When my friends and I moved out of our university dorm, we began living on our own for the first time in a foreign country. We made some mistakes and our Korean landlord definitely let us know just how badly we had messed up. Here’s to hoping you can learn from our mistakes!
Out of the Dorms and into Society
The moment I moved out of the dorms, my roommates and I started being very curious about how our life would change. We knew figuring out how to divide and pay our bills and the rent monthly was going to be a challenge.
Plus, we expected that we’d have to go through the learning process of learning to live alone and how to divide housework. As foreigners, we were nervous about how our neighbors would react to us. However, we significantly underestimated the role our Korean landlord would play.
So, today I am bringing you some of my favorite memories so far when it has come to interactions with our landlord. I hope you have as much fun reading this as I had while writing this.
The Trash Incident
So, you may be familiar with the fact that in Korea the trash system is a bit complex. There are different bags you need to purchase. Well, coming from Chile, I didn’t have the knowledge for this and neither did my roommates. Turns out that here in Korea they sell specific trash bags for different categories of items you want to throw away. You must dispose of your trash in the correct way, or you can be fined.
Of course, with all of us being foreigners who had been living a sheltered life in a university dormitory, we had never heard of such a thing. So, for a week, we just disposed of our trash as we did in our home countries. We just used a regular plastic bag and left it out with all the other trash bags. We didn’t even notice that our bags were totally different until our landlord came and knocked on the door.
Landlord Lets Us Know
He didn’t look particularly upset. But, he definitely wanted us to know how to separate our trash because if not he’d be fined. Which is totally fine. So he started going through our trash, segregating it into categories such as plastic, food waste, cardboard, cans, etc… and he then showed us specifically how to dispose of them. It turns out that each of those categories is discarded in different ways.
Oh, and he also left us a sticky note with the days we had to take out the trash. Turns out we just did it whenever we felt like it, but the trash would be waiting there until it was the day for it to be picked up. Lonely, cold, and… completely illegal. We were so relieved to know that he hadn’t been fined. And, immediately we began disposing of trash as he said, so we wouldn’t have any problems in the future.
The Smelly Kitchen
When we moved in, our kitchen kinda smelled. Not like a very bad smell, but it was certainly something that bugged me specifically. I am very sensitive when it comes to odor. So, my internal cleaning freak came out and tried every method I could think of to make the smell go away. But it didn’t.
So, I had to ask for the landlord to come and fix the problem. Or, call a plumber because I knew the smell was coming from the sink. I was notified of when the landlord would come, so I invited a friend over to help with interpretation.
This friend is a boy. Our relationship is completely platonic. However, we were specifically told, “no boyfriends or loud noises”. We all understood that to mean no bedroom playtime. We were good friends, but we definitely were not in any way doing those loud noises. So, I figured it wouldn’t be a problem.
But, when the landlord came to check on the sink, they shook hands awkwardly, and the tension in the room let me know that the landlord was not ok with his presence.
SUPER Cringe Interaction with my Landlord
Then, the landlord started working on the sink only to realize our floor was covered with hair. And, I mean… c’mon! We’re three girls living in a place with very heavy water (filled with minerals), so of course, we shed hair. But our vacuum hadn’t been delivered yet.
And the most embarrassing thing happened: he sighed, put his hands on his hips, and left. The sink was still there, smelling like it smelled, and my friend and I looked at each other with questioning faces. But when he came back, my face heated, and I am pretty sure I was as red as a tomato. He had brought his own vacuum and instructed us to start cleaning the apartment.
Oh, my god. I still cringe when I remember that.
And you? Have you had any experiences like mine while adjusting to life in Korea? If so, please let me know that I am not the only one who has had an embarrassing moment or two…
If you are looking for a place to stay in Seoul and want to make sure you get a foreigner-friendly landlord, Click Here. This is a list of realtors in Seoul, offering services to foreign residents.