Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Stark Contrast #1

Unless you live in one of those mega-apartment complexes, which it seems few foreigners actually do, you likely live in a small "block-like" building consisting of not more than 4 or 5 floors. This building is likely nestled in a neighborhood of other block-like buildings, most of which have stores on the first floor accessible from the street.

That is what my apartment building is like, which leads me to my first stark contrast post. In Ulsan, Korea, (again, unless you live in one of those mega-apartment complexes that tower above any other surrounding buildings and are essentially their own neighborhood) there is no such thing as a residential area. In the Twin Ports, USA, there are residential areas divided by commercial zones (or perhaps you could say it vice versa). The lack of real residential areas means much more noise, traffic, and smells coming from all around you at almost all times the day (mornings are fairly quiet if its before 7 and there's no construction work happening!)

I realize now that I took residential areas in the Twin Ports for granted. It seems most foreigners don't have the privilege of living in those mega-complexes as they are too expensive. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about where I live, I'm only stating a contrast that exists between where I live now and where I last lived. However, I'm sure you can guess which one I prefer! Often in the States, just a little bit of noise outside was a bother. Now, here in Ulsan, if I shut my eyes and just listen, I can make out more than 8 sounds all happening at once: dishes clanging together in the restaurant down below, car horns honking, cars passing by, people talking and shouting, cars starting, kids screaming (taekwondo academy next door), and above it all, the hum of electricity power these places. There are neon lights right outside my apartment for the restaurants and studios. There are various smells wafting through the air at given points (good food smells!).

It has taken some getting used to, but I've been here 5 weeks, so much of the shock has worn off. I definitely miss the quiet of a residential area, but I'll make due with what I've been given here. I appreciate the place I currently call my dwelling place (or just "my apartment" because I cant bring myself to call it "home") and I appreciate the chance to live somewhere completely different.

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