The Professional Army Wife - Balancing my career and soldier at the same time
I'm a very career-oriented gal married to an Army soldier. I'm hoping to share my thoughts with the community. I'm learning that the military spouse community is unique too! My goal is to learn a lot from my peers and to be able to reach as many people to one day be a resource and gain understanding for others that are also learning the ropes.
Last month, my spouse and I celebrated our anniversary in Hoi An, Vietnam.
We had a little hiccup on our way there. Our flight to Danang was canceled, so we had to leave the next day. Despite losing a day in Vietnam, we were determined to make the most of our weekend. Our hotel in Hoi An, the Hoi An Beach Resort was able to arrange tours for us in-house. They are affiliated with a great English speaking tour group that took us around.
After research and help from the hotel, we were able to see and do what we wanted in Hoi An. It was a wonderful weekend! The rain didn’t hold us back at all!
If you’re looking into traveling to Hoi An, here are my five must-dos:
Walk Around Hoi An Ancient Town
Hoi An is filled with colorful buildings and fun sites! You can see remnants of Chinese and Japanese influence throughout the town. There is even a special bridge in Hoi An called Bridge of Friendship, aka Japanese Covered Bridge.
Bridge of Friendship, Hoi An
Tour Mỹ Sơn Sanctuary
The sanctuary is also UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was incredible to get the chance to tour the ruins and see the amazing work in person. The morning we went there was particularly rainy and I used my GoPro inside a waterproof case, which was a bit scratchy, so please excuse the fuzziness.
Visit the Marble Mountains
The view at the top.
Located in Danang, the Marble Mountains embed beautiful shrines and host amazing views. You are able to see the beach and the city from the top. The hike up and down is also fun, so I recommend wearing your walking shoes!
Eat food and Drink Coffee!
My spouse and I LOVE eating our way around town and it was no different when we were in Hoi An. Obviously, I had to eat Pho. I also made an effort to eat the local dishes of Hoi An called Cao Lau (Pork Noodle Soup) and Banh Bao Vac. (White Rose Dumplings). YUM!
Pho, Banh Bao Vac, Cao Lau (left to right)
And of course, I was excited to have Vietnamese coffee in Vietnam, too.
Walk Around and Explore!
Our hotel was located where the river and ocean meet, so we walked around and found some great structures before we even got downtown. We were able to witness locals farm, sail, and go on their day.
Vietnam is wonderful and filled with history! The people are kind and helpful. It’s also incredibly affordable and if you’re ever stationed in Asia, you must visit Vietnam!
I wanted to do something extra special for my service member on Veterans Day. The weekend didn’t only encompass Veterans Day, but it was my spouse’s birthday as well. Needless to say, I was hoping to spend the weekend someplace warm too. The weather was getting cold here in South Korea.
Originally, we were going to make our way to Vietnam. However, I discovered the ticket prices escalating to a point where it wasn’t affordable. Later I found out, it was the same week as a very important summit there, which was most likely the cause of the price hike. In an effort to find another reasonable place to travel, Fiji popped up on my search.
My spouse and I love to travel within our means. We have a travel fund that is entirely separate from our savings. Since we would be flying from South Korea, that opens the door for other destinations that would be more difficult to experience at different locations. Korean Air has a direct flight from Seoul to Fiji – making it extremely easy to visit. I promise to share more of our travel tips soon!
Once in Fiji, you have so many different options from backbacking hostels to family resorts. We stayed at the Wananavu Beach Resort. No need to take a seaplane or boat to the resort, just a cab to drive over to the other side of the main island. They also have a car service to take you back to the airport. They have room options that would fit different budgets, but I opted for upgrading to a beachfront property. I also am an Expedia+ member, which allows for added discounts and completely FREE for service members.
The lush grounds at the resort.
Military Travel Tip: Expedia+ membership is FREE for service members and their family! All you need to do is prove your connection and you’re in. More info here.
Our resort stay included a hearty breakfast buffet that we filled up on for the day. The dining area was spectacular with amazing views.
I let my spouse do whatever he wanted, which was lounge by the pool, beach, and swim. We did do one excursion and took a small speedboat to a secluded beach for a picnic lunch one day, where I snorkeled. – and my spouse napped. The water is so clear and rich around Fiji. Plus, the people are friendly and welcoming. We were perfectly content staying at our beachfront bure (Fijian house) and letting the days go by.
Do you have any questions about Fiji or any other place we’ve traveled? Let me know!
