Kumi is the FIS equivalent of Paul from APIS, hero of our Korea days, and she has been doing yeoman's work these last weeks moving all the faculty in. Back at APIS, the school took out long leases at different apartments around the neighborhood (or "dong" - which is the Korean word for "neighborhood," I kid you not) and moved teachers into the apartments as their contracts dictated. FIS is different, as each teacher shops for his or her own apartment and takes out his or her own lease. This is great in the sense that teachers can have more control over their layouts and locations, but really difficult for Kumi. She has to find out teacher preferences, find appropriate and foreigner-friendly listings, schedule viewings, make offers, negotiate rates, and sign contracts, all in a matter of days. And did I mention that Japanese apartments don't come with any appliances?
Justin and I chose back in March or so to pick up the lease of a former FIS teacher, actually the woman who held the same high school history post I'm taking. We feel kind of guilty about how leisurely and inexpensive this has made our move-in. We paid the teacher a lump sum for the major appliances and furniture in the apartment, which was much less than the replacement value, and which did not begin to touch the miscellaneous things we've since discovered, like the speakers, iPod dock, power strips, toaster, detergent, and jar of Nutella. (What? Justin likes Nutella.)
Today we tagged along with Kumi and the other teachers to the electronics store because we decided we wanted to add a blender and a computer monitor (for Slingbox TV viewing) to our embarrassment of riches. Thanks to Kumi's masterful negotiations, the price of the blender was reduced by about ten dollars, nearly half the price, and twenty dollars came off the computer screen. Oh, and they sold us the audio cable we needed for the speakers at about 1.30 off, which was kind of funny.
We had lunch at the mall food court next door - Korean food! Well, we always said that Korea has several really good meals, just not enough variety to eat for six months straight. And we had a Mister Donut, which Pittsburgh readers may remember from its failed attempted US expansion during Justin's childhood (they were vanquished by Dunkin).
After that... there was some unpacking to do, and some sorting, and some school planning, but it's a coastal 95 degree day and we just came from twelve months in Scotland. Clearly the right choice was to join fellow teacher Matt and his wife Ashley at the beach. A short ten-fifteen minute bike ride and massive applications of SPF 50 later, and we were in the water. The ocean here is so warm that after you've been in for a bit you have to get out and let the air on your skin cool you down. There is also a schizophrenic attitude towards tanning: some people are toasted golden brown and lying out in the sun, while others swim with shirts on over their bathing suits. It was a novel experience for Justin and me not to be the pastiest people on a beach. I'm honestly not sure this has ever happened before.
This evening we went to the grocery store and ended up in the middle of a street fair with some weird petting zoo going on, of which I think Justin took some pictures for later. The groceries are generally quite expensive here, particularly produce of any kind. Bananas are reasonable at around 95 cents a bunch, but everything else is quite high. Partly that's because we're used to UK prices on produce, which has come down significantly thanks to the EU trade zone, and partly it's because we've been away from the US and its inflation for so long that we've completely lost track of what things "should" even cost there anymore. Is $2 reasonable for maybe 1/3 of a cup of blueberries? Is 75 cents reasonable for a kiwi? I don't know. But I do know that the okra looks inexpensive, and so did a giant turnip, so it's off to Allrecipes.com to find something to make with those!