New Dormitory at Hankuk University
The office liaison told me to come to the office and meet him at three p.m. that afternoon and he would take me to the new dorm. On my way to the office, I ran into him by a nearby coffee shop. He asked if I had time to go to the new dormitory another day because he had an emergency.
I informed him that I had made plans for the remainder of the winter break and I couldn’t go another day. After several minutes of talking on the phone and rearranging his schedule, he said we could go to the new dorm. I should mention before he started his phone conversation he did apologize for the change in schedule by saying “Sorry.”
For the record, I am irritated every time I hear this word. The way he said it reminded me of the Korean drama “My Love From Another Star.” Throughout the drama, the female protagonist isn’t aware that she’s causing problems for the male protagonist and innocently says “Sorry,” for all of her mistakes. Is this supposed to make everything better?
As we walked together I began to tell him about my upcoming plans for the two-week break. I was going to go on a DMZ tour and to a Confucius Ceremony. I informed him of my plans I have to admit so that he could see that I was also interested in Korean culture, not just Kpop music and Korean food.
I noticed the streets were empty partially because of the advisory warning. I should mention for anyone who has never traveled to East Asia about the yellow dust (Hwang Sa) or the air pollution. Because of the yellow dust warning, residents are advised to limit outdoor activities.
My new dorm was up a steep hill. It was five blocks up a hill to be exact. As I walked up the hill I finally saw a laundromat in the neighborhood. The excitement of seeing a washer and a drier is only realized after you have lived without one, yet remember the convenience of having a washer/dryer back home. We kept walking up the hill close to Kyung Hee University.
I had two fifty pound pieces of luggage, a winter blanket, cleaning supplies and a tea kettle that I had recently purchased. How was I going to carry each item by hand at least ten blocks to my new dormitory?
At the top of the hill on the corner of the street was a Halal convenience store. It was even closer than the 7-Eleven convenience store near my previous dormitory.
Dormitory Apartment Building
Once again he quickly explained the keypad code to get inside the building. The three-story building had a glass sliding door entrance. There was black and grey speckled marble flooring and a water filtration unit located on the second floor. He took me to the first-floor, apartment #103.
I walked into my single dorm room. This semester I paid a little more money to move into a single dormitory. Inside this dormitory not only did I have a full-sized mahogany wood bed frame, but I also had my own personal washing machine and a small kitchen with a stove top and sink. I had gotten used to not cooking and eating out every day. Although it was more money I didn’t believe I would change my habits, however, it was great to have the option.
We went outside to the entrance of the dormitory and he met with another office personnel. As we were walking down the hill I became a silent observer as they chatted. Before we reached the middle of the hill I quickly made a hasty retreat and went to a nearby Panini restaurant.
I can only say: “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength.” The strength that it took to roll two pieces of luggage, my winter blanket, household cleaning supplies and a tea kettle those ten blocks required a strength that I didn’t know I possessed.
I started moving my luggage at seven o’clock in the morning and didn’t finish until it was closer to three in the afternoon. Granted I took a brief nap after I completed two complete trips up the hill. I started with my heavier luggage first and eventually, after my nap, I moved my blankets and household merchandise.
My consultation was the main campus student body was not in session and neither were the students at Kyung Hee University. Fewer people were out, which meant there were fewer people watching me, sweaty, tired, and giving myself a pep talk out loud with every step, to just keep moving, even though my body wanted me to stop.
I know that I alone didn’t complete this move, whatever name you choose in prayer and mindfulness, I know that someone was with me that day. There were many times I wanted to sit down while I was moving and give up or start throwing items away. Anything would have been easier than the back and forth trips.
However, just like with my Korean language studies, little by little I was making progress. Finally, after five trips back and forth, I got everything moved into my new dorm room. I would save unpacking for another day. I had accomplished another task alone and with sheer willpower. I didn’t know what challenges I would face next, but I believed I was ready.
If you would like to continue reading about my experience in Seoul, South Korea check out my travel diary.