I’m incredibly excited to finally introduce to you Wandering Rae of Sunshine!
A New Year, a new blog name!
A lot has happened in 2017 and one of the things I shared with you is that I was hoping to take this blog in a new direction. Well, I didn’t want to stop discussing career because my job is still a huge part of me. But, I wanted to be more purposeful on sharing the other good and sometimes challenging aspects of what’s going on in my life.
It’s crazy to think that a year ago we were gearing up for a move to South Korea. I had no idea how life would be like here. I didn’t know how work would go. I was finishing up grad school, which I was a little worried about with the international move. And Xena, I was terrified because I didn’t know how she would handle a move, let alone international move.
Despite all the worries, I was so excited. I was excited to explore another part of the world. I was thrilled for the opportunity to travel to otherwise difficult places. Heck, we went to Fiji because it was affordable. Like what?! We have another fun trip to Vietnam planned this month too. We’re hoping for many, many more adventures, which I’ll share with everyone!
Also, on working from home OCONUS, it’s been great! The timing is a challenge, but I found an opportunity that also works with my off schedule. The times I do need to coordinate stateside, I make do and work a modified schedule. More to come!
Autumn in Northern Virginia is on point. However, Daegu is giving it a run for its money! My spouse told me the slogan for the city: Colorful Daegu directly relates to how the surrounding mountains look during the change of seasons.
Last Saturday, we decided to hike the Apsan Mountain. We’ve been wanting to do it for the longest time! With all the craziness in the last month, it kept us from doing it. My spouse got some intel about where the start of the trailhead was located and we headed there.
When we looked at the map, it seemed like we couldn’t get to the summit from where we were without going on the cable car. So, we decided to cheat a little and head up. Once we were close to the summit, we hiked a couple hours in either direction to get our steps up.
It was a beautiful hike with so many colors. Colorful Daegu it is!
The view of one side of the city!
We’ll definitely go back a lot because it’s literally right in our backyard!
Does your duty station or home experience the Fall colors?
When we were stationed close to DC, it almost seemed like a given that you HAD to visit the National Mall, Smithsonian Museums, National Zoo, National Archive, and so on!
Besides all the obvious DC hot-spots, the National Capital Region is also close to some other nearby gems! I wanted to share with you some of our favs, especially because I was slacking in the last couple of years we were there. We camped more times than our trip to Westmoreland State Park. I swear there are more amazing parks local and national worth your time. Also, we’ve tried more Bed & Breakfast places after Hillbrook Inn!
So, please don’t miss out on the parks and B&Bs! And perhaps I’ll do a round-up of those in another post (there are TONS of national and local parks so worth it). This one, however, is going to focus on other destinations you might not have thought about as your planning your day trips or weekend getaways.
Washington’s Mount Vernon
This was our go-to place when friends and family visit because it’s super close to where we lived. Also, there is a discount given to the military. I HAVE to mention that my spouse actually re-enlisted on the grounds of Mount Vernon, which was incredibly awesome. So, that is something to consider if you’re up for that while stationed in the area.
Anyway, it’s really cool to be able to explore the home of George Washington and his family. The restaurant on the grounds is good too, offering food from the era. We actually spent Sunday brunch there on our first year. They have an amazing Fourth of July event and seriously, I’ve been there several times and there is always something new to learn. Awesome experience!
The LoCo Beer Trail
While researching things to do for my spouse’s birthday, I came across the LoCo Beer Trail! I picked an itinerary suggested by the Visit Loudoun County website. There are a handful of itineraries to choose from, but I picked the one that included farm breweries. I also added a couple more to our journey and we stayed at a nearby hotel so we can start on day 2 without the drive there.
Loudoun County isn’t far from Fairfax County! It was so nice to get far from the city a bit and enjoy the country. The farm breweries were great and had such beautiful layouts.
Dirt Farm Brewery
New York City!
A weekend trip is so doable. I would travel to visit friends when my spouse would be TDY. In addition, my spouse and I would travel together for a nice trip. Pro tip: you don’t need to drive to New York City. There are loads of options to get there with the bus being the one I used the most. The bus lines I’ve used are called Best Bus and Vamoose with pick-up locations in Springfield, Arlington, and Lorton. It’s so convenient and they have WiFi in them, so it makes it a productive 4ish hour trip.
