We made it!
We landed in Incheon International Airport (Seoul) on a Saturday morning and stumbled our way through filling out the health assessment form and entry form. We were picked up from the airport and driven to Camp Humphreys – the base we’re assigned to. It’s all slightly hazy – both figuratively and literally – but we made it and somehow used the rest of the day to get cell phones activated, rent a car (which, $$$$!) and get something to eat. We made it until about 4pm that night and our eyes just wouldn’t stay open any longer. It’s been a week and I think we’re almost in a normal schedule, as normal as you can be living in a hotel.
I don’t know if I’m overwhelmed by all the things that we had to do this week or overwhelmed at the differences of South Korea compared to Germany. It’s a whole lot for my brain to take in, and amidst all this processing, we had to pick a house! That was emotional… for me.
FINDING A RENTAL
We met with our first (of FIVE) realtors on Monday morning. While having multiple realtors goes against all our American customs, it’s totally normal here in South Korea. Especially since there isn’t shared database for all the realtors to pull from, so you’ll only see what that realtor has access too. The more people you work with, the more houses you’ll see.
I don’t know why, but our first realtor only shows us dirty, old houses. We walked away from seeing five house feeling really defeated about what we thought were our options. We saw another set of houses that night, and felt a little bit better, but nothing that we were ready to say yes too.
We met with two more realtors the next day. One realtor showed us the house that we would eventually rent, and the other realtor was so awesome and incredible. For reasons that would take to long to explain, they weren’t the right houses for us, but the experience showed me that the first realtor just didn’t have access to the right houses for us.
But we have a house!! I’ll let you know in a year if we made a good choice…
FOOD AND DRINK
We’ve only been here a week, but I’ve 1000% sold the boys on the treasure that is 7eleven. For months I’ve watched TikToks of 7eleven ice cup videos, so it was one of the first things we did! I don’t know why I get so much joy out of buying a cup of ice and a drink packet, but I do.
The boys have gotten green grape, pomegranate, strawberry, blue lemonade, watermelon, black lemonade, grape. I’ve had iced black coffee, iced Carmel macchiato, and I tried the TikTok iced hazelnut with banana milk! It definitely did not taste as weird as it sounds!
One of the days in-between realtors, we walked through one of the local markets close to us. While it’s not the craziest market we’ve been to, it might have been the market with the most seafood variety. I’m still not THAT brave yet to buy market seafood (I’m also not a comfortable seafood chef either) but maybe I’ll get there. We did get a triple-dipped, panko-crusted corn dog and a veggie fritter, and both were delicious. We bought some different types of candy (I loved the cinnamon) and fresh cherries that we literally inhaled; they were so good!
For dinner one night, we headed to a Korean BBQ. This might be shocking to hear, but this was my first Korean BBQ experience, ever! Aaaaand I loved it. My favorite side was Kongnamul Muchim – a Korean bean sprout – I loved the crunch and taste. This also might be the first time my husband cooked so this might be a dinner win for all of us!
It only took me until the second day in South Korea to try soju! It was in a watermelon slush, and I didn’t hate it, especially in this warmer weather.
My husband braved this whole new world and drove us around to different neighborhoods to see what we might be interested in. Really it just ended up overwhelmed us by how different everything is compared to the US and Germany. Pyeongtaek and Asan are considered in-the-country for South Korea, and since we haven’t been to Seoul yet, all I know of South Korea is where we are, and it is different. It’s taken a few days for those differences to not seem so drastic.
This week, after getting my South Korean drivers license, I drove the boys, by myself, to a park. It is always nerve-wracking to drive somewhere new; I remember being slightly terrified to get onto the autobahn when I first started driving in Germany too! And while everything here travels much, much slower than in Germany, driving here isn’t relaxing, yet. I haven’t memorized ALL of the Korean road signs, and Korean still looks like drawings and not a language (I’m working on it! ) to me. I have to use new navigation app to get around, and everything looks so different (even the stop lights). But I made it through my first solo drive, there AND back, and I only cursed once; ironically at an American who wouldn’t stop honking at me. I was trying to leave base and completely unsure of what direction I was suppose to go, and she let me know. Regardless, me and the boys all lived and felt like we conquered the world when we drove back on base from the park.
We ended this week with taking a taxi into the downtown Pyeongtaek area. I honestly was going to put us on a train and head to Seoul, but we really do need baby steps! This downtown resembled nothing like an altstadt in Europe. It’s a whole new world out there people, and it’s intimidating when you first start seeing things and getting out there and exploring. But the journey really IS part of the destination.
So this was a completely packed week, especially with moving and all?!?!?! I didn’t even touch on all the military things that you have to do when you move, or just how massive Camp Humphreys is! This new base is so big, there are taxis just to get around on base…But we made it. We made it through week one in South Korea!