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  1. #1
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    Default A Homeschool Adventure of Epic Proportions

    Hi! Iím Jackie and Iím fairly new to this community. Iíve only started my true homeschooling journey with my oldest child this year. My husband is active duty Air Force. Our children are ages 5, 3, and 1.

    Our main goal as a family is to stay together as much as possible despite the military. While sometimes it's impossible to join my husband, there are other times we have been able to follow along. Itís been worth the long car trips, plane trips, and the (lack of) money to have more time together as a family. Weíve been able to experience as a family many places including Las Vegas, Albuquerque, Montgomery, and Wichita Falls. Joining him when possible has given our family almost two years of time together that we would not of had otherwise! Our current adventure is South Korea.

    Yep, weíve joined him overseas for his 365 day remote.

    Thereís a lot of miscommunication regarding military spouses and families being able to live overseas when theyíre not command sponsored. Very few command sponsored slots are given to families for Korea since there is limited on base housing, limited medical care on base, limited space in schools, and more. However despite these limitations, itís very possible for families to choose to legally live here. I am currently the admin for a FaceBook group that helps other spouses decide if coming to Korea without command sponsorship is a possibility for their family and if so what they need to do. I also share with them what to expect since they will most likely be using off base medical care and will have to use Korean schools or homeschool if school age.
    My family lives off base in a Korean apartment. My children mostly play with Korean children at the many playgrounds near us. I donít drive here, so during the week we do our shopping in the neighborhood stores. We buy as much produce as we can from a traditional street market. We take the city bus when itís too far to walk and hop on the subway when we want to leave town. My spoken Korean is pretty dismal and the little I use is usually met with a blank stare (hint: a deep southern accent doesnít do well with speaking Korean!), but thankfully the Naver Translate app works well. Generally Koreans love children and there are a lot of kids cafes, childrenís museums, and even play areas inside of restaurants! While my husband mostly works some very long hours, when he does have time off weíve been able to explore. So far our top two favorites are Seoul (which weíll never tire of exploring!) and Seoraksan National Park. Itís a very different life, but one Iím so thankful weíre getting a chance to experience.

    As far as homeschooling goes, there are no regulations for us to follow. We donít report to anyone. Those who are command sponsored only have to withdraw their child from the school on base. Itís nice to have freedom, but it can be overwhelming to those who would not choose to homeschool normally. Many are worried about getting their children back into public school after their year here. There is a homeschool group and several are trying to bring it together as a closer community. In the past itís been hard to keep the momentum going for the group since most are only here for a year or less. The hardest part for me is the lack of readily available craft and learning materials. Something as simple as a library trip takes an hour just for us to get there. We need to take the city bus to the base walking gate and then walk the mile to the library from there - quite the process with three younger children when it's below freezing for most of the winter! I've had to learn to actually plan ahead since I find myself needing to order quite a bit from the states. I tried to follow my son's interests, but I kept running into dead ends for locally sourced items. Something as simple as printing became impossible when the base exchange stopped selling our printer's ink! We will move sometime this summer, but we do not know where to yet. I will be continuing to homeschool, which I would be doing now even if had not come to Korea. Korea just changed how we approached homeschooling!

    Rather than having me blab forever, I do want to open this up for questions. Iíll be checking in frequently and will answer as much as I am able!

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  3. #2

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    Coolbeans! Whats it like living immersed in a country where you dont speak the language and dont recognize the food products?
    Are you still a part of the military community even though you live off-base?
    How do your kids react to being somewhere that they dont speak the language? Do they pick it up quickly? Does it hinder them from making *friend of the day* acquaintances at the parks?
    Are there a lot of other military families that arent "Command Sponsored"?
    Do you make teaching Korean a part of your 3 and 5yo day?
    Im super curious about what its like to be an American living outside the US.
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.

    Atheist.

    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  4. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by alexsmom View Post
    Coolbeans! Whats it like living immersed in a country where you dont speak the language and dont recognize the food products?
    Are you still a part of the military community even though you live off-base?
    How do your kids react to being somewhere that they dont speak the language? Do they pick it up quickly? Does it hinder them from making *friend of the day* acquaintances at the parks?
    Are there a lot of other military families that arent "Command Sponsored"?
    Do you make teaching Korean a part of your 3 and 5yo day?
    Im super curious about what its like to be an American living outside the US.
    1. Scary at first! I quickly found a Korean cookbook to make sense of the foods. I tried really hard to learn the language right off, but it's sadly still not clicking well in my head. Life was very strange our first two weeks in country. It was a lot to take in at once. We pretty much had no choice but to dive right on in. Koreans want to be nice and helpful, so they really did make it easy for us. For example the first time we rode the subway we were noticeably confused. A Korean who knew English just put down his bags and taught us right on the platform how to use the subway app and translated a couple of items for us. If I'm having trouble finding a place, I know I can show a business card, a Korean address, or even a picture of the place and someone will point me in the right direction.

    2. Yes, my husband works on base. We do go to base on weekends for the base exchange and commissary. In the 20 high rises in our complex there is probably a good dozen American families living here. Some are expats, some are active duty, and some are contractors. I've never been a spouse to participate in a lot with base activities, so that really hasn't changed here.

