Our favorite books about South Korea

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In honor of Multicultural Children’s Book Day, I thought I would share our favorite children’s book about South Korea. Some of these we own and some we have borrowed from the library (actually all are at the Camp Humphreys Library).

 

One of Clarissa’s favorite books to borrow from the library is Goyangi Means Cat by Christine McDonnell. A little girl is adopted from South Korea and comes home to live with her new family in America. She doesn’t know any English but her family quickly learns a few Korean words, specifically “goyangi” because of their pet cat that the little girl loves so much.

We own Bee-Bim-Bop by Linda Sue Park because Clarissa loved it so much when we borrowed it from the library that we read it every day for a week straight and actually had to learn to make bibimbap from the recipe in the book.

Last year, we reviewed Carole P. Roman’s If You were me and lived in… South Korea. I think Clarissa likes it because it talks about some of the places we have visited. I think it gives you some idea of Korean culture as it discusses Korean words for mom and dad, money, school, and sports.

Lately, Clarissa has been interested in Sori’s Harvest Moon Day by Uk-Bae Lee. This story is about a little girl and her family and how they travel to their grandparents’ house for Chuseok, which is one of the two major holidays in South Korea. It is interesting to see how another culture celebrates a holiday to honor ancestors and spend time together.

Another book we borrowed from the library is called The Firekeeper’s Son by Linda Sue Park. This story is about a boy who lives by the sea. His family has the important job of lighting a fire on the mountain each night if everything is calm. Each mountain has a family to light a fire. This way, the king will know if there are invaders in the land. If the fires are not lit, then the king will send soldiers to help. One day, the boy’s father hurts his ankle and he has to light the fire himself.

The library on post has an entire section of Korean children’s literature. Some of it is Korean folktales and others are books written in Korean. But these are our favorites.

Daegu Arboretum

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The weather changed pretty quickly in November. For my birthday, it was sunny and 80. A week later it was in the 50s most of the time. There were snow flurries on Thanksgiving. But that hasn’t stopped us from having some new adventures.

We decided we either wanted to check out the ARC or the arboretum. Tim was more excited about the ARC, so he studied the bus map and realized that one of the 2 busses takes you right to the ARC. Great. But there are about 10 routes on the 2 bus, so you have to take the right one. So we got to the bus stop and he realized the next one would be at least an hour.

New plan. He had also glanced over the way to the Daegu Arboretum. There were a few options of busses and then we would walk two blocks. No problem. We took the rapid 6 bus to to bus 653. Then, we started walking. The leaves had started to change so it was pretty. Chilly. But we were okay with that because it was so beautiful.

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What we thought was the arboretum was actually a sports complex. But we could see road signs to the arboretum so we kept walking. Two miles later, we reached our destination. The walk actually turned exciting because we passed city hall. Why the big deal? Clarissa had been asking us to take her to city hall for about a month. The busses on Tayo had to go to city hall for something and she was determined to go there too. So we passed it and I made a big deal out of the fact that it was city hall. Granted it was a Sunday and I don’t know if we could have gone in anyway. But Clarissa wasn’t impressed.

On our way in to the arboretum, a woman at a food stand gave Clarissa a free cookie. The arboretum was popular as the parking lot was filling up very quickly. The first section had several sculptures using flowers. They had several different animals. But Clarissa’s favorites was a bus that reminded her of Tayo and a sculpture of Larva.

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There was a wooden walking path around the arboretum as well as dirt paths throughout each section. It was wet and a little muddy so we mostly stuck to the wooden path. The leaves were beautiful.

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There was a couple doing a photoshoot of some kind. Engagement pictures maybe? They thought Clarissa was adorable and pointed to her. I thought they were asking if they could take a picture of her so I said yes. They scooped her up and started taking pictures with her!

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I think it will be worth going back in the spring or summer when all of the leaves bloom again.

 

My first Korean physical (Another Korean hospital experience)

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I have never had a full physical done.  I did the ones for sports in high school.  They tested my blood pressure and blood sugar several times when I was pregnant.  But that is the extent of my physical examinations.

Tim needed a physical last month and there were a few surprises so we decided that I should get one too.  Besides,  having a baseline in your early thirties is a good idea.

I took our normal bus this morning.  Riding the bus is radically different by myself than when I am with Clarissa.  My appointment was at 9, so the bus was packed.  I could barely fit on the bus in front of our apartment and I remained standing for the twenty five minute ride.  But I didn’t mind.  It was a breeze since I didn’t have to hold Clarissa. 

