Tag Archives: move to Korea

When life in Korea really SU**S

www.tastyoldcabbage.comI am sorry for the choice of words in the title of the post. You won’t hear (or read) me speak like that very often, however, these days are different…

I have to start a couple of days back in time with this story.

A couple of weeks ago I got a text message from my sister in Germany. In that message she explained that our step mom had to be rushed to the ER and that they plan surgery due to the suspicion of bone cancer.

I was shocked.

Do you know that feeling when your gut turns into a tight knot? Everyone who knows me well knows that my emotions are tightly connected to my stomach. If I feel sad or angry my stomach starts to ache badly.

I felt helpless and scared. Due to the time difference I couldn’t even get my sister on the phone since it was nighttime for them. The time difference can be exhausting. It’s 7 hours to Germany where our German family and friends live and at least 13 hours to where our American family and friends are. Getting a hold of anyone during the week is pretty difficult.

It is a one or two day long travel to Germany and it takes two to three days to travel to our family on the East Coast from here (including the time to react to an emergency, book flights, plan for everything and the solid travel time).

And we haven’t even spoken of the money yet. Who cares in moments like that about the time spent on a plane, right? But the travels are expensive, especially the short notice ones..

My initial reaction was: I want to go and be with her to help her through the time of waiting for the results and distract her as much as one can distract a person with such worries.

Now all I could do from here instead was to wait, pray and see.. After the emergency surgery and a couple of days spent with worries we finally got to hear that it is not cancerous and that a couple of additional surgeries will take care of my step mom’s health.

No need to describe to you how relieved we were.


Today we woke up to an urgent sounding email from a close friend.

It just stated CALL ME in the subject line.

I immediately got that feeling in my stomach again. Within 15 minutes we managed to get connected with him. He informed us that his wife, mom of three and dear friend of ours got rushed to the ER. She is in the hospital now waiting for brain surgery and an updated evaluation on her health…

My stomach is sill aching from his call that we received hours ago and my mind is racing. I can’t tell you how helpless and restless we feel.

This is not about me, of course not!

It is about our dear friends that we want to travel to and be with in these difficult hours and days. However, it is not that we are separated by a state.. we are separated by landmasses and the Pacific Ocean.

THIS HAS GOT TO be one of the hardest things to go through when living that far away from your loved ones.

In my last podcast episode I started talking about challenges that come with a move to Korea. Now this one couldn’t wait for the next episode, this one I had to get out NOW.

www.tastyoldcabbage.comWe enjoy our life here a lot, however, we are far away from our loved ones. We can only show via telephone or video call how much we care and are there for them. This is close to torture, especially, when all you want to do is drive through the night to go and hug them, be there for them, watch their children, make ironic and inappropriate jokes about health and life together..

All we can do from here today is to send our love their way and keep them in our prayers and thoughts while we are waiting for news.

Please, if you move that far away from home (it could be anywhere. Not only Korea.) Just know that this is one of the biggest challenges that come with living your life far away from your loved ones.

What I will do today?

I will go outside and make this day count. I will be kind and understanding with the people who surround me because that’s what will go a long way.

I believe that this is like a butterfly effect: treating others like you want to be treated will be passed on and on and eventually reach our friends far away. Other people (may it be strangers or friends and family) will be there in person for them treating them as kindly as we would, helping them and supporting them through these rough times.

Also, always keep in mind that we are all far away from our loved ones being stationed here in Korea and that we need to be each other’s family and friends. Go make it count!


004 Challenges Part 1 – Language Barrier


When in Korea... podcastIt is not always sunny in Korea and you will encounter a variety of obstacles, however, you will master them!

In today’s episode I share with you the challenges that can come with a move to South Korea and are tightly connected to the language barrier. Of course, I am not leaving you with just the stories. Instead, I will pass on some good advice on how to overcome these hurdles.

Thank you to the online military spouse community who so openly answered my question about what challenges they are facing when they moved here.

show notes:

fire department and ambulance: 119
police: 112

“Help me!” – dowa-juseyo - 도와주세요
“Fire!” – boo-reeya - 불!


1. …- do (province)
2. …- si (city)
3. …- dong (village/rural town/district)
4. house number

Be safe everyone and have trust in your own abilities to deal with the challenges that come with such an adventure.

003 Ten Reasons Why You Have To Love Korea


WISK_9You have orders to come Korea or are already living here but don’t know much about the country and the abundance of exciting things to enjoy while being here? Then this episode is for you.

