May 9, 2013

Living in Another Language

CRUISE DAY 4: Today, D and I are lounging by an infinity pool overlooking the Mediterranean at a beautiful resort in the hills of Mykonos, Greece. I'm hoping a good tan and lots of stunning photos will come from this cruise excursion! Who am I kidding...it will. ;) Tomorrow we will be sailing off to Turkey for the next leg of our cruise, but for now, I'd love for you all to meet Miss Amanda...a total sweetie pie who's livin' and lovin' (and trying to survive the culture differences) in South Korea. Stop by her blog and say 안녕하세요 (hello)!

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I'm Amanda and I blog over at Living in Another Language. My husband and I are both 20-something year olds and newly married (can I still say that after almost three years?). After graduating college (yes, we met in school...cute right?), getting hitched, and securing full-time jobs in Portland, Oregon, we realized our lives weren't the way we had expected them to be. Where was the FUN? The ADVENTURE? That's when we decided the 'American Dream' wasn't for us. We immediately sold everything and moved to South Korea to teach English.

Visiting the Elephant Safari Park in Bali, Indonesia
(Visiting the Elephant Safari Parkin in Bali, Indonesia)
 I've got a story to tell. Frankly I've been to chicken/embarrassed to tell on my own blog. I was so thankful for Casey taking a vacation (ok, well also very jealous) and letting me take over a post for her, because now I can finally get this story off my chest. Living in Korea has posed its challenges. I've learned to live life a little bit more simply than I would have back in the States. 

Here are a few examples: Not only is my apartment the size of a shoebox, it looks like one! Try making a shoebox look cute...it's super hard! My husband and I don't buy our furniture: we pick it up off the side of the road or in a dumpster. Korean's don't ever do secondhand because they feel like the previous owner's spirit lives in the items. All my clothes fit in two suitcases, including shoes. If you knew me a few years ago, you would have laughed out loud at me even claiming this. I would have cried. I worked at American Eagle for 7 years, and with that 50% discount, I had acquired quite the collection. I do my own hair. I have a huge phobia about people messing my hair up. I have dishwater blond hair, and like to lighten it. I'm terrified to get it done 'professionally' in Korea due to the amount of mustard yellow blonds I see running around. Also, I've heard when a stylist cuts your hair, it's guaranteed you'll only have about 1/3 of the thickness left. YIKES! I've resorted to not only toning my own blonde hair, but trimming it as well (don't worry, the hubs helps). I also don't use shampoo anymore. Last but not least (but certainly the most important), I do my own manicures. 

The story I'm about to tell you still leaves a queasy feeling in my stomach. I've always loved manicures, and in Portland my manicurist knew exactly what I wanted the moment I stepped into the salon. I was a gel set girl with extensions (artificial nails). I have always had super weak nails, so this routine would actually help grow my nails. After moving to Korea, I sadly said bye-bye to my beautiful nails. I had seen plenty of salons around town, but was too scared to go into one and try to figure out how to ask for a gel set. And then I saw a salon with an English sign. And it was almost my birthday. Win win?! I took it as my cue to go in. Now I have to say, back in the States, a gel set with extensions would cost me $40-50 dollars. When I saw that the Korean salon's gel set price was $50 dollars I was ecstatic! Once inside, I pointed to the gel set manicure on the wall. I also showed her a couple pictures of french sets I had saved on my phone...just in case the word 'French' wasn't the same in Korean. Thank goodness I did, because she had no idea what I was talking about. I had two ladies working on my nails, and before you know it I was done. We had a fun little chat with the ladies using their broken English, and myself using my broken Korean. And then I went to pay. You can imagine my surprise when the manager showed me the calculator and it showed a total of TWO HUNDRED AND TEN DOLLARS. Yes, you heard right, $210. I about passed out on the spot. The manager must have seen my mouth drop open as I let out a whispered, "What?!?!?!" And she went on to explain that the gel set itself was $50 dollars, but each individual extension was $15 dollars. I'm pretty sure I was shaking at this point I was so nervous (I can't really remember due to the stress of the situation). My mind was racing, "How the heck am I going to explain this to D?" It's not like I could just take the nails off and refuse to pay. These babies were superglued to my fingers. 

