27 June 2011


I'm preparing to leave for the states in three days! Yeah!

I've been realizing that I have a hard time writing as myself (i.e., letting my true self-expression come out) in my blog. I wrote the madre an email tonight about my packing process, then read it over before finishing it, and decided that this might make a good blog post. It includes some interesting facts about life in Korea. Here we go...

Well, I got some more packing done tonight. I still have a long way to go. I think I'm really gonna have to throw out a lot of stuff :( I have so much stuff that I didn't use that much. Blah! It was mostly stuff that I bought as a newbie in Korea, thinking I would need it, and then it just got tossed under a pile of other stuff, and I forgot about it. Now I know for next time. 

The real pain with throwing out stuff here is that garbage and recyclables are only collected on certain days. And even on collection days, you can only put out certain types of recyclables and garbage. For example (these examples aren't accurate, just theoretical)...
On Monday, it's recycling, but only styrofoam. 
On Tuesday, it's regular garbage and food garbage (yes, you are supposed to separate them; I still don't understand how, but I have a strategy for when I come back). 
On Wednesday, it's regular (non-food) garbage and plastic recyclables. 
On Thursday, it's both kinds of garbage.
Nothing is collected on Friday or Saturday.
Sunday is.. something. I don't know. 

Oh, and they have to be put out by 8pm. And you have to buy particular garbage bags for your garbage. They're expensive.

Anyway, I figured it doesn't really matter when I put my stuff out cuz in the end it all gets collected. It might just have to sit there for a couple days. I try to be careful and put out my garbage on the right days so it doesn't get gross in the rain or eaten by stray cats, but about 70% of the time I've tossed something to the curb, someone has seen me and yelled at me for putting out the wrong thing on the wrong day. Some communities have really convenient neighborhood-wide bins for putting your recyclables in, but no, not my neighborhood. We are old school Korea around here. No fancy garbage trucks - just workers who go around to every building, collecting garbage and sorting your recyclables by hand.

I respect Korea for their work ethic and taking responsibility for their waste (I'm not talking about excretions). I also respect Korea for being really, really accommodating to foreigners like me who don't speak Korean. However, there are a few things here that I just don't understand because they are so different than what I'm used to, and I've been doing my best. However, I've been met by natives on the other end who don't show a lot of patience for my lack of knowledge in these areas. I'm truly sorry that I don't know when to put out my cardboard or plastic bottles. I guess all I'm asking for is a little understanding and just a straightforward answer for these things rather than a long lecture about how terrible it is to add that much more work to these people who are collecting my trash. I have no desire to make these hard-working people have to work that much more, but a lecture and a slap on the hand will get neither of us anywhere. This is the end of my rant. Good night.

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