We began in the locker room.  I took off my shoes and put on a gown with slippers. My belongings were placed in a locker and I was given a key.  My translator asked me to pull my hair back.  I only had a barrette so I have been adjusting my bun all morning.  Next time,  I need an elastic band.

The first stop was a chest x-ray. 

Then,  we went downstairs and they did my height and weight.  But it was way cooler than the US.  First,  I stood on a machine measured my weight while a pole came down to measure my height.  Then I had to take my socks off and stand on another machine and hold on to some poles to measure my body mass. Next,  I put my arm into a machine for my blood pressure (this is the only result that I have really understood so far. My blood pressure is good.).

After that,  I went to a small room.  Like most places in Korea,  the walls are not painted but have wall paper.  This room was for the EKG. I had to lay down while the nurse hooked my hands,  feet,  and chest up to a machine.  Then,  I sat up and the nurse had me blow in to a straw looking thing for a lung function test.

Then I did a vision test.  I know that I need new glasses so the result on that will be interesting.  I had to do that eye puff test a few times because I kept closing my eyes. The hearing test was pretty standard. At one point, I thought it was over and put the buzzer down. But then the beeps started again and I had to scramble to find it. So my results may be slightly skewed.

The blood draw took forever.  I usually have really good veins so the problem is probably that I was fasting and dehydrated.

We then went upstairs for a bone scan.  That was interesting.  She said it would take six minutes and I had to close my eyes.  I felt like I was in Star Trek being scanned by lasers.

While waiting for my sonogram,  I saw one of my Korean friends from pwoc.  She said she missed Clarissa.  And she said that her physical took three hours this morning.  At that point,  I had only been there an hour.

The sonogram was interesting.  I guess the only time I have had one was during pregnancy to look at Clarissa.  I didn’t know you could look at other things too.  The tech didn’t speak English and my translator was elsewhere. So I think she did my neck,  breasts,  and all the trunk organs.  My glasses were off so I have no idea what things looked like. I will say that it seemed to take an entire roll of paper towels to get all of the gel off and I still felt sticky.

Next,  I had to wait a half hour for the gynecologist. She spoke excellent English so that was the best experience of the day. I was already wearing a gown with my pants. The doctor asked me to put on a skirt on the bottom instead. I thought that was way better than the paper gown the gynecologist in the US gives me. Pap smears are pretty much the same in both countries, but the actual exam was different. She used an ultrasound wand to do the internal exam instead of just looking and feeling. During the ultrasound, she discovered that my iud had moved and that I had recently ovulated. She was concerned that I could be pregnant but we would not be able to find out for sure for at least another week.

That information ended my physical early. I still did my urinalysis but we decided to postpone the endoscopy. Tim got one as part of his physical. The doctor puts you under anesthesia in order to put a camera down your digestive track to see your esophagus and stomach.

I went back a week later for the results. They handed me a 14 page booklet with my results. Overall I am pretty healthy as far as cholesterol and organ function. Apparently I have a couple of cysts that need to be rechecked next year. They did order some follow up tests.

The check out process was pretty painless. The copay for blood work and a vaccination was 9,500 won (like $9). My translator wrote me an English receipt so it was interesting to compare the two.

I am not pregnant so I am going to do the endoscopy and an abdominal CT scan next week.

My birthday at E-world

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So when you turn 32 in a foreign country, what do you do to celebrate? I am sure there are many other options in Daegu, but I chose to take the family to E-world.

We decided to try the umbrella stroller and Clarissa actually cooperated for a bit. I think that we may actually bring the stroller to Japan in December.

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We took the rapid 6 bus to National Health Insurance stop and crossed the street to E-World. My friend told me that if we go to the foreign office, we could get in for half price. So we skipped the long line and went to the annual pass office to the right. It cost 16,500 won for Tim and for myself. We didn’t buy a band for Clarissa. I figured if she was tall enough for a ride, we would pay separately.

I am glad that we didn’t pay for a band for her. She wasn’t tall enough for a single ride! The minimum on the rides was 90-100 cm and at her two year checkup in August, she was only 81.6cm. The highlight of the trip for Clarissa was probably when we found a Tayo to ride.

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It cost 1,000 won for a two minute ride. At first, she said she was scared, so I rode Gani and then she was fine. She rode Tayo twice and also rode Gani before we left.

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The other thing that she really enjoyed was the animals. They had a reptile house (with fish), a small animal house (hamsters, rabbits, gerbils), a bird house, and some outdoor farm animals. I think she would have enjoyed feeding an animal.

