C told me the landlady called to say she would clean the aircon… eventually.
“I’m sorry, I thought she had already cleaned it when you asked months ago… She also asked if you knew of any other foreign teachers and to recommend them to live there.”
“The previous teacher didn’t put down a deposit.”
“Oooooh. Oh no.”
In Korea you can put down “key money” which is a deposit you get back after your lease. The higher the key money, the lower your monthly rent. Average key money for a nice apartment is about 10,000USD or 5,000USD for a small place like mine. There is an option to max out the deposit at say 150,000USD and never pay rent (the landlord collects the interest and after your lease you get all the money back; great if you’re already rich).
Since the native teacher from five years ago didn’t have any money for a deposit and still opted to find her own place versus using the school’s selection, the rent was maximized.
I guess it makes more sense why the principal cornered me to say how expensive the apartment was, even though she had every opportunity, every year, to move the native teacher to a cheaper and closer place…
“Why would I help her out? She didn’t do anything for me, I’m not doing anything for her. And what, she thinks I’m actually going to find her another foreigner to scam? Get out of here.”
“Yes, I think she’s very weird.” C agreed with her own quiet condemnation.
I’m itching to move out of this shoe box but also hyper aware of the countdown clock and how little time remains in the place that started the next chapter of my life.
Having a salary and and a schedule offers its own comfort and I do feel pinpricks of nervousness of not having an income for the next six months. On a work-seeking visa it’s illegal for me to gain any income so no money can go into my Korean account. Can’t say I look forward to it constantly dropping over time… I wonder if I can offer conversation exchanges for a meal?
In the end having enough is more important than having a lot. I have US funds to draw from if I somehow drain my entire Korean account in half a year.
Luckily Korean life is not too expensive if I avoid weekend trips, and I’ve found that living in a small country comes with its own perks: shipping three fifty-pound suitcases from Seoul to Busan, with the logistics company picking them up from my home directly, runs about… 15 dollars. Yes, 15. I shudder to think of the cost in the US.
Things are going to change here pretty soon but seeing as I made the biggest change fifteen months ago, life decisions don’t seem so daunting anymore.
This is the last week of the semester and the connection I have with my students is slipping more each day. It’s hard to maintain a relationship when I am no longer their primary teacher and I only interact with them thirty minutes a week.
It’ll be easier to let go, then, I suppose.
Today, honestly, I’m just feeling done. It’s a weird end to a weird semester and I’m looking forward to starting anew.