If a friend’s house is unavailable, several hotel chains have military rates. My family has also stayed at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn and the Navy Lodging in Staten Island. Another option I’ve used is the Soldiers’, Sailors’, Marines’, Coast Guard and Airmen’s Inn in Midtown Manhattan. That option is more dormitory-style accommodations, where you are sharing a bathroom, but you’re among friends! I stayed there with my parents on a trip to NYC YEARS ago.
A friendly reminder, I lived in NYC for ten years too. So, if you have any Qs on easy affordable military-friendly ways to visit, let me know! I’ll most likely to a separate post on it at a later time too.
The drive from Washington DC to Philadelphia is about 2.5 hours and from where we were located about 3 hours. Of course, traffic will dictate the actual time, but even with that said, it’s not bad to hop over to Philly for a weekend jaunt once in a while.
We were lucky to have friends that live close to Philly, but I can’t imagine the city not having military rates at their hotels. Even if you don’t decide to stay the weekend, it can be a doable day trip. It’s not completely crazy!
It’s incredible to see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, which is all part of the National Parks System. Besides that, there is the Philadelphia Museum of Art (AKA where the Rocky steps are located). Franklin Square, Betsy Ross’ House, and the USS New Jersey are other places to check out. I’m only scraping the surface of what’s available there!
If it weren’t for Broadway going down to Richmond, it may not have reached my radar! Yes, there is the Kennedy Center (which you SHOULD so go at some point), but showings could sell out fast. Or a show you want to see might not make its way to the Kennedy Center yet but hit Richmond first. Those two scenarios happened to us!
The Altria Theater helped us see two Broadway shows! First, I’ve been interested to see The Book of Mormon, which wasn’t playing in DC yet (it’s actually CURRENTLY playing in DC till Nov. 19, 2017, y’all!!). Well, I was checking out their traveling tour and noticed a location in Virginia. Why not drive the 2ish hours south to catch the show?
We decided to make it an overnight trip and sightsee the capital of Virginia. We visited the Capitol Grounds, American Civil War Museum, and Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. There are also more parks in the area rich in history!
Okay, I’ve come to realize I’m going to have to split this to a two-parter because I’m not done! Hopefully, this will help as you as you’re piecing together your DC area bucket list. Be sure you venture out of the District!
Did you travel to any of these places while stationed in the DC area?
Before getting into why you should consider going to South Korea, I wanted to give you all a huge virtual hug. Since sharing about my miscarriage, I have been receiving so much positivity and love. It’s been wonderful and oh so helpful. I cannot begin to express how thankful I am for everyone.
When I first got pregnant, I was nervous being in a foreign country, especially at a location where the majority of its population doesn’t speak English. How will I ever get by? I have to say, I’ve never been so impressed with the service and care I received at the Korean hospital. They were very caring and comforting, especially when complications arose. I was truly blown away.
It got me thinking about other things about this duty station that has impressed me. I’m just so glad I decided to come to Korea this time around. There are times when tagging along might not be right. I’ve been there and done that. The first time Korea orders came to us, I decided to stay because of my career. I wouldn’t have done anything differently then. We made the right decision that ultimately helped me build a portable career.
When we got orders to Korea now, it was a no-brainer for me to come. I work from home and am able to do everything to keep my career going thousands of miles away. I wasn’t sure what to expect though. Living in New York, I was able to experience the Korean culture. I’m half Asian, so I was always game for a killer Karaoke session. The last time I was in Korea, I was a little girl. I hold little memories of my time here…so time to create new ones!
Well, I love it here.
It’s different, yes. There are challenges (like driving). And I’m very far from home. But, there is so much to do and experience. If you have the chance to come, jump!
Here are the top things that I absolutely dig about South Korea.
Y’all, the foodie in me is in HEAVEN! Daegu has lots of different options besides Korean food to enjoy. Plus, it all has a different spin on things that are a must to try. For example, Vasco is a Korean-fusion Mexican restaurant that is so delicious. We get the bulgogi tacos (drool!) among other tasty menu options.
Coffee Shops Galore
Every. Single. Corner. There is a coffee shop! If you know me well, you know that I consume a crazy amount of the magic elixir. I have my favorite that I frequent literally around the corner from our home, but no matter where I happen to be at any given time, a delicious coffee shop is close by.
Bonus, the Starbucks that are here in Korea have completely different options! There are the tried and true things. However, your world will open up when you see the menu at the Korean Starbucks (cue in the harps). I’m all about trying the local fare.
A lot of coffee shops include tasty desserts, but there are places that solely focus on delicious sweets! Our first weekend in Daegu we discovered the amazing ice flakes dessert. Aside from Korean desserts, there are several western sweet options too.
