Feb 13, 2016

You Live, You Learn

So says Alanis Morisette. What have I been learning so far in this big city? Quiet significant few but they can be revealing for me. Tumataas ang self-awareness at zen levels ko dito, napapansin ko lang, haha. It can be this whole situation that I am in. These transitions that I must patiently bear. I cannot complain. I cannot argue. I think I am in a better position than others of the same condition. But of course, the process is tedious. So here I am, writing, blogging. Talking to myself, in general.

What have I been learning so far. Well, learning is progressive and so far my general impressions living as an expat: 

1.) I have to double the effort (at least for now, self-taught) of learning Hangeul, the Korean alphabet. At the very least, the basic and survival. I remember when my officemate was negotiating with the realtor, they could talk a lot. But when I asked for an interpretation, it was just two sentences! Really? I cannot complain  because there are a lot of materials in the web. So many. But I have to face reality bites that still Seoul has not really been English-inclined heavy. And if I have to spend wisely my cost of living here, I need to progress in Hangeul very soon. There is a laundry shop two corners from this apartment at gustong gusto ko ng magtanong kung magkano ang magpa plantsa?

2.) The office is global, and so multi-cultural. But dominated by Korean. It is refreshing how I surprise myself in dealing with my new officemates. I believe I am still naive. Pa virgin pa. If I were aggressive, I could have flown out the window, or probably returned home, shocked and in denial. It pays to observe. It pays to be nice. It pays to be au naturelle. My German officemate is blunt. My Mexican officemate is passionate. My Indonesian officemate makes baon in the office, which I really want to replicate. My Koreans officemates have been accomodating and non-confrontational. Me, I am still collecting ammunitions. I mean, it is not that we are in competition. But I have to be good. But now, learning the ropes. Calculating some moves. Overall, they have been supportive. One thing that I like initially here is Walang Issue! Kung may issue, bato agad. Like in the meeting, my Korean female boss, in her full curiosity mild gesture while stressing a point, saying to our Mexican guy, 'why are you making that face to me?' haha. 

3. Ayoko na ng cash. It has been so inconvenient for payment. My colleagues, lahat sila credit card or debit card ang gamit. At mabilis ang transaction. Ang pangit ng feeling, promise. Here, most if not all transactions are online. It will also be my case since my rent, utility payment, salary all will be transmitted online. Of course, I need to have cash as some support. But now, I cannot even shop online. Accordingly, yan na daw dito ang ginagawa ng mga expats. Shop online na lang.

4. Today, I went to look around some place near in my semi-neighborhood. Rode a subway, then went up to Yeoungdongpu station, just a station away from our neighbourhood. Before I knew it, I was already in one of the biggest integrated and underground malls in Korea. Sensory overload - from tiangge to mga Rustan's levels. So many people. May 'end of winter' sale pa yata. I did not know why but I ended up disappointed. I think I am way past this mall culture. I mean, I have never been the type to like spending a whole rest day in the mall. As soon as I had arrived, I looked for the restaurant, ate then left. But any mall have been a lifesaver for me, so far. It is practical and convenient. I am not just in the mood for anything that is 'mall-ish' right now.   

5. One of the main reasons why somehow it was not difficult for me to find a new place is because a Filipino young professional, who also happens to work in a different global office but on our same floor, shared the information of rent space to my colleague. And this colleague referred it to the operations officer who referred it to me. 

I met this Filipino guy already and we talked for a while. He is living in the same apartment building. He is so young (24 ish)  and kind of cute. I told him outirght that he is my angel. But then angels fly. I will see him around, if that is something that I can look forward to. Maybe by the time I need him most - like finding a new room! He seems to have many friends and yes, he has been here for some time. The point really is, Am I way past my youth already to even have this kind of expat set up? I intend to grow here. Maybe it is just me mirroring myself with him, who is young and daring, and me, just starting. Of course, I will not compare. Sometimes, strangers can get into you. It is like you want to know them more, out of nothing at all and it is because I am alone. 

Feb 8, 2016


Dear Svelte,

Kamusta ka kaibigan, ok ka pa ba riyan? Gusto ko sana magdetalye ng aking mga kaganapan. Pero at the moment, sa totoo lang, after my first week here in this big, strange city and after all the madness that was the preparation, tabula rasa ang mga at the moment feels ko. Just like today, it has been a long holiday here for Chinese New Year. Thursday pa ang balik. Most 'Seoulites' are in the province now. As for me, I literally stayed in the apartment for most of the day, save for some 'neighborhood familiarization' work. Gladly, I discovered few things around. May Paris Baguette at may cluster of quaint coffee shops (Cafes here are everywhere. Literally). May nakita pa akong beauty cafe concept (forgot the actual name). Parang ang concept is cafe and beauty store / service in one. Ano ba yun may libreng facial! Unfortunately, they're all close since it's New Year holiday here. I will have to see them again soon.

And at last, I already saw where the garbage dumping area is located. Kase medyo strict din ang garbage disposal system dito at medyo mataas ang multa. Gusto ko sanang magtanong ng kung saan yung mga garbage bags na puwedeng paglagyan noong mga basura ko. Kaso waley yung tao at hindi ko alam kong paano sabihin. Tomorrow, yan ang major order of the day ko. Ganyan. Ganyan ka momentous ang araw ko ngayon. haha. Other than that. Borlogs ako buong maghapon at nagbasa lang.

Mabalik tayo ulit sa neighborhood area. To be honest, it can be quiet. Lahat ng officemates ko hindi alam ang area ko. I had the impression na para siguro itong zone ng mga low-income groups. Pero wala namang manifestations so far. I mean the subway station is conveniently just few blocks away. Yung mga bahay naman is okay. Maraming apartment buildings. At sa mga kanto my 24-hour convenience stores. The best of it all is sa likod ay nandoon ang Seoul Trail, which is like a long jogging and hiking trail. And feeling ko talaga yung mga puno doon sa area malapit sa amin ay mga Cherry Blossoms. I have to wait for the Spring though! What does it mean? It means wala na talaga akong excuse para mag jog at hindi umaura.

Ang dami kong gustong sabihin sa blog na ito. Marami akong insights - from preparations to my first work week. Quiet exciting really. But all I can do for now is take a step at a time. Mahirap naman na Take the Nestea Plunge ang peg. At the onset, marami lang akong gustong pasalamatan. Ang daming what ifs sa utak ko, mga doubts. Then first work week ko, sabak agad. Physically tiring. But somehow, I could not complain. I could not ask for more because it was easy. It was enough so far. I know the works. My heart is overfilled with gratitude, sa lahat ng suporta (parang award's night, but seriously - from my family to my friends to my newfound officemates! you know who you are. You rallied behind me). Yan ang pinakaimportanteng takeaway ko, ang tanging pabaon sa akin- as mars Cookie Chua would have said...'Ang Pag-ibig'.
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