Getting Ready for Our Summer in South Korea

What our family did with 3 kids four and under to prepare to live in South Korea for 3 months, from travel prep to language to culture.

SKFlag South Korea

(here’s Super Junior to get you in the spirit)

TRAVEL:

1. Passport; Visa if staying for longer than a 90 days, work Visa if working, only lasts 90 days (info about Korea on US Passorts and International Travel)

2. Traveler’s insurance includes things like life-flighting for emergencies/natural disasters, they reimburse any medical bills once you get back if not on the spot

3. Register with STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) with travel alerts and warnings, also lets them know where you are in case of disaster/emergency

4. Traveling/flying with small children: Take them to their pediatrician to make sure they are well and are caught up on vaccinations, particularly vaccinations specific to your travel destination (check CDC.gov). Pack small surprises to open every few hours on flight; get wrist leads; GPS trackers for kids; a stroller; a baby sling; always keep intriguing snacks; patience and go slower; name + phone number necklaces/lanyards/bracelets; wear brightly colored clothing, bring an extra set of clothes for each kid in carry-on or their backpacks, teach kids names and personal info + basic safety info about getting lost. Always book in advance, especially around holidays; look up which restaurants are more casual/family friendly

5. Here are some articles from family travelers about their experiences traveling with kids:

Globetotting: How to Survive a Flight Delay with Kids

Carpe Diem Our Way: What to Pack: Airplane Activities for Kids and Airplane Snacks 

HEALTH:

1. Vaccinations and information for S Korea on CDC.gov: A few months in advance, make sure you’re up to date/boosters, Malaria, Typhoid, Hep B + A (twinRx) booster, Japanese Encephalitis if going to rural areas ($500). Watch your health closely for up to a year after travel

2. To avoid typhoid or malaria: only bottled water; for young children who aren’t old enough to have all vaccinations (under 2 cannot receive typhoid): peel fruit, no salads, wary of street food; avoid animal exposure/touching and rural areas, bring bug repellent with DEET and mosquito nets for each bed if going in Spring/Summer. Bring sunblock and hats

WHERE TO STAY/THE SWITCH:

1. Find a place and book as soon as you can. There are places that allow you to stay from 1 night-6 months+. Depending how many people you will be with, it can range from an affordable $2,000/month up to an average of $3,500/month+ in Seoul, but look at all options! We are living in a residence with washer, kitchen, internet, cable, AC, furnished for $2100/month. Hostels start at about $11/night and hotels about $27/night (do a Google search to look at all sites like tripadvisor.com, airbnb.com, booking.com, trivago.com, hostelworld.com, etc.)

2. (#1) detailed, useful, practical guide with info about each district, how to get there, attractions, restaurants, where to stay etc.: Seoul Travel Guide from Seoultistic.com

3. Money exchangers are in airports and even some banks can do it for you ahead of time. The exchange rate for Korea is about w1,000 to $.80 (we spend 80 cents for their 1 dollar there, i.e. instead of something costing us w10,000 [$10.00], it would cost us $8.00)

4. Check with your phone company to see how/if your phone plan will work in another country and if you can afford it; make sure your phone is internationally unlocked. We will be getting SIM cards there for our unlocked phones

5. World Travel Outlet Converters on Amazon

LANGUAGE:

For Korean:

Start ASAP and just take it a day at a time! Think of anything you learn as a bonus, instead of thinking of everything you don’t know. Learning a language is like learning lines to a script for a play. Lots and lots of lines. When someone says their “line,” you have your “lines” memorized to respond. If you don’t like that analogy, think of learning a language like memorizing math formulas. There are variables that need to go in a specific order to get the correct answer. You need “x” so you need to say the correct formula in the correct order to make a sentence.

Just remember that we are like little kids. They learn to speak their first language over years, and they are always saying funny things in funny ways, and we will probably be like that too! Just don’t let yourself get discouraged if you feel you get everything wrong. It’s just getting used to it a day at a time, and use every opportunity to learn better. Kids don’t “quit” speaking their language at 2 and 3 years old, right? They just keep going without even thinking about it! Just put your mindset as if you were about 2 or 3 years old. I learned Spanish in Spain, studied Italian on my own, and then took 2 semesters of French. It opens a new part of your brain that we don’t use and it just takes some adjusting, because, well, we’re learning something totally new and our brains are literally growing. Pretty rad.

