Friday, July 30, 2010

Welcome to our home.

Hello readers!

It has taken almost a week to get up and running in Yongin-si, but we're here and I'm writing my first blog.  It's hot and humid here, much like Wisconsin.   The difference is the smell in the air; it's hard to nail it, but I think it is like sea salt (not pollution) that permeates the humidity.

I'm sitting at our desk in the sunroom on the 15th floor of our 25 story apartment building.  There are 10 apartment buildings in all in our complex.  Each apartment is 25 stories and contains 4 apartments on each floor.  The apartment buildings create a big square with a courtyard in the center.  Cars are forbidden on the very interior of the courtyard area.  Our interior walls are all windows - floor to ceiling, so we have a fabulous view and lots of sunlight.  All the windows open and have screens and railing so we can get "fresh" air.  There are 3 playgrounds on the premises.  In the main courtyard area there is a playground, a fountain, a badmitten court, trees, sitting spaces, and lots of cobblestone.  There are some nifty lights that light up for part of the evening, changing colors constantly.  It's a gated community with 2 guardhouses, so we feel very safe.  No keys to the apartment building - just a key card for entry into the building and a keypad with code for entry into the apartment.

When you enter the apartment, first take off your shoes!  There is a small enclosed entryway for taking off shoes and hanging up coats, etc.  Tan storage cupboards to the right and a mirror to the left.  Go through the door and step up slightly.  Directly in front of you is Anna's room.  She has a bed and a closet bureau and a desk and chair.  Her back wall isn't a wall at all.   It is all glass sliding doors which take you to a small area looking over the courtyard (all windows).  Her room, as all the rooms, is a combination of tans and whites, with a linoleum floor.

Next to her room and to the direct right of the entrance to the apartment is a full bathroom.  Think Europe - fixtures, white tile, toilet, all very European.  There is a bathtub with shower capabilities (if we get a rod and curtain).  It's pretty small, but functional.  Nice, big mirror.

From the main entrance hang a left and you will enter our living room.  It is a good size - 15 ft x 18 ft with wood floor laminate.  It's interior wall is a continuation of Anna's - all sliding glass that goes out to the "sunroom" portion overlooking the courtyard (desk and chair, where I am now, small table with two chairs and a plant).  Lots of natural light!   In the living room we have a small couch (tans/brown) a chair (same), a coffee table (dark brown wood), a TV and stand, and a shelving unit (that we purchased ourselves).  The living room also houses the air conditioning unit, a stand alone piece about 6 ft. tall.  Right now Brent is sitting on the couch on his computer (we're both on borrowed wireless until the cable guy comes today) and Alec is playing Wii.  Our TV came with the place and is pretty small for a family that had a 50 inch TV!  It's probably a 26incher.  Ouch!  (So far mostly just Korean available; that should change with our cable package, though.)

Keep walking to the left through the living room and you'll hit the open entrance to the kitchen.  Again, neutral colors with tan linoleum, white countertops, white and silver appliances.  A small dark brown table with four chairs completes the kitchen.  Happily, the appliances are full size and the sink is huge!  Lots of cupboard space for our needs.  We have a stove, dishwasher and a microwave with all labels and manuals in Korean only.  Have fun figuring out how to use them!  (This is true for all the electronics in the apartment  - security panel, air conditioner, washing machine, light fixtures, thermostat, everything! But I digress.)

Behind the kitchen, running parallel on the backside of the apartment to the "sunroom" on the interior is a similar concept.  A length of hallway is divided into three parts - a small room holding the washing machine (no dryer), a laundry room with entrance from the kitchen, and a storage space.

Okay, go back to the living room and turn left (away from the front door).  To your left is Alec's room.  Tan linoleum floor, bed and dresser.  His backwall is also sliding glass door.  Open it and you've entered that stretch of hallway with the storage area.  Again, lots of natural light everywhere as we essentially have windows on both the length of the interior (courtyard) and exterior.  Opposite Alec's room is our bedroom.  It is a great size, probably 15 ft x 15 ft. with it's own full bathroom (sink, toilet, shower - all white tile).  Again, tan linoleum in the bedroom.  A queen size bed, dresser, 2 standing bureaus for hanging clothes.   Also, a small built-in desk.  Our far wall is also all sliding glass doors (2 sets, 1 for privacy).  Behind it lies the rest of that length of "sunroom" overlooking the courtyard.  This space has a linen closet built in and is designed for drying clothes.  Lots of clothes drying racks here.  More windows with screens for air.

The last thing to mention are the sounds in the apartment.  First, it is very quiet.  We barely hear any sound from outside if all the windows are closed.  If they are open to the courtyard we can hear the children playing below and a bit of traffic or the barking dogs (some lady who wouldn't sell out when the apartment buildings went up and now keep LOTS of dogs just to piss everyone off with their incessant barking).  Inside the apartment we only hear footprints from upstairs occasionally.  However, the most unusual thing is that everything here dings or talks to you!  The voice on the elevator speaks.  The entry keypad has a certain melody upon opening and closing.  The air conditioner has its own set of tunes when turned up or down, on or off.  The microwave, stove, washing machine - all different dings.

