After two months of expressing our desire to move closer to our school - to our school's administration, to the Samcheok County Education Office, to the Gangwondo EPIK Office, and finally to the head of education in Gangwondo - it's time to move from our old apartment in the 60,000 person seaside town of Samcheok to our new apartment in the 4,000 person mountain town of Dogye.
Last week we saw the apartment, which is roughly half the size and twice as old as the one we live in now. But instead of leaving at 7:40 to take an expensive, nauseating bus ride to get to school, we'll leave at 8:45 and walk down the street, and no amount of space can make up for that.
They keep telling us that the roads are going to be icy and they hope we won't hurt ourselves, and that the boiler has to stay on all the time or it will freeze and explode, and that if we are uncomfortable, they can't help us move again. Apparently, we are yet to convince them that we understand and made our decision conscoiusly. I don't think we've told them that we have both lived through Colorado winters in towns over 8,000 feet; maybe that would've helped. But after another round of what-you-might-not-like, and us agreeing to pay 70,000 won (US$48) for the move (they originally said we'd have to pay 600,000!), they expressed their satisfaction with us at their school, and we all left happy.
Monday we were told that Wednesday was moving day (I had assumed Sunday, so Wednesday is just fine with me), and yesterday we were taken to HomePlus, the local department store, to outfit our new kitchen (no more Teflon and aluminum cookware - yeah!).
Last night we frantically packed all our belongings back into the two suitcases each we brought them here in, plus a couple boxes for what we've already accumulated here. After our classes this morning (and a Dell technician coming to replace my hard drive -- busy day of many transitions), we figure the biggest men at the school will come help us get all our stuff and all the furniture 40km up the mountains to Dogye. How that will happen in a "big rental car" is so far unclear, but we just have to keep trusting and hoping that everything will work out. Speaking of which...
In our meeting on Monday, they asked if were going home for winter break (our contracts stipulate a three week vacation, which was the primary factor in choosing these positions). When I said we wanted to meet my family somewhere, they responded that right now is not a good time for booking travel (with the won's weakness there isn't a good time), but that they would tell us the dates soon, once they decided if "English Camp" would be one or three weeks. Yesterday they said it was to be one week. Which might mean that the other five weeks of vacation time are ours to be in a more hospitable place. It's too early to say for sure yet, but if true, that would more than make up for the trouble we've had so far.