Friday, August 29, 2014

Life Lessons

When we first arrived here on May 20th, relief was the first emotion I felt once we were dropped off by my sponsor and my supervisor. It has been 3 months and 8 days since that day and I'm still trying to have a positive outlook on our decision to move here.

I've thoroughly enjoyed learning about a new culture and how Koreans live. I truly appreciate the diversity the US has afforded me and my family. Being in an Asian country again, even if it isn't my home has been a wonderful change in our lives. One thing that was a complete surprise for me is that I didn't think I would feel slightly uncomfortable being surrounded by mainly Asians. I figured that since my first 11 years of my life was in the Philippines and I was hoping Korea would be somewhat similar, but I couldn't have been so wrong.

I feel like a fish out of water gasping for air to breathe.  I know I will adapt and really start to realize that living here is for the best. I'm hoping for a better future for Jensen. The quality of education is so much better here.  The emphasis on music and art is alive and well.  They value it as much as academics and do not try to cut it out of the system. Although, I don't agree with the pressure that the kids go through at such a young age to achieve. I would like Jensen to find a happy balance in doing well and being successful on his own terms.  I don't care for him to be a doctor or lawyer, unless it's what he wants for his life. I will support him in what makes him happy. I hope we can teach him to be self sufficient while doing what he loves.

I even started a pros and cons list just to make sure I wasn't letting my feelings dictate my state of mind. I guess that's the part of me that strives to be logical and not let my emotions rule me. The biggest con on my list is my job, more specifically a colleague of mine. Everything about my position I love. I am now a SCCM administrator and I'm so excited that I am able to manage this product and we also use Vsphere.  Two of the main IT tools I have heard Christian talk about the past 5 years. He makes it sound so much fun that I've always wanted to work on these systems. Now that I am, it'll be a whole new adventure in my career. Now if I can only tolerate someone long enough to stay and learn, that's another story. I've already started looking for another job. I know I can't apply for a GS 12, but I can do a lateral move to another GS 11 position. For some reason those positions are rare. All I've seen are GS 12's and higher. I have even asked the Commander if I can just be transferred to another dept. Yes, I am that desperate to leave. I loathe going in to work.

This particular person has belittled me and made me feel as if I am a child being scolded by her father. I don't feel like I belong. The person that left and I happened to be filling his position has a count down on the wipe board on when he is coming back. Today will be 387 days left until he is able to return to Korea. Yes, I know how many days. It's as if I am just keeping his seat warm for him. Talk about being made to feel as an outsider.

One thing I've learned from this experience is that I will have so many questions for the next job I get picked to be interviewed. I will ask how the current morale among the employees and the management relationships. I never thought about asking these questions since I never accepted a job where the morale was so low that within 3 weeks of arrival our section manager who is over the entire IT, only 2nd to the Commander, held a meeting and announced how unhappy he was and that he was going to be leaving in a year and that we as employees are responsible for our own well-being. He basically said stay if you can stand the heat, but for those who can't you need to make preparations on leaving. How am I suppose to feel as a newcomer and I hear this from upper management?

If I had to do it all over again and know what I know now, I still would take the job. I love living in another country, but the cons lists is getting longer than the pros. I know I'm venting a little bit, but it makes me feel better and those that care enough to read this will and know that I'm doing ok despite the issue I am having at work. I hope I haven't bore you to death. Stay tuned, I might be reporting that I have a new job or have been transferred to another department.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

So Korea!

So Korea!  That is what Christian says when we notice things that are only found here in Korea.  I think it's catchy and I couldn't resist using it for the title of this post.

There are a few things that I have noticed that is "So Korea" since we moved here.  I'm sure the list will grow for the duration of our stay, but I wanted to go ahead and write about our experiences here, so far.

1. Man purses: I guess a man carrying a designer purse is quite normal here.  I keep thinking of the Seinfeld episode about the European carry all, but the men here are carrying purses, not specifically made for men.  Not a messenger bag, but a purse. I've noticed that men also wears skinny jeans and are very metro sexual.  Even beyond that to the point that they appear androgynous. Sometimes, I can't tell if a man dressed in skinny jeans and carrying a purse is a male or female. I had my haircut recently and the man next to me was getting a perm.  Not a usual thing I would see back home.

 2. Squid Burger - I knew that we would find crazy types of food here, but this one was a bit out of the usual suspects of Korean food.  We even tried a bulgogi burger which was pretty good.

3. Straddling the lanes - Please pick a lane and stay on it.  Now that I have a car, driving around in this type of traffic is so frustrating!  I guess sooner or later, I'll get used to it. Please note, that I was at a complete stop when I took the this photo.  

4. Elevator Trucks - High rise apartments are common here and usually freight elevators are used, but sometimes these types of trucks come in handy. First one I took on my way home from work. The second photo I found online.

That's all for now, but I will be continuing this list on future posts.  For those who have lived in different countries, please let me know if any of these are familiar in a particular country.  I've lived in the Philippines and visited England, but I have not found any commonality in this list. What I have gathered seems to be exclusively Korean lifestyle.

My New Car - Kia Morning

We finally sold the Rav4 (thanks to my awesome friend Maryann) and a few days later, I finally found the car that was perfect for me.  I love my new car! It's a red Kia Morning and exclusive here in Korea. The European version is called a Picanto, but it is not available in the US.

The first three photos were taken in the dealership and the last one is in my parking garage.  Notice that the rest of the cars are comprised of black, silver, and white cars.  So glad that my car is red.  I can easily locate it with no problems.  I thought it was just a coincidence that the cars on that garage floor was the same colors, but Koreans prefer that color scheme.  Rarely will you see a bright colored car on the road.  I wonder if it's because as an Asian county, they are used to a homogeneous type of culture.  I tend to gravitate towards diversity. 

It's a fun little car.  It reminds me of my red Geo Metro that I drove in high school, but a bit sportier and a step up in quality. I hope I'll be able to bring it back home with me.  I will have to do some modifications to have it legal on US roads, but that shouldn't be a problem.

Arrival of our Household Goods

Finally! Our last shipment of household goods arrived.  We have been busy unpacking and so happy that I am able to sleep in my own bed. We have the living room, kitchen, and Jensen's room finished.  I'd like to have some friends over, but not until the apartment is fully ready. I'm hoping to get more unpacking done this weekend.

Unfortunately, the TV and stereo speakers were damaged in the process of moving.  I have 75 days to claim the damages and I'm sure they will replace it. At least we didn't have to do the packing ourselves and everything was insured.

Jensen has thoroughly enjoyed playing with the rest of his toys.  I never realized the enormous amount of toys he owns.  I can't believe how much he has grown since we left.  He now able to climb onto his bouncy horse and he loves it!