Saturday, June 28, 2014

Finally Moved In

Well, we finally moved in this past Tuesday and had an extremely busy day.  My sponsor offered to help move our luggage and surprisingly, all our bags fit in his little car.  Still had to take another trip, but all 6 of our suitcases fit on the first trip.

Jensen was so excited about the new place he was running around waving his arms and screaming.  I think he liked the echo that the place created so he kept yelling.  He had such a great time having all that space to stretch out his little legs out.  So darn cute!  Wish we were able to record it. We had loaner furniture delivered until our own comes in mid July.  Until then, the apartment doesn’t feel like home just yet.  I can’t wait to see our own furniture in the place.

Already went to Home Plus 4  times on our first day at home.  I love being able to just go downstairs and go shopping.  So convenient and without a car it definitely helps.  At first, I felt so lost walking in the store.  I tried to grab a cart, but it was chained together.  I didn’t notice you had to insert a 100 won coin to release it from the group.  I noticed a lady who did just that with a coin and pull the chain apart from the rest of the carts. You do get it back once you chain it back to the designated areas. It’s a great system so the carts are not all over the store left behind by the customers.  An employee doesn’t need to collect it from the parking lot.  Most customers will return it to get the deposit back. Also, the carts are designed for you to be able to steer it at a 360 degree turn.  I thought it was pretty neat, but once I was “driving”, it wasn’t fun at all.  I guess I just have to get used to it.

I couldn't resist taking a photo of the shopping carts.
It felt like I was exploring on our first visit there. Home Plus is like a Wal Mart, more like a Target. Another thing I noticed was once you entered the store there is a greeter and his/her main job is to say hello (along with a bow) and assist the shoppers. I'm hoping to take more photos when I get a chance.

Our apartment complex has 7 buildings and the 3 bottom floors of the building our unit is located in houses Home Plus.  We also have Starbucks, several beauty parlors, restaurants, and basically the business portion of the neighborhood.  So nice to be able to walk to businesses and a car has become unnecessary.  We also have a monorail that is in construction that will be operational later this year.  Not to mention the buses and taxis that is as available.  Daegu reminds me of a mini NY, the city’s amenities are adequate and it is very nice to live in a high rise apartment.      

Monday, June 23, 2014

New Apartment in SK building

Tomorrow is moving day.  Still a bit anxious about moving into the same apartment that we had an issue with, but hopefully it will all work out.  Learning a lot about the differences in culture and business practices here has been challenging, to say the least.  Guess I can’t take the good without the bad.  Unfortunately, the bad still outweighs the good since we moved here.  I am still keeping a positive attitude about the actual move since that is where most of the stress lies.

Here are more photos of the apartment.  Since we decided to move in to the same one, I might as well post the pics of our new place.  Hopefully, we'll be able to stay here for the duration of my tour.  By the way, that is our real estate agent who is showing the apartment.

I’m so thankful we moved with the army system.  I can’t imagine how crazy this could have been trying to do it ourselves  Not to mention that getting the job was much easier that trying to do it as a civilian outside the DoD system.  Practically, everything has been taken care of for us.  I didn’t even have to pack a thing except for what we took with us on the plane.  I even bought boxes thinking we had to do the actual packing ourselves.  If we choose to do that, the items would not be insured and if anything happens they will not replace it.  I had return the boxes I bought.  Should have asked before getting.

I wish they had a class for civilians on what the steps are for moving OCONUS.  Even just documentation to read would be helpful.  Aside from that, it has been pleasant not packing up our own belongings.  Plus once it arrives, they unpack and set up the apartment.  The best thing is that I didn’t have to pay for any of the services.  I could also sign up for storage in the US for the duration of this 3 year tour, but we didn’t need it.  We were going to ship the Rav4, but decided to just sell it. 

The enormous amount of forms that I had to fill out was unreal.  I’m so tired of it and still have more to do.  I keep telling myself that I didn’t have to pay for any of it, so that make it bearable.

