Friday, September 24, 2010

I Need to Study Korean More

I seriously wish I could magically speak Korean fluently.

I spent a cumulative 9 months studying, and I was actually getting somewhere, but then I got so busy that I couldn't keep up with it. And now that it's been a few months since I last studied, I can definitely tell that I've forgotten a lot. Back then, I was close to being able to complete a basic conversation, and now I'm back to totally lost.

More than anything, it's frustrating that I can't do things on my own here. If I could speak Korean fluently, I could call and book the moving company or call my landlady on my own. I wouldn't have to bug my friends to do everything for me.

I really, really want to get better at Korean. But it's going to take a lot of time and energy. I studied Spanish for five years and I can barely speak a word of it, so I hoping that I have better luck with Korean. Sometimes I feel like I'm really stupid when it comes to languages, which is super frustrating. It doesn't help that I constantly get 'But you've been here for three years. Why don't you speak Korean more?'

So, my goal for this year... Study Korean and become semi-fluent. I think I can do it...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

We're Moving In!

The lease is signed and the deposit put down.

That's right, we're finally moving in to our brand new apartment.

We went in to take a second look at the apartment yesterday with New Roomie's boyfriend and he deemed it wonderful. So then we headed down to the real estate agent's office to sign all the lease papers and hand over the first month's rent. Our landlord seems nice enough, but he stressed that we need to pay on time each month and he likes a quiet building. I guess that means no housewarming party. Or maybe we'll just do a really small one with close friends only. I've already hosted two, so it's not a big deal to skip out on one for this place. Besides, as of move-in day, we only have the one couch, so not much room for people to sit just yet.

Anyway, we move in on Sunday, which leaves Friday to call the moving company, cable company and figure out how to get rid of my old couch. Sounds simple enough, it's not really. And I need to tell my landlady that we're leaving on the 26th, so I can get my deposit money back for the new place.

So, life is a little hectic now with all the packing and calling and everything that needs to get done. But at least I know that on Sunday night, I'll be cuddled up in my bed in my new room. I'm just hoping that I can get out of the old place and into the new with relative ease. We'll see how that goes with a pissed off Old Roomie (not my fault she took off to Taiwan without telling me and now she has less than a day to pack up and move...) and a slightly damaged old apartment that I'm leaving behind. Yeesh... I've got a ton of cleaning to do the next couple of days...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Light at the End of the Tunnel

I think we’re finally nearing the end of the apartment quest. We went to look at five places yesterday in our primary location and were pleasantly surprised. None were like the apartment I looked at over the weekend which seemed perfect but was too expensive (and I think someone else signed on it… if I understood the agent correctly) but I think we’ve found one that we can call home.

The first four were all in Gunja-dong in between Gunja Station and Children’s Grand Park Station. They were all great location-wise, being within a 5 to 10 minute walk to my roommate’s university, the park (for walking the dog) and the subway station for my commute. However, they weren’t quite right in regards to quality and size. They were all two-rooms, but either the living room wasn’t the right size or shape or one of the rooms wasn’t big enough, or the washing machine was in the bathroom or the inside was just old and couldn’t be touched up. But pricing had a good range from cheap to slightly over our limit.

By the time we were pulling up to the last building, we had decided that while we didn’t like any of the apartments enough to sign a lease, we did like our agent and felt she was working very hard for us. And then we noticed the building we had pulled up to. The first thing we noticed about the last apartment was that it was a bit farther away. It’s located in Junggok-dong, which is a little north of Gunja Station, almost closer to Junggok Station. Still, it’s only about a 10 or so minute walk to Gunja subway station, 15-20 minute walk from the university and park, and there are several buses that pick up just down the street that run to the university and to subway Line 2 (Konkuk University where I live now).

The building is fairly new with a clothing store on the first floor. The apartment was on the fourth floor and had one of those nifty camera/doorbell combos. The door to the building also had a keypad entry. When we stepped into the apartment, the first thing we noticed was light. Lots of light. There were two big windows in the kitchen/living room area and each bedroom had a giant window. There were no buildings tall enough to obstruct the view, so one side of the apartment has a gorgeous look of Acha Mountain and sunlight fills the entire apartment. And it’s new. Completely new. No one has lived there new. We loved the windows and the layout, especially that the washing machine has its own little cubby hole. The bathroom is a good size with room for us to put up a partition between the shower and sink. And both bedrooms are large enough for queen beds, our clothing racks and a desk.

We loved it. The location wasn’t perfect, but we’ve been looking so long, that we both decided it would be worth it to live a little farther out if we could have a new apartment, for less money, with a quiet neighborhood.

We’re negotiating to see if we can get the deposit lowered for a higher rent. My roommate’s boyfriend should be taking care of that, so for now, I can just sit back and wait. It’s kind of nice to just focus on packing and such without having to run off to real estate appointments every morning. Hopefully things get worked out soon. I’d like to get a move-in day settled as soon as possible. At least before someone takes this apartment, too.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Why Work is Frustrating

I came to the sudden and unsuspected realization yesterday that I actually really care about my job.

I say unexpected because I've always told myself that while I take my job seriously, it is not something that I want to do forever. In fact, it's more like what I do now just to get experience in broadcasting and pay the bills. I've always tried to do well, but I didn't really care to really excel in copy-editing.

But I've noticed that over the past few months, I've become more vocal. Instead of just quietly editing things and not making too many changes to articles, I've begun tearing chunks apart, rewriting and really fact-checking.

On the one hand, I feel like I'm really doing something to improve the quality of the news that goes out on air. On the other hand, work is a bit more tiring and stressful. I spend about 10 to 15 minutes per story on average, if it's a story that has a familiar background or if it's relatively well written. However, a few reporters seem to have gotten a little bit, shall we say, lazy over the summer. And we've been getting into arguments a lot the last few months over facts, grammar, leads and story angles.

Some of the reporters that I've previously had great working relationships with seem to doubt me when I say that I think something is wrong with what they wrote. Half the time, I'm just asking them to double check something because I think it sounds wrong, but I can't read the Korean sources. The other half of the time, I know it's wrong because it's a story/grammar rule/AP style rule that I'm familiar with.

I hate arguing with my co-workers over things like why crazy pastor wanted to set Qurans on fire or whether Joe Lieberman is a Democrat or an Independent. I hate confronting reporters who have been writing for years over unintelligible articles. But at the same time, I don't want low quality stuff going out on air. I want our watchers to understand. And it would be nice if foreigners in Korea would turn to our news program for all the latest news.

I know most of my expat friends make fun of the TV channel I work for. At times, I've made fun of it. Heck, pretty much all of my co-workers and I have talked about much of a joke it is at one point in time over the last year I've worked here. But recently, a good chunk of us have actually starting caring enough about it to try and make some positive changes in quality. I know we can't become CNN overnight. But, hey, as long as we try as least we'll be satisfied with the work we do, right?