...it goes 'thunk'. That's a good indicator that the mattress is too thin. It's about an inch an a half of low-density foam rubber. Fortunately, I can deal with a 'firm' mattress, so it doesn't actually hurt me to sleep on it. However, I'll bet that there are plenty of student accustomed to real, soft mattress and are getting killer backaches. I was going to buy a foam pad thing here, but the one that I found at the open market was 60 kilowon(I just make that up- 1 kilowon = 1ooo won) so I didn't buy it. However, I did get a massive pillow-almost too big- for 6 kilowon. Pillowcases were also inordinately expensive so I'm using one of my too-small undershirts. It does the job.
Also, the chairs here are plain wood. No padding.
People reading this blog might get the impression(from my complaining) that I'm dissatisfied. I'm not- I'm really content here. Some Koreans and people I've met seem surprised that I'm happy and don't have any issues to gripe about. I think this is just part of the Korean culture of humility. I've met a friend here who shall remain nameless (but who is probably reading this) that is kind of my insider guide to Handong. She speaks perfect English, being an ethnically Korean citizen of Canada. She gives me the inside knowledge of what HGU is really like. She's had a hard time here (being a Korean, but not having grown up here) so I think she tends to overstate the problems. She once asked me if I was enjoying HGU, I replied in the affirmative. She said "really?"
For anyone reading this who is contemplating coming to HGU- do it. It's a brand new experience. I like to think that I'm more open minded and 'culturally sensitive' than most Americans, so this a great experience for me because I didn't bring any cultural baggage. If you arrive at HGU having never left the US before and expecting everything to be just like the US except the language, you'll have major culture shock and be miserable. Some people think that the US is "the" developed country and any country must mimic the US to be developed. Why would someone think that? Korea's culture is very different, yet in many ways it is more developed than the US. For example, nationwide WiFi. That's right, pretty much the whole country has WiFi coverage that anyone can access for a modest fee. So my advice is this: Come to Handong prepared to live in a completely different culture. If you're willing to temporarily forgo your American oddities in favor of learning Korea's, you'll have a great experience.