Living in an apartment for more than two years is really unusual for me. I’ve spent two and a half years in the one I’ve lived in since I came to Jeonju, and over that time, I have learned a ot about how to make this place work, be comfortable, be livable. It seems to me that to lose all that accumulated knowledge would be a waste, so I’ve written up some of it for the next tenant who moves into this place. It’s almost like passing along one’s dog, or something — I want her to know it a little better than she would otherwise, and in some way I feel like I’m passing the place on to someone, and that the next person ought to be able to get the best out of it. Maybe it’s also helping me to cut my ties with this place a little more easily, going over the little secrets and annoyances and foibles of this soon-to-be ex-home of mine.
So, anyway, for amusement’s sake, I figured I’d post the (long) note I’ve written during breaks in packing.
To the next person in this apartment,
Here are a few notes about the place, the state you find it in, and so on I hope they help you to settle in, despite the length.
1. I was told a cleaner will be coming, and since I had to leave suddenly for Canada just when I was hoping to begin moving preparations (my father passed away unexpectedly), I barely have time to prepare my boxes for moving. So apologies if the school-hired cleaner did a subpar job; if it’s any consolation, the cleaner hired before I moved in also didn’t do so well. But hey, maybe in the morning I’ll get a chance to clean a little.
2. I’ve paid all my bills to February, but some of the billing runs a month behind – ie. January bills were payable in February. Brian told me that the school would be deducting the March bills (those payable for February usage) from my severance pay. I suppose that when the bills arrive, they should be brought to the office or given to Brian or Tammy. You might also look into having the bills that are still under Myoung Jae’s name to your own. Myoung hasn’t lived here in several years, and his name shouldn’t be on the bills… I only just noticed that so I didn’t change it myself. Probably someone in the Liberal Arts office could handle that.
3. You’ll notice there’s a water cooler in the flat. That’s not mine, and not the University’s. There’s a private water service in the city that most of us in the building use; 18L bottles of water cost ￦5000 each, and as long as you use roughly a bottle a week, the cooler rental is waived. (If you go traveling, the fee is ￦10,000 a month, in lieu of water usage.) The delivery guy is pretty good, and the water’s good too. If you don’t want to use it, please arrange with Mike that the guy pick up the cooler unit next time he delivers water to Mike and Allison. (Mike has the money that I owe the water guy for the month I spent away.) The phone number of the water guy is on the left side of the cooler, too, if you can speak a little Korean.
4. Some furniture and small things (a semi-functional fan, a small drying rack, the plastic accessories rack in the bathroom, etc.) that I’m leaving behind for you are mine, while other things are the University’s. The bed and the table and two chairs belong to the University, so if you don’t want them, you should let Jeonju University know and they can remove it. The remainder of what’s in the flat is stuff I’ve left behind, thinking you might get some use out of it. If you don’t want these things, then please make sure no other teacher (especially the other new folks) want them, and then just have someone like Mike or Shawn help you haul the heavy stuff down to the street so someone else can get some use out of it. There’s also a small pillow, small towels, some tupperware-type containers, and other things left here, in the cupboard. If you can’t use them, offer what seems worthwhile to others and trash the rest, I guess. Oh, and the big jars of cumin and coriander in the cupboard, could you pass those on to Sonia? I think she’s the only person who might use them.
5. There’s a washing machine I’m leaving behind, as well, and I’m hoping you’d be willing to buy it from me. I think I got it for ￦150,000 and I think a fair price would be something like ￦100,000. It’s pretty good, and I haven’t had any problems with it in the last few years. If you do wish to buy it, communicate with Tammy about that, I think she’s handling that stuff out of the goodness of her heart.
6. When I moved in, the flat had been semi-unoccupied for a long time, and I had a long battle with cockroaches. I won, and the problem has mostly been nonexistent in the last few years. But just so you know, I’d be extra careful in order to make sure it doesn’t recur. The roach traps and yellow anti-roach goo available across the street were what I found most effective.
