Thursday, March 10, 2011

Change of Address

After an eventful and enlightening sojourn in the land of ice and maple, I hit the tarmac running upon return to Seoul. The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of activity, punctuated by short bursts of sleep between part-time work, a full time PhD and a change of address with a pregnant wife.

Here's the Queen Ant, watching TV. To say the least, it was good to see her again after a month overseas.

My wonderful wife is having a fairly smooth pregnancy, with the baby due on May 20th. She gets a little itchy at times, but is generally walking around with her hands on her tummy and a big grin. The most common question that people ask is whether it's a boy or a girl (which we still don't know). And the second most common question is whether she has any cravings. As her master dietician, I haven't noticed her eating anything unusual, except for dried squid, dried fish and ice cream.

I'm dreaming up a recipe for a dried squid/fish pat-bing-soo.

Our unisex placeholder name for our baby is Big Baengy, a choice which often receives humourous appraise. Heather has taken up pregnant ballet classes, during which time she wears this tag. Can you imagine a large gathering of pregnant Korean women doing ballet? 

That's what occurs every Tuesday and Thursday in a mirrored gym near our place.

Upon returning to the lab, I noticed that not much had changed. Except for the fact that El Cid the Weed had become rather unkempt and was sporting dreadlocks.

I gave the fellow a little crop. Now all he needs is a suit and tie.

The lady weeds are sure to be impressed.

Those particularly observant with regards to the title of this post may have understood it to mean a change of abode. Indeed, our lease at BK International House expired after the maximum two years and we were forcibly relocated had to move out. How a PhD student can afford to live off campus on scholarship income after two years is beyond me. 

Luckily, the Queen Ant to whom I am married had been squirreling away monetary nuts in the time prior, and we had enough money for a reasonable apartment deposit.

Art Michalak, a stalwart friend of ours, showed up on the day of moving and contributed immensely to its success. He spent from morning until late afternoon lifting boxes, pushing carts and offering helpful opinions regarding placement de materiel.
Some people enjoy moving, while others harbour an immense disdain for it. I don't mind it too much myself. One golden rule that remains however, is that the act of helping someone else move house incurs a debt repayable in blood.

Or in Art's case, Mexican food.

One thing Heather goes nuts about, except for cockroaches, is mess around the house. Heather in general, is extremely mentally stable to the point where her cool and calculated response to every drama becomes somewhat soothing, although monotonously predictable.

Hypothetical situation
Lee: "Hey hun, the North has invaded and they're enslaving everyone."
Heather: "I see. What's for dinner then?"

But a dead cockroach on the other side of the road can cause her to jump out of her shoes, even while heavily pregnant. During times such as these, she'll transform miraculously into a bleating lamb, hiding behind me and ensuring the continual placement of my body between her and the dead cockroach. To a similar degree, mess around the house causes her to lose sleep at night.

By the careful stacking of boxes and the cunning placement of things unseeable to a pregnant lady, one can create the illusion of order in a messy house. Or so I found.

Stiff muscles and an aching back were rewarded with a pregnant wife sleeping soundly.

Damien Mugavin, an Australian professor at SNU, also lent us his car for the day, thereby saving us money and time. It was highly appreciated.

As a small recompense for car-borrowing, we took it through an automated car wash for Damien. Art had never seen such a thing before, although he grew up in the developed world. He is involved with the field of physics, enjoys the analysis of things and asks questions that often don't have convenient answers.

"How is the balance of soap and water achieved so that the car is optimally washed?"

As could reasonably be imagined, our new 3-bedroom dwellings have been a circus of activity in recent times. Heather's brother is now living with us, which is turning out excellently. And things are slowly finding their ordered places, in a case of unusual reverse entropy. 
Moving house in Korea is generally less painful than in the west, provided that two criteria are met: a) someone fluent in Korean is helping and b) you have the help of friends, repayable in Mexican food.

Once things are tidied up, I'll have to show you around the place.
It's nice and spacious.


Cassie said...

Congrates on arriving to the nuevo spacious apt. ^^

xenok said...

Do you still live in the same neighborhood? When I'm back in town, I look forward to seeing your new place.

pitchfest said...

Yup, same subway station... looking forward to your return.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on that new apartment. It's so great to have help when it's needed. I have been doing some downsizing, prior to moving into a smaller place. Good luck.

JP Rod said...

Hello Lee,

I just found your blog and am enjoying it, though I am sad that you are being moved out of what seemed like very nice housing accomodations. I am looking at doing a Ph.D. at SNU in Korea. In fact I am simply awaiting the results of my scholarship application.

However, I have a few questions that perhaps you would be able to answer:

a) The award is 900k won per month, is that enough to live like a normal human being or will I be forced in an abject lifestyle and beg for ramyun?
b) Which scholarship are you receiving? Is it the KGSP? I ask this question in part because that is the scholarship I applied for and I would prefer to not be forced out of the provided accomodations after 2 years. Is that also the case for the other housing option?

I think that's all the questions that were on my mind, I would deeply appreciate your thoughts on these matters. If you prefer you can simply e-mail me!

Lee Farrand said...

Hi JP,

a) 900K won is not much, but it's better than the $1 per day that most of humanity survives on. You won't save money, but you also won't starve (if you eat a lot of rice).

b) I'm not on the KGSP... I receive funding from our own laboratory's academic grant.

c) You can move into the non-BK dormitory, where there is no limit to the length of time you can stay. But it's not as nice.

Hope it helps.

Khanate said...

Thanks Lee, much appreciated :)

Moderator said...

Haha, very thorough.