It’s already October 2020 and time is flying by. I’ve been working on this site but haven’t really tried posting before. Now, I wish I did since we’ve already been in Korea for 9 months and so many things keep changing that I feel like I should have documented our family’s journey better. So, yeah, 2020 has been a little surreal. We’ve had personal, national, and global situations that make every day feel like a new adventure — in both positive and negative ways.
On that note, this week we found out that a mom & pop kimbap restaurant in our neighborhood had a Covid case. We get text alerts almost daily about all things related to Covid in our city but they’re usually not relevant; this alert, though, hit a little closer to home. The restaurant is a place we get take-out from about one or two times a month, and even with that, I wouldn’t usually care because take-out means in and out of there within 5 minutes, But of course, on this most recent visited, we just happened to eat there (for the first time, too!) AND we probably sat next to one of the possible Covid-positive people before they knew they were ill/positive.
Now, I wouldn’t say we are the most cautious people by far – we have children in school and extracurricular activities and I also attend a Korean language class a few days a week, but we don’t eat out much, we wear masks outdoors, and we wash our hands regularly.
Also, Korea has never gone into full lock-down mode — and their usually low Covid numbers show that it’s fine to do so — so we’ve also done a little local traveling over the past few months: to visit friends in another city, to visit family in Seoul, to go to an indoor waterpark, and to the beach. All done while armed with masks, back-up masks, and a healthy amount of hand sanitizer.
So, it was ironic to think that we might have contracted Covid while less than 5 minutes from our home. Ugh, this was going to be difficult and, oddly, if all SIX of us got it, we would ruin our city’s daily Covid rate…by a LOT.
Long-story short, Korea’s Covid testing and tracking abilities are quite amazing. On Sunday evening, October 18th, we found out that a Covid-positive person was linked to the restaurant. By 11:30 AM on Monday, we were making our way to a health center to get tested for Covid and by 9 AM Tuesday, October 20th we were receiving texts notifying us of that our results were Covid-negative. In additon, a follow-up text mentioned that everyone who tested from the restaurant case was Covid-negative so we were all allowed to continue life as usual.
Besides that, testing was fast, easy — well, as easy as someone putting a swab up your nose and down your throat — and virtually seamless – less than 48 hours from Covid alert to Covid-negative!
*Note: I did have my Korean-speaking husband with me so I can’t say for certain that it would have been as easy without him, but the procedure was pretty basic and I think it still could have been accomplished with a little pointing, Google Translate, and physical directing from one place to the next.
Per my medical family’s advice and my own CDC research, I still feel like I need to monitor myself for possible symptoms for the next few days — symptoms take an average of 5-8 days to show up — but overall, we feel fine and I think we’ll be ok. This morning, we also notified all our childrens’ teachers, coaches and the community center I attend that we had negative results and they all gave us permission to attend classes tomorrow. Cool!
So despite our own personal Covid scare, I think I’m ready to resume our life as usual. I don’t regret our decisions to travel a little bit nor our decision to eat at the kimbap restaurant when our son asked. If anything, I’m just a little more grateful for the opportunities we had and continue to have. During the (short) time we waited for our test results, I did think about a Plan P — that is, a plan if one of us tested Positive — but I still don’t regret going to the kimbap restaurant and having a fun-filled lunch with my husband and youngest son (the other kids were at school), I’m still glad and grateful that we took all those little trips, and, unless there’s an official mandate for lock-down, I think we’ll still keep living our lives, planning little trips for our children, going on hikes up the local mountains, and even eating at restaurants once in a while.
Of course, I feel comfortable saying all this because Korea has relatively low transmission rates, most residents are willing to comply with activity-reporting in order to help Covid tracking, and Covid testing is fast, easy and free. AND, we’ll still continue to wear our masks, wash our hands, and stop our second son from hugging people and rolling all over public surfaces. Basically, since I feel like we’re in a safe, responsible environment, we aren’t required to be hermits and, I’d rather not be one. (However, I’d like to note, that if we had to lock-down, we would comply because it means things have gotten bad.)
With all that, now that we’re back to our “regular” life, I need to figure out our kids’ school schedule again — whenever the national instructions for Covid change, the way schools hold classes, the frequency of online to in-class classes, and who attends on what days all change. LOL. Hard to believe that all of this is the new normal, but I’m so thankful that we tested negative, we’re able to live somewhat comfortably in Korea, and the kids seem happy and healthy.
We also did a video about our experience too! Please check it out: https://youtu.be/gHwKp8LqHP8