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Overall, we were not impressed with E-world. I think it would have helped if Clarissa had been tall enough to ride something. There were two roller coasters, but Tim didn’t like how dirty and rusty they looked so we didn’t try them. I think the main problem is that we are spoiled with amusement parks. We grew up going to Quassy and Knoebels. Plus we’ve been to Busch Gardens and Disney as well. E-world seemed more like a carnival than an amusement park in comparisson.

We went up 83 Daegu Tower. It is 83 stories high so you can see all of Daegu from up there. It was pretty hazy so we couldn’t see everything clearly. We found our apartment, but the picture didn’t come out. We need to go back on a clear day and also at night to see the view. It cost 19,000 won for the three of us (Clarissa was free) to get in. While we were up there, we had a professional photograph taken. We were the only ones up there for a while, so he took his time and took like eight different shots until we had one that we liked with all three of us looking!

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The highlight for Tim was probably lunch. We ate at a place called Globurger. They had one inside the Daegu Tower, but it wasn’t open. There was one closer to the park entrance, so we ate there. It was decorated like a 1950s burger place. The hilarious part to me was that half the time we were there, there was Disco music on the radio. Like most Korean fast food, it took about twenty minutes for our food to be ready. Tim got two spicy chicken burgers, I ordered the original hamburger, and we all split the french fries. The food was good. We need to find one outside of Eworld.

We took the bus to Seobu and went to Baskin Robbins for dessert. We let Clarissa order her very own children’s sundae instead of just sharing mine. It’s a pretty popular corner, so as Clarissa was eating, people kept stopping at the window to look at her and try to talk to her through the glass.

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We walked home from there. Clarissa actually took a nap that afternoon so I could watch a movie that has been on my list for a while, The Dropbox.

 

Ant-Man (Our first date night in Daegu)

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We moved to Daegu on February 26. Our first date night was September 18. It was long overdue!

Since we finally brought Clarissa to the doctor for her two year check up, we could turn in the paperwork for the Child Development Center (daycare/preschool on base). This makes her eligible to attend the monthly Parent’s Night Out, which means we can now have a monthly date!

Drop off for Parent’s Night Out isn’t until 6:30, so we all had dinner together at the PX. Clarissa isn’t allowed to bring outside food to the CDC so I wanted to make sure she ate before she went (though they did serve dinner). She was thrilled with her pizza.

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The sky was beautiful. Tim and I took a taxi to Hyundai Department Store (kind of like a mall). When you buy your movie ticket, you choose your seat like on an airplane.

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Tim wanted a snack, so we tried the grilled squid. It was actually pretty good. I really can’t think of a taste to compare it to. But it was probably similar to the shape and texture of french fries. It comes in different flavors. I think we had a buttery one.

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Then we had to go down an escalator and to the left to our theater. We were the only Americans there (well I should say that we were the only white people, it’s possible there were other Americans in there).

The previews were different than in the United States. It was mostly commercials for products like you would see on television. There were two previews for American movies. One was dubbed in Korean. The other was in English with Korean subtitles. The previews both seemed really short.

The movie itself was in English and had Korean subtitles. The screen was probably the same size as an American movie theater and the seats were comfortable. I have heard that some theaters have couches you can lay on, but this wasn’t one of them.

Ant-Man was excellent! Tim and I have different preferences when it comes to movies. But we can usually agree on a Marvel movie. We recently watched Lost again so it was fun to see Evangeline Lily in the movie. The story was great and there wasn’t a ton of language or any sex at all. I think Clarissa will like it in a few years.

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We had to pick Clarissa up by 10:00 and the pedestrian gate also closes at that time on Friday nights, so we took another taxi back to base. Clarissa did really well. Her best friend was there, which I am sure helped a ton for her first time there. Apparently she did cry when Haven left. But she was fine when we got there. They did one of her favorite activities, painting.

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Our first (and second) Korean Hospital Experience

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We must be healthy people because we lived in South Korea for six months before we needed to see a doctor. Even then it was because Clarissa had a birthday and needed her two year check up.

Our insurance has direct billing agreements with four different hospitals in Daegu. Two of them deliver babies. I asked around and decided we should check out Hyosung Hospital. I called the international center to make an appointment and didn’t really know what to expect. They had immediate openings for both Tim and Clarissa’s check ups.