My husband speaks Korean already, so I was the one studying. I teach our boys to say simple things, but I’m still working on it with them. I study it pretty much on my own since Steven is in law school and didn’t have time to really tutor me, so if I can learn it, anyone can! But find a Korean speaker to practice with/ask questions if possible. I would (unintentionally) take a few days-1 week off every now and again, and it actually let my brain “rest” a bit and I remembered everything pretty well. I was surprised how well I remembered basic phrases. I feel very confident about enough phrases to get me around town by myself now, and plan to take this opportunity to speak AS MUCH AS I CAN while I’m there so I can get on the road to fluency. Talk to everyone about anything!

1. (#1A) Seemile YoutubeHow to read Korean, Basic Course for Beginner, Basic Korean Conversation, Intermediate Korean Conversation

(#1B): Talk to Me in Korean books and videos (free lessons and for purchase) and free app; @ttmik on Instagram

2. Fast Korean Alphabet: How to Learn Hangul Rapidly part 1 and part 2 (5-10 mins each) on YouTube

3. I studied grammar with Ganada Korean Book series + CDs on Amazon (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced)

4. Let’s Learn Korean book, flashcards, wall poster, cd set on Amazon

5. 90 Day Korean Language and Culture site with videos

6. Korean kids’ Songs on YouTube help you learn simple words and vocabulary

7. Korean Level 1 DVD Busy Beaver sampler  (subscribe for full program for &1.99/month)

8. Get the phone apps Speak and Translate (speak into phone, repeats phrase in chosen language) and Google Translate

9. Korean Dramas:

(#1) Dramafever (Free with ads, or $4.99/month, $49.99/year no ads)

Netflix ($7.99/month)

Favorite dramas: Lie to Me, Pasta, Boys Over Flowers, Love Rain, Operation Proposal, Noble My Love, Beating Again/Falling for Innocence, Madam Atoine

10. Music artists: DavinkGirls’ Generation, Super Junior

(here’s some Girls’ Generation to keep you going)

 GETTING FAMILIAR WITH FOOD AND CULTURE:

1. (#1): Mark Wiens of Migrationology.com goes to Korea for 21 days in his South Korea playlist, telling about restaurants, prices, where to stay, etc., and his video 25 Best Things to Do in Seoul on YouTube. Here’s is his Seoul Travel Guide

2. Overnight City Guide’s Best Things to do in Seoul on YouTube

3. Seonkyeong Longest’s Life in Korea videos on YouTube

4. Anthony Bourdain in South Korea in No Reservations S2 E11

5. On Netflix:

Chef’s Table S3 E1 Buddhist Monk/Nun temple cook Jeong Kwan

Avec Eric S1 E2, 5, 12 with Jeong Kwan

Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown S5 E1

6. A Korean’s explanation of culture shock you may experience in South Korea on TripAdvisor on food and eating, etiquette, manners, etc.

BEFORE YOU LEAVE:

Clean house, give away food that will expire, remove all trash, unplug everything, turn off heaters, AC, figure out mail arrangement, pets, etc.

ONCE IN KOREA:

1. Again, (#1) detailed, useful, practical guide with info about each district, how to get there, attractions, restaurants, where to stay etc.: Seoul Travel Guide from Seoultistic.com

2. Korean Holidays and other travel, guides, and tourist information on Visitkorea.or.kr

KOREAN DISHES YOU CAN MAKE AT HOME:

 

 

Pastes: Jjajangmyun (Korean Black Bean Sauce Noodles)

Winner Winner Korean Pork Belly Bo Ssam Alternative Holiday Dinner

Spain vs Korea Recipes Face-Off: Small Plates: Spain Tapas vs Korea Banchan! (Part II Korean Banchan)

Something Special: Dweji Gukbap (Korean Pork Bone Rice Soup)

Kimchi Party! My Korean Mother-in-Law’s Kimchi Chigae

Kimchi Party! My Mother-in-Law’s Korean Kimchi Crepes

Travel without Moving: My Yobo’s Favorite Korean Sauna Eggs

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