I’ve always felt that it takes at least six months to feel settled somewhere new. I’m now adding to that, the six months don’t start until you are out of the hotel (temporary lodging) – which we were still in for all of week two! For PCSes, just over two weeks is mild for hotel living, but the feelings of wanting to break out were strong. And the closer we got to actually moving out and into our house, the harder it was be in this room. Wanna know how fun it was to share two washers and two dryers with a whole floor of hotel guests??
Our jet lag was gone, but figuring out the time-adjustment for our friends and family back in Europe and the States still lingered. And even though we haven’t found a good rhythm yet, my oldest has already used the line “hello from the future”.
Week two felt intense, with a lot of highs and lows. Some of the lows I attributed to still being in the hotel room and feeling transient, and some of those feelings are just what comes with moving somewhere new. One of the worst days was a day that we just stayed in our hotel room. I think my thoughts of how did I get here and what is happening bounced off our shrinking walls the whole day.
And really, anytime I have to use Naver life feels quite low. It’s sooo glitchy for English users to use, and it drives me bonkers that I can’t search and find places easily! It’s quite demoralizing when you’re looking for a specific place and need to use three map apps to actually find it.
The highs, those good moments, were when we were in the Yellow Sea (!!?!?), and running over a water obstacle course (although running would be a strong word for me; more like cautiously walking) in the gorgeous lakes region of South Korea, and walking through a market with friends – both buying some version of fried chicken for dinner that night, and taking the boys to a climbing indoor playground… During week two of being in South Korea, those all felt good! How could they not? Highs and lows, that is the rhythm of moving.
We managed to wade through the paperwork that was required to sign the boys up for swimming and soccer on post. My oldest, especially, is looking forward to meeting more kids. Moving during the summer allows a bit gentler introduction to your new life, but it also means we’re slower to meet other families and kids too. And when you’ve just left your best buds, it feels lonely to only have your brother to talk to. Even if his brother is a funny one and keeps us all laughing; we are ALL grateful for that.
One evening, I forced the whole family to walk through a local grocery store so we could all be overwhelmed together. I might have just stared at the isle of seaweed products. Who knew there was a need to have so many options?!
I also found out that there is a SPARKLING soju! This bubbles enthusiast was over-the-moon to hear this. I tried a plain flavor and a sparkling blueberry. Both were on the sweeter side and taste literally nothing like a Prosecco or cava or sparkling wine (I won’t even throw the OG into this list). But if TikTok is right, it’s all about taking that sparkling soju and mixing it with other juices. TBD.
We also tried bulgogi this week. Not only is it fun to say, but we all really enjoyed eating it! We even ended up at a Korean BBQ, cooking our own bulgogi. I even ate two types of mushrooms, which for me, have been one of the only foods I don’t prefer. But neither were bad! Either that or the bulgogi was that good. We were also served cold soup – some of the broth was still in an ice chunk. My first thought was “Is this the Korean version of the German aspic??? And while it was quite flavorful, I’m still working out how I feel about the coldness.
We spent our weekend at a friend’s neighborhood BBQ, visiting a new church, and trying to hunt down swimming goggles for the boys.The hunt took us to the nearby city of Cheonan and I don’t think we were expecting that big of a city. It did take several stores – and even ended up in a huge grocery story – before we finally found them. Who knew that swimming goggles would be a harder item to track down?
I took my first spin through a Uniqlo and loved all the basics, and found the gem that is Modern House. I will be going back for all their adorable home goods. I’ve been lookout for a new set of silverware, but I’ve now added that chopsticks need to be included. Knives, forks, spoons… and chopsticks. We live in South Korea now!
Not to bury the lead, but mid-week three, WE MOVED INTO OUR HOUSE! It was an immediate relief to be able to put things down and know that they don’t have pack them back up again. I do move things around several times before settling on a good spot (six months, remember) but all our things now live here, like we do.
All the things in the house are different. I mean a shower still turns on, and the toilets still flush. But the house will be heated by floor heat, controlled in each room. And to keep things cool, each room has their own air conditioner. The stove is all in Korean, and more resembles an easy Bake oven. I bought the smallest cookie sheet I saw, and it barely squeezes in. I tried making breakfast sausages and it took a solid fifteen minute to understand how to turn it on, keep it on and actually cook something, but I do believe I ended up with a cooked product.
I’ve repeatedly said that things aren’t bad, just different here. From the roads, to this inside culture, to the food, to how the trains work – which I’ve only been one once and have no real understanding of it all, to what Koreans wear in the rain, and just wear in general. It’s all new and different. Some days I’m up for the challenge, and other day I just want to not leave my bed. But my interactions with Koreans have been lovely and helpful. It is completely normal to pull out a phone and communicate via translator, something that would have literally never, ever, ever happened in Germany. Not bad, just different.