Adventures in Moving Internationally

 

Submitted by Amy Moore
on 11/04/17

Have you ever experienced a move overseas to a foreign country? People do it all the time for work or for retirement, for military assignments or for a change of scene. I’m one of those people, having moved across the Pacific for a college internship in 1993. My husband, who had previously lived in South Korea, suggested the opportunity to me after one of his friends convinced him it was a fantastic opportunity. The friend had just returned from Suwon, South Korea, where he and his wife had taught English at a local language institute. We decided that less than a year into our marriage, it was the perfect time of our lives for an adventure!

Korea didn’t disappoint! We explored our “small” city of Suwon, a town we shared with roughly 700,000 other people. We took excursions south to Pusan, to the small island of Geoje Do, and to the annual Cherry Blossom Festival in Jinhae. The subway took us to Incheon in the east, or north to Seoul where we shopped the endless markets on our free weekends. We even stepped over into North Korea at the Joint Security Area of Panmunjom (판문점) at the 38th Parallel. We took a short vacation to Guam and came back red as lobsters. We relished the local food everywhere we went, dining Kalbi, or Korean BBQ, at least once a week. We collected several pieces of Korean pottery to remind us of our travels, and I learned how to speak enough Korean to go shopping, take a taxi, and order food. Oh, and to ask where the bathroom was!

While moving over to Korea had been relatively easy with just our suitcases in tow, it was a slightly different story on the return trip.  My husband and I completed our two-year internship teaching English in October and hoped to bring our accumulated mementos back home as a reminder of our shared adventures in the Land of the Morning Calm.  We each packed giant suitcases containing our smaller belongings (well, most of our belongings — we opted to leave our precious rice cooker behind – the giant cockroaches could stay, too!), but we weren’t done. We looked at each other and thought, what were we going to do with . . . the furniture?

Not all of our furniture, mind you. Most of our furnishings had been scavenged off the street, and we were so proud of what we had found left behind from the moves of others! We’d procured a ratty loveseat we covered with fresh, new cushions, a slightly battered desk, a bookcase, two armoires (who cared that a door was missing from one), and a once-moldy refrigerator that never quite lost its aroma of kimchee. But none of these were nice or valuable enough to ship home.  The four items worthy to bring back to the States in remembrance of our Korean adventure were two traditional wooden end tables, each with “secret” drawers and brass, fish-shaped locks; a tall curio cabinet with glass doors to house our Korean pottery; and a traditional storage chest with a large brass lock. These were beautiful pieces, ones we’d actually purchased, and were perfect to represent our time in Korea. We were excited to show them to our friends and families back home!

However,  as you may have guessed — none of these pieces would even remotely fit in a giant suitcase.

Here we were, stuck in 1994, the height of the nuclear scare and tensions between North and South Korea. We’d endured many military drills where the busses would stop, traffic would cease, and everyone would be ordered inside as part of the preparation exercises. Our parents, watching news reports back home, were increasingly concerned for our safety, yet for us, life seemed to go on as usual. This also before the widespread use of the internet when we had to rely on snail mail or expensive calls home to share news of our well-being. Without access to the internet, we also had no idea that a company such as A-1 Transport might exist to help us with our shipping dilemma. Still, wanting to avoid leaving our furnishings behind, we decided to approach our American military friends at Osan Air Base in hopes of finding one of them returning to the Salt Lake City area at some point.  To our relief, Reed and Liz Ferrin said they planned to be back in Utah . . . at some point.

At some point.

Imagine receiving your treasured belongings “at some point.” As it turned out, that “some point” was frustratingly vague and indefinite! Yet, not seeing a shipping alternative, we gratefully took Reed and Liz up on their offer to be the guardians of our things, trusting that they would honor their commitment.

Over the next few months and then years, Reed and Liz did indeed return stateside, but ended up in . . . Ohio. From time to time they offered to purchase our pieces, a little too eagerly at times, but the monetary value could never equal the sentimental value, so we’d apologetically decline and thank them for continuing to care for the items.  With possession being nine-tenths the law, deep down we were truly worried we’d ever see our things again!

Then one day, my mother-in-law mentioned our shipping predicament to her friend Kathi. Kathi had connections to a trucking company, and within the next couple of months, our traditional wooden Korean furniture was loaded on a flatbed truck and shipped across snowy interstates until arrived safely in Logan, Utah.

The whole process only took three years or so!

There’s a much easier way, gratefully! Thanks to the internet and A-1 Transport, you can opt for freight shipping at some of the lowest rates without sacrificing speed or quality of service, and you won’t be left wondering when you’ll be reunited with your belongings. You don’t even need a mother-in-law with a friend named Kathi with connections to a trucking company! Isn’t the time we live in a vast improvement from 1994? For while life is always an adventure, getting your large items shipped shouldn’t have to be.

Submitted by Amy Moore
on 11/04/17

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