Cute Dogs and Cultural Revelations

I need to figure out how to befriend the family that lives in the house next door to my apartment building.  They have three adult Jindo-gae, one adolescent one, and a few puppies.  They are all really adorable (especially the puppies), and I want to take some photos of them.  Maybe I can get my co-teacher to translate for me, or something.  The dogs are everywhere on this island, and they’re generally very sweet when they’re not guarding property.  I had two of them run up to me yesterday while I was out walking (they sort of run wild in the town), and they laid down and let me pet them.  I have yet to meet one that is not a total sweetheart.  It’s too bad that it’s illegal to take these dogs outside the country (they are a national treasure), because I could totally see myself with one of these as a pet.  They remind me of Akitas (one of my favourite breeds), but smaller and less aggressive.  If I get to know the ones here, maybe I will look for a breeder in the US.  There are a few out there, but not many, as you have to basically apply to the Korean government to get permission to export them from the country.

My current concern is how to get money.  Korea is a very cash-based society, and I have discovered that the ATMs here do not accept Mastercard, which is what my debit card is.  My credit card is not currently set up to be able to get “cash advances” from ATMs, so I’m not entirely sure what the hell I’m going to do.  I exchanged about $100 at the airport, and I have about $60 that I can exchange here on Monday, but other than that…I don’t really have anything.  In a week or two I get my settlement allowance, which is $300, but it’s going to be a long week or two if I have to live on $60.  It’s doable, but difficult.  If I only needed to buy food, that would be fine, but I really would like to buy myself a non-sketchy blanket, and a lamp, at least.   I had Marc call my parents last night at like 4am their time to tell them what’s up, and so hopefully they called the bank and figured out what I can do.  Without access to a phone or regular internet, I am very limited in what I can do regarding stuff back in the US.

I have been pleasantly surprised at what I am able to get here, regarding food.  I had been told that yogurt was rare, and that American candy was virtually non-existent, among other things.  When I was at the grocery store yesterday, they had three different varieties of yogurt, and they had Dove chocolate (and Lindt!) and Snickers bars.  I expected there to be Coke here, but there’s also Fanta and Mountain Dew.  Most of these import items are priced similarly to what they cost in the US, thought there are other American items that are available but less common, and they cost a fortune.  For instance, I found a pint of Haagen Daaz ice cream yesterday for almost $9.  I don’t mind Korean food, and much of it is not very difficult to make, so it’s not too bad.  I think I will miss pasta though – I didn’t see any in the grocery store, or even any flour, for that matter.  There’s a “French” (I’m skeptical) bakery in town that had bread, and I may go down there today to check it out.  Even if it’s not very good, it’s better than no bread at all.  I found a microwavable meal that claims to be spaghetti, so we’ll see if it really is anything like the real stuff.  Again, I’d rather have sub-par pasta than none at all.  I never really noticed how wheat-flour-based the western diet is until now.  Everything here is based on rice, and it makes a huge difference.

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July 2008
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