Monday, September 12, 2022

Home Sweet Home: From Seoul to Denver to DC

After a very hectic week of traveling and celebrating, we are finally back in the DMV (DC/Maryland/Virginia)! First, we travelled from Seoul, South Korea to Denver, Colorado for my sister's wedding. It was such a magical (and jam-packed) wedding weekend! I kept praying nothing would go wrong with our flight because I've heard so many travel horror stories this summer and we were already just barely going to make it, but thankfully we arrived without incident.

Following the wedding weekend, we arrived in DC late at night and a dear friend picked us (and our seven bags) up from the airport and took us to our hotel. We'll be living in the hotel for at least a month while we figure out our longer-term housing situation while I'm serving my one-year tour in DC. We were able to find a longer-term residential hotel with a kitchenette and living room suite at the government rate, and we chose a place that gives me a short walking commute to work. It was such a relief to arrive at our destination, take a break from traveling, and get somewhat settled.

S was such a champ handling so many flights and time zone changes, and I'm pretty sure he's relieved we finally got somewhere where he can return to his regular sleep schedule. Me being me, I already scheduled a bunch of things I've been excited to do, including visiting a techy art gallery, catching a musical, and eating at some of my favorite restaurants that weren't around in Korea. I've also already been asked multiple times whether I came from North or South Korea, with some people assuming North! (Trust me, if I'd travelled from North Korea I would not be referring to it nearly as casually.)

I got to work right away in my new job at the Department of State headquarters in DC, and I am learning so much: new acronyms, processes, and even just navigating the hallways of a very confusing building! There are so many differences from my daily work environment at U.S. Embassy Seoul, I'll admit I had a bit of reverse culture shock. In South Korea, everyone is still wearing masks indoors and outdoors. In DC, I'm pretty much the only one at work still wearing a mask. Lunch in Korea was borderline sacred time, and all my colleagues would go out to eat nearly every day. Now, I'm lucky if I get 20 minutes to eat a quick lunch at my desk, as usually I'm still working right through lunch. The days are also much longer: I work a 9-hour shift but it's sometimes hard to get out of the office on time even after nine hours, whereas I could count on getting my Consular work in Seoul done in a regular workday. (But hey, at least I get a pay bonus for it!)

PCSing (short for Permanent Change of Station) is our term for transferring from one post to another, and it's always a ton of work. Add traveling internationally with a baby for the first time, transporting 360oz of frozen breastmilk, attending a whirlwind wedding weekend on the other side of the country, taking only two days of leave to adjust, trying to figure out a place to live and whether we'll buy a car or furniture, bidding on my next assignment, and starting a high-intensity job right away, and needless to say we've had our hands full. I hope to do more posts on bidding, some life updates, and insights on DC life in a staffer job soon (when I get a chance), so stay tuned!

No comments:

Post a Comment