On the morning of the appointments, we took the 564 bus to Jongdong market and then walked a couple of blocks to the hospital. It wasn’t as big as I thought it would be. Where we are from in Norfolk, the hospitals are huge! But there are only like six of them and they offer a range of services from labor and delivery, surgery, medical, and emergency room services. Here there seems to be a hospital around every corner. I’m not exaggerating. I can see four from my apartment window! But the hospitals are very small and specialize in one or two things. They don’t all have emergency room services.

Hyosung Hospital is two small buildings connected by a walkway on the second floor. I think one building has five floors and the other has seven. We walked into the reception area, found the pediatrician’s office, and tried to check in. We took a number and sat down. When our number came on the screen, we went to the desk and told them Clarissa’s name. They gave us another slip of paper and told us to sit down. At this point no one spoke English so I knew we were in the wrong place.

We then went to the other building to check in to the international center. We filled out some paperwork and then our translator walked us back to the pediatric section. First, we did Clarissa’s height and weight. She had to stand with her back against a wall and stand on two feet that were glued to the floor. Then, she was supposed to stand there while this machine came down to see how tall she was. She wasn’t really cooperative and was an inch or two too short for the machine anyway. (I should have taken a picture but I was too busy trying to keep her in place. I will have to remember next time)

Then, we went to where the babies do height and weight. I had to put her in a metal basket and the machine told us she weighs 10.5 kg (23.148 pounds) and is 81.6 cm (32.125 inches) tall.

Then we had to wait our turn. There were probably twenty Korean children there plus parents. They all stayed together in an area watching a television. I am not sure if the internationals get to cut in line because of the translator or if it is because we have an appointment and the Koreans just walk in, but we only waited about five minutes.

The pediatrician was very nice. She had a Tayo sticker on her name tag, so Clarissa was thrilled. She did all of the usual stuff; checked her ears, throat, and lungs. Then she asked me a few questions through the translator about what I thought about Clarissa’s development. She read Clarissa’s shot record and recommended the second hepatitis A and Japanese encephalitis vaccines and gave Clarissa a lollipop.

The Koreans really are smart about how they do things. Clarissa sucked on her lollipop while they checked her blood pressure and pulse. Then when it was time to get her shots, they had her sit calmly in my lap, still sucking on her lollipop. She didn’t even cry! She started to get a little concerned at the end and they just gave her another lollipop. Problem solved!

Then we went to Tim’s appointment. Again it was only about a five minute wait. The doctor was really nice. I think he understood English but just didn’t speak it well because he would listen to Tim and immediately respond in Korean. It wasn’t that strange to have the conversation translated. It seemed like the doctor was really listening and understanding what Tim said. Then we had to go across the street to the pharmacy and wait about five minutes for the prescription.

We went back today for a follow-up visit. Today we found out that Korean regulations say that you can only get 21 days worth of a medicine at a time. They don’t write you a prescription with refills like in the United States. You have to go back for another appointment. That might get old.

But everyone we met seemed friendly. Random Koreans thought Clarissa was beautiful and would stop and ask me how old she was. In Korea, she is three years old (when you are born you are one, and then everyone adds a year during the lunar new year). But some of the moms would also ask how many months old she is.

My first Korean hair cut

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The week before we moved to Korea, I decided to take the plunge. I decided that if I could move to the other side of the world, I could take a chance and dye my hair. So at 31, I had my first experience with hair dye. We thought auburn was a good fit.

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It’s hard to believe that was almost five months ago! My roots have been growing out a bit. My hair naturally gets pretty blonde in the summer, so I have auburn hair with blonde roots. Tim and I decided maybe we should try something lighter, like a strawberry blonde. So we spent some time looking through pictures. I had a picture for the color I wanted and then another for the cut.

I decided that I would do my first hair cut in Korea on base. Surely they speak English at the salon on base right? I arrived on time for my 1:00 appointment, but they weren’t busy anyway so I probably didn’t need an appointment. I told the older woman (who spoke the best English) the color and cut I wanted. I showed her pictures.

She then tried to find the color on her papers. She kept going from the red paper to the blonde paper. I should have walked away then. I thought, surely they can do this, I have a picture. She went to talk to the other ladies in Korean. When she came back she told me that they haven’t done red in a few years and asked if I could go to the PX to buy some red hair dye. Again, I should have walked away.

So I went to the PX and bought three bottles of red dye. Apparently I have enough hair to require three bottles? I brought it to them and two ladies started mixing. Another wrapped my neck and my shirt so it wouldn’t get dyed. She then put what looked like miniature shower curitains over my ears.

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Two ladies proceeded to brush color onto my hair with what looked like a paint brush. That’s what Jaclyn used in February though, so I knew it was normal. As they were doing this, several different Korean ladies walked by and they were all examining my hair and looking at it. Some looked concerned. I started to get a little nervous.