7. Unless you’re an excessively regular and conscientious cleaner, you’ll notice that sometimes an odd smell starts very suddenly in the bathroom. I discovered this, then forgot about it and rediscovered it, at least once that I can remmber. It took some searching each time before I realized that the problem is the accumulation of gunk in the hair trap in the floor under the sink. If you fiddle a little, you’ll find the pipe under the sink detaches pretty easily, and that you can clean up the junk stuck in the trap. However, you should also occasionally disassemble the whole piping system under the sink and clean it out – it’s not so well-designed and stinky black sludge tends to build up pretty heavily in the pipes. You will have to bang them pretty hard, or find a huge pipecleaner, to get it all out.
8. There’s a similar trap on the balcony that catches the water for the washing machine. You’ll know when it needs cleaning because the water on the balcony won’t drain well, but I think I’ve only had to get into that about once a year.
9. For all of the time I’ve lived here, I haven’t had a problem with the lights, but when I returned from Canada earlier this week, I found one light (the kitchen one) behaving very strangely, and one of the two bulbs on the main room light burned out. It’s Saturday night and I am moving tomorrow morning so you’ll have to get bulbs yourself – they’re available nearby, just ask Mike or Alison or Shawn where the light bulb store nearby is — Alison, at least, definitely knows. But as for the kitchen light, it might just need a new bulb, or there might be an electrical problem. I swear if I were here longer than a couple of days I’d have sorted it out myself.
10. The temperature gauge in the water heater was replaced last fall, and you shouldn’t have any problems with it. If you do, the “security guard? in the booth downstairs has the number of a very good repair man who can get the thing working in twenty minutes flat. However, you may find the hot water isn’t exceptionally hot. Turning the heat up on the “ONDEOL? control (on the wall around the corner from the bathroom) doesn’t help. I find the only thing that lets one get a really hot shower is to limit the water flow with the spout in the bathroom; at 75% flow the water seems to come through nice and hot.
11. The hole in the outer wall’s wallpaper isn’t mine – it’s been there since before I moved in. I don’t know how it got there, but I hung something over it (and I think Myoung did too). I suspect it might be a vent for an air conditioner, but I’m not sure. If you’re planning to stay at the school (ie. in the apartment) a long time, I’d pick up an air con, by the way: the flat gets pretty atrociously hot in the summer. In case you don’t plan to pick up an air conditioner, I’m leaving behind a rolled-up screen made of grass or small bamboo or something, which at least gives you some privacy with the door open – the only way to cool the place sans air conditioner. But be warned – this apartment can become an absolute mosquito den if you’re not careful, during the summer. It’s not just open doors, or the not-very-good seal created by the screen door out on the balcony; they also come up through the water pipes, as near as I can tell. Mosquito spray helps, if you don’t mind the toxins. But I think an air conditioner would also help.
12. The gas range is a frustrating piece of equipment; it was provided by the school when I moved in, but the left burner stopped working a week later. It can be made to start up, if you bang the unit hard while holding the starter dial in the start position, but it will usually stop working suddenly after a few minutes. Maybe it’s possible to repair it, but I haven’t bothered to check.
13. I’d apologize about the fridge, but the ugliness was there when I moved in – Mer (Myoung’s wife) complained about the stickers to me before I even lived in Jeonju. I put the Dali posters up on the fridge, just as she put the pig sticker on, though they’re more a distraction or coverup than a fix (depending on your aesthetics). Maybe you can get the school to get you a new fridge? Maybe even an oven, like they did for Alison? (Your best bet is to request it early on, not after a few months, so you may as well try soon if you’re going to try at all.) Or you could ask the Uni to take it away and get your own used (and probably decent) fridge. Otherwise you’ll just have to live with the detritus of previous foreigners living in this flat and nearby ones, which, ugly as it may be, is kind of strangely comforting too.
14. What looks like a phone on the wall is an intercom. It’s broken. This is a good thing, because the “security guard? sometimes goes off into early morning diatribes that sound like they’re from old Nazi newsreels, but they won’t be broadcast into your apartment because the intercom isn’t working. This is probably for the best.
I hope you settle in well and that everything goes well for you here in Jeonju. Take care,