Tried to see occupational health earlier today, but have to go back this afternoon.  I have to get a bunch of immunizations which includes anthrax and small pox.  My position is considered an emergency essential personnel and I will have to get certain things done to prepare for that.  I even have to pick up gear that requires me to wear uniforms.  The crazy thing is that the uniforms are the exact same thing that the soldiers wear.  My family is going to think I signed up for the army.  It’s going to be hilarious, to say the least.

Basically, I have to stay behind if an evacuation occurs.  My family will have the opportunity to go home, but I have to stay with the army.  This is going to be the closest thing to feeling like being in the military I will ever have experienced.  I read the paperwork that entails the necessary steps I need to do and it’s a bit scary.  I have to pick up gas masks for myself and my family next week.  I also have to have a will drawn up and PoA for my child if Christian gets a position that requires the same. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Business Practices of Renting in Korea

I just signed the lease to our new apartment and this place is gorgeous.  Not even going to show the photos since we decided to walk away from the lease.  The landlady decided to try and collect more money on the agreed monthly payment.  I guess the signed lease contract is null and void to her even though she signed it and even used a special stamp that verifies her identity.  I guess that dates back to the time of medieval kings and queens.

I spoke to the chief of the Housing department and I believe we can walk away from the lease.  I'm not sure if we are also bound by contract to move in, but I think she just violated it when she tried to collect more from us.  It is called a double contract and it is illegal.  I could have black listed her if I wanted to and it would be forbidden for any DoD employee or soldier to rent from her.  That would be harmful for her since she owns 5 rental properties.  The chief took my phone call as anonymous since I'm not out to ruin someone, but I think the damage has been done.  He will advise anyone not to rent from her so she may as well be blacklisted. Plus I may have to formally report it to get out of our lease.  I refuse to put my family through that.

That's not even the worse of it.  If we honored the contract she will collect the extra $100 a month from somebody.  If not from us, the real estate agent will have to pay.  Even though he didn't sign any document saying he needs to, but he still will.  The issue came up when the chief haggled the price down.  We were all prepared to pay the original amount, but she shouldn't have signed the lease at a lower price.  Haggling is done with everything here, not just at the flea market or garage sales. Now she is trying to recoup the amount she lost.

I would hope that not all landlords are this way.  I just don't believe that she doesn't think that she cannot honor the lease she signed at the price stated.  I find it funny that a verbal agreement supersedes a signed contract in her eyes.  I really think it's just her and maybe a few more other, but I would really think that a country like Korea conducts business on a more honorable way. 

I wasn't going to post any photos, but a blog entry without photos seems useless.  I hope we can find another apartment in SK.  We love the location and we don't really want another apartment building.  I guess we won't loose the playground area or the view if we find another unit in the same building.  So the photo above may still be our view and our playground.

I hope that this experience with this business woman is the last negative reflection I have of Korea.
I sincerely have high hopes for this place and moving here has been difficult so far.  I am keeping a positive attitude and will not be discouraged.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Traveling to Korea

I expected moving to Korea was going to be stressful, but I didn't expect the level of stress to be so incredible high. I guess with Christian being hospitalized, it added a bit more factors than a “normal” move would have presented.

At least the worst part is over. The actual trip seemed like it took forever. Jensen did much better than I had anticipated. I was afraid the loud noises of the plane would scare him, but he was actually exited about the takeoff. He enjoyed looking out the window as we took off. 

We left Savannah May 14 to visit my in-laws in NC.  They had just moved there from TX and we wanted to spend at least a couple of days with them.  Our house was packed up by Monday the 12th, but we had to take care of some things and make sure the house was cleaned up before leaving.  

It was about a 6 hour drive to Christian's parents house.  It was just over the border of GA and we drove past the Blue Ridge Mountain area.  It was really nice place to visit and their new house was out of the way and it felt like we were staying on a mountain vacation home.

