Last Tuesday I had my last tutoring session with Sunny. We ended up just talking the whole time. She spent the first hour opening up about how she was bullied at school and I didn’t have the heart to stop her. When I noticed we only had a half hour left, Sunny said “Well it’s the last session anyway” but she picked up a pencil anyway. But I thought she was right and said “screw it” so we just chatted for the last half hour. I’m quite sad about not tutoring her anymore. I told her how grateful I was that I got her as a student and she said she had fun talking to me. We exchanged goodbyes, hugged three times, and sent long farewell texts. It was a bit dramatic. If I were to tutor more middle school kids, I’d like them to be just like Sunny.
Wednesday, I had my interview! It was definitely different from how interviews go in America. I managed to find the place alright and the first thing I did was take a test, along with four other candidates. The test was about editing and proofreading and it was actually quite difficult, even though I’m an English major. After the hour-long test, I waited for my exam to be graded before going in for an interview. The interview was the oddest part. We didn’t talk about the job at all. We just chatted about Korea and translation and other such things. I think maybe he was just getting a feel for me and my personality but it felt weird leaving the office after that. The hiring manager was worried about my low level of Korean and the fact that I won't have my documents for at least 2 weeks. But I think that I still have a chance because I killed the exam, my writing samples are strong, and everyone I talked to seemed to like me. We’ll see.
Thursday Jihye sent me on yet another TVXQ mission, this time to Gimpo Airport. Yunho is the representative for Jeju Air and I guess there was some promo with a free poster that she wanted me to get. I took the train all the way to Gimpo and, alas, all the posters were gone. Do we still say sold out if they were free? I felt a little bad because this was the first time I didn’t get what Jihye wanted but I had to move my plans to go do that and it took a big chunk of time so I didn’t feel too bad. I was disappointed that I didn’t get a Yunho poster.
Friday, I went to the Dongdaemun Craft Mall. I’ve been wanting to buy the stuff to make a DIY phone case since I returned to Korea but no one would go with me. It just kept being pushed off so I finally just decided to go by myself. I’m so happy I did. The Dongdaemun Craft Mall is huge and has four buildings so I actually went into the wrong one first but I figured that out pretty quickly and made my way to the right floor in the right block. The phone cases you can make are basically where you pick out cute charms and then glue them with colored glue to a blank phone case. I just went all out and picked every charm that I thought was adorable. I realized that I had too many charms for one case so I decided to buy two cases and two colored glues but when I handed my stuff to the vendor, I started to freak out about the price. The vendor took a long time tallying the total up because each individual charm has its own price and that process gave me time to panic. I didn’t even look at the prices for all my charms and I didn’t hold back either. I started thinking about if it went over 50,000 won and how I would be okay as long as it wasn’t more than that but then the vendor looks up and says “25,000 won.” That’s it? Can you believe that? I was so happy. I paid him his money and practically skipped out of the building. I’m very happy with my purchase and I’m saving the craft for a day when I have nothing to do.
All the stuff I got for 25,000 won
layout for character case
layout for food case
Saturday, I met up with Soojung for the first time since she bailed on me for the Mud Festival. Neither of us mentioned it, which I thought was a good idea because I probably would have blown up if she tried to make some excuse. Anyway, we met up to tried Hwo Gwo, which is the Korean name for a Chinese hot pot dish that I don’t know how to describe. It’s the Chinese version of Shabu Shabu, in a yinyang-like pot. It’s a dish that has multiple soups/sauces that are boiling and you put the ingredients in. Soojung’s really been wanting to try this dish and at this particular store in Hongdae so we went. It actually wasn’t that good. I think part of it may have been that the tastes were incredibly unfamiliar. Like, I can’t even tell you what it tasted like. And I think I’m allergic to something that was in it because my left hand swelled up and felt numb and I got a rash for two days. I actually liked the middle sauce the best but it took me like halfway through the meal to figure it out. I also got to try lotus root and lamb, which I was happy about, but I wouldn’t have to go eat Hwo Gwo again.
Afterwards, Soojung and I walked around a bit. There’s a quiet, little park with a walking path and a stream that we walked about but it was such a change from Hongdae that it was hard to adjust. When we turned around, I mentioned that there was a bunny café in the area and we decided to go there. I love bunnies; I raised one for eight years and adored him. We found the place with little difficulty and paid for a half hour with the rabbits. There were maybe twenty rabbits there in cages and two pen areas. The rabbits were rotated between the pens and the cages depending on how tired they were. Soojung and I put on aprons and sat on cushions and played with maybe seven rabbits. I bought some food to bring in so the bunnies would love me and that worked pretty well. I really liked it but my only criticism is that they don’t clean up after the bunnies as much as they should so the bunnies’ feet were all wet from stepping in their own pee. That was gross but if you come prepared and don’t let them touch you where the apron isn’t, it’s fine. The employees were nice and spoke English and the bunnies were super sweet. One of the bunnies actually peed on Soojung though so we left after that.
