One of the interesting things about living abroad is figuring out how to pay bills and get money! Most of my bills are taken out of my pay check directly, but I get my gas bill and phone bill in the mail, so I have to figure out how to pay those, which is tricky since the bills are in Korean! We have an ATM at school and the bills can be paid through the ATM. But wouldn't you know it, while it's in English when I need to get cash out, when I need to pay a bill, it only does it in Korean. Some folks have written out a flow chart with all the various steps (press the top right button, then press the middle green button, etc), but it seems like they missed a step or two, so it's tricker than I think it should be. When I got my first bill in September, I had to basically tackle another teacher to get some help! But this month I managed to figure out how to pay my gas bill...but I don't remember exactly what buttons I pushed! So hopefully I can figure it out again next time! This time I really couldn't figure out how to pay my phone bill, but I heard from another teacher that I could go to my local mini-mart to pay that. So I went down today to try it out. With my limited Korean, I set it on the counter, said "Hello", and smiled. And lo and behold, my bill got paid! It had a barcode on it, so the mini-mart lady just scanned it and I paid it.
Another interesting thing they do here is that you can transfer money into other people's accounts at the ATM. All you need is their bank name and account number, and then you just enter that info. and you can transfer money in. When I paid for a plane ticket a few weeks ago, I was able to just put the money into the travel agent's account...it's pretty slick! Another teacher was telling me that last year she was at Costco right before payday and so wanted to charge her stuff to her credit card since she didn't really have any money in her account. But of course, Costco doesn't take credit cards, but she didn't realize that until she had done all her shopping and was at the cashier. So they had to call the manager over to explain what was going on to her, so she said, then I'll just put my stuff back and come back after pay day. Well, the manager said, no no no, I'll just give you the money and then when you get paid, you can just tranfer the money you owe me in to my bank account. Can you imagine that happening at home?!