The Long Rich History
Korea has been around thousands and thousands of years! I’m a huge history buff and enjoy learning about different cultures. There are lots of museums and temples to visit. It’s an incredible opportunity and I’m also excited for the chance to visit other Asian nations.
Everyone here has been so accommodating. I feel welcome and comfortable where ever we go. Despite the language barrier, it’s fairly simple to communicate needs. I’m so grateful that most Koreans know some English, enough to understand what I’m trying to convey. I honestly need to work better on my Korean!
All. The. Walking.
Because South Korea is tiny, cities grow upward. Seriously, South Korea is small. Did you know that my home state of Texas is SEVEN times larger than South Korea?! Sometimes it makes it easier to walk where you need to go. I’ve spent a lot of time living in big cities, so I love walking around! We’ve made it a habit to walk downtown from our apartment. It’s about a 30-40 minute walk, but so enjoyable.
Who can say they’ve lived in Asia? If you and your family can swing it, I encourage you to give life in South Korea a chance. It also goes by so fast! An accompanied tour starts at two years – and we’re already 1/4 of our way through. Crazy!
Have you been stationed in South Korea? Overseas? What have you loved about it?
Friends, the last couple of weeks have been extremely trying for me.
Last month, I found out I was pregnant. My spouse and I were incredibly excited because we want to grow our family. We started thinking about our life with a little one. What names do we like? Who are they going to look like more? Me? Or my spouse?
At my first OB appointment, I found out I was five or six weeks into my pregnancy. I was about two months late, so it was a surprise to learn I was that early on. Anyway, my next appointment after that was scheduled two weeks later. However, I began experiencing some complications leading up to that appointment. To avoid TMI, I’ll stay away from the specifics. It was the Saturday approaching my 8th week when I felt like things were off. Despite my appointment being days away, our hospital liaison suggested I go to the hospital ASAP.
It was then I actually saw our little bean for the first time via ultrasound. I cried. I couldn’t believe I was seeing something that was growing inside of me. Because of the complications, the doctor gave me a hormone shot to hopefully help. They didn’t hear a heartbeat so I was scheduled to come back again on Monday. I was hopeful. We were in a gray area of our baby’s development because around this time a heartbeat should be heard, but it might still be developing. Monday rolled around and it was still silent. My heart sank – and I became extremely nervous. My doctor still couldn’t be definitive, so we scheduled another appointment for Thursday.
That was when we received devastating news. I must have miscarried because she couldn’t find the bean I saw earlier that week. It was then that it hit me. I will never get the chance to see and feel this baby grow. A future that my spouse and I were hoping for ended. I hate being so dramatic, but I can’t explain the flurry of emotions that rushed through my body when I saw my empty belly on the ultrasound. This was our first pregnancy and I was (and still am) heartbroken.
Not only did I encounter a rush of sadness, my body was still suffering from the effects. My doctor prescribed medication in hopes to help my body fully miscarry. But nearly another week passed and I was still hurting. When I went in for yet another follow-up, my doctor suggested a D&C procedure. At that time, I was diagnosed with an incomplete miscarriage.
I thought to myself, “this is never-ending.” I have to come back in again. For the fifth time in two weeks. What is happening? How will I go on?
My spouse was actually the person to tell me that miscarriage is common. About 1 in 10 women experience one. Also, he mentioned that more than 80% go onto having healthy pregnancies afterward.
I know I’m not alone, but it’s still difficult to understand.
I will never get an answer to that question. Even knowing it wasn’t my fault, I blame myself. I feel guilty. I feel pain. I feel helpless.
Instead, I need to focus on coping with our loss and healing physically and emotionally. Things will get better. I know that. I have to focus on that.
Also, thank you all for taking a couple of minutes out of your day to listen to me, a grieving woman that lost her chance to be a mom (at least for now). I wanted to share my story because it helps me to talk about it. I hope to offer any support for others that have experienced a miscarriage. I don’t want anyone to ever feel alone. Despite being thousands of miles from home and in a foreign country, like myself, there is always people nearby – just holler.
A huge shout-out to my colleagues that offered space and kind words during this difficult time. I am truly lucky to work with passionate people that are also compassionate and understanding. It killed me to be away from the office, but I’ve learned that I needed time to heal.
We’ve been here for that long and I’m finally feeling like I’m settling into a routine. For me, the biggest struggle is the huge change from Virginia to South Korea. By all means, it’s not a bad change. Daegu is great!
