On the message board recently, I asked for anyone with a spouse living in Korea to write an article that could be added to the website. Jamie graciously volunteered and wrote the following about how life has been in Korea. She has also volunteered to answer any questions either through the message board or her email address.
I know I may sound like a broken record on the Korea board, but I highly recommend wives move here if they are able to do it. My children and I joined my husband here in April, about 5 months into his tour. He did extend his tour for another year so we will be here until November 2008. My husband is currently stationed at a small base in Area II (Seoul). There are probably about 450 soldiers at K-16. In our company alone we have five wives over here non command sponsored. Everyone that has been here for awhile cannot get over how many families are now joining their spouses and they all think it is great. We don’t have a commissary or large PX on base and have to travel by bus (free of charge) to Yongsan to basically do anything, but even with that inconvenience I am so happy to be able to spend this time as a family because we all know the inevitable will happen once we get back to the states.
Before DH left for his tour here, I wanted to get our family passports just so we had them in case we decided to come to Korea even for a visit and I didn’t want to mess around with having to get his signature faxed or whatever since you do need both parents’ signatures for minors passports, I just wanted to make sure I could get the kids’ passports. DH did the paperwork and got the approval for us to come over here and all I had to do was store everything back home and buy the plane tickets. We only needed DH’s orders to bring us into the country and with your inprocessing you will have to get the SOFA stamp that lasts until the DEROS.
It is difficult to adjust to not having a vehicle and having to plan your day around bus schedules, but that is just our situation because of our base. There is a subway system and public buses to use. There are a lot of things to do here, it is just getting out to do them. I have used the websites: tour2korea.com and asiarooms.com just to check out some of the different things to do.
We are currently living in a three bedroom apartment off post and besides some small things here and there it feels just like an apartment in the states. You have to use power converters to use US appliances that are only rated for 110. The showers tend to be just a shower head on the wall in the bathroom so your entire bathroom gets soaked. The washer/dryer combo takes longer than US washers and dryers. Those are really just the small things we’ve just gotten used to.
Being here non command sponsored, the only issue I have run into so far is that I am on a waiting list to see if my son can get into school, which I will find out shortly. I have taken my children to the doctor on base and even to the ER and haven’t had any issues.
Most of the Koreans are very nice. They love children and just adore them. My kids get so much attention when we are out. It is definitely interesting to get out and see the different culture. Your experience here is what you make of it.