All told, I believe we stand at about 1000 ft sq.  We like it a lot and are happy to be in a place only 2 years old.  We just need COLOR.  We can't really hang things on the walls, so that's an issue.  It's slowly becoming home.  I think we need to host a game night!  Get some other people in here and it won't feel so much like a condo, right?

PS  Suggestions:  I'll try to get video on FB or YOUTUBE of our apartment soon.  Also, go ahead and google Yongin-si to learn more about our city of 300,000!

Lastly, don't be afraid to leave a comment, even just to say hi!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Bad weather makes for flight delay

Airport at 7:15 AM Saturday
at the counter with Marlin from UA

Marlin: Passports, please.
Me: Sure.  We're headed for Seoul.
Marlin: No you're not.  That flight has been cancelled.
Me: (expletive)

2 hours later still at Austin Straubel Airport, 14 bags checked, extra luggage fee paid, and new flights secured.

Marlin: So, we've got you booked on the same flights for tomorrow.
Me:  Thanks so much for your help!

So, we said good-byes to my parents this morning in a different circumstance than we expected.
But as homeless people with no car and 4 carry-ons to our name, we needed a place to land for 24 hours.  Thanks to Brent's cell still working, we were able to call his friend John who graciously picked up the 4 vagabonds to hang out with them for the day.

Next problem, how to contact our welcoming committee that we would be late.  Thanks to a conversation earlier this week with someone who texts their friend internationally, I suggested to Brent that we try texting our contact.  Can you believe it worked?  He texted the update, and although the time difference put that at about 12:30 at night, he instantly received a reply from Lisa in Korea.  Technology ROCKS!   All is well.

On a side note, what a joy it has been to see so many of you these last weeks and days.  Again, I feel so incredibly blessed to have such marvelous people in our lives.

Anyone reading this today (July 24), feel free to call Brent's cell as we are "adrift" today with no agenda (and no car.)

Next blog will likely be from Korea. . . provided we don't run into more delays!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Korea Update

Believe it or not, by this time next week we will be living in Korea! 

How are we doing?  Pretty well, actually.  We all have tickets and passports.  Brent and I have our Visas.  We're almost caught up on our bills and tying the loose ends with insurance, phones, forwarding address, etc.  We had a successful garage sale which cleared us of much of our stuff and furniture (the kids have been sleeping on the floor for a week.)  My Prius is sold.  An hour ago we had someone looking at the Outlander, so perhaps that will sell.  My brother-in-law may end up using the TV (still for sale, though!)  We've got most of the bags packed and most of the boxes for storage packed.  We have yet to make a trip to my folks to place some things in storage. 

As far as preparations on the other end goes, we now have email addresses at our new school.  (I've even received 2 emails from students in AP English Literature.)  AND we have an apartment!   It's a 3-bedroom that should be about 1100 square feet.  Not too bad!  Write to me on facebook or at my email if you'd like the address.

The good-byes continue.  It has been wonderful seeing so many friends and family "one last time" before next summer.  What a joy it has been!  We hold you in our hearts.  I'm so glad I've been collecting pictures and video to remind us of the ones we love.

If you are on Skype, please look me up by first.last name.  Once we are back online in our apartment, we'll try to keep Skype running when we are home in case you'd like to call.  Remember, we'll be 15 hours ahead of Central Standard Time.

For those of you who are curious we'll be flying from GB to Chicago then directly to Seoul.  The flight to Seoul is direct from Chicago and about 13.5 hours, ugh!

Now, for more packing. . . .

(Don't forget to leave a comment - it only takes a moment to say hello!)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Dear Friends. . .

Who knew that the final days and weeks of our life in Green Bay would be so busy with social engagements?  I pictured us packing, sorting, throwing, donating, and storing our household stuff in these last days.  I pictured working to eat ourselves out of house and home - literally.  And while we are doing these things, I never imagined how blessed we would be to have so many friends come forward and say, "We've got to get together before you go!"

So I want to take a moment to say THANK YOU to our friends whom we love and will miss.  I've so enjoyed spending time together over dinner out with you, the wine tasting tour, the evenings in your homes, the precious French beverage (you know what I mean, Bill!), the games of pool, swimming in your pool or hottub, and POETS.  I thank you for keeping me company during the garage sale or making that final call or email wishing us well.

We are so blessed to have friends such as you.  When I feel homesick in these next months, I'm certain I will look back on these days for re-energizing and grounding.  While we're tempted to measure our success in life against the amount of possessions or wealth that we have, these days with you are one more reminder of that which truly matters - love in our lives through our relationship with others.

Thank you. Thank you.  Thank you!

I shall close with a saying from Anna, "I have hearts popping out for you."