I may have lied in the title.
I did not think our first year of marriage would involve a pandemic. I definitely did not think our first year would involve a move to South Korea, partnered with a separate two week quarantine- but here we are. I want to cover my South Korea adventures in detail. But to start with I guess I should cover the lead up to our move.
I do not want to understate this- moving overseas (during a pandemic) was stressful. Not the intense stress like the time that lady stole my phone in Kmart and then later said she would sell it back to me and I had to meet her in the KFC carpark, alone, in Mayfield at night. No, it’s the kind of stress that is constant, a slow assault. The kind that makes you apologetic to the people around you because it feels as though it is all consuming, and annoying.
The inklings of this move started in December 2019. That is close to 10 months ago. 10 months of thinking, planning and preparing. Ben had been applying for some post doctoral positions and mentioned he had been speaking to a Professor he knew in South Korea. I took in this information and by New Years it seemed a weird but exciting possibility that MAYBE, this would happen. He interviewed, they chatted back and forth about a job.. and then the COVID pandemic hit, essentially locking down the world bit by bit. For a while we assumed the move wasn’t happening. But then it slowly started to seem more possible; albeit with a few extra, inconsequential pandemic steps. I won’t bore you with an in-depth recount. I will provide a brief step by step guide in case you one day decide this might be something you’re interested in doing to yourself.
- Decide to move.
- Begin exciting Pinterest browsing sessions full of “Bucket lists for South Korea” and “Must dos of South East Asia.”
- Download Duolingo. Commit to daily, 30 minute lessons.
- Start to sort through the many documents. The employment forms, the visas, translating of marriage certificates, passport scans. Assert your title of “Spouse” on a “Spouse visa”- this is who you are now.
- Whilst performing steps 1 through 3, Remember: the world is experiencing a Pandemic and this whole move may still not happen. It may all go away should one of two governments decide so.
- Proceed with plan anyway.
- Send documents to your husband’s new employer. Have some returned as they were completed incorrectly. Resend. Repeat. Laugh. Cry.
- Start to tell loved ones and friends you are moving. Expect questions such as; Are you sure? During a pandemic? What will you do? Do you know Korean? What side of the road do they drive on? Do they have a president?
- Realise you can’t answer any of these questions because your initial excited Korea-study phase was buried beneath the “moving during a fucking pandemic” phase.
- Duolingo then becomes a chore. Commit to completing one daily lesson just to keep your precious streak.
- Spend 2-3 months waiting for a visa issuance. Resend former documents repeatedly as the date of this happening backflips and flip flops everywhere.
- Get two new tattoos.
- Receive Visa issuance from South Korea and head to the Korean embassy. Get new ID photos taken whilst heavily hungover. Repeat step 4.
- Realise you have to give your cat to caretakers. Cry. A lot.
- Have Visa returned. Apply for a border force exemption. Receive exemption some weeks later. Change moving date again.
- Quit job. Pack away or frantically get rid of 90% of your belongings. Any friend who visits you leaves with a belonging- wanted or not. Irrationally repeat step 4.
- Book a flight- have basically every airline cancel their flights. Contact embassies and consulates to ask permission to stop over.
- Be told two weeks out from flying that instead of quarantining in your new house together and only paying rent- You and your husband now have to quarantine in hotel rooms, separately, and pay more for it. Cry.
- Lose your streak in Duolingo. At this point you can say “hello”, “no”, and “cat”.
- Give cat to caring friends who will be his foster parents for 2 years. Write a “How to take care of my cat” guide. Cry. Buy cat new toys out of guilt.
- Scrap both cars which, like your resilience, have taken a beating and need to be retired.
- Say good bye to family and friends. Combine drinking and crying with a dash of karaoke.
- Pack the most difficult suit case of your life. Find yourself spending time questioning whether to pack shampoo and conditioner or commit to not washing your hair until you find some. Your life is measured in grams now. How much medication do you need before you will need to find a chemist? Nurofen is apparently expensive. How much is too much to pack? Your husband will be engineering the safest method for transporting the PS4 beside you at this point.
- Get to the deserted airport 5 hours early because there is no way you are missing this stupid flight. Embark on most stressful flying experience of your life- all whilst wearing a mask.
- Get on the plane and don’t waste a minute.