    3. My older two do not understand any Korean other than "hello." It doesn't really stop them from playing with other children because in the end tag is still tag and hide and go seek is still hide and go seek. Sometimes the older school children will be out and can speak enough English to help explain their games a bit better.

    4. There are a lot of non command sponsored families here. I have no idea how many there really are since I only get to interact the ones who find me on Facebook. Sometimes I run across someone that I know I haven't seen before and find out they really need the FB group because they don't have a base rations card or their sofa stamp to allow a longer stay.

    5. We do spend a lot of time learning together the different customs and holidays. Before we visit a temple or fortress or museum, we read the background about it so we know going into it what we'll be seeing and the significance. My oldest is familiar with the map of Korea and where we live on it and where the different places we've gone are marked on it. I'm hoping they'll remember enough of living here that later they'll want to learn more. Right now I'm sure most of it is going in one ear and out the other!

    Every time we move we have to settle into a new routine. We have to learn new streets and new businesses. We have to figure out that area's garbage and recycling plan. Same for coming to Korea. Just another city that has new streets and new to us businesses and new garbage plan! Just happens to not be in English. Whenever something seems strange to me, I just google because there probably is a good reason behind it!

  5. #4

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    Oh this post brought back memories. For me it was before kids, but I remember very well the day I packed my bags, jumped on a plane and moved to Istanbul with no language, no job, and no common sense. You learn very quickly how to survive. But you are braver than I. I left and came back once we were pregnant.

    You really are in the best situation for homeschooling. You don't have to worry about moving from school district to school district every time you husband gets a new assignment. You don't have to worry about pulling them out of a math class in one school, moving across the country and finding out that are learning something totally different in another. Your kids will get older and be able to stay in communication with their friends from all over the US and the world with social media.

    How fun it will be.

  6. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by LKnomad View Post
    Oh this post brought back memories. For me it was before kids, but I remember very well the day I packed my bags, jumped on a plane and moved to Istanbul with no language, no job, and no common sense. You learn very quickly how to survive. But you are braver than I. I left and came back once we were pregnant.

    You really are in the best situation for homeschooling. You don't have to worry about moving from school district to school district every time you husband gets a new assignment. You don't have to worry about pulling them out of a math class in one school, moving across the country and finding out that are learning something totally different in another. Your kids will get older and be able to stay in communication with their friends from all over the US and the world with social media.

    How fun it will be.
    So much yes to that second paragraph! Even with most adopting common core, there is still a great variance between districts and states. I'm looking forward to finding out where we'll be headed to next and even more adventures!

  7. #6
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    A Homeschool Adventure of Epic Proportions
    I feel like my post is useless without pictures.

    First up several pictures of my city's traditional market. We are over an hour from Seoul, so traditional markets are well and alive here. This is my favorite place to go for produce since it's often MUCH cheaper. I try to stop to see the same people each week I go. After a few weeks I noticed that they started giving me extra produce for the same money. Score!

    Kimchi and hot stews and soups always available for lunch or to bring home!
    IMG_3119.jpg

    Bitter melons. I have not tried these since I've heard they're not very tasty unless cooked in a certain way.
    IMG_3138.jpg

    Lots of fresh seafood! Some of it is still alive.
    IMG_7170.jpg

  8. #7

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    Those are cool and a little bizarre. Do you ever buy things that you really regret afterward? Do you just try to be brave?

    Do the kids balk at eating the food, or just accept it as *this is whats for dinner*?
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.

    Atheist.

    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  9. #8
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    A Homeschool Adventure of Epic Proportions
    More normal everyday life for us. Yes, all three of my children are bright blond which definitely attracts lots of attention. More attention than my brightly colored hair.

    Produce area of the neighborhood grocery. Fairly normal. I've been told that they feel that produce stays nicer for longer if it's all wrapped up in plastic.
    IMG_6955.jpg

    A typical street in our neighborhood. This is near the market. Cars drive on sidewalks...venders set up on sidewalks and in streets....narrow streets....traffic rules are often ignored.... I chose to not pursue my license to drive here.
    IMG_6788.jpg

    This was taken at a subway station in Seoul. It's a somber reminder of our neighbor's to the north. Similar stations are set up all across the area.
    IMG_6538.jpg

    One of the many playgrounds near us.
    IMG_2872.jpg

    How Koreans move! A large platform moves along this beam up to the apartment floor. Every floor has a hall window that completely opens up so even large items can fit through.
    IMG_2911.jpg

  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by alexsmom View Post
    Those are cool and a little bizarre. Do you ever buy things that you really regret afterward? Do you just try to be brave?

    Do the kids balk at eating the food, or just accept it as *this is whats for dinner*?

    I don't regret much, but I also tend to only buy items AFTER I know what they are and have a recipe in hand! If something is already precooked and smelled good I tried a bite when we first arrived. They have some of the best street food.

    My children have adjusted. At home I leave out a lot of the spice and serve their dishes, and then add the spice for my husband and I. We've always had a "this is what is for dinner" at our house, so not much has really changed in that department other than time for them to adjust.

  11. #10
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    Nap time is over! I'll add more pictures later.

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A Homeschool Adventure of Epic Proportions