I share  ten reasons with you (although I could have gone on and on…) for why I fell in love with Korea.

links featured in the episode:

Whale watching in Ulsan: for more information on whale watching in Ulsan head over to www.ulsanonline.com
The people behind this website have done a tremendous job on gathering information about Ulsan. If you plan to visit make sure you head over to www.ulsanonline.com!

temple stay: http://eng.templestay.com

my friend the river turtle

IMG_7258my friend the Korean river turtle

Dragon beard candy
my favorite is the one with nuts in it (not sure if those are peanuts) but definitely go for the nuts one.
Dragon beard candy

photo-15–> This is the Asiatic Black Bear and I immediately fell in love with them. Look at those round ears (not like I said in the episode “round eyes” lol). The ears remind me of the Panda Bear’s ears. They are a highly endangered species here in Korea. That is why I am so happy to share with you the news that today there are up to 20 under protection in Jirisan national park :)

Be excited about Korea! #YouGottaLoveKorea

002 Top Ten Items To Bring/Ship To Korea


When in Korea... 002In this episode we will talk about my list of top ten items to bring when moving to Korea. I hope it helps you with making a decision on what to bring and what not to bring.

Also check out the blog post that I released earlier this month about it: http://tastyoldcabbage.com/the-top-ten-things-to-pack-for-your-new-duty-station-korea/



link to the Washington Post article that got mentioned on the show: http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012-12-09/world/35721716_1_samsung-chairman-smartphone-market-samsung-credit-card

Something I forgot to mention in the episode is that YES, indeed, out of the dishes we shipped only one cup broke during the move here. I was just referring to plates and glasses etc. However, unfortunately we have more damaged items, such as picture frames, Christmas decoration (especially ornaments for the tree), a lamp and other stuff. So please, if you only come for a year or two, consider to leave your high value items or, most importantly, items that are of  sentimental value to you and that can break easily at home. I for example didn’t want to ship my grand father’s hat because I was worried it would break (He passed away and we kept some things of his which remind us of him. Among them is his hat.) So Chris, my husband, put it on his head during our day long travels to our new home. It arrived safely here in Korea.

Happy packing everyone!


The top ten things to pack for your new duty station Korea

You have your orders and are ready to pack up and move, now what to bring?

our beloved mattressthink about what to bring before you pack

I’ve been there. We were living in a small apartment in Kansas City before and weren’t as much concerned with whether things would fit into our new Korean home but more with what we should go buy before we leave the States. However, I’ve learned a lot so far about what families wished they had brought with them and I want to share it with you in my list of top 10 things to bring.

01. Bring your own mattress
The housing office gave us furniture including a bed and a mattress, which was very hard and stiff. Whereas some people prefer that, I don’t. I was so happy when we got ours.

02. Bring all your 220v stuff (kitchen ware, hair dryer etc.) in case you have been stationed in Europe or other countries before, that use 220.

03. Electronics
If you hold off on the purchase of a new camera or another gadget. Don’t! Many people believe Korea is much cheaper than it really is (especially when it comes to electronics). If you find a good deal for your favorite DSLR camera at home, go get it in the States.

04. Unlocked phone
If you just got a new phone before you found out about your move to Korea then don’t worry, see if you can get it unlocked and you will be good to go here.

05. Ladies, bring the bras and panties!
If you are bigger than a size 6 or 8 or if you are small but have a bigger chest in general, go shopping to your favorite lingerie shop before your move to Korea and bring ‘em all along. Sure you can always order them online later or find some in the bigger PXs here, however, the selection is limited. In any case bring your “glamorous starter kit”.
If you are of a smaller build than you will be just fine here.

06. The same goes for shoes.
If you wear a size 8 or bigger then you won’t have much luck finding some here. Again, you can always go to the bigger PXs like the one in Yongsan (Seoul) or order them online, however, if you are particular about the style of your shoes. Bring all your favorite ones.
If you wear shoes smaller than size 8.5 you will have plenty shoes to choose from.

07. If you have small children or are expecting, bring the kid’s furniture. (Especially baby furniture). According to “The Seoul Survivor”, a guide published by the American Forces’ Spouses’ Club, the Furnishing Management Office does not have cribs, toddler beds, changing tables etc.

08. Don’t plan on bringing appliances; the housing office will provide washer, dryer, refrigerators, dishwasher etc. If you leave appliances in storage make sure they are stored properly, so they don’t rust or get moldy over the time you are here in Korea.