A couple of minutes in to this, it looked like a crime scene. Their gloves were covered in bright red and the towel around my neck looked like it had been used to clean up a gaping wound. At that point I knew that it wasn’t going to be as blonde as I had hoped.

Another lady came in for her 2:00 appointment as my hair was setting. They didn’t seem to understand what she needed for dying the roots of her highlights. She looked at me and I said, “this is supposed to be strawberry blonde.” She said, “no way!” and promptly left the salon!

After they washed my hair, the older lady asked if they got the color right. It wasn’t dry, but my roots looked bright pink and the rest of my hair almost looked black. I said, “No. I was hoping for more blonde than this. A lighter color.” She assured me that it would get lighter after they dried it.

I showed another picture for the cut. A simple layering to frame my face. At first the bangs looked pretty crazy. It was like a half moon. Thankfully, before she finished, she straightened them up a bit. She did layer my hair, just not like the picture.

As she was cutting the older lady came back and said, “See, I told you it would get lighter.” I actually thought it was darker at this point. “Is that the right color?” I showed her the picture again and she said, “The sun will bleach it in about two weeks.”

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I don’t think so. I know from last time that it will get lighter. But I don’t think it will get anywhere near strawberry blonde. Especially in two weeks.

All in all, my hair doesn’t look bad. The color and cut look fine. It just wasn’t what I was expecting.

So far I have learned to read Korean and count to 20. I guess I need to work on colors next. Then maybe I can venture out to a Korean salon in the city. Though in their defense, I have seen auburn in Korea, never strawberry blonde. So I may need to stick with that. Or I can just try blonde next time and see how that goes. Maybe eventually I wll go back to my normal hair color and just get my hair cut once or twice a year.

Korean Culture (part 4)

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It has been a couple of months since my last culture post. I’ve been collecting a list of things to write about.

Golf is very popular here. There is a huge golf course on Camp Walker and I have seen Koreans golfing every time I am on post. It doesn’t matter if it is ridiculously hot or raining, they are still there. Our apartment has a gym with dedicated space for a golf simulator. There are several golf simulators on our bus ride from post to our apartment. I have yet to see a miniature golf course however.

Umbrellas are also popular. My family and I walk around in rain jackets. But I have yet to see a Korean wear a rain jacket. They use an umbrella. Also, on a hot or sunny day they use umbrellas to keep cool. Koreans often want to share their umbrellas with Clarissa. On one occasion, it was raining and three different Koreans held their umbrellas over us so we did not get wet while we walked from the bus to the chapel (about a fifteen minute walk). Older ladies usually hold an umbrella over Clarissa while we wait for the bus on a hot day.

Another thing that I have noticed is that the delivery man or repair man comes on time in Korea! They either give you a specific time or an hour range. Thus far, all deliveries and repairs have arrived on time or fifteen minutes early.

If you buy a large item, like a television for example, the stores do not carry inventory in the store. So you go to the Samsung store, pick the item you want, and then schedule the delivery for later that day or the next day. When the delivery man comes, he hooks up your item for you and takes the box away.

The television schedule is interesting. We have over 200 channels, some of which are English channels. You can pretty much watch CSI 24 hours a day in Korea. There are a few kid channels that Clarissa likes, which is how we were introduced to her latest obsession, Tayo. It is hard to figure out the television schedule (mostly because I can’t find anything online in English). When you go to a channel, it tells you the time that the show is on the air. It is not usually 7:00-7:30. Often it is something like 7:12-7:34 and then there are ten minutes of commercials and the next show might come on from 7:50-8:36.

If you go to Emart or Home Plus (which remind me of Walmart and Target), you have to pay 100 won (about 10 cents) to unlock your shopping cart. When you finish shopping, you return the cart and your coin is returned to you. If you don’t bring your own bags to bring your items home, you have to pay for the plastic bags (about 20 cents each). Emart also has a locker area to store bags and other items. They have specific lockers for pets! A few times, we have seen dogs waiting in a locker for their owner to shop. Emart also has a room for mothers to nurse and change their babies.


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Almost every dog we have seen so far in Korea is small. We have seen dogs riding in bike baskets or being held while their owner goes for a walk. The only exception is an American friend who has a large dog.

Even though Korean kids start school in September, they go to school through the end of July. The difference is that they get a month off for Christmas and Spring Break so they only get a month off for Summer. I think I might like that schedule better because you get more breaks in between. It might prevent burnout?

