So it’s been about a year since we moved into our current apartment. We actually signed the lease in April and moved in May – but we paid our deposit in May so that’s when it felt real; like we really committed! Actually, I can’t believe it’s been a year already, but since last year in itself was so surreal – both personally with our move to Korea and publically with the pandemic and all the repercussions following – this was just another change to our already ever-changing life at that point! Ha.
Funny enough, our original (non-pandemic) plan was to live with Lym’s parents for at least six months, if not indefinitely. Since Lym’s parents have a larger condo and we were not familiar with Cheonan, we thought it would be easier for the kids to get settled if we stayed in one place, with family, while they got settled in their schools and started learning Korean.
But by late March – when we decided to start looking at apartments – many countries, including Korea, were grappling with the coronavirus pandemic. We had rough plans to go to soccer tournaments with our kids’ Hawaii teams in the summer, but instead, we were watching the world shut down as international flights were cancelled, cities were put on lockdown, and toilet paper shortages occurred across the states. In Korea, we were making the best of delays to school start dates and mask shortages, while trying to help the kids learn Korean and do online school completely in a foreign language. Lym, by the way, was a super rock star since he had to sit, translate, and help 3 kids with school every day! I could only ask him if he liked repeating 3rd, 6th, and 8th grade all at the same time (yeah, I was pretty much useless. Ha!). Life was not happening the way we expected and we were all feeling extra disoriented in addition to the regular transitions families experience when moving abroad.
To add to the challenge, we were not only living with Lym’s parents, but also with one of Lym’s brothers (who decided to stay because of the pandemic), Lym’s sister, and his sister’s new husband on the weekends (he commuted). In total, it was 10 to 11 people – 6 to 7 adults and 4 children. In a condo. All together. All the time. Honestly, it was squishy, but we anticipated that. However, because of the pandemic, we were all together in the house 24/7 with all the adults working from home and all the kids doing online school. Also, because we were the newest and largest group, everything from trying to figure out shower schedules, to food at mealtimes, to sleeping arrangements, to finding spaces for online school lessons and studying were all disrupting the regular schedules of Lym’s parents and siblings. No wonder it felt chaotic 99% of the time!*
*I’d like to point out that although I felt like we were intruding many times, I was frequently reassured that it was not the case! 🥰 So this wasn’t at all meant to disparage Lym’s family in any way, it’s just me reminiscing and reflecting. We were definitely appreciative that everyone graciously accommodated our big family.
All in all, even though we weren’t exactly planning to move when we did, I’m glad we did and this entire year has been our confirmation that we made a good decision for our family. On a practical level, we’ve been able to quarantine more easily when one or more of us have been exposed to the coronavirus (although we’ve been fortunate and no one’s caught it). But on an every-day-level, we’ve also had the privilege of meeting some of our kids’ school friends when they’ve come over to our house. We’ve been able to create our own home culture and environment, which has included watching K-Dramas as a family, letting the kids have a cartoon marathon of their current favorite show (not always fun for us, let me tell you! 😜), making American-style breakfasts for dinner, cleaning the house and scrubbing our toilets together, or just hanging out and listening to each other talk about our days, school, and/or living in Korea, I feel so blessed with the opportunities we’ve had so far living here!
As I’m writing this, I’m not sure what we’ll do next year when our lease is up or even if we’ll be in Korea – Lym and I have honestly gone back and forth on this – but after reflecting on this past year, I’m absolutely grateful for this time we have now and the environment we’re working to build with each other. 💞