Saturday, October 13, 2012

Pay Day Blues

The past few days I have been melancholy. That is the best way to describe it. I'm not really sad or upset, nothing in particular has happened. But, I'm just in a funk. For some reason, yesterday I started thinking about the holidays coming up, and how different it will be to have them alone and far away from everyone I love. I knew that was going to happen, but when it's actually approaching it feels way more real and way more depressing. I'm not depressed, yet...

It's certainly fall here in Seoul. The air is brisk, but the sunshine feels perfect during the day. It's past rainy season, so it's usually sunny. The nights are cold, and I usually keep my window shut now. I even used my heating blanket once this week. It was so nice! But along with that comes memories of sitting at football games cuddled up with blankets and pink noses from the cold. Driving down the road at night with the heat on and a window cracked to make the perfect balance of cool and warm. Listening to Christmas music, looking at all the decorations. Curled up on the couch with a good book. Even if I was at home, I think I'd be a little forlorn... Holidays always make me think about the past. I guess that's normal...

I miss being a kid, and having holiday parties at school. Heck, I miss school in general. I was really good at school. True, I basically hated high school. But that was for social reasons. I loved being in class, learning, doing homework. Yeah, definitely a nerd! But, when I think about school, especially in the fall, it makes me reminisce and there's just that feeling.

My school here is different. Yes, they decorate for Halloween and we are going to have little parties. But the feeling is different. Who knows - maybe it's just because I am the teacher now, rather than the student. That is probably true. But, the system here is different, and the feeling is just not the same. I'm fairly certain when I leave Korea, I will have these reminiscent feelings about my school here, but right now I just wish I was in America.

Along with this weirdly semi-depressed state, I also got paid (well, I got my pay stub. Actual money being deposited would go through some time this weekend). Now, I expected to be jumping around for joy at this point. And, I am certainly glad to be getting money! But it has made me kind of re-evaluate my financial situation. I work really hard, and seeing just how much it has been worth, my entire time here, it's just a little depressing. I am very lucky that I don't pay rent and have relatively few responsibilities and expenses. But coupled with being paid only once a month (rather than every 2 weeks like normal places), plus what all is taken out (taxes, utilities, etc), it's just kind of stressed me out a little.

Coming here, I really wanted to be able to pay off my student loans. That is priority numero uno. And it is still going to happen. But, I also really wanted to save a chunk of change for when I come back. Looks like that is probably not going to happen. Maybe it will, but less than I had hoped, for sure. I think I just need to keep watching my spending like I have been trying to do since August, and I'll be okay. I mean, since I got here Aug 22, I have definitely spent less (total) than what I just got paid, so I'll be okay for another month with that. It's just a realization that I am not going to be rich or living lavishly. I'd like to say I never expected that in the first place, but I think maybe I did. Well, not "rich" per say, but with no rent and no car, I felt like I would be golden on saving money and being able to buy things I wanted. But, I'm definitely going to need to watch myself here these first few months and make sure I'm set for the rest of the year.

Color Before
Coming off that, I had planned that the first thing I wanted to do when I got paid was get my hair cut and highlighted. I made the appointment last week for a place in Hongdae called Hair & Joy. They got rave reviews from foreigners online, and I read good things from blondes who were happy with their quality. I was worried, moving to a dark-haired culture that my blonde might go into ruin, but I'm extremely happy to say that the guy did a great job. It is probably one of my best colors. I love it. He cut it as well, and it looks good, but it didn't need a whole lot in that department. It was the highlights that were needing major help.

Cut Before

The staff was extremely efficient; the owner sat me down and asked what I wanted. I showed him photos and said cool blonde, and brighten up. He spoke English well, and went right to work mixing the color. Another girl started sectioning my hair. I was a little confused who was going to do the highlights. It ended up that both of them did. The man (owner) started and showed the girl his weaving pattern and obviously he chose the colors. He started on one side of my head, and she did the other. It took about 45 minutes to do my whole head (from sitting down to the last foil). I let the color sit another 15-20 minutes, then got a wash.