We then made our way, around 10, to some bakery that Soojung had been to before. The cake there was really good. Soojung picked a chocolate ball with honey cream inside and I picked the tropical cake, which was mostly mango with raspberry highlights. It was amazing. I love raspberry so I would 100% go back and get that again. There was a Nutella cake that I want to try too. The honey one honestly wasn’t as good but that’s because the chocolate was too rich. I also got an incredibly strong cappuccino smoothie which was responsible for me not being able to sleep that night. I never used to be affected by caffeine but I guess I’m getting old. After chatting for a while, we parted ways for the night.
Sunday, I met with Byul so that we could plan our trip for this weekend. We went to Garosugil to have lunch first and then went to a café to plan. Byul wanted to go to a hamburger place but I don’t eat hamburgers so we ended up going to a Mexican restaurant called Gamsung Taco. It was fantastic. I can’t emphasize that enough. I was like moaning with every bite. We order shrimp fajitas and the plate came out with two kinds of shrimp, one chili and one with a cheese sauce, and tator tots. The tator tots were actually so good. There was also multiple sauces to put in with the fajitas. It was so, so good, although a touch expensive. Definitely recommend.
After lunch, we moved to a café to plan. We hadn’t picked a city yet but I quickly found out that Byul basically had her mind set on Tongyeong and she wasn’t going anywhere else. If I suggested a place, she talked about all the negatives, despite the fact that her suggestion is 5 hours away and we’re only going for one night. I honestly think it’s ridiculous to spend that much time traveling something to stay such a short time and it’s incredibly expensive too but I couldn’t pull out of the trip without throwing a fit so we’re going. We bought bus tickets and reserved a hotel and thought out the activities for our first day. I’m trying to be excited because it looks beautiful and we picked some fun activities like yachting and luging, but I get severely motion sick so that could ruin it all, on top of draining me of my little remaining funds. Planning took a long time so we could have eaten dinner together but I needed to save money and I was honestly kind of pissed at Byul for not thinking of me at all so we parted ways.
Monday, I skyped my family. My brother’s birthday is coming up so we talked about that, in addition to what we did over the week. My sister moved up to her college so she wasn’t there. I’ll have to set aside some time to skype her and my other brother separately.
Monday night, Jihye flew back to Korea so I went over to Ehwa to help her with her bags and bring her the TVXQ things I had. It was ridiculous. I got caught in the rain without an umbrella because I didn’t think I could carry an umbrella in addition to her stuff. Then, Jihye’s bus didn’t go where she told me so I had to walk all the way back to the station, where I had just walked from. Finally, I see Jihye and her friend, who also flew in that day. Jihye had three bags and one of them was a piece of shit. It was honestly the worst bag I have ever had the misfortune to meet. Picture a duffle but with wheels on the bottom so there’s no solid structure to hold the bag up. The wheels went all way they wanted and you couldn’t pull it by the straps because it would pull over. You had to just grab the material and try your goddamn best to not let it fall over. I was elected to handle that bag because I was the shortest and could just pull the main part without bending too much. It was an absolute joke. I ended up just dragging the thing through hard sections of the sidewalk because it wouldn’t move a feet without falling over and I was sweating like a pig before we made it to Jihye’s place, which was like a mile away by the way. We decided that I was the bag whisperer though because Jihye tried to take over for me for a little bit and she made it maybe ten feet in a minute before I took it back. It’s one of those memories that you know you’re going to laugh about later but we were laughing then too because it was either laugh or cry and give up. And to think, we could have just taken a taxi for 5,000 won.
After that long trial, the three of us went out for dinner at a kimchi chigae place. I’m not too much of a chigae person but it was pretty darn good. Plus, I got to know Jihye’s friend Norma, whose name I only asked as I was panting in front of Jihye’s door. Norma is interesting and she seems nice. After dinner, I went home because the time was nearing the last subway train.
Tuesday, I met Jihye again. We were originally supposed to go to the Hangang Summer Festival, which had an International Food Festival and a Fire Performance that day but, just my luck, it rained all day and those outside events were cancelled. So our Plan B was to have Jihye come to Konkuk and we would go to a meat bar and maybe noraebang. Well, Jihye took a nap and slept through her alarm so we had to make a Plan C. I took the train to Ehwa for the second day in a row and we ate a very late dinner at her favorite Korean BBQ place. There’s always good food there but the chairs are uncomfortable. Given how late it was, dinner was all we got to do before I had to take the subway home.
