Noise is the biggest problem I have with the building we're living in now. Actually, this is the first time I've lived in an actual apartment building. Over the course of the last nearly eight years, I've lived mostly in villas, those 3-6 story buildings. I lived in the first floor of a house in Icheon (Gyeonggi-do). We had our own little yard there, which I did not truly appreciate at the time, since it was my first year in Korea. Then on to the first floor of a villa in Mapo. I lived in an officetel in Ilsan, which was nice. It was brand new, loft style, and very modern. Again we lived in the first floor of a house in Haebangcheon near Itaewon. In Edae (Ewha Women's University area), we lived on the third and top floor of an old...building (I'm not sure the exact term for it). In Dongdaemun, we lived on the sixth floor (of seven) of a "mini apartment" building. It was a brand new building and we enjoyed being in the center of the city...until Grace came along. Now we're living in a classic apartment building in a complex. This is the type of place where most Koreans would want to live -- and I have no idea why.
Back to the noise. I can hear everything going on in other apartments. I can hear kids roughhousing, musical instruments, and toilets flushing. I was in disbelief at first. Now I'm not surprised, and I endure it, but I think it's only because I know I'm not stuck here forever. At first I thought, it must be the building -- all those millions of apartment buildings out there can't all be like this. But I believe they are, to certain degrees. When Sejin's family came over to wish Grace happy birthday, Sejin mentioned the noise problem to his aunt, who assured him that no, it's not just our building, because even in her building, which is much newer, there is a fair amount of noise. It's just the way it is.
This post came about because at 9:45pm tonight, I heard someone start playing the piano. I was angered because I think it's too late at night to be disturbing people like that (come on...if you need to play that late get a digital and use headphones). I went upstairs to see what was going on and they said they were not playing the piano, so I sent Sejin to investigate. He listened at all the doors until he found the piano -- 603 (we are 303)! The woman promptly apologized and the piano stopped. You can see how easily noise travels in this building.
The bigger problem here is that Grace is very sensitive to noise, always has been. As a smaller baby she startled very easily at loud noises and still sometimes does. The slightest noise from upstairs wakes her when she's in a light sleep. I was hoping she would become desensitized with all the noise around here, but it's not happening. It seems to be just the way she is. Luckily, she is doing very well, still sleeping through the night without my assistance, but she does sometimes find it hard to fall asleep when there is racket coming from upstairs. I feel bad about that because it's something I can't control.
It looks like this old building in Uijeongbu might give us the final push out of Korea that has been a long time coming. Until then, we will make the most of our time left here. Spring will be here soon and there will be lots of fun to be had outdoors. We will make lots of use of the great little walking path by the river, and I'd like to start taking Grace swimming at the sports center nearby. I also want to do some hiking in the spring since we are living between two massive mountains. Endure, endure, endure.