Friday, October 29, 2010

How we decided to go to Korea

In all honesty, the decision to go to Korea was an easy one.  We want to be together, and we love to travel.  Financially, we can afford to spend a little of our savings so that we can do this.  But finding all the information, and seeing if it was even possible was a different issue.

From the very beginning there were people telling us that we (when I say "we" I mostly mean the kids and I) should not go to Korea.  There is so much misinformation out there; so many people who have never even been to Korea who have an opinion.  I think the funniest thing to me is how many people still think that it is like a third world country with dirty water and no technology.  Many people I spoke to said they would "never consider going there" or it was just "not for them"....but they've never been there.  How could you just write off a place that you don't know anything about?  You'd rather be apart from your husband for an entire year than give up a few familiarities and comforts temporarily?  I don't think I'll ever understand that....but everyone is different, and I don't have to understand it.

Marshall also received numerous (as in...more than 4?) emails, phone calls, general inquiries from people in the Air Force who did not even know us, telling us that it was not a good idea to bring over our family.  They couldn't flat out order him not to, but they could highly discourage it.  Their main reasons: we would not have a car, there is harsh weather in Korea, the schools are all full, we would not have a car, we'd have to live off base, the doctors are space available only and normally full, and oh did I mention we won't have a car?  Honestly, the first time he was contacted I thought it was nice of them to try and let us know, but it's not really their decision.  The second time, I was annoyed, but I understood that they are obligated to say these things.  After that it just flat out pissed me off.  Thanks for the info, but we've done our research and the decision has been made.  Now, butt out.  My friend Nonja put it best when when said: "I'm not active duty anymore, the Air Force can't tell me what to do or where to husband yes, but not me".  

When I say I did my research- trust me, the day we got those Korea orders I was on the computer trying to find out how easy it was to go over Non-Command Sponsored.  There is a lot of information to be found, but not all of it is correct.  The biggest error I have found are people who repeatedly argue that we will not be given the Overseas Housing Allowance- which is not true.  We will receive OHA one I arrive in country with the children.  I had the best luck actually contacting people who had gone NCS and hearing about their experiences.  There were a handful of ladies who were gracious enough to answer my questions and from all of them I heard: it's hard, but not it and you won't regret it!  I also have the benefit of a friend who is there now with her kids NCS and is willing to help with whatever we need!

Here's where I'm coming from:  I have traveled internationally before.  I went to Germany one summer in High School (thanks Mom & Dad!), and in college I traveled to Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Estonia during study abroad.  I visited Marshall in Korea during his first tour and had a blast!  I am not intimidated by foreign languages, or cultures that are very different than mine.  I am a very independent person, but also know when to ask for help.  And- harsh weather?  Have you been to the Arctic Circle?  I have.  THAT is harsh weather.  Korea does not scare me.  As far as the medical care is concerned- if the doctors on base are full, we will see a Korean doctor- many of whom have been trained in the US or Europe for medical school.  Why on Earth would I be afraid to see a Korean doctor (beyond a translation problem?)?  Technology in Korea is sometimes superior to the US as far as some 4G internet and cell capabilities.  We will also have access to the base so that we can shop at the BX and Commissary, and take advantage of other activities like the ITT tours and the Community Center.  We get the Overseas Housing Allowance, and the biggest out of pocket expense is our plane tickets to get there- which is coming out of savings.  We are NOT going into debt at all to do this.  In fact, we have no debt.  Our philosophy about money is pretty simple: spend it LIVING LIFE, not on STUFF.  And not having a car- we will walk or use public transportation- again, NOT a reason to stay in Virginia.

Let's see- if I don't go to Korea NCS my other option is to live alone, unemployed in Virginia with my 2 kids and no one to help me take care of them.  Or move home with family for a year....which is not ideal for any of us.  It would be so much harder on Maddox to be apart from Marshall for that long, and Maverick wouldn't even know his Dad by the time Marshall got home.  If he was deployed to the desert and we didn't have the choice to be together- that would be different.  But when we can move to Korea and keep our family together...when we can Go. Do. Love. See.  We'd be crazy not to.  It may not be the choice that YOU would choose if it were you, but it's the best choice for us.

Tomorrow I'll tell you all about the logistics of getting there and what we have set up so far.  :)

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