A Mostly Seoul Adventure

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I finally finished unpacking our first shipment at the house. Then, the furniture that we ordered while living in South Korea arrived ahead of our Household Goods. So now I have two couches and two dining room tables. It’s kind of funny really to go from living out of suitcases in a fairly empty apartment to having too much furniture. But our apartment is large enough that it’s fine. First world problems right?

Clarissa and I have developed a routine that works. We stay home and play at the playground on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday. Wednesday we go to base for PWC (Bible study) and grocery shopping. Thursday we go to story hour to see our friends, have lunch with Tim, and pick up a few more items at the commissary. The weekend is for exploring as a family.

Last weekend we tried a fish barbecue place. Even if most signs and menus aren’t in English, you can figure out what a restaurant serves pretty easily because there is usually a sign with an animal outside. The fish place across the street from our apartment always looks pretty busy, so we decided to check it out.

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We were not disappointed. The ladies were very nice. One took Clarissa over to see what they were doing in the kitchen when she was bored. We chose barbecue shellfish, which was excellent. Not too spicy for me. They bring everything out on a tray. It cooks in front of you on the burner at your table.

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My two favorite side dishes were the boiled peanuts and the seaweed. Clarissa ate both side dishes as well.

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Tim had to go to a training in Seoul on Thursday so we decided that Clarissa and I would come too and we would stay for the weekend.

While we were waiting for the bus with our suitcase and stroller, an older woman took a liking to Clarissa. She kept trying to play with her. She even gave her money! She then carried the stroller on to the bus for us. We took the bus to the subway to the KTX station. Clarissa did very well considering she didn’t get a nap that day.

Once we arrived in Seoul, we took the subway to our hotel. The plan was for Tim to carry the suitcase and I would hold Clarissa’s hand and the umbrella stroller. But Clarissa didn’t cooperate so Tim was superman and carried both the stroller and suitcase up multiple flights of stairs while I carried Clarissa. When we arrived at the hotel, they wanted to give Clarissa a gift of a teddy bear.

On Thursday, Tim went to his training and Clarissa and I explored Yongsan. We went to the commissary because you can’t request a product in Daegu if they don’t carry it at Yongsan. The commissary there is probably three times bigger than the one on Camp Walker so I do have a few requests to make.

Thursday night we took the subway to Gangnam. Clarissa wandered into a shop and I actually did buy some shoes. Now I can say I have been shopping in Gangnam (like in the song Gangnam Style).

We had dinner with Tim’s friend Minnie. She is really cool. Teaches fifth grade. I got to see a picture of Tim from 2006. We made plans to visit her soon where she lives in Suwon (about a half hour South of Seoul).

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Friday morning we headed to Coex mall, one of Tim’s favorite hangouts during his Air Force days. The mall has recently been remodeled so it looks very different and has different stores. While at the mall, we took Clarissa to the aquarium.

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The Coex Aquarium is very nice. Clarissa loved it! She was running from tank to tank yelling, “fishy!” I tried to capture it on video but it never happened.

She loved looking at all the fish.

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Clarissa enjoyed watching the penguins and otters. She had no interest in touching anything in the touch tank. She was afraid of the big sharks.

Friday night we had dinner with Jocelyn, Aaron, and Amari. We went to a Mexican place first and the guy asked if we were Tim, party of 6. So we sat down and had some chips while we waited for our friends. Wrong Tim. We didn’t have a reservation and it was a long wait for a table, so we left. They wouldn’t let me pay for the chips we ate.

So we ended up nextdoor at Buddha’s Belly. Best Thai food I have ever eaten! And if you know me, that is saying a lot. If you are ever in Itaewan, I highly recommend it.

Friday night I posted pictures from the aquarium. A friend who was actually visiting Seoul saw them so we decided to meet up on Saturday.

I met Yongki in 2003 while we were both attending Old Dominion University. I was leading a Bible study and he was the only one who came. It actually worked out really well. He had learned to read English in Korea but didn’t know how to speak it. We met once a week all semester. I invited him to several holiday meals at my grandmother’s house over the years. I always thought it would be cool to visit him in South Korea. The funny thing is that now I live in Korea and he doesn’t.

We decided to meet at Gyeongbokgung Palace. It was great to see Yongki again as it has been about three years since Tim and I last saw him. We were able to meet his brother and wife (who is a tour guide for the Seven Churches tour in Turkey. If you are interested in touring the seven churches in Revelation, let me know and I will hook you up).