This was essentially their backyard.


 Giving Nana a kiss.

Since we were flying from Atlanta, we decided to take Jensen back to the aquarium.  He loved it so much the first time around.  My Mom and brother Rich came to join us for the weekend.

I love this photo.  I was about 5 seconds from getting slapped for taking this one. Love my guys!

We also met up with Maryann and Mai for dinner.  I also met up with Kemp, but forgot to take a photo when we had breakfast.

Our flight was 12:04 pm on Sunday, May 18.  It was Jensen's first flight and he seems excited to be traveling.  I wish I had taken more photos of our actual trip, but this is the only one I got.

He doesn't look like it, but he was actually pretty excited.

We had a layover in Detroit, fortunately it was a small airport and it was easy to find our gate. We definitely knew we were at the correct gate since most of the passengers were Koreans.  Once we arrived in Seoul, we had one last connecting flight.  The problem we ran into was we only had 50 minutes to get to our gate.  If we didn't have to pick up our bags and go through customs, we would have made the flight.  It was the last one for the day so we had to take the KTX bullet train.  It was past midnight by the time we arrived at our hotel.  Tim, my sponsor was there to meet us.  I was able to call him to update him.  The lady at the counter was nice enough to let me use her phone to contact him.  We also had a difficult time with all our baggage.  We were unable to use the carts to transport our 6 bags plus his car seat.  Koreans are one of the most friendliest and helpful people.  We couldn't have done it without strangers helping us. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Moving to Daegu, South Korea

It's been 3 weeks since we arrived here in Daegu. According to Christian, it's been 3 hellish weeks since we arrived here in the armpit known as Daegu.  Of course, he's just joking, but it has been extremely stressful to say the least.

I recently accepted a job here with the RCCK.  I am a tier 2 support tech for the SCCM group.  I spent my 2nd week here at a SCCM class given by a certified Microsoft trainer that they flew in for the class at Camp Henry. So excited to finally be managing images and supporting this application.

We are currently staying at the Camp Walker Lodge.  It's on post and very convenient for me since I can walk to work. I'm glad that we have a kitchenette and living room area. Plenty of room for Jensen to have his own space.

I started applying for overseas positions last November.  I also applied for an opening in Italy, but Korea offered me a position. I had my interview on January 23.  The only private place I could think of having the phone interview was in the bathroom.  I guess I instinctively made a bee line for the master bathroom, since becoming a new mother that is the only place I can get some privacy.

I still can't believe we are living in Daegu.  It's nice to work and live on post at the moment.  It feels as if we are still back in the States while we are on post, but the subtle differences in the architecture and landscaping definitely feels Korean.  All post commissary and exchange stores accepts only dollars except for the Katusa snack bar and they only take payments in won.  I'm still getting used to carrying 2 types of currency, among the numerous things that I am getting accustomed to here. 

The hellish part comes from Christian's experience with his health condition.  He was admitted to the Fatima Hospital last Wednesday and was discharged yesterday.  He had minor surgery for an existing condition that had been an issue for quite some time.  We were pleasantly surprised with the healthcare system here in Korea.  Not only did it feel like we were staying in a 5 star hotel, but the cost of the procedure was much less that it would have been if we had it done back home.  We did have to pay the whole cost up front, but we as soon as we send the receipts to our insurance company part of the cost will be refunded. The room was cleaned everyday by housekeeping.  I've never had a hospital stay were they cleaned the room every single day. The hospital room was much nicer than our room in the Lodge.

The TV in the room was bigger than the one in our hotel room.

Jensen had a great time meeting the nurses.  Kylie even invited her friends that also worked in different departments of the hospital to meet him.  I tried to get him to smile for the photo, but he was pretty tired and I think was just overwhelmed with all the ladies.

The pill dispersion was a bit different as well.  I'm used to pill bottles, but they gave us the pills in single packet "servings".