygirl says:

      Exactly. Luckily I’m getting better at reading and speaking just a few words of Korean as well as map reading. So I’m slowly getting the hang of things around here.

  2. Chris Thomas says:

    I have been reading your posts for the past week or so and have been meaning to drop you a line. I also cut my teeth in Korea and your writing has brought back lots of fond memories. I was hoping to find and scan a column I wrote during my first few weeks in the gook, but haven’t had the time to do so. I will see if I can find along with a few others that you might find amusing. In the meantime, the way to communicate to go left is “wayne joke ur-o” and right is “oran joke ur-o.” Another really helpful word I learned in my first few weeks was “ohchee.” This is used for purchasing quantities of produce or goods and simplifies the process, especially on the street or open market. You can motion at an item and say 1000 WON (chon won) ochee, or give me 1000 won worth. Otherwise it’s really difficult to try and figure out how to purchase 2 kg of apples. I hope this finds you well and learning to love Korea with all its intrigue, culture and idiosyncrasies.

    • saltcitygirl says:

      Hi Chris! Thanks for the words. I’d love to see your columns about it. I just figured out “ochee” yesterday when I bought my bike! Luckily the store owner spoke a little English and decided I also needed to learn a little Korean.

  3. Pingback: The best of 2010 | Salt City Girl

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