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The architecture was pretty cool. Tim took way more pictures than I did. It is hard to take pictures and keep up with a toddler at the same time.

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On Saturday night we decided to have dinner on base because there is a Mexican restaurant on Yongsan. I haven’t had Mexican in months, so this was a real treat. Tim must love me!

Sunday we came home by KTX, subway, and bus. Did I mention that Tim was superman? He carried the suitcase and the stroller up the stairs and in the rain. We decided that next time we are leaving the stroller at home because most of the time Clarissa wanted to walk or be held so we carried it most of the weekend.

Korean culture (part 3)

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Some things are so normal now that I forget that I have not written about them yet.

We have picked up some Korean.  Not nearly enough. I am thankful for google translate on my phone.

Often if we ask a question,  instead of just saying “no”  the person also crosses his arms to look like an x.

I am thankful that the subways,  bus routes,  and major signs are in English as well as Hangul.  It makes it much easier to get around. Other random things are translated too. Sometimes the translation is funny.

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Clarissa loves to ride the bus. This is a good thing because we take the bus several days per week. Bus stops are very nice. There is a covered bench at each stop. There is also an LCD display that tells you how far away each bus is from the stop.

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When your bus approaches, you should be standing on the edge of the curb. At busy stops several busses may arrive at once. If your bus is second or third in line, you have to walk to the bus to get on. It is not going to stop again in thirty feet just because you are sitting at the actual stop. If it is not your bus, you should look away as the bus approaches.

When you get on the bus, you pay one of two ways. You can put your money in the bin or you have some kind of transportation card. Once on the bus, there is a pole with a card reader. You hold your card up to the reader. It says “kamsahamnida” (thank you) and displays how much money is left on your card.

There are several seats on the bus. The middle aisle is very wide so that people can also stand. It is expected to give up your seat for an elder. Several young men have given up their seats for me while I am holding Clarissa. The only time that didn’t happen, an older woman let Clarissa sit in her lap while I stood next to her. Another time, Tim had several packages and someone who was seated held his packages for him while he stood.

To get off the bus, you need to pay attention to the stops directly before your stop. There is an LCD display at the front of the bus. It scrolls through the current stop and the next one in Hangul as well as English. On most busses there is audio for this as well. Immediately after you pass the stop before your stop, press the red “stop” button. Then you need to get up and walk to the exit of the bus. If both of these things do not happen, your driver will not stop unless someone needs to get on the bus. Ask me how I know this…

When we first arrived in Korea, several people wore masks. Apparently during cold and flu season this is normal to prevent the spread of germs. I have seen masks again lately. I think it must be the pollen because the yellow dust has not come yet (polluted sand in the air from China).

I mentioned in a previous post that it is rude to tip at a restaurant. You can order a drink in many restaurants. Some just have a place for cups and water is self serve from a filter. Other restaurants have a quart sized (though Korea uses the metric system so it is probably a liter) water bottle at the table. Either way, you drink from a small metal cup.

The only time I have seen a fork at a restaurant was when I ordered a salad at Outback. In general, you eat with chopsticks or a spoon. Knives are rare as well. Once, my meal came with scissors. When I asked about it, the waitress said, “eggi” (baby). The scissors were to cut my meat to share with Clarissa.

God answers prayer

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There seems to be a pattern in my life. I want something really bad and I am frustrated that it doesn’t happen. Eventually I get to the place where I am content and can live without whatever it is that I think I want. Then, randomly, I get said desire. And it is usually way better than what I thought I wanted originally.

A couple of months ago, I wrote about how Tim and I felt called to South Korea but it wasn’t time yet. Tim had been applying for jobs for two and a half years but got a new local job and so we decided to take a break from Korea stuff for a while because it wasn’t time yet. We were wrong.

God has been orchestrating a pretty cool story for us. One of the jobs Tim applied for in the fall asked for an interview in November. Tim had just started the new job and was excited about it so he was going to cancel the interview. But we were busy that weekend and forgot to cancel. So when they called, Tim went ahead and did the interview. We didn’t think much of it.

About a month ago, one of my friends at school asked about Korea. I told her that we decided to put that on hold for a bit. We caught up on each other’s lives and plans and it started me thinking. I only seem to do things for about two years. I was at Calcott two years before I was transferred to Jacox. I taught at Jacox two years, was at KPC for less than two years, and this Is my second year tutoring at Calcott.

That night I went to bed around midnight. Five minutes later, Tim runs in and shoves his phone in my face. It was an email asking if he was still interested in the job he interviewed for in South Korea.