The lady ended up giving me a generous discount of $30 dollars just because of my troubles. Geez, thanks lady. I payed with my Korean credit card and drove home with tears gushing down my face. When I got there my husband was waiting for me with a smirky smile on his face. He asked, "So...how was the salon?" I lost it. In-between sobs I explained to him what had happened. What I didn't know was that he already knew. My credit card is set up to send a notification via text whenever we purchase something. Guess who had the phone that day? He told me he about dropped the phone when he saw the total, but then felt ok about it, just because this was my first visit to any beauty salon in well over a year. He's right, two hair cuts and colors here would cost about the same. A few months later he bought me my own gel set kit. I not only have the exact same polish and UV lamp the ladies at the nail salon had, but I can do my gels for free. Not $50 dollars a pop. You learn from your mistakes right? Word of advice: NEVER go to a nail salon in Korea.

(My $180 dollar manicure)
I still have plenty to learn about this country, and am enjoying every minute of it, $180 dollar nails and all. Please feel free to come check out my blog anytime. It documents our adventures traveling around the world, my love for photography, learning the culture around us (successes and failures), and a few clever domestic tips I've learned along the way. You can also follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Bloglovin'.

15 comments:

  1. Awww - I'm sorry you had to go through that. I think it's pretty misleading to advertise that it's $50 for a gel manicure, but leave out the part about the extensions. But at least something good came out of it right!

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    1. Very true! Lesson learned for sure. :) I guess that's part of living overseas...trial and error.

      I'm in love with my OWN gel manicure set-move on over nail salon!

      -Amanda | Living in Another Language

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  2. Wow! Good things to learn - we're moving to Korea next year!

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    1. I love that! Please let me know if you have any questions. I'm here for you girl!

      -Amanda | Living in Another Language

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  3. Wow thats really good to know! I would have thought it would have a little cheaper so you have opened my eyes to what the economy is like there. It can be really terrifying trying to figure our things in another language i can imagine how you felt. Perfect way your husband handled it though...and sometimes we just learn from the mishaps. Thanks for sharing girl! x

    Bonnie Rose | a Compass Rose

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    1. I know that's exactly what I was thinking. While I was getting my nails done the ladies asked me how much it was in the US. I told them $50, and they looked at me like that was crazy. NOW after paying I understand.

      There's definitely a lot of trial and error when it comes to living in a foreign country, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. :)
      -Amanda | Living in Another Language

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  4. Wow I cannot even fathom spending 200+ dollars on a manicure! That's crazy talk! I live in Japan and can totally relate to you on the ups and downs of living in a foreign country. I also live in a shoebox apartment in Tokyo and you're so right about decorating. It's like...where do you begin when you have nowhere to begin at? hahaha But it's all in good fun and I'm sure we are both growing soso much from our mishaps and travels. Thank you for sharing today, I enjoyed reading this! :)

    xoxo
    Melyssa | The Nectar Collective

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    1. You're EXACTLY right about the apartment thing. You'd think it wouldn't be so bad with a small apartment, small apartment=small work. Wrong. Sigh. Not to mention they don't exactly have normal curtains or throws around here. Did they have horrible wallpaper in Japan too? Thankfully my husband and I were blessed to get uniform wallpaper in our apartment, or friends not so much. They have clovers in one room, purple flowers in another room, and a mural in yet another! So funny .

      -Amanda | Living in Another Language

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    2. haha That's hilarious! I think Japanese houses are usually pretty modestly decorated, so in the three apartments I've lived in here, I've only had white walls. The curtains are quite another story...they look more fitting for a hospital than a house! hahah

      Melyssa | The Nectar Collective

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  5. This is so funny! Similar thing happened to me in Mexico...lol not as much money but still not as cheap as in States

    happymedley.blogspot.com

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  6. Gosh that is a bit steep! And very cheeky of them to charge extra per nail. But like your hubby said, you have saved money through out the year by not going to the hairdressers!
    I haven't had my hair cut in over a year, and I too have less clothes than I have ever owned.
    Its amazing how much less stuff we can live with.
    Your journey sounds incredible.

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    1. I know right? I think Americans tend to be a bit obsessive when it comes to having things. After a good reality check or two we realize we dont NEED all that stuff to live. I am very thankful for the life perspective Korea has given me.

      -Amanda | Living in Another Language

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I appreciate your feedback, friends! I read every comment and try my hardest to respond to each one, but if your email address isn't attached to your blogger profile, you might find my response in the comment thread instead. As always, thanks for reading!

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