Wednesday, Jihye and I went to the SM Town Complex to get some TVXQ cheesecake at the SUM café. I also bought the TVXQ flavored tea, which was mango flavored. Both items were good but expensive, as is anything that SM releases. They certainly know how to make money off of fangirls. We happened to run into someone Jihye knew named Jade so she hung out with us for a while. The three of us went to dinner after chatting for a while and checking out the other floors of the SM Town Complex. Jihye knew a guk-bab (soup with rice in it) place nearby so we walked there. The gukbab was actually really good. I had no expectations whatsoever but the meat was very tender and I think I might have to check out gukbab more often. There were some awkward pauses in conversation and I got the impression that Jade and Jihye didn’t really know each other very well. After dinner, we went home a bit early, like 10, which I was incredibly glad for because I got a cold or the flu or something on Tuesday and everything hurt. The pressure in my sinuses was so bad Tuesday night that it hurt to close my eyes. It was a relief to go home and be able to blow my nose in private and cower beneath the covers.
Changmin's countdown til he's released from military service
TVXQ tea, cheesecake, and Yunho
Today is Thursday and nothing has gone my way today. The company I interviewed for wants a second interview which is super great and I’m excited for but there are two problems. 1) the timing is bad and 2) they want a Skype interview for some reason. The timing is bad because I have a cold, which doesn’t give best impression. Also, I had planned on spending Thursday and Friday running a bunch of errands that I had to do, recovering from my cold, and applying for jobs. Having the interview via Skype also puts me in a bad position. Do I do it in my goshiwon where they can see my room but the internet is good or do I do it in a café where it might look more professional but the internet might be bad and there could be noise from other people? I decided to add ‘scouting out cafes’ to my list of errands.
When I went out to run errands, I thought to myself that the most important things were to withdraw money from the bank and buy my CDs. It was supposed to rain all day but it hadn’t rained a drop and it was sunny outside so I left the goshiwon in flip flops and without an umbrella. I went to the bank first to withdraw the money Sunny’s mom paid me for tutoring, which was my primary task to help pay for this weekend’s trip with Byul. However, the lady at the bank tells me I need my passport to do a withdrawal, which I didn’t bring because I didn’t need it last time. It was total bullshit and she was wrong but she didn’t speak any English and my Korean wasn’t good enough to argue with her. So I left the bank pissed off at people who can’t do their job. I then went to the mall to buy some CDs that I’ve been meaning to. I went today because Taeyang’s album was released yesterday and I wanted to put the songs on my iPod for the trip. I was originally also going to go to Auntie Anne’s pretzels and Taco Bell to get dinner as rewards to myself but I was so pissed off that I decided to skip those in the mall. I went to the CD store, something and Bundi, and guess what? They didn’t have Taeyang’s album yet, which was the entire fucking reason I went today. So I didn’t get my money or my CD, which were my main tasks. But, I bought the other CDs I wanted and left.
When I went outside, it was raining. Of course. It was just a little mist so I thought it was fine. I had about a mile to walk to go pick up dinner and scout out cafes for tomorrow. So, on my walk, it starts pouring. I make it to Subway to pick up food for dinner but when I leave the store, it’s become a complete downpour. And I’m wearing a white T-shirt. I couldn’t run home either because I was wearing flip flops that got slippery and difficult to wear in the rain. On the way home, my CD bag broke open from all the rain but that was fine because I clutched the CDs to my chest to cover my cleavage. My shirt was so soaked through at this point that I looked like a contestant in a White T-Shirt Contest. I was so distracted trying to cover my chest and trying not to break my shoes that I forgot to look for cafes. On top of all this, I realized that my rent was due tomorrow and I hadn’t gotten money from my Korean account so I had to go to the ATM to withdraw money from my American account. I eventually made it home, completely soaked through, and hung up my clothes to dry. I also asked a friend to call my landlord and ask if I could stay for two weeks and only pay half-rent. He told her that I couldn’t do that but she told him that I would still leave after two weeks. Sigh. I can’t really be mad because I asked her for help. I really need to just do things myself. So now I have to try and explain to my landlord, who doesn’t speak a lick of English, that I will actually stay a month unless he can give me some sort of discount, in which case I still want to stay a couple more days than two weeks. It’s just so complicated. Oh, I also have no phone service now because each time I go to try and pay for more minutes, they tell me something different. I'm sure there are a lot of things missing from this blog post, details mostly, but I'm so done.
So, I have my interview tomorrow and a bunch more chores and things to do. Then, I’m going on my super expensive trip to Tongyeong this weekend. It all seems so exhausting so hopefully I’ll get the job and my trip will be fun. Wish me luck. Hopefully I used up all my bad luck today.