Friday, October 25, 2013

An evening of classical music

Two of Rochelle's coteachers invited us to join them in attending the Youhwa Muse Ensemble's 10th Regular Concert in Dongsong last night. They played a total of 15 concise pieces from composers like Mozart, Vivaldi, Bach, and Handel. Also on the set list was the Korean folk anthem "Arirang," a song so good that the group reprised as an encore. "Arirang" is a national treasure for Koreans; a song of hope and longing that has been played and sang for generations. Indeed, R and I enjoy the song as well. I don't know all of the words (yet), but the melody carries the mood well. 

We actually arrived quite early because of a misreading of the schedule, but that was fine. It gave us all time to chat and talk about our respective classes. It was also good that we arrived early because lots of people came to the concert. The concert was free for anyone in the area, too. What an excellent way to spend a Thursday night. Special thanks to her coteachers for the ride to the hall and the ride home to Wasu. It's events like this that make Cheorwon a great place to live. It may be rural, but it isn't lifeless!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Boys middle school water cooler

All the schools I've been in have water coolers instead of fountains, yet few students have cups or water bottles of their own. The boys middle school has anywhere between 1 and 5 cups set out at any given time. 
The very public nature of the cups makes me think the boys must get sick often, but maybe that's my American paranoia. 
I do find it interesting that few of them have their own water bottles. 
And for all the running around that they do, I don't see much of any water drinking happening.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Oppan tractor style!

Here's the vehicle of choice for many farmers and older folks in rural Korea: A field tiller hitched to a two wheel trailer. They don't go faster than 5 miles per hour, but they're everywhere out here. The car shop across the street uses their tractor/tiller to crush aluminum cans. One of the guys dumps a bunch of cans on the driveway and proceeds to drive the tractor over them. It works.

I'll have more updates later. The past few weeks have been busy with conferences and exams. There hasn't been much time to write, but I've plenty of topics in the the pipeline. As it happens, we teachers in Gangwon have the annual conference in Yangyang to go to this Friday. It'll be a one day affair this time and it will involve waking up early for the drive there, but we'll make it a good time.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Cost of living: Utility bills

For anyone interested in coming to Cheorwon, here’s a table with the usual expenses for utilities and amenities...

For those who’re new to Cheorwon or Gangwon-do in general, here’s what you can expect to pay during your time here. By now you've probably had one or more bills come due, so I hope this helps with planning your budgets!

Based on 2 years of living here, here are my monthly utility expenses in KRW (won):

Gas (Heating/hot water)
8,000 (warm weather)-275,000 (winter)

Apartment maintenance
Internet (KT Olleh)
60,000 (For a smart phone)
Note: Before I switched to a smart phone, my “dumb phone” bill ranged from 30,000 to 80,000 per month based on usage.. The smart phone bill follows a flat rate.
Total per month

Note: The 275,000won bill came about because I was running the heat every day during the winter in 2012. I learned my lesson and only ran it for a couple hours at night during the winter of 2013. As a result, the expenses dropped ~100,000 won.

Heating can be expensive because our apartments use LP (propane) gas to heat the ondol floors. The LPG comes in a tanks, so it is not connected to a gas line like many other areas are.

Warm weather means roughly April to September.

Also: Apartment maintenance, Internet, and phone bills are automatically debited from my bank account. All other bills are paid at the bank.