This bag on my head...
The only thing I didn't really like about the place was that the guy doing my hair never confirmed what I wanted. I would say something, he would nod, then he would go to work. And when I moved from one station to another, nothing was explained. Therefore, after the wash, I assume I got a toner. Then a mini head-massage and the conditioner. The funny part was, when I sat down, they put some Morroccan Oil on my hair (extremely popular in the states), combed my hair into a twist and put a bag on my head. Then they attached a hose to the bag and it inflated. After looking around like "What the heck is going on with my head?!?!" someone explained that it was a moisturizer. It looked like something out of Star Wars...

Anyway, after this, the man cut my hair. Thankfully he did not share this task with his little helper! He cut it, then blow dried it (I did have 2 people working on this task... I felt like a celebrity or something). After the blow dry and straightening, I had to ask him to trim the fringe a little more, and to give the crown some texture. I was surprised he didn't do it before, since I mentioned I wanted to be sure of added volume around the crown. Hm...

Color After
In the end, I was happy with the cut. The color was phenomenal! I will definitely be back for more highlights when these grow out. As for the cut... we'll see. I think my favorite cut is the one I got in Miami before the cruise. It grew out very well; I probably should have just gotten my fringe trimmed. Oh well...

Cut After

Unfortunately, I had been expecting to pay around 120,000W to 130,000W, but it ended up being 160,000W. And, right before getting it done, I had checked and my paycheck had still not gone through. (Pay date is Oct. 14, but since that's a Sunday, we should have gotten it Friday. Saturday afternoon it was still not posted). So, I had to split the cost onto my Korean card and my American card. I was feeling poorer than ever. I attempted to wait around for my coworkers who had appointments after me, but I got done early and, with about $10 to my name, headed home.

Before the haircut, I stopped by Lotte Department store to look at some Uggs. I need winter shoes, and I need something I can comfortably wear every day to work (and walking to work), but that will match anything. I decided that Uggs would be a good investment. I put off buying any my entire college career, despite them being a staple to every one of my sisters' wardrobes from October - March. I knew that the Classic Tall were $190 online, but shipping would take some time and probably be an added cost. So when I figured I would pay a little more here, but be able to wear them immediately and not have to ship them.

When I finally found them in the store, I picked them up and saw the price. Which almost gave me a heart attack. 354,000W!!! Which comes out to be like $320!!!!!!!!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!?!? The man kindly showed me the 20% off sign, which brought them down to 303,000W ($280) and I was literally flabbergasted. No way in you-know-where that I would pay that much more just to have them now. That is like, $100 more. INSANE!

So, looks like my tootsies will be cold for a little while longer while I order the Uggs online and ship them here... Too bad. :(

As for tonight, I am saving my $10 and having a night in. :) Hopefully my paycheck goes through tomorrow... YIKES! I am going to try to keep my spirits up and know that its only 1 holiday season alone. And mommy comes in November, which will be so amazing (but I'm already dreading saying goodbye...), so I won't really be alone... Next year, though, my family and friends better prepare for the holiday spirit I will be packing!!!


  1. I remember how poor I was right out of college going from waitressing to a $90 a day temp sub job. It was no fun! What you are doing is so worth it though, trust me. I can also sympathize with the phenomenon of being high on excitement for the first few weeks and feeling kind of lonely and missing friends at home when that dies down. Maybe you could look for some private tutoring on the side for some extra cash? Hang in there!

  2. Wow, you really are in a funk - perfectly normal - tells me you're humanoid, not a robot!! Us humanoids have things called feelings and fortunately (or not) they can change in a heart beat. Just hang in there - the whole experience will be a wonderful memory, something unusual in that not every grad takes off to a foreign land to TEACH "cute little korean kids" to speak, write and comprehend a new language. You mentioned "bad teacher" - I'm thinking they were saying "hard teacher". In your vast experience, did you ever hear any of your classmates say "hard teacher"? It comes with the territory, so to speak. You've had such amazing experiences so far and your talents (smarts) are obvious in The Greatest Blog on Earth! Things will get better for you, especially when your mommy comes for a visit!! Who knows, perhaps you will begin to enjoy your environment even more!

  3. Your hair is GORGEOUS!

  4. I agreed with your Mom to decorate for Christmas early here. It was either that, or not decorate at all! We are going to miss you but be Facetiming with you as well!


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