After a month long process, Tim received the official job offer on Monday night. We fly to Daegu, South Korea on Monday, February 23rd.

When we think about it, God has really been preparing things for us for the past several months.

This summer, Clarissa and I went to Connecticut to visit my dad’s side of the family. I had not visited in five years so it was great to see everyone. They were all able to meet and hold Clarissa.

Tim and I both tried to volunteer at church but nothing really worked out.

We randomly switched banks this fall because of a promotion Discover was doing. They don’t have a foreign transaction fee, but our old bank did.

For a while this year, it seemed like everything was breaking and needed to be fixed but because of Tim’s new job, we had the cash to fix them.

We had already planned to go to Pennsylvania for Christmas. Now everyone in Tim’s family has had a chance to meet Clarissa and we were able to say goodbye.

For the past two years, I have been praying that my car
would last until we moved to Korea. It ran wonderfully until it was hit on Monday, the day Tim received the official job offer. Not only that, but the insurance company is going to give me twice the amount of what I thought I could get for my car!

Even when I think about the initial word that God gave me about Korea, it makes sense. God told me that our next move would be South Korea. I had the feeling it would be in 3-5 years. That word was mid February 2012 so it is exactly three years.

Yes, God has been answering prayers behind the scenes for a while. We just didn’t see all of it until now.

God is so faithful

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When I married Tim I knew that he wanted to move to South Korea.  I kept thinking he would change his mind (or at least change the continent…. because I wanted to go to Africa). I told him that I was open to the idea but I couldn’t make any promises until I went there on vacation first.

He started really wanting to go about three years ago. In February of 2012, I was at a Catch the Fire conference and I felt like God said that our next move would be Korea. We had already used our tax return to buy plane tickets there for a vacation. I was excited about Korea but felt like it was still a few years away.

We went to South Korea in September that year and it was great. It felt really homey, like we were still in America. I enjoyed taking the train everywhere and how kind the people were. I thought Seoul was really cool how it was a big city like New York, but was surrounded by mountains. But my favorite part of that trip was my husband! Yes, I enjoyed seeing new things and spending time with him. But Tim is a completely different person in Korea! First of all, his allergies are almost a nonissue there so he could breathe easy and had lots of energy. But he was just really happy and outgoing. He knew how to get around, made friends easily, and even picked up the language quickly.

Needless to say, by the time we got home, we were both ready to go back. So Tim immediately started applying for jobs in South Korea. I knew that he wanted to go so bad and did not want him to get distracted from God’s best. So I began to pray that he would only be offered the job that would be God’s best for him.

In December of that year, I was laid off from my job at the church. The elders felt that we were headed to Korea soon. I felt like God told me not to look for a new job. Tim and I both hoped that meant we were headed to Korea. A week later, we found out we were pregnant with Clarissa.

Tim kept applying for jobs in Korea. Clarissa was born in August. I got a call in October offering me a part time teaching position at a school I love. I didn’t even apply. They just wanted me. So I started living my dream of living in the neighborhood that I teach. It’s only fifteen hours per week so I still feel like a stay at home mom, which is important to me. I make enough that we break even financially.

God always works things together for our good. Even things that don’t make sense or seem really hard at the time. Really, getting laid off was great for me. It definitely stretched my faith. I really had to trust God to provide for us. A lot of the time, He used other people to do it. We are so blessed to have my family here. My mom watches Clarissa while I work.

Shortly after I lost my job, we switched churches. I was blessed to be able to attend Wave Women and started attending a mom’s group where I have made friends with some amazing women who have encouraged and blessed me more than I thought was possible. Neither of those things would have happened if I had been working full time. We also would never have found forefront.

Tim has been applying for jobs in South Korea for two years now with no luck. I know it is because none of the jobs have been God’s best for Tim. The week of my birthday Tim got a phone call from a recruiter for McCauley Brown, a defense contractor. He was really excited about Tim’s resume and said he had a few jobs for Tim to apply for. A week later, he called to offer Tim a job. He never even had to interview. The job is in Suffolk so we don’t have to move. The job description is something Tim is excited about. The commute is easier. And the pay is better. And… This company has contracts all over the world, including South Korea, so there is potential to transfer later.

We would not have chosen to look in this direction, but I believe that this is God’s best for Tim and our family right now. This is the only job he has been offered, which has been an answer to prayer.

He has been at his new job for a week. Already he likes the people he is working with and feels like a weight has been lifted, as if he was being stifled by the previous job. God is so good. I do still believe that our next move will be South Korea, it just isn’t time yet.