The people are wonderful. Daegu has lots of stuff nearby to see and do – and eat. For example, when we found an adorable Italian restaurant around the corner, I asked my spouse if he was able to enjoy different cuisine last time he was at a Korean station, the answer was no. So, I’m thrilled for the chance to eat my way through town. Seoul is easily accessible by train in 2-3 hours. Other awesome cities are also a quick train ride (the city gal in me is pumped for the mass transit!).
So. Many. Travel. Opportunities!
Aside from the greatness of our duty station location, it’s still tough to acclimate to a different culture. Plus, I really am so far away from home – nearly a whole day ahead of most of the people I love. It doesn’t help that I work from home and I keep to myself in our off-post apartment. We live among Koreans in a great apartment, but I’m alone for most of the day.
I did meet a handful of amazing spouses when I first arrived that have made the transition easier. I’m already so thankful for the new friendships I’ve made. I’ve also managed to get out there (finally!) to a spouses’ club gathering to meet more people. It was so great to be among other spouses’ that share a desire to give back to the community. I’m glad my funk is wearing out and Daegu is feeling like home.
The funny thing is that we unpacked immediately in hopes to settle in quickly. Our household goods arrived on a Friday in May and we unpacked our last box on a Monday. Everything has a place in our new home, which ultimately helps my OCD. However, I was hoping it would also feel like home.
I thought about the time I started feeling like home in Virginia. It feels like it took me 5-6 months there too. I’m starting to think that the timeframe it takes me to settle into a new place is half a year. And the more I thought about it, it does take time to feel comfortable in a completely new area. I’ve found my favorite coffee shop. We have a routine we follow on most weekends and that’s walking downtown to enjoy dinner and the sights.
Perhaps it will get easier after each assignment. Maybe it will always take time for me feel at home. Either way, I wonder how long it takes others to settle in.
How long does it take you to settle in after a new move?
My spouse and I have PCSed together three times – and every time we’ve been able to loop in a vacation. It’s the perfect opportunity for a trip because my spouse gets time off and I can schedule my time off with him. First, it was our two-week cross-country road trip from New York to Arizona. Second, we cruised the southern Caribbean and visited Puerto Rico, St. Croix, Antigua, St. Maarten, Barbados, and St. Lucia. Before arriving in Korea, we visited Orlando. I thought it would be a good idea to enjoy Disney and Universal as a couple.
I’ve had the pleasure of visiting both Disney several times as a kid and adult. I was able to experience Universal Studios with friends in the past too. When my spouse told me he’s never been to either, I knew we would have to remedy that, especially before little ones come in the picture. We are in our 30s anyway…it’s time for us to have a little fun reliving our childhood!
Also, I want to encourage military families to use Disney’s Armed Forces Salute program. We got two 4-day passes for such an affordable price. There is also a military program for tickets to Universal Studios. We purchased the 3-day park hopper for what a day would be. It was incredible. Tickets to both parks were purchased at my local MWR ticket office before we flew out there.
We decided to use the military discount at a Universal Studios resort, but military families can also try Disney because they have discounts too! Since our trip was kind of last minute, they didn’t have any space at Shades of Green and most of the resorts. It was more affordable for us to stay at Universal because of our timing. Besides, I was pumped to finally visit Diagon Alley. I did get a chance to visit Hogsmeade before.
I was totally geeking out for everything Harry Potter – and had to have all the experiences! I drank a butterbeer. I ate an ice cream cone from Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour. We ate lunch at the Leaky Cauldron. We rode every possible ride we could. Sigh.
Gringotts ride was awesome!
Of course, we enjoyed the rest of Universal Studios! I’m a fan of roller coasters and other themed rides/experiences, so we took advantage!
We spent a day at each of the main theme parks: Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot. It’s hard for me to pick a favorite! The Lion King show at the Animal Kingdom was impressive. I also enjoyed eating around the world at Epcot. However, I started to feel under the weather by the time we went to Epcot. I rallied as much as I could to last the whole day!
At Magic Kingdom, we ate at the Beast’s castle!
Main drag at Hollywood Studios.
The Spring flower show was blooming during our visit to Epcot!
It’s crazy to think that our PCS vacation was five months ago. I had such a great time with my spouse that I’m looking forward to our next visit! Any Universal Studios and/or Disney fans? What is your absolute favorite thing about going?!
Read Full Article
Scroll to Top
Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.