09. Bikes
If you have bicycles, bring them. (Bring helmets too, you’ll need them here. Koreans are interesting drivers and not very used to bicycles on the road.) Koreans love hiking, walking and biking by the river. They have built trails by the river for walking and biking. Also you might live very close to base and only have one car, then a bicycle comes in handy. Your husband could bike to work if you need the car to go on a longer drive.

10. Bring your rugs
Floors are generally not covered with carpet here in Korea. So if you like the cozy feeling of walking on a soft rug, then make sure to bring yours.

An extra but important side note:
Leave some stuff at home!

Now this has to be one of the most important advices I can give you: Leave some stuff at home!
Generally speaking, the apartments here are small and don’t offer storage space (like a basement room for bikes or boxes). That being said, if you currently live in a house and have it fully furnished then you probably don’t want to bring all of the furniture, since you most likely will end up in a smaller place. Think about which furniture items you can’t live without and leave the rest in storage.

To finish this post, it’s needless to say to make sure to bring the stuff that makes you and your family happy.

I for example brought my shell decoration and my lotus flower shell candleholder, as well as the antique wine glass ‘balloon’ from Germany. I also brought my colorful filing system from home, the rug that our dog loves to hang out on and many other small decoration items and kitchen stuff that remind me of our last duty station or important places and times in our lives. It’s the little things that make us happy and make our new home cozy.




From favorite pictures and your traditional Christmas table set to the can’t-live-without-crafting- tools for the passionate ‘crafties’ among us, BRING IT!

Not only that holiday decoration items and craft supply stores are harder to come by here, it is also important for us to bring what’s dear to our hearts.
In this very new, very different environment it is essential to create a feel good home for our loved ones and us.

Now, happy packing!


the upcoming podcast and I

Hi - So great you stopped by!

Jessy - When in Korea ...My name is Jessy, I am a newly wed who married into the Army, a media fanatic, writer and researcher by trade, a passionate culture explorer and currently stationed in South Korea.

When I graduated from high school I packed my bags to leave my hometown in Germany and since then they never got unpacked again.

Over the past ten years I have lived and worked in 5 different countries and Korean will be the sixth language I plan to master (Shamelessly showing off my talent for languages. Note: Please be impressed right now…Okay done.)

The WHY and what it has to do with who I am

Before I came here I had tons of questions about the country, the culture and life in South Korea in general. I simply wished I would have had someone who could just talk to me about Korea and give me an insight on what life is like there. That’s why I started this podcast and blog.

I am learning each day about life here, becoming an entrepreneur and about my new life as a military wife. My world has once again turned upside down, but this time I want to take you along for my journey.

      My goal is to learn as much about this country as possible, to share it with you and to       make my and your (!) stay an amazing one.

I want to help at least one person with the information I share. May it be with the decision to come here (or even with the decision not to), with adjusting to life in South Korea or with entertaining those who have already lived here for quite some time.

I will share my experiences, research and personal views on life in Korea with you. This site is not related to the US Army in any way. It is a personal and passionate project with a lot of love for CULTURE, LIFE, the MEDIA and the MILITARY FAMILY.

Who is this podcast for?

Well, by now you know that I am an Army wife so naturally this podcast provides lots of information specifically of interest for my courageous fellow families in boots.

However, it’s an open house. Everyone who wants to know what life is like here and who wants to learn more about the country has come to the right place and will benefit from the podcast.

No risk no fun

Have I done such a podcast project before? Nope. (I plan one in German but that is a different story.) Honestly, I am a little intimated about taking on such a project. There is always the risk of failing expectations. However, “no risk – no fun!” right?When in Korea ...

I am putting this project together because I believe there is a real need for an entertaining and positive way to inform our military families and everyone who wants to come live here about South Korea and prepare them in a way for what to expect.

It’s not easy and sunny here all the time. I know that from experience, however, I am convinced that this country CAN be an amazing experience for a lot of people (not for all, unfortunately). I want to help with that while I personally live life in Korea, learn about the culture and make my first steps into the blogging and podcasting sphere. All this I will share in real time with you.

Oh and have I mentioned that I LOVE doing this anyway?

Support and goals

By following my blog and subscribing to my podcast you help me reach my goal: to help others and give my passion for Korea, real life experiences and media a meaningful and entertaining outlet.

Let’s see how much I will learn about this country, how many people I can help, entertain, get together and how many podcast episodes will get produced.

           Where this project leads me to, I don’t know yet, but I am determined to find out.

If you like what I do please subscribe to my podcast in iTunes (here: www.tastyoldcabbage.com/wik/itunes), leave an iTunes review, follow my blog or come over to Facebook and join me there.

Your support will help me reach more people and share the message.
Long live the Kimchi!