It’s been a long road of many moves for this kimchi-loving expat family. Just because we bought a house and moved last May doesn’t mean that we won’t be moving any time soon. Oh, no! In fact, at the every-two-year rate we’ve been packing and unpacking boxes, we have been more mobile than most typical military or diplomatic assignees. My husband was made the right job offer, and we made a not so easy decision to move our family again this summer. It’s a domestic move this time and while we are sad to leave this bucolic corner of southwest Germany, our expat kimchi-seeking adventures will have a different dimension in our new home of Essen in the Ruhrgebiet of Germany. There are considerably more Koreans in this region and therefore many more restaurants, grocery stores and even Korean schools.
It seems hard for us to imagine, especially for me. I’ve only lived in this part of Germany and quite frankly have gotten used to this kimchi-less “hardship.” My parents see it as a Korean culture wasteland having made the hard journey from Munich Airport to the heart of the Swabian Alps countless times. So just as some Swabian speech and traditions seem particular to Germany in general to me, other Germans including my husband would be quick to point out that they are not. It’ll be a nice change to not feel compelled to hoard oval rice cakes and dried ferns and sweet potato vermicelli in my freezer or pantry anymore.
Our kids have reacted pretty well to the news. Two-year-old Lenny doesn’t quite get the concept of the move in full yet although “Essen” the city is definitely in his vocabulary. Five-year-old Stella is up for the continuous adventure while Vera, who started school this year, was a bit sad. She realised immediately that she wouldn’t be able to play with her friends Leopold and Tom along with her other friends in the neighbourhood anymore. She also quickly figured out that she wouldn’t be able to participate in milestones that the fourth graders in her school typically reach, all of which she had heard about from her “big sister” who is in the fourth grade. She was comforted though when we explained all that Essen had to offer that we can’t get here: an opera house, a ballet company, one of Germany’s best art museums, loads of art classes for kids, and…Korean food. This kid started packing her bags.