I am on my fifth day in Korea and it has been everything and nothing like I expected. My school is amazing as well as my accommodations. I have my own classroom equipped with a 40 inch flat screen and a wall of windows. Once I buy another cord for my camera (of course I brought the wrong one) I will post pictures.
How I learned of Korean showers
I arrived at my new apartment late Monday night. Initially, it was far beyond my expectations. All my furniture is new, albeit hard, and I have plenty of space. However, my elations soon dissapated when I realized I didn't have a shower. That night I sponged the layers of travel grime off in the kitchen sink with freezing water and my least-favorite favorite shirt. I will have to say that first night was my lowest point in Korea. I used my towel as a pillow, curled up into a ball and wondered how the hell I was going to clean myself everyday before work. Around 3 am, both jet-lag and my bladder woke me up. I went to the bathroom and attempted to wash my hands. Suddenly, I was doused with freezing cold water. I look around and my toiletpaper and all of the dirty clothes I had absentmindedly thown on the bathroom floor were also drenched. In Korea, the entire bathroom is the shower and the shower hose is attatched to the bathroom sink. So, I was freezing, soaking wet in my multi-layered pajamas, at three in the morning and all I could do was laugh.
Leslie Russell in: The mystery of Korean hot water
For the first week, I had been at the whim of my hot water heater. I could not figure out when the hot water god's felt like giving my heated H2O. I would periodically check and if the faucet yeilded steaming water...I jump in my bathroom/shower. Most people have computers running their life...me a water heater. Anyhow, in order to solve this mystery we must return to my first night in Korea. I entered a freezing apartment and found the thermostat to be entirely in Korean. Of course, I pushed all the buttons until a green light turned on and I felt warmer. Easy enough. The following week, I used the time honored system of--if I feel cold, turn on the heat; if I feel hot, turn off the heat and open a window. It is an inexact science but effective. Now, in Korea, everytime you want to use hot water you have to turn it on. So what I actually did, on that fateful button pressing night, was turn the hot water on and the heat off. So when I was in my closed-window/heat phase, I was actually in hot water mode and the heating pipes heated the apartment and vise versa. Mystery solved! I can now take hot showers at my own discression. Now all I need is a sleuth's jacket and the Hardy Boys. Eat-it hot water heater!
Why I need Amanda to keep track of both me and my belongings.
Due to a series of Leslie Brand Mistakes (trademark), I had left my purse (so therefore my apartment keys) in my locked classroom. I returned to school with two Americans (one of which I had just met hours before) at around 7pm and the janitor was luckily waiting for us. I thought his presence meant easy access to my purse, in actuality, it meant one more person to catch me if I fell off a second story ledge. Korean janitors don't have access to the interior rooms, they also don't clean for that matter but that is a different story. To prevent having to sleep on the streets that night, I was boosted onto the seconds story ledge of my school. From there, I shimmied across the small ledge and monkeyed around the pillars until I finally reached an open window about brow level. In a dress, I swung my leg above my head to get my heal in the window. Stupidly, I look down (I was momentarily stuck so I had some free time), the two Americans were doubled over in laughter while the tiny, Korean, janitor stood directly below me, lighting me with a flood light with both arms out in case I fell. This poor man would not have stood a chance. Luckily, I was able to awkwardly tumble head first through the window. Needless to say, it was a great first impression and the entire school now knows about the awkward American who climbs through windows instead of doors.