If you haven't already, please read this post before proceeding. Otherwise, this here post might not make a whole lot of sense.
When most people find out about our plans to move to South Korea, they smile... look a little freaked out... and say something like "what an adventure" or "how exciting for y'all."
However, they almost always come back later with a list of questions. Because most people ask the same questions as everybody else, we find ourselves reciting our answers as if from a pre-memorized script.
So, for your reading pleasure, here is a list of the TEN most oft-asked questions and our oh-so-redundant (to us) answers*:
1. Will you have the baby in Korea?
Yes, we will. I have googled, podcasted, libraried, and chatted about all the different options that we have. While my U.S. OBGYN and Pediatrician both have agreed to do whatever it takes to allow me an American delivery, hubby and I have decided that it is in our best interested (and in the best interested of the new baby) for me to stay put. (Would YOU want to be in an airplane for 18 hours with a 4-week-old baby? NO THANK YOU.)
2. Does Korea have modern medicine?
This is a funny question to me, seeing as how many of the specialists and renowned doctors here in the U.S. are, in fact, Korean. The answer is yes, they are just as medically advanced and modern as we. Sure, they have some different customs (like having the mom and baby stay in 85-degree rooms post-delivery because they are afraid that being cold might harm them), but none of these customs are forced on foreigners. A simple "no thank you" will allow me my "American" birth traditions.
3. Do the doctors speak English?
Not usually in the smaller cities and towns. However, in Cheonan (the place we will call home), there is a very well-known University Hospital with a special "International Ward" that will provide interpreters, if needed.
4. Will the baby be a Korean citizen? (This question is usually followed by some awful story about a kid that thought he was a citizen, only to be exported or somesuchnonsense at the age of 18.)
He or she could be a Korean citizen, if we chose to make him/her so. However, when the baby is born, we will go to the U.S. consulate to file paperwork on him/her as an American citizen. If we do not file this paperwork, then the child will have to go to a consulate at the age of 18 and file more paperwork to declare him/herself an American citizen. Because hubby and I are citizens, our child will have all the rights and protections as babies born on American soil. Being born overseas does not diminish his/her citizenship as long as we declare him/her a citizen soon after birth. (Do you think I used the word "citizen" enough in that paragraph?)
5. Where will you live?
One person even asked if we would live in mud/grass huts. Seriously, y'all, here's a picture of their capital city Seoul.
No grass huts here. =) We will live in a newly-built 3-bedroom apartment provided by the church.
6. How long does it take to get there?
As little as 15 hours, as much as 24 hours... depending on layovers and airlines.
7. What ages will you be teaching?
Whatever ages we want, apparently. I believe hubby will be teaching late elementary/early middle school age. I will teach younger elementary and mommy/toddler classes so that Chloe Jane can go to class with me and help. No worries, y'all, I'm only teaching 9 hours a week - just enough to time to get to know some other young moms in the area. =)
8. Do you speak Korean?
Nope. Hubby knows some basic phrases from his short trip. But, apparently, the South Koreans are so big on learning and speaking English, that we won't need to know much. Ansley, a friend of ours who has lived there a little more than a year, claims to speak little-to-no Korean simply because she does not need to. Still, hubby and I have decided to try to pick up as much of the language as we can while we're there, just for the experience of it!
9. How do you know what to pack?
Oh, that's simple: we don't. We do know that they're much more conservative in the items that they own simply because there is not room in apartments for the things we "need" in our sprawling American suburban homes. So we will ship 2-3 boxes of "stuff" (blankets, pillows, toys, favorite pots and pans, etc.) and take a few suitcases of clothes. Our furniture is being provided by the church. I'm really looking forward to a more simplified lifestyle.
10. Is this something you have always wanted to do?
Yes and no. Since high school, hubby and I have dreamed of submersing ourselves in some overseas culture. We knew we wanted to travel - not just as fly-by-night tourists - but as students and "citizens of the world." Lofty goals for a 16-year-old, and I'm pretty sure that in our many, MANY discussions regarding our travels, South Korea NEVER came up ONCE as a place we would want to live. After we got married, those conversations became fewer and fewer. I think it hurt too much to see the reality of how much those kind of trips cost and how many people actually get to live out those kind of dreams. But even in our silence, the desires were still there. And now, we are SO THANKFUL that our Daddy God knew the desires of our heart and that He knows EXACTLY where we should begin our adventures abroad.
If you have any more questions, I'm happy to answer. So feel free to comment away!!
*I qualify these answers with this statement: All or most of what we understand about South Korea comes through third parties: other people, google, books, etc. We could DEFINITELY be wrong about some of the information, and we won't know until we get there. I promise to keep you updated throughout the learning process.