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.