Our first major holiday snuck up on us way too quickly- I mean, I literally felt like I had just arrived in the country, and then, all of a sudden, it’s snowing and absolutely freezing and already Thanksgiving time. I was kind of dreading Thanksgiving this year since it was the first holiday we were ever away from our families. Ever. We are family people, so it was hard. There was also a chance of him working that day, which made looking forward to it that much more undesirable. We grew up in the same town, so every holiday was spent with both of our families. Now, it is just us. In a foreign country. By ourselves. We got invited to eat and spend Thanksgiving day with some new friends in a neighboring apartment complex, so, after he did have to go in on Thanksgiving morning (of course), we got to take a short car ride over to eat lunch. Now, technically, we could have walked, and that probably would have even been a better idea considering all the food we were going to consume that day. I can literally see their complex from our kitchen window, but considering the temperatures were below freezing (and it was snowing and super icy), I decided I liked the idea of a heated car instead. (Our beater of a car we use here in Korea doesn’t always have heat, but it is better than nothing, right?) Plus, we had all of our food we (I) had baked for the lunch. I am not really used to snow on Thanksgiving. Christmas, maybe, but not Thanksgiving. I am not really that used to snow at all. We get snow at home, and it is usually gone as fast as it appears. Every once in awhile it will stick for a couple days. If it snows at home, the store shelves are emptied, and everything basically closes. Here, once it snows, it stays. It is pretty adorable, though, seeing all the little kids playing out in the snow. I, personally, like to enjoy the snow from inside our heated apartment, sipping my peppermint hot chocolate, and enjoying all the prettiness through the window.
Anyway, back to Thanksgiving. There was more food there than we all could possibly eat for days, and we got to meet new people that are friends of friends of people who are stationed here in Korea. It was weird, eating Thanksgiving lunch with new people I had never met before. We usually, of course, spend the day with people we have known our entire lives, that know everything about us. Here, it was about getting introduced to everyone and meeting a lot of people for the very first time. I guess it is something we are going to have to get used to. When we move to our next duty station, it will be in the month of August (not this coming August…), so we will only have a few months again to find new people to spend Thanksgiving with if we are not going to be able to make it home. I guess it is just part of this new life we are living. Thankfully, in Korea, we were able to find new friends to spend the day with. I can already tell how hard it is going to be moving to new places every few years. New friends, new churches, new cities, new countries. I am learning to adapt, and I guess getting through my first holiday in Korea kind of proved to myself that I can do this.
I have been meaning to get my official stamp for being here with the military since I arrived. I have a couple months to get it, but knowing us, I was afraid of cutting it too close. We have a problem with putting things off until the last minute, and I really didn’t think my immigration status was something that I needed to put off. Being in Korea without the proper documentation didn’t exactly sound like a fantastic idea to me. We could not ever find a day when he could get off in time to take me to the Korean Immigration Office (which sounds terrifying to me, so I needed him to go), so when Thanksgiving rolled around, I thought it could be the perfect time. Korea, obviously, doesn’t celebrate our Thanksgiving Day, meaning all of their government offices would be open for business. And TJ was off. Perfect. So, we gathered all of my documentation and headed to Yangju to the office. The main signs over the road saying the Immigration Office was ahead were in English and Korean. Until you turn off the main road. Then it is just in Korean. We saw two big buildings that it could possibly be, but they only had Korean symbols on the buildings. So, I pulled out my translation app (best thing ever invented), and I found the word for immigration. We parked and went into the building that somewhat matched what my app said. And it was right. And we cut it close (I told you we have a problem doing that). They closed in twenty minutes. Anyway, we took a number (because we figured that was the same in any country), and sat down. When our number showed up on the main screen, we walked up and got it all done in less than five minutes. Five minutes! They were so efficient! In and out with my stamp in maybe ten minutes total including waiting in the lobby. Amazing! We were talking on the way there about how it was probably going to be like the DMV back home but no, so much better. And not as terrifying as I thought it would be. It is probably more intimidating going into the DMV. Anyway, I am all official now, and I can now stay in the country completely legally, which is always a good thing.