Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Remember Whensday

Remember when Matty and I lived in South Korea for six months?! I haven't thought about it in a long time, but Matty was looking at pictures from our time there and I thought it would make a great post. For those of you who don't know (or may have forgotten), Matt and I moved to Pyeongtaek, South Korea THREE WEEKS after we got married! We lived there from July 6, 2006 - December 22, 2006. Don't ask me why, but the dates are pretty clear in my mind! At the time, Matt was working for a company called Metaldyne and they needed engineering support at their plant in South Korea.

When I originally went through to choose pictures for this post, I selected 116! I've tried to eliminate a lot of them, but you might want to kick back and relax.

This is what luggage for two people for six months looks like. I hate to say it, but the way I pack this could also be a week-long trip to Mexico ;)  Metaldyne flew us Business Class! It was a twelve hour flight to Tokyo, and then another two hour flight to South Korea. Just because it's Business Class doesn't mean you automatically go to sleep. It's darn near impossible for me to sleep on my back, and I remember being awake for the entire flight!

We stayed at the Hyatt at the airport before our ride arrived to take us to our apartment.

Our very first meal in Korea. I should have known I was going to be in trouble when they gave us aprons! I am a much more adventurous eater now than I was ten years ago. I think the first time I cried in Korea was not because I was homesick, it was because I didn't know what I was going to eat! haha

Our sweet ride. True story . . . our very first night in our apartment we ventured out to get some dinner. We were stopped at a red light on a side street when a car came out of an alley and drove right into the side of our car. It happened in slow motion. Thank goodness we had the business card of one of Matt's new coworkers with us! We felt a little defeated. I believe we gave up on dinner and went home and went to bed.

The door to our apartment. I don't have pictures of the entire thing, but our apartment was HUGE! It had four large bedroom, two full baths, family room, kitchen, and eating area.

The tall gadget in the corner is the air conditioner. The entire month of July was hot, HUMID, and rainy! The AC got a workout.

Seeing our bedroom makes me think of the time change. They are 13 hours ahead in Korea, and the adjustment is nothing to sneeze at! I remember that we arrived on either a Friday or Saturday, and Matt went to work on Monday. He'd come home and we'd go to bed and sleep til 10 or 11 because we were so tired. They say it takes about as many days to adjust as hours in the time difference. I think that felt about right. 

Most Koreans don't use shower curtains. We had to purchase one when we moved in.

This is the view from our window. Our apartment building looked just like this one.

There was always a festival or concert going on in the square below our apartment . . . except when I took this picture!

The washing machine. It literally took about 7 hours to do a load of laundry, and no one could tell me why! I'm fairly certain most of our clothes got thrown out once we moved back home.

No dryers in Korea :(

Here's a festival going on outside our apartment!

A carnival ride attached to the back of a pickup truck . . . super safe!

There's really nothing I can say about this picture, except that when we reflect on our time in Korea this picture is ALWAYS mentioned.

Let me pause here for a minute to describe where we lived. Pyeongtaek is about forty miles south of Seoul and is home to a US Army Base, so the area outside of the base had some familiar restaurants that served somewhat Americanized food. We didn't live within walking distance of the army base, but we did live within walking distance of Baskin Robbins!

Matty enjoying his ice cream.

Me enjoying my ice cream.

And Drew Barrymore enjoying hers!

Matt's sister, Sarah, was friends with someone in high school who knew of someone working at the Army Base. We got in touch with Chad, and he was able to take us on the base twice to eat and go to the commissary. It was so weird. Walking through the gates of the army base was like walking back into America! We ate dinner at Chili's, and then got to buy a few familiar things. I was in heaven. Have I mentioned that I think I'd handle living in Korea much better now than I did then?

The majority of our shopping was done at E-Mart. Think Walmart . . . but with underground parking and less butt crack ;) It took about a month, but I eventually felt comfortable driving there and shopping on my own during the day. I drove only two places in Korea: to Matt's work and to E-Mart. Traffic was CRAZY and I couldn't read any of the signs!

You might be wondering what I did all day (besides shop at E-Mart). I had about five groups of kids who I tutored in English. (Ironically, I can't figure out whether I should have put "whom" or "who" in that last sentence!) Young people in Korea are SO INTERESTED in learning to read, write, and speak English. Many of my students were children of Matt's new coworkers.

We were about an hour away from Seoul, so we spent a lot of weekends exploring the many different parts of the city . . .

  . . . and figuring out how to use the trains!

One weekend we treated ourselves and stayed at the Ritz Carlton. I wish I had more pictures because it was so fancy, but this one pretty much says it all. Here's Matty enjoying a cocktail in the VIP lounge.

Exploring the Seoul Zoo.

 Those are all clementines!

Matty had a suit and some dress shirts made while we were there.

For Thanksgiving, Chad was nice enough to invite us to his home to have dinner with some of his coworkers and friends from the school where they worked on the Army base. They had a pretty nice view from their house!

This next set of pictures is all night clubs or restaurants we encountered on our travels. I'm fairly certain something was lost in translation!

Note: We did not go into any of these places!

During our down time we worked on a puzzle we bought at a book store. It took us awhile.

I don't remember how many pieces it was, but I do remember that once we finished I put a board over the top to turn it over. I numbered each piece and bagged them up so that when we got home I could easily put it back together and frame it. 

This is how people moved their furniture in and out of the apartments!

There were a lot of bakeries in our neighborhood with the most delicious looking cakes and treats . . . except they weren't sweet! Apparently Koreans don't like their baked goods sweet. What is wrong with them?! This is a green tea cake that one of my students brought over. Needless to say, I didn't love it. 

Exploring the big planes at an air show.

We visited the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone), which is a buffer zone about 160 miles long and 2.5 miles wide between North and South Korea. One of us does not seem thrilled about taking this picture. 

Matt had to go to China for a work trip while we were there (Yes, I was left in South Korea all by myself! I locked myself in our apartment and didn't move from the couch. I was so nervous!). This is a picture he took of the high speed train he was on in China. 430 kilometer per hour is about 250 miles per hour! No thank you!

We bought this Christmas tree from a sidewalk vendor. We were in Korea until December 22, so we had to get a little Christmasy!

Just before we left we got a big snow!

One of our many "goodbye" dinners.

This was just the tip of the iceberg as far as pictures and stories go. It was an incredible experience that I think I would have appreciated more as a "grown up" rather than my 24-year-old self. Matty loved the food. I tolerated what I could. We both agree that it was a good life experience, but that America is awesome and we don't need to live anywhere else!


  1. I just finally went back to this post to read each caption - I really enjoyed reading this! I knew generally about most of those things you mentioned, but I think gives me an even better of how that all went for you! I still think it's so cool you guys a) had the opportunity to do something like that and b) and took it. Not everyone would do that so well done!!