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Social Experiment Update

Update: Failed.

I couldn’t do it. On December 16, my experiment to live on 180,000 Korean won ended — just eight day shy of my target date. I couldn’t make it, and I even bent the rules (i.e. didn’t count any of my Taiwan expenses, which totaled around 180,000 won for the weekend alone). Even then I didn’t really expect to succeed, and my stash of cash even lasted longer than I thought it would.

I might’ve made it a few more days if not for a few foolish five-day stretch. Two weekends ago, I spent 40,000+ won wandering around Hongdae, which isn’t that much for a night out — more than I really should’ve spent on this budget. The following Monday, I went out with my friend, who was looking for a cheap dinner, but those are hard to find in the tourist/ex-pat district of Itaewon. I ended up spending 10,000 won for an unsatisfying hamburger dinner. That Wednesday, I essentially committed financial suicide by going out for a quasi-fancy Thai dinner, dropping me another 16,000 won or so.

This three-week asceticism trip wasn’t all that tough, though. I had gone grocery shopping beforehand, and with the cold weather settling in, I didn’t have too much desire to be wandering away from my apartment’s cozy heated floors. Saturdays were dedicated to practices for Taipei, which usually left Sundays for my “See a New Thing Each Week” tour. Also, it was a good way to wean me away from the hazy, party-filled weekends.

I’ll probably end the month spending just under 400,000 won, meaning the future budgets of 600,000 won will be plenty. Even as strict as this budget was, I don’t feel like I was missing out on anything. I think I needed a chill month after the craziness of the first two. I feel like I’m really starting to settle into this town and living as an English teacher rather than a wide-eyed tourist.

I think I can chalk this one up as a victory.

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All that glimmers

It’s Friday, and I just got paid (two days ago), which officially makes me a millionaire. Absolutely no joke, I’ve never seen that many digits on a bank statement — granted it’s in Korean won, which unfortunately seems to be the only thing falling faster than the American dollar. This would’ve been sweet if I had any U.S. cash left to exchange, but now I’m looking to send money home to cover some bills.

I still have some money at home that I can use for the time being until the won decides to sort itself out. Other than that, things are good. Like I said, it’s Friday, and I’m staring out the window at sunny skies after watching three episodes of Entourage while anticipating the weekend. It’s so much nicer to be working in a place with windows. Even on the gloomiest of days, it’s nice to be able to see something other than colorless walls. I’ve been meaning to take a picture of the view, while not too bad isn’t definitely postcard material.

Regarding classes, I can feel the teachers loosening the reins a little bit. The co-teachers are asking more for my input about the lesson plans instead of pointing at different sections of the book to present. It’s nice that in two weeks, they’ve started to trust me a little more. I’m definitely no teaching expert, but I know teaching straight from the book doesn’t help these kids think in English, which is the goal if we want them to speak it.

Those worries are for another day. Now it’s Friday afternoon, and almost time to leave for the weekend. I’m probably checking out a rock climbing gym tonight then having a night on the town. The good times in Seoul continue.

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